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Pine River Challenge

July 19, 2009

Anyone out there been canoeing before?
We had never been ourselves. An opportunity to camp and learn to canoe down a river seemed harmless enough.
Who doesn’t like campfires?

Or sleeping in a tent?

How ’bout pancakes made by boyscouts?

Maybe it’s not for you, but we love it!
One of my favorite moments was having a cup of coffee or hot chocolate around the morning fire as everyone gathered to prepare for the day’s agenda

This whole trip was set up by William’s boy scout troop. He belongs to an active group of scouts that set this up for the younger boys that are not old enough for a high adventure trip. Last year’s high adventure was backpacking thru the Sierra mountains. This year will be Yellowstone. To keep the boys younger than 14 from feeling left out, a 60 mile canoe trip on Michigan’s Pine River was organized.
Yes, I said 60 miles. If you click on the above link you’ll see there was not a straight section in the entire river.
With that said it may not be necessary to tell you that our first day out was rough.
Things started out as planned. The canoe rental picked us up in a fun looking bus to take us up the river to push off for an estimated four hour trip back to our camp.

Our confidence was strong even as we put on life vests. Everyone has to wear them, right?

There are no pictures of the following five and a half hours. Just let me say that we refused to give up. Not even after flipping our canoes a combined five times, fighting cold, numbing water, nursing scrapes and bruises, minor dehydration, major panic attacks, and necessary potty breaks on the river’s banks did we surrender to that river.
The opportunities to take pictures were few. We were too busy wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into.
Guided by sheer determination we made it back to camp.

The idea that we would have to face the challenges of two more days in the canoes was overshadowed by our surroundings.

And dinner. Those scouts know how to prepare a meal. On the menu was deep dish enchilada casserole and sherry chicken in rice cooked in dutch ovens over hot coals. Mmmm…..

…. back to our surroundings…

It was during these times we regretted not having Solanna with us. You may be wondering where she was. We missed her as she was home with a puppy to chase around. But with fourteen hours of canoeing ahead of us in the next two days, we were glad that she was home safe and sound.

The next day went much smoother for us. After breaking camp and setting up down river we were bused back to the old campsite to launch off. The river must have felt that we paid our dues on the first day and was happy to let us pass safely despite the Class II rapids. It was after this stretch that I understood the fun of canoeing. We finished our longest river stretch in six hours without tipping over or any other delays.
Kayleigh was especially proud of her accomplishments.

On day three with only four hours of paddling to make it to the finish line we took advantage of the opportunity to play on the sand dunes and stop for photo ops.


I would love to tell you that we finished the last run without any event. But Eddie and William had one last fight with the Pine River. The powerful water pushed them into a log jam and tipped the canoe over. Thankfully fellow scouts helped them out as Kayleigh and I were paddling farther down the river oblivious to their struggles. Along the way we heard word that they had been delayed but were back on track with no injuries.

To reach the shore of our last stop was bittersweet. I didn’t want it to end, but my body was never so glad to stop moving. I’m sure we all felt the same upon reaching the beach.

William and Eddie will earn a 50 mile merit badge for their efforts being members of troop 344.
Kayleigh and I won’t receive a patch because we were guests on this trip. For me that’s okay. I enjoyed the company of the scouts and their families, the food, camping, the scenery, and most of all the canoeing. I’m looking forward to next year myself.
According to Kayleigh there will be no next year for her.
I’m hoping that a years’ distance will help her to reconsider.

See you soon,
Victoria

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