Random thoughts and cabin fever.

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Lately I find my mind wondering a lot. I think it may be part of a defense against cabin fever. I have been looking at maps and day dreaming in my free time and at work. I took a map to work last week to show a co-worker where I'm at when I get that vacant look on my face. I didn't want him to think I'm loosing the rest of my marbles. I'm not sure it helped. When I showed him the route I want to take on my next solo trip he stared at the map and then me with a look that said you must be nuts to go all by your self. I re-wind industrial electric motors at a motor shop and some of the steps involved are repetitive. Lately at times my mind is hundreds of miles away.
I want to take several trips over the next few years and store the memories away for that time when I decide I shouldn't go solo any more. I consider myself lucky to have gotten to take the trips I have. I have some lower back issues that will take me out of the game eventually. I have regained the ability to carry light-ish loads square on my back (50-70 lbs max on a good day). Can't carry anything to speak (20-25 lbs)of in front of me, it puts pressure on a disk that is worn thin in the front. Oddly I can pick up 50-60 lbs at my side with one hand with out causing problems. I can't even bend forward for more then about ten seconds with out pain starting to build. Repetitive bending like picking up sticks in the yard is out of the question most of the time. It seems odd to people that know me because I have good upper body strength and look fit enough for my age of 56. When some one asks me to help lift a heavy object they look at me with unbelief when I say no I can't help you. The fact that I quit frontal lifting has helped me regain some ground. Thirteen years ago on a day trip I had to ask my then 14 year old son to portage the canoe for me. Explaining to him that I couldn't carry it was the most humbling thing I have ever done. I had enjoyed being "the man" in his eyes all his life. The look in his eyes when I asked him to portage the canoe broke my heart. It was a look of insecurity and fear. That day I fell hard off the pedestal that he had put me on for all those years. Anyway, fast forward to today. If I keep up "maintenance" and obey my list of don'ts, I can do most things in moderation. Hammock camping made it possible for me to get back out. I couldn't sleep on the ground very well. And if I start the cycle of back pain it goes down hill very fast.
I may have even been granted a short "man" pedestal in my son's eyes. In 2012 my son and I went on a Fall canoe trip in the BWCA. We took two canoes and each paddled solo. His original intent was to single carry and go back and take some of my gear. I told him that carrying my own gear helped fight off the feeling of old age creeping in. On the water I had a edge in endurance and I think it surprised him in a pleasant way to see me "strong again in his eyes".
Some day I will have to make that decision to hang solo tripping up. I'm hoping for ten more good years. Planning possible trips is good medicine for cabin fever. Looking at photos of past trips is too. Some day if I live long enough, all I will have is the memories of "glory days". Portages accomplished, crossings made against the wind, the satisfaction of being warm and dry during adverse weather in a camp of my own making. Walking down to the lake at first light to get some coffee water. Warming your hands on the sides while drinking that first cup with the steam rising off of it. Watching the morning mist float on the water. Throwing sticks on a fire at night, miles away from anyone. Hearing a loon's song in the middle of the night. My eyes have teared up just thinking of these things and how blessed I have been in life to experience them. A few years ago this wasn't possible for me. In a few more years it won't be possible. But I have already made enough good memories to take with me into old age. here's to memories.
Rippy
 
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Maybe all that will change is the type of tripping you will do. Perhaps more basecamping and less portages. There are plenty of trips that involve no portaging. Maybe you will be like me and seek exploring big water or nooks and crannies of larger lakes.

Maybe a cart in your future. Maybe it will be time to move off the BWCA type of tripping. There is a lot out there for the solo tripper that doesn't want portaging.
 
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And I limit myself to 50 lbs too solo. There is a market for lightweight solo boats in the 30 lb range. Then you can add a 20 lb pack. Leave the main pack for its own trip.
And all you need to do is go slower. Gone are the days of seven portage days with 9000 meters of walking. But I can still put in 3000 meters( 600 rods) with a 30 lb boat.

There has to be a way for you to pick up a canoe without bending over, though offhand I can't think of what it might be.. Standing in water you can probably lift it.. maybe then every rest stop ranger it in a fork in a tree. The getting the canoe down though..without just dropping it is another issue.
 
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Ya YC, your probably right with several points you made. Being a man I have this man bone in my skull where my brain should be. It makes me think that I have to do things a certain way. Where there is a will there is a way. If I hand around here with some of the rest of the "aging folk", we who need to will work these things out together.
 
