First camping adventure of the weekend!
Friday afternoon, after I had set up camp and fed the local mosquitoes, I decided to pull out the canoe. This particular canoe ride may have been the most frightening I ever embarked upon. For starters, canoes designed for 2-4 persons (said the sign on the inside of the canoe) may not be the best option for one person to attempt to maneuver. With zero weight or steering power in the front, steering was so touchy that I had to switch sides every time I paddled. Once I got further out onto the lake, I realized the light breeze I had felt on the dock was now a bit more of a gusty wind. Canoeing 101, I thought if I just stayed perpendicular to the wind, I would be fine to go explore the other areas of the lake.
As I was “exploring,” I began to realize I wasn’t travelling due east, as I had planned to, but northeast. Not a huge problem, I still had relative control over the canoe (or so I thought), and I was nearing a beaver home that I thought it would be cool to check out. As I got closer, I realized the wind was doing quite a bit more steering than I originally thought, and it was time to turn around before I crashed into the home. I don’t really know anything about beavers, as far as human interactions go, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t take kindly to another animal crashing into their home in a big aluminum craft. I wasn’t really interested in testing my theory either.
So as I tried to change course and circle back around, the wind decided it would rather fight me than cooperate. Each time I tried to to move away from the beaver home I seemed to be getting closer. Fight or flight kicked in because now I was certain I would either be stranded on the lake forever, or face to face with a beaver family, and I was completely alone. I had three thoughts- “Must turn around. Must get back. Must not tip the canoe.” (I also had an irrational fear of what lurked in the depths of the lake. I think it comes from a story I heard when I was a kid about a little boy who had his arm nearly torn off by a muskie in Lake Rebecca, which was near where I lived the first 8 years of my life.) I had a moment where the wind and my aggressive paddling nearly DID tip the canoe. So I was fighting my “flight” panic and trying to calm down as I was distancing myself from the beaver home while still getting pushed against the opposite shore of my home base. For an anti-climactic finish, I eventually made it back with the adrenaline rush of a lifetime (thanks biology!), and had to laugh since my whole reason for the solo camping adventure was some rest, relaxation, and outdoor exercise.
The lesson I learned here- do not take out a 2-4 person canoe solo, especially if it’s a little windy.
(I later searched for the story on the muskellunge attack, and it did happen, in 1995, when a muskie somehow found its way into the swimming area on Lake Rebecca- check it out: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/young_naturalists/monsters/index.html . I believe my grandma said something to my dad about the kid needing 29 stitches. Obviously the story is exaggerated in my head because I was seven at the time.)