Saturday, August 31, 2013

8/31/13-Joyfully to the Breeze

Joyfully to the Breeze
                                                                     Tyler Schrapf
                  “Joyfully to the breeze, royal Odysseus set his sail, and with his rutter, skillfully he steered.” – The Odyssey. Out here with all this majesty and glory I have been feeling rather privileged, like a young prince. My life has lead me to this extraordinary chapter. While we may not be sailing like young Odysseus, the concept of ruttering is all too prevalent, as several members of the expedition still struggle to stay in formation.
                  After our first long hard day of +14 miles, I was reminded of a quote from my favorite American tall tale; The Ballad of John Henry the Steel Drivin’ Man. – “A man ain’t nothin’ but a man, but before I’ll let that steam drill beat me down, I’ll die with a hammer in my hand.” Replace hammer with paddle, and steam drill with river, and you wind up with the general attitude of our group as we compete to catch up with our pace to complete the expedition on time after several days of inclement weather.
                  The campsite we are staying at is remarkably modern. There is running well water, a dock, and some very friendly Canadians who brought us firewood, diet soda, fresca, and bottled water. – And they let us stay for free. As we continue our journey, I think of all my loved ones back home who I know are praying for us every day I ask for patients and strength, and the ability to grow and love.
                  If ECOEE has taught me one profound lesson thus far, it is that like love, nature is patient, and if treated with respect, nature is kind. It will provide. As I become increasingly accustomed to this backcountry lifestyle, I often find myself wondering how it will be to go back to a world of telecommunications and fast food.
                  As I exit my final day as leader of the week, I enter a period of deep reflection on my actions and intentions, and I am reminded of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” . . . Alas, tomorrow is a new day, and 3 sets of rapids with the possibility of 5 portages will be pondered upon as I sleep – Goodnight.

Friday, August 30, 2013

8/30-Learning more as we explore (Day 21)

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end! -Seneca

Waking up to breakfast and packing at the fastest speed we have yet to accomplish for what would’ve been the longest distance canoeing thus far, we encountered the rain of the mysterious mother nature with her accompanying duo  of lightning and thunder. With lots of excitement to reach the most established campground we believe because of their wonderful invention called a shower, this was something that would have to wait in the eye of mother nature and the leaders of the week as this was backcountry. With everything packed away our group of fourteen napped (self-reflected), studied, played games such as euchre and spent four hours  under the group tarp in anticipation of the weather to stop so we could get on the Grass River and head to Lake Iskwesum. With a cut off time of one o’ clock the weather the persisted so we began to set-up our tents at what was supposed to be our departure site. Up to this day, we have had some of the best weather I could’ve imagined with a few scarce poor condition days in between. But these days serve their importance in teaching us patience, giving us strength and understanding in that there are things out of our hands, as well as an important outdoor leadership skill in risk management. Today is our twentieth day in, meaning about 1/6th of the way through our trip, and 1/3rd of the time in our backcountry expedition. At this point we are only 1/6th of the distance we are to travel on the Grass river backcountry expedition. When tents and tarps were set up certain people had spent time on homework, others did more self-reflection, cooked extravagant meals, but all in all there was lots of time for making choices on how to get ahead on a fully rainy day. Today there was an ample amount of time to accomplish personal tasks while trying to make sure we took care of our main priority of staying dry and warm. One lesson on leadership was taught by Jeff today on simple and complex decision making styles. Up to now, the ECOEE experience has been everything and more; and one thing for sure is that we will be learning more as we explore. Up ahead we lots of ground to gain on our canoeing, averaging about 12 miles a day from here on out! In the motto of ECOEE 2013 ‘Keep on, Keepin’ on!’  ~ Norris Andriuskevicius

Thursday, August 29, 2013

8/29-To portage or ot to portage that is the question!?

