June held Apeiron Expeditions first trips, a short excursion on the Concord River in Massachusetts and a weekend trip for a group of friends on Moosehead Lake in Maine. It felt good to finally get the canoes in the water and venture forth with what until June had only been an idea and a website.
Our day trip on the Concord was quite an experience. Apeiron guide Alejandro Strong and author John Kaag joined Christopher Lydon and the crew from Radio Open Source for a day of canoeing and conversation about Henry David Thoreau. The Open Source crew took the commuter rail from Boston and then walked to meet us at the river. After a quick introduction we packed the canoes with microphones, recording devices, cameras, sandwiches, and copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack. Then we were on our way.
As we set off down river, the current was barely noticable. My focus was kept by the large microphones being held in the middle of the canoes and the weight of having my words recorded. For the first hour we paddled more than talked. Eventually, we found ourselves in a secluded bend in the rivers. The beauty of the spot drew us in. We stopped paddling and began to drift with our three canoes held close together. Sitting there we all took a moment to listen to the chatter of the birds. The river was taking over, we were no longer interviewers and interviewees, but canoers. Finally we were just having a conversation about a beautiful book in a peaceful place.
From the start I had been tasked with getting us back to the take out on time. People had trains to catch and other afternoon engagements. It was hard to break from the flow of conversation in order to start our paddle back up river. I think everyone was trying to stay just a little bit longer hoping to extend the simplicity of that river bend. Back at the dock and late for trains, people who had only met a few hours before made sure to take time to take a group photo and say a hearty goodbye. In just a short time the river had drawn us together.
Our Moosehead trip, started in rain. Everyone arrived in Greenville Friday evening, a little later than planned. The rain continued through the night and on into the morning. Being wet had some people questioning their decision to spend the weekend in the weather. In the end perseverance and entropy paid off. As we left the dock on our paddle to Lamb's Cove, a small island on the west side of the lake, the clouds cleared allowing the sun to dry us out. The concerns of the city and stress of logistics evaporated as the sun shone all around. By the time we reached our campsite, everyone was fully in the woods mindset.
After canoes were unpacked and tents were set we all enjoyed a slow afternoon of reading, fishing, and conversation. The stress of the day before had become a shared story, and source of laughter. When the campfire had delivered our dinner, paella and fruit cobbler, everyone was exactly where they wanted to be. In the end the trip was a great mix of doable challenges, warm food, and sunny vistas. Stories and reflections are trickling in from guests. All seem to highlight, the beauty of the place and the calmness the trip afforded.
Last Thursday I had the chance to hear an excerpt from the first trip on the radio, a first for me. Listening brought back memories of both trips. From the comfort of my couch, listening to the sound of paddles in the water, I could feel the power of a canoe on the river. It is hard to explain, but something special happens when you spend time in a canoe; people come together, life comes into focus, and the food tastes better.
Listen to an excerpt from our trip with Radio Open Source: http://radioopensource.org/walden-natural-world-transcendentalism/