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The End of A Canoeing Adventure

Larry said, “At least you’ll get a good story out of this.”

Within feet of the shore, a log stuck out into the water from the bank. Part of it looked to be submerged in the water. Larry was holding the canoe expecting me to step into it, walk to the bow and step out on the bank.

“Hold on,” I said, me being me, I stepped onto the log, getting a good footing. (When I have the opportunity to climb a tree or even a fallen down snag, I seize the chance. Trees have a similar affect on me as rivers do, I feel at peace.)

While I was working on my footing on a branch of the log, which was slippery, Larry said, “Or are you going to do something fancy? Walk on the tree?”

“Yep,” I was already starting to walk across it, it wasn’t very long.

Canoeing with Larry 012“Be careful,” he admonished with fatherly concern, while he pulled the canoe onto the bank. I sat perched on the fallen tree, as always hesitant to leave a tree.

“Dry your feet.” Larry instructed as he was busy with the canoe. I brushed my feet off a little but I was distracted by being in the tree. I had taken my shoes and socks out of the canoe and set them near me, the one shoe was quite wet; the other was only a little damp. Though rolled to my knees, my pant legs were also wet.

“Are your feet dry?” Larry came over to me and knelt down before me. Took my left foot into his hands and rubbed them. He was a little concerned about them being so cold, though thankfully not as cold as they could have been.  Once he rubbed my left foot he slipped my sock and shoe on, I had to slide the shoe over my heel. Then he rubbed my right foot. He affectionately called me darling as he put my other sock on and jokes about me being Cinderella as he tried to get my other shoe on. However, I took over putting on my shoe. It felt strange to have someone else put my socks and shoes on me and yet the gesture was sweet. And his warm hands rubbing my very cold feet felt good. (I’m like another daughter to Larry.)

Though we were no longer canoeing, our adventure wasn’t over yet. We had to portage the canoe to get it back to one of our vehicles. Larry picked up the bow and I picked up the stern. No longer in a forest of wild rice and bulrushes, but an actual woodlot, we had to carry the canoe through and around trees. Predominantly pin and black oak surrounded us with an under story of buckthorn. The terrain was uneven, littered with leaves hiding sticks and branches. The soil was soft, sandy and easy to slide in. We were lifting the canoe over logs and ducking under low hanging branches while keeping the canoe high enough so it wouldn’t drag on the ground or get caught. Larry cautioned about watching out for poison ivy. There were also nettles to avoid. The canoe felt heavy and my arm was going dead. I stumbled as I walked, trying not to trip. We came upon what appeared to be an ATV trail, running perpendicular to our current path. Larry turned us left onto the path.

“Should we switch sides?” asked Larry.

Canoeing with Larry 016“Yeah,” I said gratefully. We set the canoe down and switched sides. My dead arm could rest. It was a little easier to carry the canoe with a fresh arm walking on an actual trail (no ducking or stepping over logs required). However, it didn’t take long for the canoe to feel extremely heavy again. I lifted it up higher to rest more against my body and tried to hold on with both hands. Larry noticed the movement in the canoe and knew what it meant.

“Need a break?”

“Yes,” I replied, thankful to set the canoe down once again. I thought about the early French explorers and fur trappers, canoes were their main mode of transportation. They had to haul gear, goods, and furs to trade in their canoes; carrying a lot of weight when they had to portage with canoes bigger than the one we were using. I marveled at the strength and fortitude those men had.

We set the canoe down and, to my great relief, Larry decided to come back for it. He visually marked the spot, then we left the trees for a sand road. We walked along the road for a ways. After awhile, the trees on our left broke up and we could see a channel. Pointing to it, Larry said, “This is where we were going to canoe, up to Schmoker’s bridge. But there isn’t enough water.” He figured we’d left the canoe on Les Schmoker’s land, so while he went to see if Les was home and ask permission to drive back there to get the canoe, Larry had me walk to the bridge to get my van.

“He’ll ask what I was thinking trying to take the canoe up there.” Larry said as he walked to the house. “Just walk up the road there, the bridge isn’t far.” I kept walking. It was a beautiful day and I love going on walks. I was also happy to have the chance to really connect to this place (not just be a tourist), to truly experience it, walking afforded me that.

Soon I was back in the van and picking up Larry from Les Schmoker’s house.

Canoeing with Larry 018“Les would be another good person to interview. He said he’d be willing to talk to you. But to get the full story you should do it when his son, John is there too.”

I drove Larry to Prichard’s landing to get his truck. “Go on back to my place. I’ll get the canoe and see you there soon.”

I stopped back at the bridge to take a few photos before heading back to Larry’s. (He had fun telling our adventures to some of his friends. They teased him about attempting to take me up Schmoker’s. And he told his theory about the beaver dam. Larry said, “We’ll hike back in there this winter.”)

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