Jan 14 2017

Breaking Away: Rise and … Whine? by Tamia Nelson

Sporting literature — if the work of hacks like me warrants so grandiloquent a name — is full of hearty types who rise before dawn to tempt trout in remote mountain pools or run challenging drops while the morning mist still lies close upon the water. These prodigies’ boundless enthusiasm seldom, if ever, flags. They never wish to lie long abed of a morning, and they’re insufferably animated at breakfast, chattering on cheerily about the rapids and portages to come, even as a torrential rain beats a relentless tattoo against the kitchen tarp.

To be sure, real life seldom comes up to the standard required by the best books. In my experience, most groups of paddlers contain early risers and habitual sluggards in just about equal measure. And relations between the two camps aren’t always cordial. The early risers regard the sluggards as lazy layabouts, and they do what they can to encourage their slothful companions to reform: splitting wood for the breakfast fire with unnecessary ostentation, whistling tunelessly while arranging the kindling, and banging pots together with enough force to dent all but the cast‑iron skillet. I’ve even known tents to be struck while their occupants were still sleeping soundly — right up until the moment when they woke with a start to find themselves wrapped in winding sheets of clammy nylon.

The sluggards retaliate in kind, of course. Late in the evening, after the early risers have retired to their tents, their resentful comrades — those same long‑suffering and much‑reviled layabouts who suffered at the early risers’ hands before sunup — are now seized with a sudden, manic energy. Sometimes they organize sing‑alongs around the guttering flames of the dying fire. At other times they plod heavily about camp on various nocturnal errands (checking the boats, adjusting the bear bag, attending to nature’s last call), invariably contriving to trip over the guylines of the early risers’ tents every so often, and occasionally even bringing one down in the process. Needless to say, the sluggards’ apologies are as numerous as they are earnest, loud, and extended, and they’re often accompanied by helpful suggestions as to how the early risers might improve their tents’ pitch in future.

It saddens me to report that these suggestions are almost never received in the intended spirit. No good deed goes unpunished nowadays, it seems.

And where do I fit into all this? I am, I confess, a sluggard by nature. But I hasten to add in my defense that I am a reformed sluggard. I have long since accepted the early risers’ claim of moral superiority, and I have forever renounced my shameful and sedentary ways. In other words, I have become an early riser myself, albeit a reluctant one. Where once I sipped the waters of Lethe, strong coffee is my tipple now.

There is an element of hypocrisy in this, I admit. Though I struggle up before the sun, with bleary eye and staggering gait, I long to return to the cozy warmth of my sleeping bag. Yet this remains a secret failing. I do not confess my weakness to anyone. Indeed, I habitually lord it over Farwell. He was once honest and virtuous, an early riser and a True Believer in the gospel of the dawn. But he has lapsed in his faith and left the one true path, I fear forever. Were he permitted to do so, I believe he would sleep on quite contentedly till noon.

I’m sure I’ve no need to add that I never allow him to act on his unseemly inclinations. Indeed, I work tirelessly to keep him safe from the sin of sloth. But does he ever thank me for my dedication and concern? He does not.

No one should need reasons to walk in the ways of righteousness, of course. But weak‑willed backsliders often require convincing. So, for Farwell’s benefit (and for anyone else who is tempted to waste the best hours of the day in sullen slumber), I’ll outline the case for rising early… Read more…

Morning Has Broken

Further Reading From In the Same Boat

A word of warning: Don’t be surprised if a link takes you to a page that doesn’t have the title shown below — or anything remotely like it, for that matter. Our original titles, along with our bylines and datelines, were stripped out when Paddling.net moved house to Paddling.com. We hope that things will soon be put back in their proper places, but in the meantime, if you need help locating a missing link or favorite column, start HERE, where you’ll find comprehensive chronological and topical indexes to our articles.

