Thursday, August 2, 2001
It's time I put down both my digital and still cameras to extend a final message for this Hide-Away Canoe Club trip.
Every trip has its bits of lingo, certain phrases and dialogue which are repeated ad nauseum throughout the journey. For us it's the adding of the suffix -- age -- to a variety of camp words. If a tent is being pitched in a place with a lot of deep soil -- there is good pegage. If the blackflies are out in force (and boy, were they ever) then there's a lot of bugage. And now it's time for wrapage.
I am writing this alongside the last rapid of the Korok River as it empties into the sea. We have watched the bottom of the rapids grow by almost a kilometre as the huge Ungava Bay tides recede. We are awaiting our boat pickup from Kangiqsuallujjuaq, to arrive when the tide turns later today. And we will return to Toronto on Friday night. (Or so we hope!?)
Labrador Odyssey 2001 is at the final stage of its life. Which means it's time to draw another black line across the large map of Canada at home. There are a lot of lines there now, marking some great trips and times over the last 20 years. This trip will be remembered by all of us as one of the best. The scenery and experiences on Labrador Odyssey rival those of any of our great trips.
Also, this is our first "real" expedition in six years. In two of the last four years as we began our Onriver.Online series of trips, the journeys were downstream only. Which were considerably easier. It left time to work out the technology kinks that always arise. But we yearned to return to the type of trip we love and which marks the HACC. A trip that re-creates historic routes and crosses heights-of-land.
And let me tell you, they are tough. I recall myself saying during one sweaty break while portaging the upper Palmer River, "This is brutal, but I love it." There is an undoubted sense of satisfaction to work up and over a river system. It is rewarding and perhaps takes you back to the times when people did hard work like this as a matter of course.
A special word of thanks to Woods Canada, who make their living selling people outdoor equipment and have the class and commitment to support an endeavour like this. Woods Canada's CEO, David Earthy, and his family have supported the HACC for 10 years and if you, in any way liked what you saw on this Web site -- he's the guy who really made it possible.
And speaking of Web sites, we're very proud of ours. It was designed and largely written by Sean Peake, our Director of Research and Boissonier. His strength both on and off the trip was of huge importance to me; the guy who does all the logistical work beforehand.
The last minute death on the eve of our departure of Angus Scott, father of our longtime paddling partner Peter, was a terrible blow both personally and to the trip. We are hugely indebted to Tom Stevens, a veteran of our last two trips, who was able to jump in at the very last minute and bring his great humour, hard work and strong muscles to this trip. We may call him Fancy Boy, since he has some sense of personal hygiene, but he's really a huge asset to our trips.
Peter Brewster, our senior member, regular columnist and sage council (so he says), is always addressed as 'Squire". He proved that at 58 years of age a tough trip is no problem. He will need all that stamina as he and his better half Christie are expecting their first child in a couple of weeks!
Our newest HACC appointee, Guide Andrew Macdonald, was a never-ending workhorse. Always first up he prepared most of the meals, helped Geoffrey produce wonderful bread (even without salt!), always got a fire going and was a marvel of skinny strength at less than 160 pounds and six feet. He has evolved into a first class woodsman and will outdo us all in time.
And of course, our Chief Guide, Geoffrey Peake, who was happy to have some guiding help from Andrew, is in a class by himself. Though my baby brother is now 40! -- he can still haul like a horse, guide with the best -- make great cinnamon buns -- and write wonderful dispatches
Together they make up as fine and selfless a canoeing crew as is possible. And that makes trips like this work
We do these trips because we experience life in its fullest state. Pure air, water and great camaraderie.
To our wives and loved ones, who have to deal with our absence; we are returning fitter and finer people, refreshed and renewed -- and with a lot of bug bites in places we can only show you!
And to all you wonderful people out there in cyberspace -- thanks. Thanks for taking some time out of your day -- and if we hear your correctly -- wishing you were with us. Well you were. And it's been a pleasure.
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