In honor of throwback Thursday, I’ll post an old photo from one of our Mohican River canoe trips.
As I begin my 35th year of canoeing, I look back with fondness on the days when we could muster three dozen people for a canoe trip.
These days, if I want to organize a canoe trip, I throw my gear in the ol’ Canoebaru, strap a canoe onto the roof and head out. No need to call anyone; they won’t come anymore.
Over the years, they gradually dropped out. For some, it was too much work — setting up camp, breaking down, setting up again, portaging, etc. For others, it was a matter of priorities. Such as drinking. Or starting a family.
Not that they couldn’t bring the kids along on canoe trips — if only to fetch them a beer from the cooler now and then.
Some people just plain outgrew canoeing. Not me. There’s something magical about heading downstream with a boat full of gear and not a care in the world, and that feeling never faded. If anything, it’s grown stronger.
I tried recruiting younger people for canoe trips, but that didn’t work out. It got to be too much like baby-sitting — cleaning up after them, telling them not to deface trees, making sure they doused their campfires completely, explaining why they had to bury their poop and on and on. I barred one couple from future trips after they wandered from our campsite onto a nearby railroad trestle and lied next to the tracks while a train sped by. They thought it was exhilarating. The engineer didn’t. Nor did the Holmes County Sheriff’s deputies who visited our campsite later that evening.
Frankly, I miss the laughter, the camaraderie and good times of those weekends on the river. But not as much as I enjoy the peaceful solitude and being able to set my own pace on a canoe trip.
Some nights, when I’m sitting alone in front of the campfire, I can hear my friends’ laughter echoing through the river valley. And I raise a beer to them.
Five years ago, someone told me he could see me doing this well into my 80s. So can I.