After years of hearing Molly whine that the boys get to do all the fun high adventure activities, Jen Doty, her young women’s president, calls her bluff. Jen had survived the infamous “death march” during her mutual years and wanted to give the older girls in our church the same challenge to canoe and portage over a number of lakes in a single day. Molly was not enthralled by the idea of carrying a canoe and her gear through the forests, unless she could brings some boys to do the heavy stuff.
Naturally, I could not let Molly weasel out of this one, so I volunteered to participate along with Bob and Trish Dalton. A fairly long list of initial enthusiasts dwindled down to just five young women. Great tradition usually begin or are reborn with a few daring souls. We went up to the Sylvania Wilderness Area just across the Wisconsin border into the upper peninsula of Michigan. Weather forecasts were not favorable and we knew that lightning storms or intense rain could reduce or wash out the “death march.” Our base camp was about a thirty minute canoe ride from the boat ramp. We set up camp in a virtual cloud of mosquitoes. They found every inch of unsprayed flesh. Our only relief came in the way of rain.
The next morning forecasted similar conditions. After a great pep talk, the girls opted to give it a shot. As we landed at the first portage sight, off they ran with light loads leaving the canoes. We fixed that problem and they accepted the pain and the humbling realization that they were not conditioned for this type of physical effort. I give them their due. They grumbled very little, worked hard and became much more adept as we moved from lake to lake. The storms began to threaten during our longest canoeing stretch just prior to the final portage. Our timing was terrific and we hit land just before the torrents can thunderclaps engulfed us. We had some moments of near terror through that intense, but relatively brief gale. The sun was soon out though and we made it back to camp, ate dinner, fed the mosquitoes, hung the bear bags and got doused again. The rest of the outing was relaxed and fun.
After thinking about it for a while, here’s my contrast between the boys and girls, in general, in wilderness settings:
1. Young men obliviously and enthusiastically embrace risk. Young women will endure it, if they have to. 2. Young men tend more easily to disobedience. It may relate closely with the risk thing. 3. Young women will patiently wait for dinner. Young men usually end up eating it half-cooked. 4. Young men invent great fun in the outdoors. Young women have to be coaxed into it. 5. I give the edge for willingness to work to the young women.
All in all, I had a great time and thank Sister Doty and the Daltons for all of their hard work. What’s up next Molly?