When the hospital nurse first told me about the On the Tip of the Toes expeditions, I didn’t think it was for me. Canoeing for four days in the wilderness? For an urban soul such as me? Me, who in the last year has spent more time in the hospital than I’ve spent in school?
My parents tried to encourage me to enrol, but to little avail. Then the nurse came back and finally convinced me. Why not try? I might enjoy it?
And here I am, for real this time, on the first day of this expedition.
This morning, when I joined the rest of the group, I must say that it was with a great deal of hesitation. What if I can’t make any friends? What if I don’t have the strength to lift the Rabaska with others or to paddle? I wasn’t too sure I had made the right decision.
When I walked into the bus in Montreal, I wasn’t sure where to look. Moreover, half of the people don’t speak the same language as I do. I don’t understand everything that is being said, and when I have to speak, I see that not everyone understands what I am saying. In addition, we had to hand over our cellphones. It won’t be easy.
Fortunately, the people at the Foundation know how to make me feel comfortable. I started to feel more comfortable on the way from Montreal to Outaouais. Madeline pulled out her deck of cards and we played for a while. It was cool to be able to laugh together!
We took a break for lunch in Gatineau and then continued the last part to the north and to Base plein air Air-Eau-Bois, which is located on Poisson Blanc Reservoir. What a quiet place. We dropped our bags in our rooms, and then went down the long stairs and down on the lakeshore where the rabaskas were patiently waiting for us.
After customary advice, we get on the water, all of us divided in two great rabaskas. They’re big, heavy canoes, but all of us had no problem getting them on the water and making them slide on the water. We were on the water for a short time to get acquainted with this new means of transportation and to learn how to paddle in harmony. That is how we move forward most quickly and with the least effort.
In the middle of the lake, Catherine, one of the Foundation’s officials, asked us to take a minute of silence. No wind, no wave. No noise. Only, a short distance away, a motor boat that I had not noticed before.
Sylvie, from the base plein air, was waiting for us with a good hot soup and a meatball stew which gave me some energy! Even though now, I’m a little tired. The day was still pretty full.
There we are, all in the big hall. Marie-Michelle is distributing our material for the rest of the weekend. I realize, by talking to others, that we have pretty much the same goals for our expedition—getting out of our routine, making new friends, canoeing, sharing with people who have kind of experienced the same thing as me, and also, a little bit, missing a few days of school.
It is reassuring to see other young people like Félix and Émilie, who have already done expeditions, who were thrilled and who have felt like coming back!
Marie-Michelle invites us to dare, to make the most of the experience, while respecting our limitations.It is an adventure and there will be unforeseen events. Our plans may change quickly. For example, tomorrow there will be a thunderstorm and strong winds. The organizers have planned everything to keep us safe and also to ensure that we have a great experience. So maybe we’ll do the trekking instead of canoeing. We will see.
It’s a good start to our getaway, and all in all, I think I’m very pleased to have accepted this offer from the nurse in the hospital.
Now, I have to go to bed, because tomorrow will be a big day!
Good night, don’t let the bedbugs bite, as my mother says.