Imagine a small house, crammed with all three kids and various friends/partners, and the gear-up for two, 40-day wilderness expeditions going on simultaneously. That’s the scene here, while MP and I get ready to take on our first big expedition as a couple since 1991, and Ruby and Sawyer prepare for their 40/50-day trek in the Northwest Territories. Add in the demands of work, my mom’s memorial, and all the loose ends that need tying up before a summer of travel, and you get pandemonium with a tenuous lid on it. Right now, all of us are enduring the frenzy, asking ourselves whether it is really worth all this, and anticipating the relief that comes when the umbilical cord to home is finally cut, and we set off for the horizon.
For Ruby and Sawyer, their cousin Quinn, and friend Kelly, it will be their first serious wilderness expedition without parental oversight. They will paddle two folding canoes from Yellowknife to Baker Lake, NWT – more than 900 miles featuring Great Slave Lake, the Hanbury River, and the Thelon River. It is a classic route full of tundra, wildlife, open water, fast current, Inuit artifacts, all the elements of the Far North we’ve come to love. Their hope is to leave around June 10 (depending on ice-out).
MP and I are doing something very different. We’re heading for New England, where we will take on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It’s a 740-mile route from Old Forge, NY to Ft. Kent, ME, a system of loosely-cobbled together traditional water routes through the Adirondacks, up into Canada, and angling for about half its length through Maine. Along the way, a whopping 60 portages. It is different because it will be far more civilized than we’re used to, more like a European canal boat trip than an immersion in remote wilderness. We’ll have to wrap our minds/hearts around that reality. We’re hoping to complete the route in 40 days, but it may take a bit more (we’re not 25 anymore!!). So, the plan is to pull out of Bozeman on June 9 (garden planted, bills paid, kids hugged, house cleaned), and drive east.
Stay tuned for adventure reports, whacky stories, and whatever else might come from these twin expeditions. We should all reconvene in Bozeman by early August, just in time to gear up for the next school/work cycle. Meantime, Eli and his girlfriend, Sam, will be taking care of the house and working. Eli has a sweet job at the Marlboro Ranch in Clyde Park, MT, as part of the zip-line crew. An adventure in its own right.