It feels strange to type. I guess that means I have been out in the wilderness for a significant chunk of time lately…at any rate, it’s certainly been awhile since I’ve been able to snag time to type up a few quick posts on my recent wild happenings. So here goes…
Weeks six and seven were (as the title states) taken up by a two-week canoe trip. All together, we were out camping for about 12 days. I was slightly nervous about the length of the trip before embarking on it. The days seemed to go by quickly, however, and it was both a very full and very fun fortnight. One of the unique (and fun) quirks of the wilderness program is that we don’t let the campers have watches or other time-telling devices. Time is, in many ways, so relative, but often we are rigidly dominated and bound by it in our daily schedules. It’s refreshing to get away from the clock a bit and take time to enjoy the day itself more fully (more of the chronos versus kairos concept)…one thing I’ve noticed this summer is that it’s only on the weekends–when I’m back at camp, re-immersed in an environment driven by the clock and in which I have internet access–that I ever have trouble sleeping. I think a large part of it is that there’s no possibility of me “getting more done” in the middle of the night when I’m camped in a 3-person, orange Marmot tent on the middle of an island with no laptop or cell phone. I’ve already done my work for the day, and there’s no use (and no need) for me to be awake any longer, either laboring over some tedious project or allowing anxious thoughts to tumble around and grow in me. Time is both more fluid and more defined in the wilderness: we eat when we’re hungry, we work when it’s time to move camp or make food or filter water or build a fire, we relax and play when it’s time for leisure, and we sleep when we’re tired; but when it’s time for each of those things, we do them, and don’t worry about the others, but leave them to their own proper times (the end of Matthew 6, anyone?)…and so time becomes paradoxically both less harried and richer. Interesting to note, I think.
And speaking of time, I really enjoyed getting to know the kids we had along better than I’m normally able to because of the additional time they were with us; likewise, our bible study and tent devotions really seemed to benefit from the time extension. We were able to have some really good discussions about different questions people had; and one night in bible study we talked about the book of Ecclesiastes and I was reminded how much I like that book. I need to re-visit it soon…there’s so much good stuff in there to be gleaned and so much with which I resonate.
As for geographical aspects of the trip, we camped on Canoe Lake 1, Otter Lake, Camp Island on (yup) Camp Lake and, (by far my favorite) an island on Loon Lake. This last spot was really neat-it’s an island covered mostly by birch trees and little else for plant growth (probably because of a fire some 40 years ago or so), so you can pretty much see through the island from one side to another, and see the water on all sides from any point even though it’s still a pretty sizable island. Even so, there were still a few good spots to get out of sight for using the woodsy facilities. A good combo. The fire ring was also neat: pretty well established, with some cool seats, including a throne-like one made from an old stump.
One other really fun part from the trip was a day when myself and a couple other people from our group went out and scouted some other lakes nearby, Clam and Moosehorn, and forged/found a trail from the latter to the Moose River; we were trying to see if it was possible to portage from that lake to the Moose as an alternate route to what we had planned. We didn’t end up portaging it, but we did mark where we had come out on the bank of the Moose with some bright green duct tape, and were able to see it when we canoed by that spot a few days later. We also saw quite a few beavers on Moosehorn and some neat ducks, and there was a big crash of thunder attendant to a prominent lightning bolt (rare in Alaska), and a big rainbow that we saw just as we were returning to our camp on Loon. Overall for the whole two weeks, the weather was pretty good. We did get some rain here and there but that added to the excitement.
(Oh one last thing: we actually did lose the u-dig-it this week! But it wasn’t me.)