Day 20, Aug. 29th
            Today we left the best camp site we have had yet for the worst time our ECOEE crew has experienced yet. Everyone was looking forward to running rapids for the first time. Instead we got stuck a bridge, a ripple, and portaging 3 times. The first one was a lesson of how organization can make or break your porting times. The second was meh with little to no improvements. Honestly we probably did worst than the first one. Definitely began putting a damper on the whole rapid to portaging ratio. Creepy up to our next port we came up to what Jeff would refer as a ripple but what Tyler and I would say a mood killer beached our boat on a stray rock, I finally get why the Titanic went down. Those things are impossible to see and as the two cockiest members in the lead boat watching everyone learning from your mistake is not something that puts you in a on top of the word mood, if you know what I am saying. The third was just redundancy at its finest as Cassi and Kyle had continuously point out. With an unworkable hill to the right side and a drop off that spelled certain injury if anyone would have had an unfortunate spill, to the left. The crew pushed through it in a rather untimely manner but when it comes down to it we worked as a team helping and trading gear with each other and finally got the knockout blow in the tenth. After what felt going the distance with Apollo Cree we found our next camp site at the top of a mosquito ridden hill. Thank god for Norris' 99% deet or I really would have been done for. Can't let the cal zone Liz, Shayla and myself made for dinner that night slip through the cracks. Like I said before teamwork is the key to back country portaging trips.

                                                     _Dustin S. Granat                                                                                                                            "Inspire while being Inspired"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

8/28/13 The Winding River

The Winding River
Kyle Pickett

Today started off slow for us. Some didn’t wake up on time, and some didn’t move as quickly as they would have liked. We cooked, packed bags, loaded canoes all in a timely manner, but we still didn’t get on the river at the time we wanted too. We had all forgotten to check our maps and figure out what the mileage for the day would be. This had us sitting around for an extra hour. After we figured out everything, we finally got on the river and headed down the long and winding Grass River.
As we paddled down the river many felt like we were traveling down a long lazy creek like the ones in a water park. This lazy river allowed for us to enjoy ourselves as we paddled on, enjoyed each other’s company, and admired the scenery around us. After only one small mishap with directions, we finally reached our destination on Elbow Lake. WE set up camp at the best campsite we had seen yet and then began lessons. Ro taught us all about the birds we could encounter and Shane taught us about tolerance.
We ended lessons with Jeff’s, which was over conflict resolution. Jeff taught us the importance of how we should work with the people we are having conflicts with and not push them aside. After this lesson and the debrief we all went to our cook groups and got ready for dinner and the rest of the night.
As I sit here writing this entry I think back to times we have had conflicts as a group and what lies ahead for us. But even with all these conflicts I look at this group and I see men and women that I will be able to call friends, even when the hard times get us down.
“ Adventure, we found, was not about gymnastic moves or mental steel but the head on collision between what we wanted and what we got” – unknown

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

8/27/13 Weather: What an Unpredictable Life Lesson!

