I have been quiet the past week. There are a couple reasons for that. First off the app I have been using to automatically send my posts to Facebook went away so people who know about my blogs from there haven't seen me. If you know of a free app that will do that for me please let me know. The other thing I have been doing is prepping for and going on a camping trip for four days to Algonquin Park. Today I got home and my balcony quickly ended up looking like this:
In case it isn't obvious, this is lots of camping bits out drying in the sun before being packed away again for another six months. It was an interesting trip for me because I was going with a new group of people and because I was doing all the food preparation, planning, and cooking. I have done plenty of camp cooking before but sorting out exactly how much of everything to pack was new. I am pleased to report that I did a fine job as we brought back a minimal amount of food and everyone seemed to enjoy what I created. There are some adjustments to make for next time of course - I need to pack more of the barley, rice, and lentils so that if we need to bulk up a meal we can do it without carrying much extra weight. I also should cut back on the g.o.r.p and other snacks because almost 3 kilos of that was twice as much as we needed.
Going out with a different group of people also brought a good bunch of culture shock. My other group is very laid back and we plan relatively short travel days with lots of beer, extra food, fancy dining, and excessive candy. We also enjoy staying up most of the way through the night and waking up quite late. On this trip though everyone was out of bed incredibly early - I was the late riser at 7:15 one morning and that blew my mind. I am used to people staying up till 4:00 around the campfire and then sleeping till 10:00! I kept collecting tons of firewood thinking we would need it but everyone wanted to go to sleep as soon as it got dark so my mad woodsman skills went mostly untapped.
There is also a really tricky thing when you are going camping and the chain of command isn't clear. I learned camping from my parents where I really didn't get a vote, and most trips I have been on Wendy has been in charge.
This time it was mostly Naked Man who ran the show but unfortunately we had some differences of opinion on how exactly that show was going to go. Upon arriving at the park we discovered that the route we had planned for Friday was likely to take either 12 or 18 hours depending on who we believed - the map had it clocked at 11 hours. I was thoroughly uninterested in paddling for that long and arriving at dusk but Naked Man was absolutely set on punishing us to the max and then doing another 12 hour paddle the next day. For me that was a total non starter - I would have been miserable and bitter that my vacation was nothing but aches and struggle. I want to paddle but four hours of effort is plenty to get the feeling that I have worked and then I want to chill at the site in the sun and spend time hunting down prime deadwood for the evening's entertainment.
8 hours into our brutal Friday trek we were clearly only a bit more than halfway to our destination. The difficulty wasn't just the duration as we were doing single carryovers on long portages and canoeing down a river that was often completely blocked with overgrown alder trees. Two of us were completely unwilling to commit to another 6 hours of travel so we had some tense discussions about whether or not we would stop at the really cruddy unmaintained site on the river or push on. We ended up travelling for 2 more hours and staying at a perfectly reasonable place, which allowed us to finish that leg of the journey a day late at 14 hours total. Thankfully our route allowed us to leave the next day perfectly on schedule but having skipped an entire day of travel.
It gets tricky when a group of four has to make a decision like that. Camp at the terrible spot, paddle on hoping the next spot isn't taken, or go all day and some of the night to arrive in misery in the dark. It ends up being a contest of wills and desire and that can be complicated. We couldn't split up the gear and food in a way that would work so somebody was going to have to give in. I was spending time inside my own head, wondering if I would have to actually say the words "I am staying here with the food. You want to starve, go right ahead and paddle off."
I didn't think I would have to say those words, but there was always the possibility in my mind that Naked Man would be totally unwilling to back down and insist on finishing the route as planned.
I don't know if I will go out with this group again - it really isn't clear. I like them well enough, but a group that wants to get up at the crack of dawn and paddle for twelve hours isn't a good fit for me. I enjoy a different style than that, and I don't want to be the complainer that drags everyone down nor do I want to be pushed along on a trip that doesn't suit me. It won't come up for another year at least though, so I have some time to sort out how I feel about doing it again.
One really great note though: No bugs. Going in May gave us nice temperatures and a almost complete lack of buzzing nuisances and that really made the trip so much better.