Tuesday, August 23, 2016

either oar

Although I've kayaked in California and Alaska and New Zealand, I've only canoed a few times. 

They are really different sports. They even evoke different places: summer camp in Maine vs icebergs in Prince William Sound. 

What could be more Canadian than a canoe trip in Algonquin? On Canoe Lake. 

Unlike kayaking, canoeing is hard by yourself. So I joined a small group at the Portage Store. Learn more about the roots of "portage" here.

My partner was our enthusiastic guide Taylor. This is her first summer guiding at Portage, but she went to camp on this very lake. Canoe camp.

As we paddled into a head wind, Taylor regaled me with stories of challenges at camp that made me glad I spent summers working at the movie theater. 

It was incredibly placid once we got into the marshy part of the lake. No moose or beavers, though I did see a great blue heron and lots of little pads. 

On the way back, Taylor talked us into tying our canoes together and MacGyvering a sail made out of a tarp and oars and elastic hair bands. It was quite the sight, our little pirate flotilla. It reminded me of "LOST" except of course we weren't actually lost.

Summer is drawing to a close, and the Europeans in our group are flying home this weekend. Taylor is going back to school and then to Queenstown where she'll be cheering on bungy jumpers and maybe learning to drive a jet boat on my beloved Dart River. 

And I'm off to Ottawa, Canada's eminently civilized capital. Less plein air. Fewer moose. 
But as always, my heart belongs to the forest. And the unseen corners of the lake where the only sound is your paddle meeting the water.

(Pass the Advil.)