Jean-Mathieu Chénier

Coucher de soleil en expedition

The awakening of the adventurers

The sun is just beginning rise and, already, we are up and alert. Despite some accumulated fatigue and a short night’s sleep, the whole group seems in a good mood and full of energy.

Through the branches, the day is slowly immersed in the morning light, and nature seems to have decided to go “all in” for our last day.

It will be just perfect to enjoy a little more of the calmness of which Melorie spoke last night around the fire. This inner calmness is so pleasant; we have felt it throughout the entire experience; the calmness that only nature and the absence of city sounds can provide.

The paradox

It’s a little paradoxical to talk about calmness at this moment since everything is happening so fast this morning. No choice. We must be ready to leave early enough if we want to have the time to experience all the moments this last day offers.

This paradox echoes the one living within us since we are busy dismantling the camp in order to leave the site. A heartbreaking inconsistency putting confronting our desire to help the group, to be involved in support so strong and effective that we have developed in recent days, and this other desire to enjoy the moment. What we’ve been doing brilliantly since the beginning of the expedition, As Linda, the group’s nurse, pointed out to us.

This paradox ensures that everyone contributes to the collective effort while deviating a little from their tasks from time to time.

For Andrei, Evan, Vincent and Samuel, these deviations are “natural pauses”, which are far from being natural. Any pretext is good to stop and take an exaggerated pause on the pretext that they are in “nature”. Evan particularly excels in the art of finding the best places to take his pauses.

Nature and adventure to create friendships

These moments are a good example of the connections that André said he could have created during our last return on the day. He admitted having difficulty connecting with his friends at home, but it was almost instantaneous here mainly because each of us can more easily understand what the other person is currently experiencing.

Special mention to Vincent, who seems to have been a key element of this fusion between English-speaking and French-speaking participants.

As he himself said, our adventure brought him many positive moments that greatly influenced some of his behaviours and allowed him to overcome his anxiety and to meet others.

And he’s not the only one of us who has been influenced by what we’ve been going through since we came to Poisson-Blanc. The attitude everyone had at the opening of the “package” that Elissa kept so well during the two days of rabaska canoeing exuded empathy and openness to others.

Little secret: this “package” was a surprise that the facilitators gave us at the beginning of the expedition and that we could decide to unwrap at any moment. To comfort us as well as to accentuate a moment of great joy. We decided to open it after yesterday’s emotional return on the day. A good decision, after a little hindsight.

At the camp, the deviations of some reveal an overflowing creativity. It’s more than obvious for all those who had the chance to observe Loryanne and Arielle imitating old ladies rolling their tongues. If my information is correct, one of them, unfortunately lost her husband to the war while the other helped her brothers to avoid conscription.

Loryanne, who was already making fun of her “old” legs, seems to have found in Arielle the perfect partner to test her imagination even further.

This common delirium shared by these two new friends certainly contributes to the soothing feeling Arielle has experienced for some time.

Despite all these deviations, we still managed to dismantle the camp and bring the whole group to Natjelem Point for traditional group photos.

All is not yet done because the deviations are multiplying. Once there, it is better to accept them and laugh at them than to try to repress these desires to enjoy everyone’s presence a little longer.

In any case, we all contribute a little in our own way to slow down the process.

It’s not really our fault. We have all developed such a complicity that we feel like we have known each other for a long time. What’s more normal than long-time friends always allowing themselves a little more when they get together.

As Evan said during the last return, “what we have been experiencing together since we left seems so familiar, even if it’s as far from it.

It’s really weird. It’s like a deja vu even though we do all most of these things for the first time.

But the sun and the blue sky above us surely make us even more mischievous.

We must admit that, even if Marie-Michelle is absolutely right when she says that a grey camping day is still a beautiful day, nothing is equal to a sunny day like the one we have the chance to have today.

Once the photos taken, we split the group in half and we prepare for a rabaska canoe race between a group of participants and Mario and a group with the rest of the “adults”.

Note that the race was won by the group of participants through a manoeuver from Mario that we politely describe as competitive.

Return to base camp

Now back to the camp, we change, we sort our equipment and we take a well-deserved shower, we will get closer to one another during our last supper together and the road ahead before we say goodbye.

Just before leaving, our facilitators surprise us once again with a tradition of the Foundation by giving us a diploma highlighting what we have just accomplished. Great pride emerges from the circle that we form during this small ceremony.

Now that our adventure is drawing to a close, we have nothing left to wish for ourselves the taste for adventure, which André spoke about, and the revelation that Charles-Antoine wished us.

All that is left, to paraphrase Mario, is to continue to marvel at what we have accomplished, the challenge we have met, the courage we have shown, the links we have created, the strength that we have succeeded in gaining through teamwork, the future that awaits us, our resilience and the glow in our eyes.

We are now adventurers, real travellers.