Here's to friends who embrace adventure!
I think we all need people in our lives who when you come up with a potentially stupid idea, respond: "Yeah, let's do it!"
That's how an adventure began last week. I'd finished doing some work with a good friend, there was still half a day left, that's a short day in the winter but still, the afternoon was not booked. I suggested strapping a canoe on to my truck, going down a river and climbing a tree. "Yep, great idea!".
As we put my small but strong and broad-beamed canoe on to the roof racks a Bald Eagle came in right over us, it was beating straight into a west wind, it was held up a bit so we got a good look. It was just above the tallish white pines around the property where I live. We took that as a definite endorsement of our plan, full steam ahead. A half hour later we were in the canoe paddling downstream on a broad river, the wind was brisk and when the sun hid behind a cloud we felt the winter chill. My main comment at that point was "Shift your weight carefully, we cannot spill into the river, survival would be slim to nothing". Establishing that we paddled calmly.
I had an idea where I wanted to go, 3/4's of a mile downstream, some fine trees waited along the river. Along the way we admired a large beaver lodge and observed conditions along the edge of the river. The main problem was an ice shelf on the side where I wanted to land. It was 40 feet or so between open water and solid ground. A week earlier I solo'd into the same area. The ice was thick enough that I was able to beach the canoe on the shelf and slide it to shore. After some warm days the ice was too thin to walk on but too thick to break through straight-on. First we tried building up a head of speed and rammed the edge of the shelf. Three tries later we'd made little progress. Next plan was move our gear back towards the stern, my climbing pal Conor moved back from the bow and we drove hard into the shelf, this time the bow went over the shelf and crushed it into a few plates. Ice breaker strategy worked and we were able to crush over then push aside ice plates until we had the bow on shore.
We set our ropes in a tall leaning Black Gum or Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) and had an excellent time playing around over the edge of the river.
This is what the bark looks like on an older Tupelo
Conor was first up, he's new to SRT, really catching on well:
We did a few redirects and got ourselves over the ice. After dark we packed and did the harder upstream paddle back. Temperature dropped a bit but the wind was gone by then so it worked out fine.
Conor out on a limb