Two Solitudes


Tom and I went on our first canoe trip together last summer. We’d ben engaged for a while, but we had never pushed off for a long trip. Both of us are paddlers, so we had nothing short of a lifetime of shared happiness—or misery—on the line.

It took us a while to agree on a plan. He wanted to paddle the Nahanni or race in the Yukon River Quest. I wanted to disappear for a few weeks in Temagami, Kipawa or Quetico. We settled on a two-week lake trip in Quetico Provincial Park so Tom could at least check off an area he hadn’t been to before. I felt a twinge of alarm when I loaded the paddlers in the car; his gleaming bent-shaft racing paddle, mine a battered old Lolk.

As we pulled away it was like paddling with a machine. Tom hauled gallons of water with each fierce stroke. He paddled so fast  either had to cut my sterling stroke to a quick draw or pry to ignore his pace completely. I didn’t know any camp songs fast enough to match his rhythm. I tucked my head down and dreaded the next 14 days…


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