Distance-wise I didn’t cover many miles today but I put in a grueling 12 hours making my way up the Basswood River. I portage around 8-9 rapids, on each one I broke my own trail. I pretty much went nonstop all day. I did a system where I broke the trail on snowshoes with a heavy pack and then hauled the canoe after that. Making only two trips saved a lot of time. The trails varied, all in deep wet snow, through the woods, alder tickets, up an almost vertical ascent from the river. There was a very strong west wind that propelled me dangerously fast upstream, making me susceptible to tipping with the many boulders that lurked everywhere in the river. It was almost one rapid after another. Paddling above the rapids I have to be very careful with the current and the strong wind. A tip over might be a life-changing event or in many places I would end up going down several rapids. So I was extra careful, but relaxed.

{audio}podcasts/2014_Solo_Canoe_Haul/20140411_WillStegerDispatch2.mp3{/audio}

Distance-wise I didn’t cover many miles today but I put in a grueling 12 hours making my way up the Basswood River. I portage around 8-9 rapids, on each one I broke my own trail. I pretty much went nonstop all day. I did a system where I broke the trail on snowshoes with a heavy pack and then hauled the canoe after that. Making only two trips saved a lot of time. The trails varied, all in deep wet snow, through the woods, alder tickets, up an almost vertical ascent from the river. There was a very strong west wind that propelled me dangerously fast upstream, making me susceptible to tipping with the many boulders that lurked everywhere in the river. It was almost one rapid after another. Paddling above the rapids I have to be very careful with the current and the strong wind. A tip over might be a life-changing event or in many places I would end up going down several rapids. So I was extra careful, but relaxed.

I got into the hard work, remaining in the present, enjoying the day and almost mechanically I did one portage and another with a little excitement of paddling always in between. Making landings and launching all take delicate movement. What was left of the shore ice is now breaking up and rafting down the river in green plates. The wind kept it really cool, ideal for the portages. I barely overheated.

After each portage everything had to be lashed down, tedious job, in an odd way I like doing. I certainly know each piece of gear intimately. I like the simplicity of solo travel. I have lost track of how long I have been out here. I miss nothing, thoughts being somewhere else aren’t even thoughts.

I am in perfect condition. Expedition condition. The first week I did have some concerns, mainly about pulling a muscle. But there is a certain way of moving, it’s hard to explain, but you are always aware of everything you do. It’s not a thought of being aware, it’s just being there, an intuition that I’ve built up for 55 years. One reason I need this expedition is they set me at my mental and physical baseline, it’s like being at your best. The only way I can achieve this is through expedition. The 12 hours a day of hard work, day after day and the mental stamina. It’s like erasing the attitude and barriers that we set up for ourselves, the barriers that make us old. Few people would choose this life, and I am not judging anyone. In this sense I don’t have much in common with most people. There is no comparison of anything, but I don’t bother talking about it. It’s the experience that I walk away with and this is what it is about. I needed, at age 69, to experience that. I have a difficult time running around Lake Harriet in the city. It is so, so, so, tedious, but I can do a 12 hour day here, because there is an adventure around every corner.

Well, I have some big lake travel coming up and then I am home at my cabin, my destination. I will set out early as usual and hopefully it will get cold tonight. I could have perfect conditions, or I could get a foot of water and slush. We’ll see.

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