This year we did a ‘girls’ trip’. It has been years since I organized a canoe trip for women only.
I met an old friend at a silent retreat last November. At the end of the retreat when we had a chance to talk, we started talking about canoeing – because what else do you talk about on a cold November day in Quebec? By the end of the conversation we had the kernel of a canoe trip forming. Women only, easy, relaxing, someplace that was a reasonable driving distance.
I booked site 23 on Spider Lake – in Massassauga Provincial Park. It is a great site that I have been too a few times. We decided to stay on one site since we only had 4 days and really just wanted to relax. One of the women had never done this before, she has always stayed one night only on a site. By the end of the four days she said she thought this was a lovely option. It is different, but nice.
In the spring I hurt my knee – I went for a run, then stacked wood – apparently I think I am still 30. It had been months and it was just not getting better. Two weeks before the trip I realized I wouldn’t be able to portage, I wasn’t sure about walking around a campsite or crawling in and out of the tent either, but I definitely knew I would not be able to carry a canoe or pack. I emailed my friends and said I couldn’t go. They offered me a deal – they would portage my stuff if I agreed to do their dishes. I took the deal. All I kept thinking was swimming in a cold lake will help my knee.
I was going to leave my wine at home because I didn’t feel right having someone portage two liters for me. When they found out they made me agree to bring it. Their rationale was that if I didn’t have wine, they would feel compelled to share their wine. I love the honesty of my friends. I compromised and just packed one liter of white, convincing myself it would help with the pain.
It was hard letting others look after things – portaging, getting water and firewood, dealing with the food at night, not to mention enduring their endless teasing. They didn’t make me do dishes, but they did call me a Princess on more than one occasion. (OK to be honest it was mostly one smartass camper who did the teasing.) It was humbling – a very good lesson.
One of the things I realized before we left for the trip was the roles couples take on in a relationship includes camping chores. For example, I don’t look after the water filter and I don’t put the saw together or hang the hammock. I had a tutorial on all these things before I left. It really is good to know how to do all these things in case of an emergency, especially working the water filter – we have a gravity filter that is just a few years old and apparently I have never set it up. What if something happened and I was left on my own to get water? It is like one person in a relationship looking after all the financial stuff, what if something happens? You both need to know this stuff. Unfortunately, now I have no excuses for not doing things like putting the saw together. Oh well.
So off we went, a group of 4 women, ranging in ages from 52-67, one hobbling along behind. We had a fantastic time, relaxing, reading, swimming, hiking and chatting around the campfire. We didn’t stay up late because of the mosquitoes – they were really thick because of the wet spring. However, we almost welcomed the excuse to go to bed early and chat and read.
On this trip I discovered that I really enjoy paddling in the stern and will make a point of doing that more often – another skill important to keep sharp.
It was very humid which didn’t help the fly situation. The bugs were attracted to my right leg, likely because it was inflamed – an added bonus for my friends. I was like a bug zapper, but unfortunately not as efficient. On the first night I got a bite in the forehead by something as I was falling asleep in the tent. By the next morning my eye was swollen shut. Apparently my body was having trouble responding appropriately. I took an antihistamine and within an hour I could see normally again. The barn flies/stable flies were out in full force so we were very happy it was windy. They are just nasty little ankle-biters.
One friend tried dehydrating for the first time. She made some fantastic meals including Grand Marnier Balls and fruit crisp dessert from this blog. It makes me so happy to know someone is using the recipes I’ve posted. I am trying to convince her to become a guest blogger, but no luck yet. I will try to get her recipes though.
I survived. The swimming was so good for my knee – once I found an easy way to get in and out of the water. Going camping was a good decision. I had to move slowly and with purpose, a bit like 4 days of walking meditation.
My knee is getting better, but I still can’t portage. Next year I will have to make up for it, but until then, I remain the Winey Camper Princess.