Saturday, January 1, 2011

Anyone who tells you portaging is fun is either a liar, or crazy, or maybe both

In August my family set out on a 7 night backcountry canoe journey.  It was a dream of my father’s to paddle a chain of lakes in BC’s interior.  And so 6 of us loaded up the canoes, and launched into the lakes to test ourselves against the weather.  There was spectacular clear lakes surrounded with rugged peaks,  stunning sunsets and torrential rain.  The flat calm water stirred itself into a rage and we huddled wet and cold on a sandbar to wait out the storm.  We paddled.  And camped, and paddled and got rained on and huddled around an old woodstove in a rustic trappers cabin with our wet gear hung out to dry... we woke to blazing sun and we paddled down the caribou river avoiding sweepers and dead heads…. – we hauled out and portaged overland between lakes before paddling onward through the cloud soaked mountains and seemingly deserted waters.

I look back fondly at the days we spent away from the world of plastics, and electricity, on lakes free from any motors, where there are no beer cans or bottle tops, no roads or ATV trails, no sounds of aircraft flying above, no power lines or humming generators.   A place where the mists rise and linger cloaking the forest and every thought is the present.  I never once thought about work, we never talked about our life back home in land of conveniences and solid walls.  Our life on those lakes was all about the here and now. 

In a fit of nostalgia I sat at my desk and began to paint.  This is the product of that moment... and yet my need to paint memories of that trip has not been slaked, as there sits on my desk yet another canvas from which a canoe is springing forth from the mists. 

Isaac Lake

 Original Watercolour

“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me - I am happy.”  ~Hamlin Garland, McClure's, February 1899

© RiverWalker Arts

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful way to capture a memory. It sounds like it was a wonderful trip. Hope you paint more of your memories of this trip in the future.