People & Culture

Coppermine 2012: Expecting the best; preparing for the worst: Boys in the woodz

  • Jun 11, 2012
  • 480 words
  • 2 minutes
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With the rest of my brothers hastily gobbling up all the “cool” topics (bugs, food, equipment) for blog post fodder, I found myself left with the task of ruminating about what we will spend 90 percent of our time doing. You know, the part where we all hang out together.

Given my completely undocumented hardcore credentials, it may come as some surprise that it is NOT enduring endless hordes of blood-sucking insects, nor calmly facing down raging headwinds, or even suppressing mounting self-doubt as I ponder all manner of unexpected calamities, that has consistently brought me back to the bush over the last decade. Undertaking a lengthy canoe trip across remote territory entails certain risks. Well, so does using a public restroom, but I do that too.

So what has kept me from throwing in the towel, or just filling the cooler with beer and going “camping” in an RV (actually, that’s not a bad idea, but I digress)?

Laughter. That’s the part that has kept me going out into the bush all these summers past.

I maintain that I never have, and probably never will, laugh as hard as I do when I am moving through pristine wilderness in the company of some certifiable characters. In the absence of most artificial forms of entertainment (TV, Facebook, Scrabble, etc.), I’ve found that most activities make a fairly seamless transition from the mundane to the hysterical. Waking up to a bearded, bug-bitten and generally disheveled face that must look as excited as your own about the prospect of starting the day baking cornbread in the rain? Good stuff. Rounding a turn on the portage trail to find the designated “scout” tumbled over, with the canoe still loosely attached via some combination of tump strap, tree branches and human suffering? Hilarious. Realizing you should have used a sturdier piece of moss to clean a certain UV-deprived region? Very funny for some, less so for others!

While I can only begin to guess at which challenges will somehow produce our most joyful and laughter-filled moments, I know we have assembled the necessary personalities to make this expedition everything it can be. I will say that I am positively fascinated by how the whole “no-darkness-for-weeks” Arctic summer will sap us of whatever sanity remains after the first two days.

I’m thinking our Fun Factor on the Crazy Scale will be somewhere between the rollicking good time had by Al Pacino in Insomnia and the zany pranks Jack Nicholson plays on his family in The Shining. Can we start paddling yet?

Visit the expedition website and check out the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Expeditions Program to learn more.

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