By: Eli Campbell
“I’m sure there are many things I’ll never learn by traveling over the earth by canoe. I’m just not sure any of them are worth much.” - Douglas Wood
As soon as we arrived at the Sustainability Semester house, we were thrown into new and challenging experiences. We were meeting people for the first time, cooking on whisperlite stoves with ingredients we’d never used before, sleeping in tents with people we’d just met, and preparing for an expedition that most of us had never had any experience with before. But part of what made the transition into the semester as smooth as it was, was everybody’s openness towards each other. We were all being thrown into a situation we had no choice but to be positive about what we were doing.
After spending 2 days at the Sustainability house, we spent the next eleven days paddling 87 miles, portaging 15.7 miles, learning about each other, learning about ourselves, and each day getting closer to where we would be spending the rest of the semester. Even though each of us had spent time before the semester preparing for the expedition, and had spent time together preparing as well, there wasn’t much that we could do to prepare us for all of the challenges and extraordinarily fun times that we would all face during the trip.
The backcountry in all of its beauty and wilderness brought with it the kinds of challenges and triumphs that one would find difficult to parallel in the front country. The rain, which loomed over us for 8 days of your trip, made us all feel like we’d never see the sun again, but it made us all appreciate the sun more than we ever had before when it finally decided to shine down on us (for a brief two days). Sitting in a canoe for the majority of the day with only ourselves and a paddle to propel ourselves forward made us appreciate how easy it is to move from one place to another when you have a car. Carrying a canoe on our backs made us appreciate and long for the ease of the canoe through the water. Cooking our own food and cleaning up after ourselves made us appreciate a good home cooked meal. Paddling through Dead, Creek around its constant winding turns, with no way of telling how far you had come or how far you had to go because of the marshy grasses blocking our view, all the while battling against the current and pushing ourselves over beaver dams pushed us to our limits but made us stronger knowing that we could be pushed to those limits, and still make it to the portage trail at the end. And falling asleep in a tent at dusk feeling completely exhausted made us all proud of what we had conquered that day.
So far, the semester has provided us with a lot of firsts, a lot of laughs, a lot of challenges, and a lot of triumphs. Here’s to 3 more months!