I’m back, baby. That’s right. Civilization, get ready, for Mnementh has returned. True, I was gone a mere five days, but man, it only takes me a few hours to revert.
I was out canoeing. The forest and me? We’re like that. We’re one. I love it and it loves me, and this urban jungle is painful now. It’ll wear off soon and I’ll be a city boy again, but for those five days, and for a few days afterwards, I changed. I became who I truly am. I went back to nature, the nature I belong to. I went to a place where politics mean nothing, where there are (hopefully) no chemicals or industry or garbage, and not even a hell of a lot of technology. I went to a place where the trees are born, grow for hundreds of years and then die, to make new life for more trees. I went to a place that man has not yet corrupted, and I loved it.
The major parts of the trip, the paddling and portaging were, not surprisingly, uneventful, with the exception of the end result that I lost most of my body fat and have gained ten pounds. The rest, well… I could tell you some stories.
My camoflage coverings on the bus there got me compared to Crocodile Dundee, which then combined with my whiteness to earn me my first nickname: Crocodile Honkie. Hilarity ensued.
The first day out, as I stoked and played with the fire (Mnementh’s second/third nickname: firebug/pyro), four of the others decided to go on a nature hike. A few hours later, the remaining four of us decided to do one of our own. We found a trail, and we were off. After hiking for maybe an hour, we were about to turn back as one of our group wasn’t wearing his boots, and we were going through a swamp. Well, me and a guy we’ll call H thought the path would loop back to camp, so we scouted ahead while the other two waited. Well lo and behold, it’s a good thing we did, because we soon found the first four, hopelessly lost in the woods. We led them back, and H and I were the heroes of the day. We still got yelled at for returning after dark, though.
Day two. On reachind a brief portage between two lakes, we discover something none of the other groups had; the water level was high enough that we could simply lift the canoes and carry them, fully loaded, across about 50 meters of shallow stream, avoiding the portage. As we did so, we saw a large school of suckerfish swimming in shallow water. We went back to try and catch them, and as we struggled, another of our group, B, came up behind us holding two, and said, “I caught fish!” We all managed to get some, pictures were taken, and the fish released unharmed with the sad exception of the one that H accidentally stepped on.
Day three. An exhaustive series of five portages earn me my fourth, fifth, and sixth nicknames; the Machine, the Monster, and the Warhorse. I liked those ones. Lunch was had near a waterfall just before the largest, windiest lake of the trip, Big Trout, and I earned my seventh nickname, Songbird, as I was constantly singing along with H and generally being rowdy. After a long, hard trip we set up camp, and mooned the next group to pass. They were camped not far from us, so after some failed fishing, and pissing off a nearby cliff, we dropped by for a visit. We retured to camp before we were to visit them again, as a group, for dessert and games. We were told that a moose was nearby, and we were off. H and I, ever the adventurers, strode within 15 meters of it and its baby. It did not like this, and the charge sent all of us running. Surprisingly, H and I were not the ones who ran fastest, even though everyone else was further back; it was a girl nicknamed Gremlin who ran like the wind! The tales of how H was almost killed by a moose made great campfire fodder.
Day four. After one portage, we break for lunch, and I lost my small CaseXX camoflage Caliber knife. This depressed me, but I still had my Buck Guide, so I pressed on. We had to pass through a small swamp, going over beaver dams as we passed. To go over a beaver dam, one must step out of the canoe and pull it over the dam before climbing back in. On the last such dam, H decided he wanted to walk the rest of the way. He strode off across the dam, and reached a point where he announced “It’s too deep here!.. I’m gonna jump it!”. And he did. And he ended up waist deep in swamp water. Never the one to quit, he started wading toward the final portage, singing very loudly as Z and I laughed insanely. He tripped once, ended up underwater, and decided to start swimming it. He made it, and decided what the heck, he’d go back out again. Off he went, singing all the way, before B returned and joined him. I’ve never laughed that much in my life, watching the two of them wade through five feet of muddy, smelly, swamp water, and loving every second. That done, we went over the portage and found camp, where we discovered a sheer cliff leading into deep water. Cliff diving, baby.
Yesterday. B and H refused to wake up, so I dragged B and his sleeping bag out of the tent to get them motivated. It worked. This was a short distance day, but harder than most due to a portage that was three times as long as any other we’d done; 2300 meters. It was here that I earned my eighth nickname; Animal. I carried the canoe the entire 2300 meters without stopping once, and ranted and raved the entire way, before going back and carrying on two bed packs and five paddles. All in all, I travelled the entire path three times, twice carrying large items. Camp was found and set up, and after another forest walk, we stayed up most of the night playing cards and joking madly.
At daybreak, we woke up, packed fast, and set out hours before anyone else, arriving back at civilization before 9:00. As the rest of the other groups arrived, B, Z, H and I gave them all the moonings of their lives. I’m pretty sure everyone in the group got a good long look at my behind. Pictures were taken; I will be blackmailed. I stored some lake water in a pretty bottle to give to the SO; she was delighted, and I’ve just been informed that she drank half of it and will be keeping the rest.
At the rest stop on the way back, I ate an entire McDonalds meal, followed by finishing off the others fries and getting a rather large sub sandwich. Oddly, I was not given the nickname of ‘garbage disposal’. Of course, I was very loggy after this, so back on the bus I just lay down in the aisle and slept, which was probably the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done. Sleeping in a moving vehicle is a joyous thing. B had to urinate, and someone presented him with an empty bottle of Wink. Noone thought he’d do it. He did. He managed to fill the entire 600ml bottle. Disgusting, but enormously funny.
And that, in a nutshell, was my canoe trip. I’ve been on three before this one, and this was by far the best.
I love nature. I love the forest, I love the woods, the water, the hills and valleys. I love the work, I love portaging. I love the pain. I love the accomplishment. I love growing stronger, I love overcoming my obstacles.
I do not belong inside. I am a Machine. I am the Warhorse. I am unstoppable.
I am an animal.