My Paddling Partner
I have a paddling partner. I have a life partner. They are one and the same.
I met my paddling partner in college. During summers he served as a counselor and riflery instructor at Camp Easton for Boys on Little Long Lake, near Ely. In 1967, I jealously waited back in Michigan while he and a group of fellow counselors took a six-day canoe trip after the close of camp. He returned, full of wonderful stories about his adventures on the Namakan River and, auspiciously, with a proposal of marriage!
I married Neil - and his love for the canoe countryfour months later.
Neil convinced me to try a canoe trip in July of 1971. By then he had survived a tour in Viet Nam and our toddler daughter was old enough to stay with grandparents. I had no canoeing or camping experience and very little desire to acquire either. Perhaps certain romantic notions about conceiving our second child in the wilderness made me vulnerable to Neil's persistence. He was determined that I was going to love the adventure if only I would give it a try.
We scraped together a little gear, borrowing some and renting what we couldn't scrounge. We took off from Crane Lake, intent upon repeating the trip he had made with his friends. I balked at the very thought of taking the Dawson Portage, so we paddled the Loon River instead, and made the Namakan Loop on a six-day trip.