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Fears while paddling or on canoe trips

Getting caught at a remote campsite and a big storm/tornado pops up.

So far I’ve been lucky with that with canoe camping but got caught in a tornado while car camping. It was my wife and I. We were holed up in the tent up hearing the deafening roar of the wind and rain. I had my weather radio monitoring the situation. Many times we contemplated making a run for the car but figured the tent’s still holding and we are currently dry, we’ll ride it out. It came in waves and in each lull we thought the worst was over…but then another storm popped up. We eventually had enough and in another lull, frantically packed up camp in the raining darkness and drove back home. That was a storm that did end up killing a camper in a nearby location due to a falling tree.

That’s always in the back of my mind now when camping somewhere remote. Is there a place I can seek shelter if mother nature decides to unexpectedly unleash her fury?
living near the Great lakes, I get lots of nasty pop-up thunderstorms with winds up to 50-60mph lots of lightening, and hail (some even produce tornados or derechos), and in the winter, lake-effect snow that can dump a foot in an hour. Best you can do is try to set up in a sheltered area with no deadfall, tall trees, or heavy limbs near you, and hunker down. We weathered a nasty one a few years ago when every tree over 30' was topped and there were hundreds of blowdowns, we were stuck there for three days until they were able to reopen the access road. People lost entire houses that day. and a nearby restaurant was impaled by a live high- tension pole- to this day I don't know why there was no fire there.
 
When I was working full time we suffered from the "I have to get home" syndrome. Its Sunday, I have to get home. That clouds people's judgement. If the lake is too rough, stay put. If there is a big snowstorm, etc.

Once I was coming home from the desert and driving up US 395 in a bad snow storm. By the time I got to Bridgeport the visibility was 12 feet. I found a motel by seeing a faint neon glow and following the curb into a driveway. I was sweating calling my boss on Monday telling him where I was. I explained the situation. He said "Okay, no problem>"
 
When I was young I had few fears. I used to back pack solo for long periods.
I was not afraid of bears until we had 4 of them visit us in one night.
I was not afraid of people until I met some crazed drunk guys eyeballing my young wife.
I was not afraid of rapids until I swam some Class Vs and got pinned under a raft in a Class IV.
I was not afraid of falling trees until some old growth firs crashed near our camp.
I was not afraid of big waves until getting swamped.
I was not afraid of rivers in flood until we almost lost 2 friends.
I was not afraid of people breaking into my vehicle until a window was smashed a lot of stuff was taken.
Now I am old and scary and keenly aware of all of these things.
 
I was not afraid of many things until some of them almost killed me. I was not afraid of moose, until I happened across a den, and Mama came sloshing across the marsh, with a conviction of purpose that would send all but the stupidly brave running. I have never before or since been so afraid; I could hear, and almost smell, hawks, from miles away. In those moments, I could hear the mice on the forest floor.

In my youth, I paddled Fairy Point in a gale wind (it's in Missinaibi Provincial Park, look it up), with waves over my head in a 17' prospector canoe - literally. I went back there in recent years and I was much more aware of its lethality. With a motor that could get me the Heck Out Of Dodge, I was afraid. Water over the gunwales in a small boat is nothing to sneeze at.

Is it just age, or is it experience, that tells you it's OK to be afraid?
 
It's known for at least one more thing than winds, waves, and pictographs. It's known for dead boaters. There are a lot of boats and boaters sleeping with the fishes in that 300' depth.

I didn't know that then. I know that now.

Another one of my biggest fears on the really remote trips, especially the solo ones?
Sleeping with the fish.
 
I think it's neither... It's simply the luck of having survived our immortality.
(Thinking as a pilot now)

I try not to "advertise" it, but I am a recreational pilot, I fly small airplanes, and I'm good enough to fly them in marginal weather - but just barely.

I read accident reports. All pilots do. They are... realistic. It would take you aback, how many pilots have survived by either sheer luck or the skin of their teeth. I'll say this for boating, as it relates to flying... there is no easy landing.
 
