You Canoe, Too?

There is one question that I hear the most from people who are not familiar with canoe tripping in Canada’s backcountry. It’s a one worded question: Why?

Why do we spend hours paddling to a remote location just to pitch a tent, sleep and leave the next morning? Why do we carry all of our gear and canoes through the woods? Why do we need to be so far from civilization, technology, restaurants, showers or even a bathroom?

Canoe camping can be a challenge, but who doesn’t like a challenge? One of the most rewarding aspects is overcoming the potential obstacles. Traversing a horrible uphill portage, finding immediate shelter in inclement weather, forgetting your spork back home on the kitchen counter. While these may seem like game breaking situations, understanding that they can happen and keeping your cool about it make for great campfire stories later on.

Aside from overcoming these obstacles, there is also great enjoyment that comes from the silence. During our last camping trip, I noticed something that I would never have heard living in the city. In the middle of the night, I could hear the sound of the pulse in my neck as it hit my sleeping bag. Yes, it was beating rather loudly due to the onslaught of Wolf howls we heard just north of our campsite, but I could hear it nonetheless. When the Wolf howls stopped, and my pulse slowed, all I could hear was, nothing. Silence.

While I am largely referring to the lack of noise pollution – sirens, cell phones, construction – what I also mean is the mental clarity and peace of mind that you can achieve, just by getting away from the everyday. When camping, I am somehow able to block all the regular thoughts that intrude in life; work, deadlines, bills, appointments, etc. I am able to focus solely on what I am doing. This is another great reward for those that are easily distracted at home.

I know many people agree with me on this next reason. Plain and simple, camp food tastes amazing. Food that I would never eat, or barely enjoy when at home is incredible when prepared and eaten in the wild. When you exert any amount of physical activity in the outdoors, food becomes the reward of all rewards. If you’ve chosen to bring some of your favourite delicacies from your home cooked recipes, it’s like you’ve won the lottery. I couldn’t explain to you why it tastes so good, it just does. My theory is that it’s similar to eating pistachios; They taste great when you have a bowl full of un-shelled nuts. You work so hard, eagerly eyeing the next shell to pry open, but, when the bowl is presented to you with all of the shells missing, they are quite underwhelming. When camping, cooking can be more arduous. Setting up a fire, filtering clean water, and a lack of the kitchen’s full utensil drawer are all things that make it more difficult. However, when that meal is complete, and your stomach is full… is good.

I could go on and on about what makes canoe tripping so great. These are just a few reasons to get out there, grab a canoe and hit the water. If you have any to share, post them in the comments section, perhaps you will intrigue someone to get out there too!

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