Friday, June 15, 2007

It's official....I am getting excited!

With only 24 days remaining until my solo trip and just 48 days before Gerry and I leave for CC2007 it is all becoming very real. Until now I have been able to distract myself making lists, collecting gear and reading the countless trip logs available, but with just a few weeks before I go on my first ever solo trip the reality of what I am doing has started to set in.

Solo tripping is going to be very different then what I have done in the past. I have always had someone with me and almost every time, that someone has been Gerry. Having a friend like him is like being able to pick someone to be a member of your family. We have a "brother-like" friendship that is perfect for canoe tripping and despite our relative inexperience, there was always a feeling that together we could face whatever challenge stood before us. I found I was able do things collectively that I am not sure I could do on my own. So in many ways, my solo trip is as much about testing my abilities then it is about seeing a section of the park that is new to me. I am feeling a bit anxious about being alone for that long and what feelings that may evoke. I remember a section of Chris Lawsons trip log of his first solo trip and where he was trying to sleep, but his mind kept racing with every bump in the night. I have a feeling I will be much like that for the first few nights and plan to record it all for a trip log of my own. Here is an exert:

"At around 1:20am I was just coming out of my third or fourth abortive attempt at sleep. I desperately wanted the night to be over so I could get up. Not since I hit puberty have I ever left bed willingly to say nothing of longing for it. I heard a wolf howling off in the distance.

But then I heard what seemed like half a dozen wolves howling in response. Only these were close. From what I could gather from the direction, they were maybe across the river from my site, maybe 50m away? I could hear their footfalls. Some were howling, some were whimpering. I could hear one (some) growl while others cried in response. Clearly there was some disagreement going on.

This went on for a few minutes. Distant howl, next door neighbours' chorus. Then I heard a splash. One or several or all were coming across to check out the food smells from my site. And when they found nothing but granola and cocktail rye, were they going to be pissed. Maybe the one that lost the fight was coming over to pick on something easier. Like a chipmunk, or me.

Of course, wolves don't attack humans. They just howl a lot and chase the things they like to eat. And it's estimated that there are between 30 and 35 packs of them ranging throughout Algonquin Park. And had I been in a better frame of mind, I might have just considered myself lucky to have encountered them and might have longed for an actual sighting.

But I wasn't. I was scared. The howling stopped after a few minutes and I hazed in and out of consciousness.

I recall spending borderless periods of time analysing noises: stubble scraping sleeping bag. Breathing through nose impeded by slight congestion. Stomach grumbling. Breeze rustling tarp. Squirrel climbing tree - fuck there he goes. Oh well, just so long as he spares me a tablespoon of coffee.

The next thing I remember is needing to go to the bathroom, being overjoyed at the fact that it was 6:10am. And my food bag was still intact. Hallelujah. "

I will be bringing my small waterproof point and shoot camera and my other digital camera that has a viewfinder. The waterproof Olympus is a far better digital camera, but I have found it difficult to frame a subject given the glare on the 4 X 3 screen. Anyone have a suggestion? The point and shoot also has a fairly decent video mode and I plan to shoot as much video as possible....maybe even a video diary.

I have been thinking about getting a small USB voice recorder to track my progress/feelings on the trip to use when writing the trip log and maybe a podcast.

My kids are a little to young to do any serious camping, so we are pulling them out of school next week and taking them to Sandbanks Provincial Park for 3 days. We are all very excited and looking forward to spending some time together without any distractions. I booked it about a month ago thinking the kids would be done school by then...but it turns out they are. Oh well, all the grades are already in and they don't get homework for the rest of the year anyway. I plan on bringing my Hennessy Hammock and giving it a real test drive one of our 3 nights as well. I just hope the weather at Sandbanks remains as nice as is predicted.

The countdown continues....thanks for reading everyone!


Mungo said...

I'm also going on a solo - can't wait! I borrowed your idea of a countdown ticker - it's on my blog now... :-)
Was reading the trip account you mentioned - and also visited canadian canoe routes - fun to read.
If you are interested, you'll find the map to Algonquin Park in pdf on my site at
Hope that's useful,

Mungo said...