Thursday, 18 December 2014 06:16

Canoeist finally makes it to his destination

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He did it. For the past few months in Your Life is Now, we’ve been following Keith Lynch, the investment banker with little previous canoeing experience, but a lot of ambition and audacity to make up for it. On Nov. 29, after six months and 4,000 miles, Keith reached his destination of Dallas, Texas.


In one of the most profound statements he made during the trip, Keith explained why he undertook this journey.
“We only have a lease on life. We don’t have ownership of it.”
In the year before the trip, Keith experienced the loss and illness of loved ones. There are many reasons to embark on long-distance treks, but in this case I think his contact with death and sickness and the realization that life is fleeting kindled his interest to live a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 
Keith’s journey wasn’t without setbacks and obstacles. In the first week, he capsized and lost nearly $3,000 of electronic equipment. He was also robbed.
After the thieves stole some of his gear, they cut the canoe’s rope and pushed it into the water.
Later, he was mistaken for a drug runner and had his gear seized by an Oklahoma sheriff.
When asked about how the trip changed him, Keith didn’t talk about the hardships.
Touched by the question and feeling deep emotion, Keith answered, “I’ve definitely changed. I think I’ve always been a generous person, or I’ve tried to be a generous person. I think I’ll continue to do that and hopefully I can reach out more and help people.”
Along the way, Keith met scores of people, strangers mostly, who showed him kindness and helped in simple, but meaningful ways. They gave him shelter, food, companionship and even a plane ride over the river along which he was camped.
“The lengths that people have gone to help me has been humbling,” said Keith.
Case in point, a man named Norm Miller searched doggedly for Keith’s electronic equipment. Months after the capsizing and 17 miles downstream from where it happened, Miller found the waterproof bag containing cameras, video recording devices and a GPS. He mailed the bag to a friend who gave it to Keith.
During the final week of his voyage, Keith saw a man standing on the shore.
“As I approached the individual, I realized it was Norm Miller. I was in shock. This may have been the biggest surprise of my life. It took me about a day to process that he drove from Montana to join in my last week of paddling. Still can’t believe it.” Humbling, indeed.
Keith started on the Beaverhead River in the town of Twin Bridges, Montana June 3. Soon after, he merged onto the Jefferson River followed by the Missouri and then the Mississippi. Next, Keith canoed against the current for 700 miles on the Red River of the South before portaging to the Trinity River which took him into Dallas. It is not believed that anyone has canoed this route before.
Ultimately, Keith connected with a new lease on life and fostered a deeper appreciation for the kindness of strangers.
Over the course of his journey, he maintained a humorous blog complete with pictures and videos that illustrate his 4000-mile odyssey. You can visit it at: www.canoevoyage.com.
(Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.)

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.