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World’s Longest-Running Study On Happiness Has Great News For Wilderness Paddlers

Glenn MacGrady

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"Close relationships—which doesn’t mean conflict-free relationships—help protect from life’s discontents, delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, and even genes, the study reveals."

"All of this is good news for paddlers. Aside from a small minority of dedicated solo trippers, most canoeists go paddling with other people most of the time. And we know there are few better ways to foster a meaningful connection than wilderness travel."


Great, but what about those of us in the "small minority of dedicated solo trippers"? The obvious answer is to cultivate and maintain close relationships outside of sporadic wilderness canoe trips.
 
Great, but what about those of us in the "small minority of dedicated solo trippers"? The obvious answer is to cultivate and maintain close relationships outside of sporadic wilderness canoe trips.

Yeah, but, isn't a big reason we paddle solo because we're not great at cultivating and maintaining close relationships?

Alan
 
I remember a trip where I was tandem with a buddy of mine and another guy came along in a solo. This guy only ever paddled solo. He freaked out on us at the end of the last port, claiming we had no portage etiquette, we were slobs and bums, etc. then he took off, paddling like mad to get well ahead of us. We paddled along in silence until my buddy said "I guess we know now why he always goes solo".
 
Reminds me of this discussion: https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/why-your-next-canoe-trip-should-be-solo.110769/ Although "because people are exhausting" wasn't among the reasons listed in the article.

Aside from a small minority of dedicated solo trippers
I wonder how small that minority really is. I believe solo has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years but I also realize that a poll of this site, given its origins as a dedicated solo forum, would probably yield biased results. e.g. https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/preferred-tripping-style.127070/

(Sorry, I'm a big fan of dusty corners and archives.)
 
My wife and I don’t do well in a tandem boat but we always enjoy paddling together with our pack boats.
 
I generally prefer solo paddling and canoe tripping, as well as bushwhack backpacking (with or without a canoe on my back) for all the good solo reasons you can think of. But when I began canoe racing nearly 30 years ago, it necessarily involved team activities with other known willing paddlers, especially for the 6-7 paddler voyageur canoes that I raced. First you have to find compatible capable team members willing to commit to time and common expenses with hundreds of miles of training and trip planning, traveling, and sometimes lodging and living together. A dedicated support pit crew of family and friends is also a necessary glue for the team to survive and be successful.

Even so, when other paddlers on my team are unavailable, I like to paddle my solo canoes for training and exercise, sometimes going solo in races or tripping on new and old routes that I know well not far from home. And I am happy with both phases of canoe pleasures.
 
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Canoeing is a team sport. That is what I tell all of my crews.
I figured out that being in the woods was my most comfortable place to be about the age of 9. That is why I became a forester. Now there is talk of forest bathing and other hokum.
A canoe trip with people that don't complain and pull together is very rewarding.

Most of us have understood this for a long time. Our pursuit of Happiness begins in the Outdoors.
For me it kind of ends in the OUtdoors. I am finished going to Europe, and other far flung adventures. Too much work and too much expense. I don't like fancy hotels and cruise ships.

I am getting older and want to take advantage of good weather. It it almost March, time to get out there and find some Happiness.
 
A tandem (C2) canoe has long been known by another name, as a "divorce boat"
Some friends of mine up in Seattle, Matt and Cam Broze of Mariner Kayaks (no longer in business), designed and sold their own line of single kayaks. They refused to have anything to do with doubles becase they considered them divorce boats. I told them they aren't divorce boats for everyone. I've been paddling comfortably C2 (and even a couple times in a double sea kayak) with my wife since 1973. What's that? Over 50 years now. They still never built a double.

Another story does show the divorce side of it, though. We were paddling with another married couple up in Prince William Sound, AK about 1999 (our only "serious" kayak trip ever, the rest were all canoe). Both couples were in double sea kayaks. We'd stopped to look at a group of sea otters playing around on the surface maybe a hundred yards from us. All of a sudden the wife of the other couple said, "Scott, we aren't pointed in the right direction!" Scott, in the stern and in control of the rudder, replied, "Margie, we aren't moving." Margie came back with, "But we will be!" They normally paddled single kayaks, both whitewater and flatwater.
 
Low strife=Happy life. Hardly surprising, especially given that we are building our lives on healthy relationships. This doesn't preclude individualism and spending time solo, but the baseline for happiness socially is an individual having found and formed a comfort zone somewhere with someone. The rest is growth and exploration. My own "happy place" is time spent alone, but I understand that my relationships with family brings me rich rewards that I continue to carry with me no matter how alone I choose to be.
Psychology Today says:
How Important Is Your Social Life?
Human beings are social animals, and the tenor of someone's social life is one of the most important influences on their mental and physical health. Without positive, durable relationships, both minds and bodies can fall apart.
Individuals begin life dependent for survival on the quality of their relationship with their primary caregiver, usually their mother. Humanity's survival as a species similarly hinges on the capacity for social living. Most of human history was spent in small groups in which each individual was dependent on others for survival; evidence suggests this is the condition to which humans are best adapted.
Technology has changed the ways people interact with others in their daily lives, but it hasn’t affected the basic need to form supportive bonds with other people.

 
I enjoy the independence of going solo - Being able to get away from the usual noise that-is-life, and not hearing anything but quiet, and nature. After a rest, away, it's great to come home to the company of my family.
 
I enjoy the independence of going solo - Being able to get away from the usual noise that-is-life, and not hearing anything but quiet, and nature. After a rest, away, it's great to come home to the company of my family.

Proem85, welcome to site membership! Feel free to ask any questions and to post messages, photos and videos, and to start threads, in our many forums. Please read Welcome to CanoeTripping and Site Rules! Also, please add your location to the Account Details page in your profile, which will cause it to show under your avatar, as this is a geographic sport. Many of the site's technical features are explained in Features: Help and How-To Running Thread. We look forward to your participation in our canoe community.

Nice to see paddlers of classic solo canoes such as the Proem.
 
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