Hyperventilating wasn’t among the range of actions considered when planning my trip to Algonquin Park. After swiftly canoeing back to shore on the Lake of Two Rivers, we tipped. I had no life jacket on (it was in the canoe); the only things on my mind were: 1. get that life jacket preceded by “Crap. I’m in an indefinite depth of water and wow, I’m not drowning but I could drown.” 2. remember the skulling technique from swimming lessons taken at the age of eight and 3. how in the F am I going to get back into the canoe?
My canoe partner, Corbin of I Backpack Canada, swiftly got back into the canoe. I didn’t think it was going to be a big issue.
“Go to the back of the canoe and pull yourself up while kicking,” he instructed.
Multitasking in this scenario wasn’t exactly working.
“Bob three times and pull yourself up while kicking,” he said again. I almost got up.
So close. Yet so far.
Damn, the height of the back of a canoe was a lot higher than I thought.
I was tired, panicked and defeated. Why couldn’t I do this?
I was starting to see the benefits of a gym membership.
We then tried on the side of the canoe but that would risk Corbin falling out of the canoe again.
And we tried again. Close but no cigar.
“You’re being a bit of a drama queen,” snipped Corbin.
Yeah, that didn’t help with the confidence.
The water was borderline frigid on a sunny day on late September.
The rush of adrenaline washed away the coldness and fear and survival instincts kicked in.
So I had no choice but to latch on to the back of the canoe, hold on and pretend to be a motor by doing flutter kicks in the back while Corbin played the He-man to my Shera (though I was no princess of power that day).
I was embarrassed, tired, wet and not wanting to canoe for the rest of the day.
But I knew I had to let it go. I couldn’t beat myself up over it. I still am, a little bit and thought that writing this may help release those feelings.
Corbin suppressed his laughter.
I probably would have shrilled “THIS IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER” and burst into hysterics.
But what I learned is the best remedy is to laugh at yourself even in the most embarassing situations.
And do more chin-ups.