LEARNING NEW SKILLS
It was finally time for our first day of class in the field. Henry and I had quite a long drive to get to the meeting site, with a stop at my parent’s house to drop off our son and the dog for the day. Needless to say, we arrived in Brunswick at the Mill Street Canoe Portage on the Androscoggin River skidding in sideways and barely on time.
It was cold as hell and I was surprised I didn’t see ice forming on the river banks. We kicked things off learning the various types of paddles and canoes, as well as the purpose of each one. Next, we pushed off in the canoes and practiced several paddling strokes. I discovered I am not-so-good at the “J-stroke.” More practice needed!
We took a nice break for lunch, which was cooked by myself and two other Guides in Training (GIT’s). I didn’t realize we were supposed to bring our own cookware, but luckily my GIT friends were better prepared and let me borrow their stoves and cookware. We had soup, scrambled eggs in a bag, and steamed vegetables. Food in the field always tastes great, especially on a cold day!
TIME TO GET WET
The next segment of our training involved learning how to paddle stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), which is definitely an art. I was amazed that I didn’t fall in, and learned that you need “hula hips” to maintain your balance. Henry enjoyed learning to “power paddle” and pushed the limits. He only fell in twice. I may have laughed out loud both times. We also learned how to swap paddle boards with someone on the water. It was sketchy-fun (and I did not fall in)!
Next we practiced canoe-over-canoe rescues. Alice and I were the first to dump our canoe. I discovered that wetsuits do not keep you dry. Go figure. The cold water ran right down my spine to the nether-regions. To say the least, I was wide awake after that! The training taught me not only how to get back into a canoe while in the water, but also how to empty and right someone else’s canoe that has tipped and help them get back in.
The day ended with cleaning and packing up the equipment and gear. Alice, our Master Maine Guide and teacher taught me some neat knots, including the tautline hitch and transom knot. We had a great time meeting new people and going for a swim in the Androscoggin in October!
MORE EXCITEMENT TO COME!
Next class we’re going to (not) get lost! We’re practicing map and compass skills, as well as how to find a lost person in the woods. Stay tuned!