This Fall I set out on a 7 day solo canoe trip. All of my skills and experiences as a naturalist finally came together to keep me safe and to teach me about myself, my creative practice and my world. I relied on my precious healthy body to take me through the journey with strength and to keep me going with every challenge and ache. As it fueled itself from the very lakes that took me deeper, I couldn’t help but feel more and more connected as the week went on.
It was an incredible experience and I look forward to future solo trips. I paddled almost 50km and portaged 26km (round trip) through varying weather and water conditions.
My sweetheart paddled out to meet me from the next access point for a day of rest and to check-in. Seeing him paddling toward me as the sun was setting was a precious gift. Only a few hours earlier I mistook a bear for the sound of his splashing. I walked over to my lookout point in anticipation as a medium sized bear plunged out of the water in the clearing, nearly knocking me down and escaping into the woods. Clayton is a big guy, but this case of mistaken identity is one for the books. Sometimes one must feel grateful for even one half of a second of serendipitous grace.
Bears were abundant this time of year. The day prior, I was portaging out to my furthest point and was suddenly surrounded by 3 bears. A giant mamma bear with a leaping fat cub to my left and a large bear with a brilliant and bright yellow nose about 60 feet to my right. Knowing that I was the only one on the portage and the only one on my lake, I was relieved that backcountry black bears are still mostly fearful and cautious of people and they were as surprised as I was by their presence when I spoke.
Buzzing with adrenaline I finished that portage and set out in dizzying white caps to navigate to an island I had scoped out for bear safety on my map. Celebrating with a triumphant swim, I climbed my castle and set up my tent at its rocky edge. Bracing myself inside my tent when a powerful wind came, I hoped that I wouldn’t be swept over the edge by the strong and lengthy gust. I held on tight and as if feeling my same trepidation, a wolf howled loud and long as it finally trickled to an end.
The week was filled with wildlife. I paddled alongside beavers (and was kept up at night by their incessant gnawing), was greeted by a giant snapping turtle and martens and summoned so many owls. They came from afar to inquire about mistaken territories (great horned, barred, great grey). A slightly irate barred owl stayed to hunt when we finally got our stories straight.
Sure, nicky nicky nine doorsing owls might sound juvenile, but they fall for it every time. Real wise, owls.
I was awoken on my last morning just as the sky felt its first touch of colour by a pack of nearby wolves howling for what felt like more than 10 minutes. If only to have that as a daily alarm clock I would vow to never hit snooze again.
Please enjoy some of my photos, and thanks for being curious about my trip. Love you to pieces, Canada!