Summer has “officially” ended (although we have all heard that before) and it was a blast. It seems to me like this was the fastest one yet due to the vast amount of traveling that occurred. As I take some time to reflect on the happenings of the summer of 2014, a weekend sticks out that I wish hadn’t only occurred once. This three day weekend is also an annual weekend that my friends and I have been taking for the last three years:
What made this summer a bit different is that we had more guys than ever before – 12 to be exact and it was quite the crew. The 5-6 hour drive required us all to take Friday off but that is the easiest part of the journey. Upon arrival, we grab the gear, food, supplies and everything else from the truck and pack it all as neatly as possible into the canoes. Each pair then paddles their stuffed canoe through Little Clear Pond and to the first piece of land (See photo below). From there we take everything that we just neatly packed into the canoe OUT and walk roughly a mile with the canoe on our heads to the next body of water. We then walk back to get the gear to bring to the canoes where we will RE-PACK it once again. This crazy phenomenon is called portaging and it’s not for the weak of heart. The lean-to is where we make camp for the weekend and while the 2ish hour portage is strenuous, there is still much work to be done when we arrive to our destination. Canoes need to be unloaded, sticks gathered, tents pitched, food prepared and it doesn’t stop. Without everyone doing their fair share it would be impossible to set-up at a reasonable hour.
For someone like me who lives in the city and doesn’t get to experience the wilderness as much as he or she would like or for someone who has never been “camping,” I came up with a few irresistible reasons as to why everyone should “get out there:”
We’ve talked about this before and we stand by it: Put DOWN your phone at dinner. Learn how to exist in society without looking at your screen every five minutes. You’re guilty of it just as much as I am. However, when you are in the wilderness you realize how unimportant the phone is. There is work to be done every minute. Go gather kindling. Start a fire. Organize the food. Clean up your tent. The list goes on. Until you get out there, you don’t realize how productive you are when you aren’t on your phone.
Forgetting about your cellphone is only part of the equation. When you let go of this you start to pick your head up and you start to look around. The minute we pushed off in our canoe, the only thing that mattered was paddling to our next destination. When only one thing matters in a given moment, you get a chance to admire the things around you. Something as simple as the ripples forming from each stroke of the paddle seemed to amaze me. Looking westward to the backdrop of endless mountains allowed me to relax in awe of natures beauty. Within the first 50 yards of moving the vessel forward I felt refreshed. Birds chirping, Loons lurking, fish splashing and the steady drizzle of rain were only but a few of the natural tendencies the Adirondacks had to offer all of us – Each with it’s own respectfully special taste.
You realize that the others with you on this adventure aren’t just companions, they are people that will ultimately help you survive. I’m not saying that any of us were facing a dire situation but every hand counts. It forces you to split up in teams and accomplish something. It makes you understand how important it is to divvy up tasks so that the bigger picture can come together. If you’re hungry (and mostly everyone is all of the time) then you will do whatever it takes to make that food appear as quickly as possible – even if it means cleaning the dishes with someone you hardly know. With so little distractions, learning more about someone happens much faster and it makes the trip that much more memorable.
Yeah, there are no showers or running water. The only way you clean up is if you jump into the sub 60 degree pond at your doorstep. If you opt not to do this, the grease, mud, dirt and grime just build up. You know what? It feels great. Learn how to use the bathroom like a caveman. Try to catch a fish for an open-fire dinner. Wear your smoke-ridden clothes for an entire weekend without caring. It helps you to loosen up and everyone else is doing it!
The silence is captivating. The lack of noise is almost overwhelming because you’re not used to spending lengths of time in a situation like this. You can actually hear yourself think and it centers you. The crazy thing is, there is nothing going on! You don’t have to be anywhere and the only people you have to see are the ones actively getting you through the day. During the day time hours we portaged and hiked and when night fell we ate, drank, sang and told stories. One weekend completely unwound me and took away any stress that I was experiencing. On top of all this, you feel accomplished. It is no easy trek and to have done it with 11 other guys, well that is certainly worth putting down in the books for next year.
Get out there!
Photos: Will Peterson