My First Adventure, How I got started
My first backpacking adventure, How I got started was luck of timing, an element of risk, and a large dose of trust. We were going to canoe backcountry. I had never done anything like this before. But my sense of adventure was alive and well. And away we went.
It was late July, 2009. A divorced mom, just met a new guy, a week off of work, and kids at their dads.
I sighed with whimsy, “Oh, I would so love to go camping during this week off.” “Why don’t we? Nothings stopping us! I have enough gear for us both, all you have to bring is a small supply of clothes” was the unexpected reply. And away we went.
I was naive, excited and romance swept. We didn’t leave an itinerary, we just packed up after my shift was done at 5:30 and left.
Canoe and all the gear. I had never been back country camping before. I was excited and nervous. I was so eager, and I had no idea where we were going. I just trusted this new guy and his abilities and knowledge.
It was a trust well placed. Not all situations are, but this one definitely was.
We headed west, keeping pace with weekend traffic, across the city on the 401, and north on the 400. Further north on Hwy 69. It was a three and half hour drive from my apartment to the parking lot. We turned back into town, grabbed some dinner, then back to the parking lot. We parked at a public boat launch, near the bridge where we set up our tent discretely after dark, and prepared to set out on the water the next morning. Considering how giddy I was about this adventure, and how uncomfortable I was about this illegal camping, I slept like a baby. I just completely trusted this guy.
We paddled. He assured me he grew up paddling this area. He told me we were looking for the portage he knew was on the north shore, came around a curve in the lake and saw a canoe being unloaded as another group was heading in. The first portage was a long one. At least it was for me, being completely inexperienced, it might have only been a kilometer, but with all the gear, never having worn a backpack before, and certainly never been canoe trekking before. I was in for a very steep learning curve. Yeah, I’d been camping lots, from the trunk of the car, and at my own RV. But this was a new adventure.
We portaged three or four more times. We didn’t know where we were going to end up, but we were going. One portage took us around some rocks into a new lake, Paddling like mad because we could. Man did we laugh. Finally resting as we found ourselves gliding gently through a shallow marshy area. I had never been able to paddle up to water lilies before. I giggled as frogs jumped out of our way, and turtles slipped into the water. Even the herons took off as I paddled with unskilled hands.
Another portage took us around an impressive beaver dam. We came around another corner, in another lake, and we were totally awestruck. The water was so still, the rock face jutted into the air, and slipped silently, deeply into the mirror finish of the water.Entering Lone Tree Lake on the Magnetawan Paddling Route, Ontario.
We were almost done our paddling for the day. Just 20 minutes further we found our site, near another portage, and a waterfall. This would be home for three nights. Lone Tree Lake, Just below Seesee Lake.
Here I am, out in the middle of who knows where, with a guy I barely know. Setting up camp, or trying to assist him, because it is all his gear. The first hour, I climb out of the tent after making my bed. He brought standard summer weight sleeping bags. Nothing remarkable about them, and he brought 3 Therm-a-rest Z lite sleep pads. These are like foam eggcrating that folds up accordian style. Very light, and compact. He had two full length ones, and a third he had cut in half to tuck an extra layer under each of us. This worked very nicely to lay under our hips and shoulders.
Well, don’t I trip over the tent guy line, and break a tent pole. I still don’t know if he ever had that thing repaired or replaced.
The tiny stove, the water filtration , everything was so new to me. I can’t remember most of it. I do know it was a Katadyn Hiker water filtration kit. However, it rained so heavily, we ended up catching our drinking water off of the tarp he had set up over the fire area.
And talk about steep learning curve,, not only did I need to learn how to toilet in the woods, digging a cathole for the first time, I also had to learn how to deal with feminine sanitary products in the back country too. With a new guy,, only a few rocks away… humbling, embarrassing, did I spell that right? or should it have been,, em-bare-ass-ing, and empowering.
I’ve never looked back.
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