I fell. I lost my balance, stumbled and fell. Perhaps it was the 80 pound back pack I was carrying shifted as I stepped over a big rock onto a smaller round rock. Perhaps the stack of dry boulders beside the white water river was not a very safe place to walk, even though it was the only possible place to walk. Realistically, I was still too weak after being sick. After 67 trips during my life through this wilderness area, I miscalculated my actual abilities for our first days portages. I fell four times.
To put a pack or canoe or both on and portage overland requires balance. I had somehow lost my fine-tuned sense of balance without knowing it. A fall with 80 pounds on ones back and shoulders could wreck a canoe, break open food bags, crush the cooking equipment or just break ones bones. I have helped get people out of the wilderness for immediate emergency surgery from falling. I was fortunate, this time. The campsite food and equipment was fortunate as well. We made camp early. For me. In 67 trips, stopping to camp early for me, was a first.
Losing one’s balance is more than humbling. It puts everyone else at risk.
I share this fail of mine for more than one reason. Balance is an important ingredient of every area of life; be it mental, physical social or spiritual. I’m quite sure in our honest moments we know where we fall short. I wish I had been more honest with myself before tackling this series of very hard portages.
I suppose there are many conclusions one could draw from my experience. I have many. Reality is sometimes quite different than perception. My physical strength, stamina, balance and ability to overcome all obstacles had taken a fork in the road from reality. This makes me wonder about my perception in other areas of life.
When the water is calm, I am invincible. When the trail is smooth and flat, I can carry a heavy pack and canoe over a short portage. When my perceptions line up with circumstance, I’m really okay in my little corner.
I used this old picture to show a portage consisting of stepping on the rocks. With a heavy pack or canoe one needs balance which requires strength from the feet up. I have seen people in the wilderness trying to portage with flip flops on their feet (“I’ll be fine”). It’s possible. That’s like trying to navigate life and eternity without God. I don’t know of many careers where flip flops are acceptable; beach bums and politicians comes to mind (did I just say that?)
I’m just thankful. The portage trail. Life. The good, bad, hard rocks, falls, fails and good times have been much like life for me. I have lost some strength and balance here and there. Recharging is longer and less. But, I have stories and friendships that touch eternity. You are a part dear reader. I wish everyone could experience a wilderness trip within your balance ability.
I also wish everyone could experience balance for every portage in life including the last final one into eternity.
Keep your balance…Gary