The Wetfoot Blog

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reminiscences - The Portage

A blend of facts and feelings, the week continues with trip leader Mike Dietrich on a canoeist's unique challenge and pleasure: the portage.

My name is Mike Dietrich and I am a canoeist. I will admit that I prefer water to a trail, but I love to portage. I love the ability to move hundreds of miles through remote waterways, and then heave your pack and boat onto your shoulders, trek to the next waterway, and then move on. I love the mobility, the balance, the sensation of losing all sense of space and time. I love portaging through beautiful terrain, tough elevation, and boulder gardens, only being able to look at my feet and use one arm to keep me stable. I love the way a song echoes in and around a canoe, especially when any voice singing any song through a portage, is always the best song I have ever heard.

But most of all, there is one single moment of the portage that I love the most. It is a moment that I constantly desire…I need it…I crave it. It is a moment near the end of a portage, be it 3 miles or 3 rods.
It is the single moment after traveling a distance with a canoe on your shoulders, and turning over the canoe off your body and into the water. That single moment the canoe flips, is the most fulfilling point of any canoe expedition. I yearn for that natural high, the endorphins that rush to your head once the heavy “beast” is off your back. I feel lighter than air, and not even a forgotten sleeping bag 10 miles back, nor a cooking oil explosion inside a pack, can weigh me down. And the bugs…what bugs? All I feel is ecstasy and bliss.

That single moment of complete euphoria is why I am always able to go back to the trailhead, and do it all over again. And again, and again, and again. You may say you love to hike…I say I love to portage.

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  1. Loved this entry! Thanks for writing Mike.

  2. Mike, I love portaging too, and the endurance and perseverance learned from all those walked miles is one I take with me daily in hard physical work. The portages taught me that love, and the ability to push on when I might have otherwise given up. Cheers to you!

  3. Well said, Mike D! I love that feeling of bliss as the canoe finally comes off. Beyond satisfying. How I miss it


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