Happy Day 71: Some days it is harder than others to identify happy parts. Sometimes the happy part lies in knowing that the hard stuff can’t last forever.
It has been many years since I have actually portaged a canoe. I was on a trip to the boundary waters. We would glide along the water, our gear stacked neatly in the center of the canoe. The views of the pine trees surrounding the lake were breath taking. Several times bald eagles flew over head. A few times the wind would pick up and we would have to paddle harder to make forward progress toward our destination.
But this was nothing compared to the effort required when we would get to the edge of the lake and have to portage all our gear across land to the next lake. This is when we truly gained appreciation for the canoe carrying us along so effortlessly across the lake. Every pack and the canoe and paddles had to be carried without the help of the water to buoy us up. We could each only carry so much at a time, so invariably the portage required multiple trips.
We packed much of our gear in ‘Duluth Packs’ – essentially a giant canvas backpack. They were great for having fewer packs to carry, so fewer trips back and forth across the portage, but they could also get really heavy, so we had t be careful about how they were packed. The canoes we had weren’t fancy new super light fiberglass canoes. Instead we had the old aluminum canoes, which were super tough and durable, but also weighed a ton. And independent of the weight issue, there is no way around the fact that canoes are awkward things to carry. There was a bar across the middle of the canoe with a couple little pads on it to try to make it a little more comfortable, but this did nothing to negate the fact that balancing a canoe on your shoulders that is three times as long as you and weighs a quarter to a third of your weight is simply awkward no matter how cushy those little pads are.
Getting back in the water at the other end of the portage, leaves all the burdens of the weight and awkwardness behind. Paddling feels effortless. The blue sky and green trees look extra vibrant.
This too shall pass.
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