My View, Ben Parkinson: Away from my wheelchair for a week

Ben Parkinson is in Canada to go canoeing in the Yukon
Ben Parkinson is in Canada to go canoeing in the Yukon

Iwas training for our Yukon expedition last weekend. We have realised that, because we are completely away from civilisation and can only carry what will fit in our canoe, I cannot take my wheelchair.

This is going to be a massive first for me.

Ben Parkinson is in Canada to go canoeing in the Yukon

Ben Parkinson is in Canada to go canoeing in the Yukon

I have got to rely on my little legs and nothing else for seven days – and I am determined to do it.

I will have a team who are going to help me and I will not be able to walk far as the ground is rough, but it will still be a massive challenge.

Now I am going to talk about something I do not usually discuss!

In the Yukon, in northwest Canada, you are not allowed to just wander off in the undergrowth with a shovel when you need the loo – for two good reasons.

One is to protect the environment, but mostly because it attracts bears.

The last thing you want is to share a latrine with an angry brown bear. It will not end well.

So that is another thing that we have to carry with us in the boats – two chemical toilets.

We are going to be sleeping in two-man tents. I am sharing with my dad Andy.

Another big ask for me is getting into the tent.

I cannot bend down to get into a round igloo tent, so I have got to have an Indian wigwam style, so the door is high enough to let me in.

We can carry hardly any clothes. A rash vest, one T- shirt, one pair of shorts, a wetsuit for the boat and a dry thermal suit for the nights and that is it to last seven days – I think keeping downwind of us will be a very good idea at the end.

It is funny, but as a disabled paddler the only thing that is not a problem to be solved is the actual paddling on the river.

I have great upper body strength and the Yukon river is fast flowing in the right direction we hope, so the thing worrying the able-bodied paddlers is no worry for me.

This training weekend, we were all matched up with our paddling partner.

My dad Andy was in the front of the boat and his partner Jimmy, who is a double amputee, was in the back.

The trouble with that arrangement was the man behind steers using his feet and the man at the front is the powerhouse.

Well, as my dad has legs and Jimmy won gold in the weightlifting at the Invictus games you think they might have spotted the obvious sooner – once they swapped round they make a formidable team.

I am partnered with the instructor, Pete ‘Ned’ Kelly.

We are the only ones using a traditional Canadian canoe, the rest are in kayaks.

He is also in charge of keeping the bears away so at least I should be safe.

I do not know about the rest though.

* Ben Parkinson, wounded Doncaster war hero