Wilderness makes the rash go away

It’s that time of the year again. Maps are spread out across the dinning room floor, photos of previous trips have been viewed over and over again, canoe mates have been over for drinks and plans of this season’s trips are being staged, and past trips have been fondly reminisced. It’s also a time I read through my journal. I found this tonight and thought I would share it with everyone; it tells of why on earth we even plan another trip in the bug infested wilderness in the first place:

A few years back my father found himself in a coma, which caused a great deal of stress to the family.

Individuals react to stress in various ways. With me, a massive rash formed all over my body. Of course, I went to the doctor, who then informed me that when the stress went away, so would the rash.

So off I went on a canoe trip in Quetico for twenty-eight days, the day after my father woke up from the coma, looked at me and said “I’m surprised you’re not out on one of your trips right now.” Three days into the trip – okayed by my dad, the rash disappeared. More mind- blowing, however, was a half-hour in on the return trip home, the rash came back. And you wonder why I smirk at people who can’t fully understand why paddling is so important?

My father understood. I left for my trip the day he awoke — and he knew why. My daughter, now five, has understood the passion for wilderness paddling from the age of six-months — when she completed her first canoe trip, and loved it so much that she’s constantly asking when our next trip is.

My wife, Alana, understands. She insists our marriage has flourished because of our canoe trips together, but also never questions the times I head out alone. My friends understand as well. That’s how they’ve become lifelong friends — we go on canoe trips together. All of us, every culture on this planet, are born from wilderness; and when we return to the familiar, our senses peak and all the ills of society fade away. The rash disappears. My life encompasses anything that has to do with wilderness travel, which is why I do what I do.