It’s been said, “If you can’t be true with yourself, you can’t possibly be true to others.”
My hat is off to the solo campers/canoeists/hikers that ply the rivers and trails for their own satisfaction, adventure, or to increase their own capacity.
I travelled into Algonquin on a trip with some secondary school students and the plan was for me to travel so far, then turn around and solo for the balance of the day and the following day. This was to be a first for me and I had done a very good job of planning the trip as far as food and equipment went. Where I crashed and burned was with the mental preparation! I had always travelled with a crew and thought this would be exactly the same, only quieter. Wrong!
After leaving the group, who sent me off with a resounding paddle slap in a full ring of canoes around mine, I was off. My route was firm in my mind and my map before me on my pack. Every paddle stroke told me all was good and the path smooth and clear. I mentally checked off points and features I had made note of on the way in. Rounding a gentle bend in the way I looked at the shoreline and froze. For the life of me, I could not discern where the shore ended and the water began. I was afraid to look up because I considered my balance and what the position change would do. I took my paddle and laid it across the gunwales of my canoe and lowered my head while closing my eyes. Breathing was the key as fear was knocking on my door. Deep, slow and consistent breathing until I was satisfied I could address the situation again. I sat up and took stock of the situation and saw the dividing line between what was and what was reflected.
A very sobering experience and a lesson I haven’t forgotten, yet one I’d care to share as it may be a life saver.