“Weather what an unpredictable life lesson”!            08/27/13

            Today the group awoke to cloudy skies at a very early 6 am. That’s actually sleeping in for us! During the early morning hours the camp was awash with sounds of burning stoves, and the intoxicating smell of dehydrated food. After the group cooked their breakfasts everyone packed their gear into their dry bags, and loaded them into their canoes.
            As I began to pack Rosie Roxanne the name of my very own special canoe, I started to contemplate the possibility of rain in the coming morning. Before the packed canoes left the shore we heard the distant sound of thunder. We didn’t think anything of it and we proceeded to leave the shore and head to our next campsite.  About twenty minutes in it seemed as though the heavens split in two and emptied all the water it had. When we saw the lighting we proceeded to paddle to the far side of a small island and we set up our canoes using the lighting drill. Each canoe was about 35-40 feet away from each other and we had our feet of the floor and on our feet were up on the seat. We were all extremely worried because we sat there for what seemed like an eternity until the lighting stopped. During our wait I started to reflect on how vulnerable to weather changes we are out here in the backcountry. Once the storm passed I stopped thinking about our vulnerability, and I focused my attention strictly to paddling to our next site. Once we found the designated site we realized it was way too small for fourteen of us, so we decided to look for a bigger site. Luck was on our side now because someone in the group saw a sign far off in the distance. Once we came closer to the sign we realized that there was a small cabin located here. Some of us went ashore and we realized that the cabin was owned by the Manitoba Government. We then started to unload our canoes and while I was standing in waist high water I started to think about how fortunate the whole group is, to have found the nice cabin in a safe location. I also thought about how lucky we are to have all of these unique individuals that bring all of their strengths and weaknesses to the group. Once everyone had their tent set up we changed out of our wet cloths and proceeded to debrief the day.
            During debrief Jeff reminded us that he would not have let us leave the previous island if he knew we couldn’t handle the storm as a group. He also said he had a plan to keep us all safe if we needed to get off the river quickly. After the meeting everyone cooked dinner and went to bed to prepare for the 5am wakeup call tomorrow. I don’t know about anyone else but I will be dreaming of West Texas tonight!
                                    “Roses are red
                                    Violets are blue
                                    I’m soaked and cold
                                    And so are you”!
-          Quinn Moore

Monday, August 26, 2013

8/26/13 Keep On Keepin' On

Keep On Keepin’ On
8/26/13 Day 17 –Shayla Hill
            It’s our first week on the river and so far all is well. We’re all getting the hang of things and learning a ton! We still have many days left and I’m sure we’ll still get those, “What the heck are you doing”, looks from Jeff. But that’s what it’s all about, learning from our experiences.
            I love how every campsite we stop at no matter how bad it may be, because the first one was pretty bad, we somehow make it our home for the time being. The food has been bad, but it’s also been good, again from our learning experience. We load up in the canoes early in the morning and even though I’m not much of a morning person, I love it. It’s so beautiful here and it’s definitely awesome to see all of the eagles around here. There’s just something calming and relaxing when paddling down the smooth river in the morning, that’s when someone isn’t signing or laughing. =) The camp we’re at now is Alligator Island and one of the first things noticed was the “slammer” as Jeff calls it. A lot of people were pretty excited about that including myself. I never thought in my life that I would be so happy to see an outhouse out in the woods with no walls by the way.
            As I sit here writing in my tent I can hear the laughter of the rest of the group up the hill enjoying our free time before bed. I love that sound and it makes me smile. It makes me happy to know that no matter how tough our days are in the end we all still have fun together. So until next time…
            “You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won’t mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart, you feel like you have known the person forever… Connections are made with the heart, not the tongue.” –C. Joy Bell C.   

Sunday, August 25, 2013

8/25/13 Venture to Alligator Island

8/25/13 Rogelio Hernandez 

Venture to Alligator Island.

When an archer misses the mark he turns and looks for the fault within himself failure to hit the bulls-eye is never the fault of the target, to improve your aim- improve yourself- Gilbert Arland
Waking up this morning at 5 am was not my cup of tea to start off the day. As I laid there a few things ran across my mind. One, what could I possibly do to help the group improve in order to move on to our next challenge? I’ve been observing that we were having a difficult time setting up and being organized with our equipment and gear in the morning.  So I came up with a few good tips to increase movement in the group. Tip one- Finish River bags the night before in order to be ready the next morning. Tip two- sleep any time you can possibly can.  I remember falling asleep in the canoe once we reach Alligator Island. Enjoy the beautiful weather and birds singing over the horizon.
Tip three- don’t forget to chat with your canoe partner. Time flies when you’re having a great conversation with your canoe mate. Tip four- anytime you get the chance make sure you make fun of Jeff. It’s rare for Jeff to leave himself open to a joke or tease. Just make sure you’re ready for his comebacks. Tip five- no singing in the morning because you’ll scare wildlife away. Final tip- have a smile on your face. A smile goes a long way when you’re having a great time paddling. Ohh last thing, just keep paddling.