Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canoeing: Why it’s Special

They call it God’s country, and when you are sitting around a fire, looking at stars that go on forever, with the sound of a loon calling in the distance, you just have to agree.   Silence has a new definition. You stop to listen, and there is not a machine-made noise to be heard.  An odd feeling the first couple of days, then you feel a sense of true relaxation creeping up on you.

I find myself talking more quietly in the woods, not wanting to shout across a lake.  It seems wrong, and a little irreverent.  The few other canoeists we see must feel the same way, as they wave, smile, nod, but only rarely say something, and then only if they are close.

Animal sightings were scarce this trip into the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, on the border with Canada.  They are there, you see the signs.  Moose scat, well worn deer trails, bear poop dark with blueberries.  But the space is so vast, and with the silence they can hear humans coming from so far away.  We did see many birds, and a very angry big beaver who broke the silence with a huge tail whap!  Last time we saw otter, moose and bear, so my hopes were high, but this was not the year.

We picked raspberries on the portages this year.  A couple of the portages were hilly, but since I had the light load, there was no whining for me!  I’ve learned that slow and steady will get me nearly anywhere!

The weather was beautiful this year, and the paddling was easy.  I’m always surprised at how easy on the body canoeing is.  Sure, the second day I was tired, but even then there was none of the soreness that usually comes from doing something you haven’t really trained to do.  Anyone can do it, from kids to elders.  Really.

Although I have to admit I loved canoeing with my very strong and experienced son in the stern.  He’s not a perfect role model.  I noticed only when reviewing our trip pictures that he never wore his life jacket!  But I’ll forgive him because he can cook!  We ate great on the trail.

We had one wet morning packing up the tents and getting going, but since we were all sensible enough to leave anything cotton at home, we dried out pretty fast when the sun came out.

Being out in the middle of the wilderness is really special.  You notice how little it takes to survive, and how simple can be beautiful.  Coming home this time I did experience a little re-entry shock.  Bill boards, noise, hurry, hurry.  It was interesting to notice.  However, I did enjoy the hot shower and cup of coffee!
To next time in a canoe!
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