- By Brandon Wikman
The age-old canoe has an alluring mystique that’s celebrated by moments of stress free awe. Outdoor aficionados seek refuge and escape from the daily monotony of life by venturing water bound. The motor-less transportation gracefully parts the waters of rivers and lakes with elegance. The only real sound produced while canoeing is the paddle plunging into the depths of clear water. And my girlfriend shrieking for her life…
I wouldn’t have ever expected canoeing to be such a brutal task. I’ve watched piles of wilderness documentaries that captivated my soul and touched my inner-outdoorsmen strings. I’ve always believed the beauty and elegance of a canoe is complimented by the wilderness experience. The sacred bond between nature and joint partnership with echoing loons, splashing fish, and fatigued back muscles unveiled my “canoe therapy theory” quite different.
The problem arose incredibly fast, before we could even marry the canoe with water. My girlfriend, Jenn, is utterly terrified by the sight of slinking spiders. As we broke-out the canoe from a year of solitude and storage, hundreds of flighty-legged critters scattered like mice! Jenn practically jumped into the water from the sight of creep-crawling critters. I had to admit, it wasn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I was instantly promoted from “canoe hauler” to “canoe cleaner.”
Within minutes, I was granted so admirably with a can of Raid and a roll of paper towels. The spider-invasion began. I soaked the entire boat from corner-to-corner with the poisonous concoction hoping to knock out each and every living thing that called the canoe home. Twenty tireless-minutes later and three stiff inspections after… Jenn and I were finally ready to launch the canoe.
At this point the canoe reeked of toxic fumes that burnt nose hairs and most likely chipped away pieces of the canoe itself. With the putrid smell of poison in the air and spiders lingering in the back of my mind, we paddled into the depths of the lake hoping to not instantly kill every fish that came within smell-distance of the canoe.
Jenn and I paddled through the heavenly waters and soaked in the glistening sun, ray-by-ray. As my pale winter-white skin scorched with the fire of 3rd degree burns, I couldn’t help but wonder how I could’ve forgotten sun block. With my skin on fire, I turned to the closest thing in reach to soothe the pain, water. I reached overboard; ever so carefully cupped a handful of water without wobbling the watercraft. I could almost see the droplets of water sizzle and evaporate as they hit my blistering skin. Needless to say, the searing intensified even more from the shiny reflections of water upon my charred pelt!
At this point, things didn’t matter anymore. We were a ways from the dock and quite frankly, I just wanted to catch some fish. I stealthily paddled to an isolated tree stump in the middle of the lake hoping to surprise attack a school of fish with a hook and bloodsucking leech. As I drifted into the tangled structure my eyes lit up like bobbers. Fish! The school lurked around tree branches that were choked with vegetation. It was a perfect hangout place for some tiny fish that lacked any sense of brainpower. I used that to my advantage. Jenn and I slipped a hook into the lips of several fish. Needless to say, they were virtually weightless and had as much meat on them as a transparent slice of ham. We plunked hooks wrapped with leeches over the boat until we basically began to feel bad for the little fish. We felt like anglers of the year, only weight or length didn’t matter.
The adventure of a lifetime soon came to an end as the sun drew near the horizon and the sky bleached with streaks of red. Nighttime neighbored and god forbids that the thought of staying on the lake any later crossed our imagination. Stranded on the lake in a blackout would have only added some sort of bittersweet ending to our fairytale day, but not this evening.
The day’s adventures and spellbinding journey shared with Jenn from inside the canoe left me truly speechless. Yet, moments shared outdoors with people you truly care about should do so. Beyond the dangling spiders, choking fumes, overcooked skin, and meatless fish, I must say… I loved every minute.