I have been on camelback in the Sahara Desert. I have journeyed into deepest, darkest Peru. The secret world of Angkor, Cambodia is known to me. Sailing on the Nile and watching monsoons sweep across maharajahs once dwelt – yeah, I did that. I may be a world traveler, but, no, I have never traveled by canoe in my home country, Canada. Perhaps it is because the canoe is not the boat used by people in my home province of Prince Edward Island, but the canoe and its mythic heritage have been lost to me until now. In five days I will get to experience my first canoe trip, my first portage, and a myriad of other virgin moments. This, of course, demands the question: but what shall I wear?
As this summer will also find me taking on one of North America’s most challenging hikes – the 78km long Pacific West Coast Trail – I decided to purchase a solid waterproof outfit to ensure that I avoid being wet, cold and miserable, while still looking fabulously adventurous and manly. *Please note these are words of campy irony.
After a month of consideration I decided to go with an Arc’teryx Theta AR jacket and technical pants. Coming in at a whopping $800, this was not an easy purchase. Still, I know the value of the proper clothing for the environment, and understand that in Canada you can die from wearing the wrong clothes. What drew me to the Arc’teryx gear was that it was both well-made and cut to fit my body type. The pants are the first pair that will not need to be altered for my short inseam. You get what you pay for in outdoor technical equipment, so I ponied up the cash despite protests from my bank account. Plus, when the zombie apocalypse happens I will be ready to seek refuge in the wild country. I do wish that I could have gone with a colour other than black, but after standing in the full length mirror for 30 minutes I decided to go with the slightly longer Theta jacket so as to avoid an itchy, wet butt. After the permanent wet of the Peruvian Amazon, I know that being able to sit down without fear of water penetrating your bottoms is priceless.
Next on my list of needed items was an MSR water filter pump. I had one of these key items in the days of hiking in Algonquin, but think it was surrendered during my divorce for reasons unknown and bewildering to me now. Regardless, being able to access clean water from streams and lakes without giving yourself dysentery is rather important to me. This filter will last me for many future adventures so the $82 was a no-brainer.
Finally, I picked up a replacement buckle for my backpack, a few Clif bars for emergency meals, a bit of bison pemmican to be nostalgic of the coureurs de bois, Nalgene food containers and…a mess kit in titanium by the japanese company SnowPeak. Baby needs his dishes to be titanium if silver and bone china are out.
In the end, it was a great session of retail therapy that will yield an ease and comfort on what promises to be my most exciting year ever.
From flipping a Ski-Doo 20km from base camp to luxurious spa treatments in Montreal to an insane 17 hour drive through snow storms across 1750 km of Canadian roads in December, my life continues to be fraught with peril and equal measures of reward. I also have two paddles coming to me from my client and friend, Graeme Cameron at Base Camp X, which I anticipate with giddy expectation. While I had intended shooting the blog photos with my new Hasselblad CFV 16 digital back, setting up lights at midnight seems overkill tonight. Good news though is that banjo player extraordinaire, Darren Eedens, needs promo shot for a new endorsement and there are rumours of a few weddings ahead to shoot. One never knows where life will lead you, especially not when you are in a canoe. Amen.