I hope I’ve learned to be wary of poor choices made in impatience. A cousin (pilot) and his daughter perished in a small plane crash. I read the FAA report. A commenter on one of the news articles summed it up as a case of “get home itis”. My cousin disregarded advice to wait out a storm on the ground; this combined with a weather reporting system that has a certain lag, and the storm he tried to thread the needle through was worse and closer than his onboard weather system indicated. Impatience, equipment lag, poor decision. A grieving family.

Growing up there were road signs on the “18-mile stretch”, the causeway leading from Homestead, FL to Key Largo. The causeway was 2-lane with occasional passing zones. The signs read “Arrive Alive”. I didn’t take their meaning when I was younger, and probably scoffed at them as a young driver. Not anymore. Impatience kills, though it is a natural thing and can be very difficult to break its grip.
 
I was not afraid of many things until some of them almost killed me. I was not afraid of moose, until I happened across a den, and Mama came sloshing across the marsh, with a conviction of purpose that would send all but the stupidly brave running. I have never before or since been so afraid; I could hear, and almost smell, hawks, from miles away. In those moments, I could hear the mice on the forest floor.

In my youth, I paddled Fairy Point in a gale wind (it's in Missinaibi Provincial Park, look it up), with waves over my head in a 17' prospector canoe - literally. I went back there in recent years and I was much more aware of its lethality. With a motor that could get me the Heck Out Of Dodge, I was afraid. Water over the gunwales in a small boat is nothing to sneeze at.

Is it just age, or is it experience, that tells you it's OK to be afraid?
I've been actually afraid (not just concerned) twice while tripping, once was going through the Joes in Algonquin when we came around a bend to see a moose calf on the river bank, we thought little of it until we heard momma on the opposite bank, that's when things got hairy- momma decided we were threatening her kid and chased us until the water was deep enough to make her swim. I never realized that a momma moose can run in thigh deep water (her thighs) faster than 2 petrified paddlers in a cruiser until then.
the second time we were crossing Obabika in Temagami, which is insanely deep, and several miles long, but only a couple of miles wide when we got caught in a straight line blow in under a minute the waves went from a slight chop to 4' plus. we were caught in the middle and our only saving grace was the little 2hp kicker because it let us keep running down wind, paddles were useless because most of the time we couldn't even reach the water and there was no way we could have kept up with the wave trains. At one point Bill was above my head in the bow and the kicker was screaming in open air in the stern, I rose a little higher in the seat that day
(edit) I don't scare easy, I found being spun in the whirlpools on the lower Niagara "fun"....
 
that's when things got hairy- momma decided we were threatening her kid and chased us until the water was deep enough to make her swim. I never realized that a momma moose can run in thigh deep water (her thighs) faster than 2 petrified paddlers in a cruiser until then.
They are surprisingly agile in a four foot swamp, and unbelievably fast to boot. And they're violent when they're angry. Their calves make excellent bear food at a time of year when food is otherwise very scarce, and they know it. To a moose, I look very bear-like.

I am more afraid of moose than I am of bears.
 
I am surprised at the amount of fears so many people seem to have. The group deserves some credit for their honesty. My next question is how do you overcome all of these fears? What are your coping mechanisms?

We have already discussed that a lot of people are happy with mediocre skills. Maybe that is the cause of so much fear. Maybe Americans have turned into worriers. Maybe canoeing is scarier than I thought.
 
People tend to be afraid of that with which they are not familiar. Hence the fear of bears, etc.

That‘s not to say the dangers aren’t real, but we are all more likely to be killed or injured driving to the put in than we are by a bear.
 
What are your coping mechanisms?
I remind myself that one has faith OR anxiety but that they tend to be mutually exclusive (increasing one naturally decreases the other). I then plunge ahead blissfully aware that I need to be careful but that there are some things beyond my control (and that's OK because they're not really out of control). So far so good on that but, if I suddenly stop posting... 🤷‍♂️
 
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