Wednesday, June 12, 2013

James Lake Reflection

Often, I get ideas for blogs and they sit and brew.  I wanted to write this as close to the event as possible because I have a feeling that I will loose some of the uniqueness of this weekend.

During my Christmas longings for sun and adventure (ie Hawaii), my sweet thoughtful husband went online and booked the James Lake Cabin.  He carefully picked out the most remote cabin at in the well known Nancy Lake State Recreation.  Since it was big, we invited our dear friends to join us.

We had never been on a canoe with camping trip before, but we understood that it wasn't a back packing trip.  So, we didn't limit the weight of items at all.  We had 6 games, meat galore, two coolers, fishing polls, two queen sized air mattresses, plenty of food, books, firewood, etc.  We basically packed as if we were car camping because of the canoe.

Gathering advice from the Tippercanoe people, we took the longer way around because they had shorter portages.  The literature said it would be a 3 hour canoe paddle.  (not true)

We were concerned about two things:

  1. that the kids might not keep up with the paddling
  2. the mosquitoes would drive us crazy
We were so wrong.

We kinda felt, ugh, the van/truck looks a bit fully packed. But, once we loaded the three canoes, and a kayak.  James says,"Okay, this looks okay."

cinnamon rolls on a stick
The first paddle was a breeze.  Actually all the paddles were too short and we longed for more time in the canoes.  We saw the little orange size with a single "P".

Then the fun began.  The rigorousness of the portages can be summed up by a phrase;  "We packed as if we were car camping, and then proceded to carry the car fully loaded."  At the end there were 13 lakes/13 portages.  We all including the kids had to reach down to the bottom of our soles to find the strength and endurance to lift and hike.  We had a portage device that we finally learned how to best use it on the rough and ragged terrain after ten portages.  James carried on his shoulders two of the lighter canoes.  However, the heavy one was often carried by Christina and I.   The kayak was extremely heavy and often only the men could move it.  The meat cooler was almost 90 lb  and was a beast to move.  Even the older girls conquered it a few times.

Along the journey, we had many opportunities to praise God.  We saw beaver, swan, loons, ducks, and fish.   Our heavenly Father gave us strength that could only come from him.

We were paddling after the 5th portage, one of the girls (Hannah or Olivia) spotted black bear at the next portage!  I looked and sure enough there were a momma and two cubs.  I took out my weapon (Air Horn) and quickly sounded the alarm with short burst of energy.  In my mind I knew that is where our canoe was headed and I wanted them far gone by the time I got there.  However, to my dismay, the other canoes and kayak didn't get to see the furry black dots as I scared them away.  They were disappointed, but we weren't mauled by a momma bear either.  Give me a horn, and I will use it.

The last lake was Owl Lake before James lake.  We thought we could paddle through.  However, Christina and James went on ahead.  To our disappointment, they told us to wait and not enter the marshy channel.  We did clinging to the hope that we could paddle and bypass this "Portage".  I was unsure if I possessed the energy to lift anything. So, we waited. And waited.  It was nearing eleven at night and we still were not at the cabin.  Dinner was suppose to be when we got there.  (if we got there).  One of the most sweetest sounds I heard was James yelled, "Come!" I almost cried.

The cabin was perfect.  Eureka!

We still have a few fun stories.  Like figuring out we had all the gear for fly fishing, but no rod.  Then the next day, we found out we had 3 fishing poles but no tackle!  The kids brought the cleaning supplies to life and made up stories with them.  Olivia created a little house.  The Wells learned Euchre and 7 up / 7 down.
 Quality of the trip:

  • not buggy at all during the day (thanks for praying Ruth)
  • amazing steaks to sing about
  • great company 
  • joy of seeing the teenagers set a good example of hard work
  • endurance of the journey
  • perseverance and strength of James (he has the bruises to prove it)
  • stepping out of Steve's comfort zone  
  • listening to James read to the kids
  • good attitudes of the children even when it was hard
  • relaxing paddle (can't wait to do it again)
  • safety
  • getting to spend some quiet time worshipping my King in His breathtaking world


The way home was hard but 2 hours shorter with 1/2 as many portages.  We learned how to use the portage device on the last three. The boys (Max/Lyn) were in my canoe and we had a rhythm going to paddle hard to the end.  They were great.

The one thing that gets to me every time I experience God or his wilderness, or a world-wide adventure, is that we step right back into the world.  And no one knows what just happened.  It is like your entire body wants everyone to hear and relive it, but it is almost unexplainable.  But here is the video