This is a topic that has become very real to me over the last year or so, and was again brought home recently when we buried another close friend. So yesterday I decided to do something that I have been wanting to do ever since we moved up here to "God's Country". I put "Hardly", the canoe; (the name is short form for Hardly Paddlin' --- yes, we named almost everything around here), in the back of the truck, and headed for the Torch River. My son took me down to the water, much against his better judgement , I might add, but he knows his mother. If he didn't help I'd do it anyway, and this way if I had a problem he'd know where to look for me, lol. Normally I paddle in the bow of the canoe and my friend, (member Less is More) takes the stern and is the captain. This is the first time I have gone solo. First I filled nine, gallon milk jugs with water, tied them together and put them in the bow for ballast, just to keep the front end down. Then I put on my life jacket, yes, I swim like a fish, but I'm not stupid--- always wear a life jacket !
The day was perfect with a high, light overcast, temp. around 22 degrees, no wind. The river is high, no major rocks to watch for and the few rapids covered and a bit choppy, not rough, just a bit exhilarating, not scary. We've been on it when you hold your breath and hope, but this time the water was slick and fast and very generous with me and the mistakes I made in paddling from the stern. The trip from launch to my pasture usually takes 11/2 hours, and even with me fooling around learning how to get Hardly to respond, I did it in reasonable time. And to his credit my son didn't panic and come looking for me.
There is just something about river canoeing, so quiet and sereal, as if you are suspended in time between reality and dreams. The world and it's problems disappear and it is just you and the river and the air. To the three beavers I saw, I was invisible. The kingfisher caught a minnow as I drifted by and ignored me. The bald eagle soared past and landed on the top of a spruce far ahead and waited , watching as I went past. How perfect it was, to take my first solo trip down the Torch off my bucket list.