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Nice post Rippy. I always carried ridiculous loads when i was younger, and it's hard for me to back off, but I have no choice. I used to have a summer job clearing portages, and when my son was around 17, I hired him to work with me. I took great pride in watching him one time that Old Town 87 pound canoe over a 2.2 kilometer portage. He was there and back before I was even there. I never felt bad when he took the big loads, I felt proud that he was starting to do better than the old man. I'm starting to make offerings to the Gods of Aging now too, I guess they're called concessions, or maybe just doing things in moderation. We'll see what this summer brings, i have lots of trips in mind.
 
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As far as the parental pedestal thing goes...Many years ago my Mom phoned me to ask if I'd drop by to do her and Dad a favour. The favour was to caulk some exterior cracks around their home. It seems Dad's fingers were getting arthritic. I didn't know that? That was the first time I'd seen the pedestal crack, and I felt confounded to see an indestructible man made more frail with age. In later years my hospitalized Dad asked me to walk him around the ward, and have a nice talk. Shuffling side by side down those halls may have erased all semblance of any pedestal left in our lives, but the connection we felt on that walk, made him grow larger in my eyes. Years have swept by me, and the situations have shifted. I've allowed my own sons to see the crumbling pedestal they've placed me on, and they're happier, prouder, and more connected than ever to help me with whatever I need help with. I'll wager that your son may be shy to try, but only too eager to offer his Dad help, in anything you do. Just be warned Rippy, that when the time comes, and he comes of age; when he comes by to help you with some chores, have HIM buy the beer. That's working out just fine around here.
ps Aha! I just reread and did the math. It seems your son is already of beer buying age. That's settled then.
Keep planning for more trips and more memories; you have many more miles and memories to add to your trip logs.
 
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I didn't mean to sound so whiny, I think the cabin fever has been taking it's toll. Anyway thank's for the encouragement. Great bunch of people here.Blue sky days are on the way.
 
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No whining heard, only thoughtful introspection. Some snowy days are good for that. There'll be no time for it when the waters open up again!
 
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Reading this thoughtful...

Reading this thoughtful...

heartfelt and aware posting and thread, I'm honored to be on this forum. Rippy, your thoughts on the slowly eroding pedestal ring true from this end as well. Aren't we blessed souls to have sons who still enjoy the wilderness experience with their old men.
Regarding the frozen winter blues, my wife and I escaped the N. Pennsylvania snows this February and are hanging and paddling (a folding kayak-forgive me) daily in the Pacific off the Costa Rican coast. Traveling down here canoe trip style costs little more than the airfare and...oh my it's beautiful.
Pura Vida to you all.
 
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Regarding the frozen winter blues, my wife and I escaped the N. Pennsylvania snows this February and are hanging and paddling (a folding kayak-forgive me) daily in the Pacific off the Costa Rican coast. Traveling down here canoe trip style costs little more than the airfare and...oh my it's beautiful.
Pura Vida to you all.

Better wear some garlic around your neck when paddling a kayak or you'll end up going over to the dark side. I'm a recovering kayaker myself. My family had to have an intervention followed by much canoe paddling therapy. Have a great time paddling and take your time coming home, I think it's a mess some places out east.
 
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Understand well your wandering thoughts and dreaming. Also the aging and pain. Friday night (Valentines day) my wife wanted a romantic camp fire dinner. Made it as far as the back yard. Set up the fire, dinner and tent right there. I often wonder how much longer my ankles are going to hold out. With out high end boots (work or hiking) can not walk far. With them on my feet all day long. Canoeing gets me in and out of the back woods safely and quickly.

Do what you can as you can as often as you can. Awful lot of cans there. Talking to a older lady at Church and told her I was going out to the woods today. She got this far away look on her face and said to say hello to the trees for her. That it had been a long time since she had been in the woods. She has her memories.

Just a crazy thought to make you smile. Was at a white water canoe competition watching when they changed some rules. You are no longer allowed to fill your canoes air bags with helium. :cool: For those who do not know white water canoes are mostly filled with air bags to keep the water out. Wounder how much space you could give to air bags in your solo tripper when out on a multiple day trip? Would be it enough to help with the weight? Probably not. But just had this crazy thought of you just walking with canoe floating behind. :rolleyes:
 
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Thanks for the laugh cflcanoe. I pictured leading my floating canoe down the portage trail by the painter like it was a balloon .
 
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Now that's thinking outside the box! I wonder how much weight two big air bags filled with helium would displace?
 
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Doesn't displacement depend on volume of gas in the air bag? Maybe the question should be "how much higher in the water will a swamped 16 foot Prospector ride"

yah it's cabin fever time.
 
