Florence Thomson is not your typical 78-year-old. And if anyone needed evidence her latest adventure would undoubtedly be proof enough.
Flo, as she is known, took up kayaking three years ago. Last week she decided she would paddle solo from a friend's house on Seymour Arm at the end of Shuswap Lake all the way to her riverside home on the North Shore of Kamloops.
"I'm a little tired this morning, but I'm so glad I did it," she said Tuesday, the day after finally arriving.
Thomson had planned to complete the 140-kilometre journey in five days, stopping at four overnight camping spots along the way. She left Wednesday and was expected in Kamloops Sunday but strong winds and downpours delayed her and almost derailed plans completely.
Right from the beginning, Thomson had her family and loved ones worried, but she couldn't fathom why.
"The worst thing that could happen if I tipped I might lose the kayak and all my stuff in it," she said. "But I always wear a life jacket and I had my cellphone with me and checked in nightly."
Although anxious, her daughter, Lorraine Thomson, couldn't help also being filled with pride.
"My mom is very strong-willed and in excellent shape," she said. "She totally inspires me."
Flo also felt safe because she stuck to the shoreline and was constantly within sight of people on houseboats and motorboats dotting waterways along the way.
Others asked her if she was afraid of camping out alone.
"I said, 'Scared of what?'" she said. "The only four-legged animal I saw was a marten. I'm safer out in the bush than in town."
She'd packed enough food for the trip but, just in case, Lorraine met up with her at Scotch Creek to see if she needed anything.
Flo was glad she did because she hadn't expected the cravings for the one staple in her diet that she wasn't able to bring.
"I just needed milk," she said.
In the end, the biggest challenges she faced were the elements. Strong headwinds on Sunday made for an arduous paddle even though she was going downriver and caused waterways to become very choppy.
"And you really have to keep your eye on the water," she said.
A spot of turbulence at the end of Little Shuswap Lake under the bridge at Chase, which looked like the water boiling up from beneath, caused her to fight from being turned around.
"I thought, 'Oh my goodness, keep paddling!'"
And where Adams River comes into Shuswap Lake, she said: "That water was really choppy, and I thought, 'I don't like this!'"
Fighting the river's rough spots nearly ended her trip. She came ashore at Kokanee Way near Dallas, where she almost gave up.
She called her husband, Bill, who picked her up during a downpour Monday morning. But when the abysmal weather cleared up, she felt compelled to finish her trek and asked Bill to take her back.
"I thought, 'I'm going to hate myself if I give up.'"
Several hours later, she finally pulled into her Royal Avenue home. Thomson said she didn't even have the energy to wave back at her daughter and husband greeting her from the shoreline.
"I thought, 'I'm not waving, I'm just going to keep paddling until I get there.'"