Published in incomplete form at Paddling.com on 9 July 2013

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Jan 12 2017

Why Pay to Play? Readers Weigh In on Guided Trips
by Tamia Nelson

Article by Tamia Nelson

It’s the start of a new year, and with the new year come new plans. I’ve always found that planning trips can be almost as much fun as making them—even when, for one reason or another, the trip doesn’t come off entirely as planned. Or, as sometimes happens, doesn’t come off at all. But not every trekker shares my passion for planning, and not every life has such a broad margin that hours or days can be devoted to pouring over maps and making menus. Fortunately, outfitters and guides stand ready to step into the breach. And as luck would have it, my grandad was a guide for many years, taking hunters and fishermen into the Adirondacks. This was back in the day when colleges didn’t offer degrees in outdoor education, of course, and my grandad, though not especially absent-minded in most business matters, never got around to obtaining a state license. He wasn’t alone.

Be that as it may, guiding is now a licensed profession in most states and provinces, and regulations are much more stringent than they were in my grandad’s time. Nor are contemporary guides’ clients invariably middle-aged men with three-day stubble and a hankering for shore lunches and venison. Outfitters now cater to all tastes and interests, from birding to landscape painting. Yet despite this, we’ve given the subject of guided trips short shrift over the years. Why? Because we’ve never used the services of a commercial outfitter, and the only group trips we’ve been on since our college years are ones we’ve helped to organize ourselves. Which is why I tried to redress the balance in June of last year, when I wrote “Why Pay to Play? Making the Case for Commercial Outfitters and Guided Trips.” I’d like to think I did a workmanlike job, too, but the fact remains that I was writing of something about which I knew little, and my belated effort certainly lacked the authenticity that comes only from experience. Luckily, the column elicited mail from folks who’ve taken many guided and outfitted trips. So this time around, I’m going to let the voices of experience speak… Read more…

Published in incomplete form at Paddling.com on 10 January 2017

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

 


Related In the Same Boat Articles

A word of warning: Don’t be surprised if a link takes you to a page that doesn’t have the title shown below — or anything remotely like it, for that matter. Our original titles, along with our bylines and datelines, were stripped out when Paddling.net moved house to Paddling.com. We hope that things will soon be put back in their proper places, but in the meantime, if you need help finding a missing link or favorite column, start HERE, where you’ll find comprehensive chronological and topical indexes to our articles.

Jan 09 2017

The Perils and Pitfalls of Trekking with Others by Tamia Nelson

Trekking with other like-minded folks can be a richly rewarding experience. Sharing heightens the pleasures associated with nearly everything outdoors, whether it’s catching a fleeting glimpse of a wading moose, discovering a perfect hideaway tucked along a back road or backwater, or scouting a clean line through a tricky rapids. It even adds to the fun of the post-trip debriefing. Trekking in company is also safer than going it alone, and this is especially true on any Big Trip. But what about less ambitious jaunts? It’s easy—too easy, perhaps—to offer the familiar advice: “Never paddle solo.” It’s not so easy to find the right partners, however. Like fast-moving rivers, the deep waters of interpersonal relationships are roiled by conflicting currents.

No surprise there, I’m sure. You’re lucky if your trekking partner is a spouse, a relative, or a close friend. Such partnerships can work out very well indeed. Of course, success isn’t guaranteed. More than one marriage has foundered on the rocks of a turbulent river, and lifelong friendships have ended in disputes over who gets to paddle in the stern. Still, if your partnership first blossomed before the trip, you’ve got a head start.

A very different state of affairs arises when a casual acquaintance asks to come along on, especially if the adventure is to be an ambitious journey over long distances, far from civilization, or on a difficult route in inhospitable weather. What then? Do you embrace the idea enthusiastically, glad to have any opportunity to share your love of cycling, hiking, backpacking, or paddling? Or do you reject it out of hand, fearful of the prospect of shepherding a novice—or worse, someone whose confidence exceeds competence—through those first days? Or maybe you steer a middle course, making tentative plans to meet up on undemanding trip, on a warm and sunny afternoon, sometime in the indefinite future. In any case, it’s never an easy decision, but it’s one that every trekker has to make sooner or later. … Read more…

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