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That's like that fun movie "Danny Deckchair"! But I don't know why you guys are thinking about helium, shoot use hydrogen and when the fire was cranky and wouldn't get going, why just give it a squirt of the read deal! WHOOOSH!!!

I think I'll file that under the "better you than me" section.

Best wishes, Rob
 
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I know that it isn't possible to float the canoe with helium but I've been playing in my mind with the picture of a floating canoe. It would be a bear to load it back up. I can picture myself at the end of the portage trying to pull it down with one hand and grab a pack to through in it with another. I always tie to a tree, but the picture in my mind of it floating over my camp site tethered to a tree cracks me up. It would be easier to load back up at the end of the trip.
 
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Cabin fever is common in February... all of the old time writers I like to read (Kephart, White, Fordyce, Breck) mention a day-dreaminess that hits in late winter, brought on by the mention of a destination name, looking at pictures of past trips, or handling gear... then they go into the loving re-fitting and planning "the next one" that goes on from then until spring.

I damaged my L5/S1 (at 46)... pretty common with age, I hear. I'll be 50 in a couple months Can't lift some things, like you said, but have no problem with carrying things by my side... I think I see a wheeled portage cart in my future. But if you can pick it up from the water, you should be able to portage it straight back into the water, dropping it there without damage. I did the St Regis a few years ago (after hurting by back) doing exactly that... put everything together for the portage right there in the water, put on pack, threw the canoe up, marched out of the water, over the portage, and back into the water all in one move... dropped my pack, unscrewed the yoke, sat, and went.

Also, depending on your off-season/non-trip workout regimen, you will have (or not have) problems getting back into tripping shape. I've noticed that it takes about 3-4 days of steady work before I feel good and strong again in the woods... and then it's time to go home... I you have the time to "practice" before a trip, that might help. I can't do "Army" presses anymore because of my shoulders... but I can still do the bench presses, carry kettle bells around a track, walk with a backpack, and stretch. I hate working out, but still try to do it before a trip just so I'm not so out of shape when I do go. (The walking with a backpack thing happens every weekend.)
 
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Sick of winter... this being my 5th in Manitoba, it is the first one that got me thinking of moving back to Southern Ontario. Unfortunately it is still February although we are at the tail end of the month. So far we have had 51 inches (130cm) of snow with more forecast for Thursday. This mild week, single digit minuses will give way to deep freeze again next weekend.

On the plus side, it is light now when I get home from work, my commute being 45 minutes and I get home around 6:15 everyday. Gaining 3-4 minutes a day of light, keeping track of this is how I get through Winter.

Physically, not sure what this year will be like. Still recovering from bicep tendonitis and rotator cuff issues in Both shoulder/arms.

Need to see if I can get the shop warm enough to start stripping the Tremblay we started working on last Autumn.

One day at a time...
 
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I'm not carrying any injuries through this winter, just extra weight. I'm somewhere in my 50's, (I don't keep track) and am doing okay. It's easy to be philosophical when I'm not faced by adversity. (Knock on wood.) There's been some though. I try to remember to be thankful everyday. I get through all 365 days/year by looking for small wonders in the world. They're always small, often insignificant, but never ordinary (to me). This is the snowiest and coldest winter I can remember, yet I've managed to trudge through it so far without cabin fever etc. It's the etc that shadows me. Having hobbies and projects can keep a person motivated, but I've been too lazy for that. My forgetful and daydreamy mind is easily distracted enough to wander from books to blogs, and back to books again. I have many, many interests, but can't think of any real passions. Maybe it's simply a matter of definition. Those many interests provide me with many "happy places" to escape to. Sometimes at work, and always after work. There's much "happy place planning" to do. The number and variety of things I plan is ludicrous, given that we have only some free time, but only very little money. No worries. Merely wish lists. Or should I say, wishful planning. It's funny though, because you never know how, why, or when a crazy wishful plan might actually work out. Believe me, they sometimes do. This hopeful happy place planning keeps the cabin fever at bay for me. Countless word docs and book marks for recipes, cycling destinations, canoe routes and backyard plans; along with cluttered confetti of post it note lists for gear, train schedules, park names, and poets, all litter our small home. My wife occasionally is overtaken by a cleaning mood, and does a clear out of my "homework." My plans for a southeast Asian foodie trip, and a cross Australian jalopy tour are both lost to her last tidying tirade.
SHE: "Well, we both know they were never going to happen."
ME: "Perhaps, but you just never know."
Back to planning. She's left me room for more notes and book marks. Niagara wines, Brittany cycle routes, roasted beet recipes, and backyard deck designs. Oh, where to begin?
 
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