Special Edition- An Addition to Blog #7!
When Gil first mentioned feeling queasy on our live-over, we were baffled. Was the lobsterman himself seasick from all our paddling? Slowly and quietly, the mysterious pathogen spread throughout the group, sparing a single paddler. We never imagined it would take hold for as many days as it did.
The plague continues, but so too must the expedition. With about half the group paddling bowseat, holding their heads or clutching the gunwhales, retching overboard—it feels as though we’re facing the same adversity that the crew of the Endurance was well accustomed to.
Stroke after stroke, we push each other out of our comfort zones and into a place of growth. With one of our instructors needing time to rest and recuperate, the few healthy individuals really stepped up to the plate—ensuring that camp stays up and running.
Rain falls on our tents and tarps; we wake on May 1st to the timpani of drops. Having the time to sleep in, we rejoice in the freedom to slumber, or walk out to the river, or stretch toward the sky, feeling the vibrant energy of the light sprinkling. Commencing our academics, we dig into scientific and social articles and prepare to present our findings to our colleagues and travel companions. Another deadline is established: our finished essays by nightfall, fully ready for the final copy on Book of Wisdom paper in ink.
Setting out before the morning lifts her dark, heavy eyes, our group solo goes swiftly and smoothly. No other sounds lurk in the air aside from the occasional slap of a beaver’s tale and the birdsong filtering through the trees. We know what needs to be done and the worth of Misha’s trust.
|Resupply at Mac's Bend|
Row Row Row Your Boat...
Lake Champlain is as unpredictable as the winds and as complex as the stars. Her waters are full of stories, her shores attracting people and ideas in constant motion. The land is etched in the history of the natives, the exploring French Canadians, and the colonists that settled and gave rise to the modern population currently dotting the shores with urban lights. Our course traces the paths of tradesmen, smugglers, soldiers, traitors—and we stop along the way to learn their histories. We add our own stories, with every stroke of the oar, turning the blue water white. To tell the tale of our expedition, we must begin with our vessels. Courtesy of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, we had use of two Scottish fishing boats, Resilience and Perseverance, as well as a Cornish pilot gig, the Jimmy D (named for the individual who started a ship building program for high school students at the Maritime Museum).
|Serenaded by the coxswain while rowing|
|Laszlo- cooking up a storm!|
Erica and Morgan met us at the landing and that night we camped at Mac’s Bend, nestled in the safe waters of the Missisquoi River. We would have 30km to travel the next day, and feasted on a glorious diner of spaghetti and tomato sauce.
|"Toss your oars!"|
|Excited to begin rowing|
With our boats loaded, we tossed our oars into the sky and counted off starting with bowseat. On the command from the coxswain, we plunged the long, wooden poles into the Mississquoi, flat as a meadow. Heading for our first destination, the boats immediately began to rock into the waves. Even after studying the weather patterns from shore, no one could have predicted the three-foot swells that tossed the pilot gigs and fishing boats like a toddler in a bathtub. Uneasy thoughts entered our minds, “Are we really going to out row all this wind? Whoa wait up, how do you turn this thing around again? Has anyone ever capsized these things?” Running low on options, we rafted up dangerously close to the surrounding wetlands, wedged in between trees, intensely focused, listening to the static-y voice announce how many knots of wind hitting the Lake Champlain geographic area. We decided to make a break for the next piece of protected land and wait out the fast-moving weather. After our assessment of the white caps and choppy waters and peanut butter and jelly wraps, we tossed our oars and plowed ahead to North Hero Island.
On Valcour Island, we learned of the confrontation between English troops and British/American colonists on October 11, 1776. As Morgan directed the 13 actors in the reenactment, Benedict Arnold (as played by Laszlo Reed) leads the Americans: Gil, Hyim, and Sharon in a battle scene. Through acting, we explored the motives of he soldiers for taking Valcour Island and fleeing to Fort Ticonderoga. After, on that rainy day, we transform into explorers. Seeking to discover more about the island and who may have previously walked where we now find ourselves setting camp. Hyim and Julian bring back news of sighting old, rusted farm equipment. Gil followed deer paths and came across an old foundation. Twisted apple trees mark a footpath for us to follow.
|What do we do in our free time? Tan and soften deer hides!|
Our experience of Lake Champlain strongly contrasts that of Samuel de Champlain’s discovery. He wrote descriptions of the flora and fauna not from a scientific, reductionist perspective that was popular at the time—but from the point of view that a curious explorer possesses. Champlain was intrigued by the actions and fascinated at the height of the forests that had yet to be leveled, like those in Europe.
We continued on toward Fort Ticonderoga.
|Watching the artillery men at Fort Ticonderoga|
We also connected in a deeper way to our surroundings, through our 24-hour solo.
The story of our solos can be read in some of the works that reflect our pensive thoughts and deeper emotions.
The day my solo begins
Is the day in which I take flight
I’ll soar in the freedom of desirelessness
No longer bound to want, frustration, fatigue
The day my solo begins
Like bluets and Queen Anne’s lace will bloom
The mossy rocks will greet me by name
And show me a place for me to sit
Gazing across the lake, I’ll observe my past
On the same horizon—my future will I find
I’ll cross my legs and look about the woods
A loon might call and the cedar might sing
The day my solo begins
Reflecting back in a watery pool, the present seems crystal clear
|Connor cooking up some dandelion pancakes|
|Studying about city hydrology at the Rubenstein Lab|