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IT’S JUST A FLESH WOUND. PHOTO: BEN DUCHESNEY


GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER


I’m a boat addict. There, I said it.When I see a new boat at the shop or on the floors of a trade show, my knees buckle, I feel faint and my palms get sweaty. From canoes with beautiful wood trim, to composite sea kayaks with a razor’s edge bow, to fishing kayaks with more rod holders than I have rods, to soul-surfing whitewater river runners; I want them all. So when we launched at the put in of Maine’s Allagash River for a week-


long canoe trip, I immediately grew jealous of my uncle’s beautiful and shiny composite canoe, with picturesque ash gunwales. Paddling in the stern of a dull red, scratched and beat to hell Royalex tripper, I felt my jeal- ousy swelling. The wicker seat I was sitting on had a hole in the center, so my butt was aloft in a cradle of electrical tape and the gunwales had more chips and missing wood than a logged forest. On the second to last day of the trip brought me to my limit of patience.


Halfway through the longest portage of the trip, I took a break to the side of the trail to rest my gasping lungs and sore muscles. Even on the ground I could still feel the pressure of the heavy canoe’s yoke on my shoulders. As I was catching my breath my uncle walked by with his composite canoe sitting softly, practically floating above his head. At the end of the trail my uncle was sitting on a rock beside his boat making lunch. Right before I gave him a mouthful and commandeered his boat, glowing sunlight caught my eye. Not sunlight in the sky, but light pouring through cracks and fractures along the hull of his composite boat. After some quick surgery with a roll of duct tape and some serious fret- ting over the remaining miles and handful of rocky rapids, we set off. In-


8 PADDLING MAGAZINE


WHY YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE BOAT YOU HAVE OR THE GEAR YOU DON’T


stead of occasionally casting a lustful glance at the composite boat, I was sliding over pour over rocks and taking the skinnier, more adventurous lines while my uncle grimaced at every bumping rock. Worried sweat cov- ered his brow and concentrating on his precious boat caused him to lose focus, hit a rock broadside and flip. It’s not the boat’s fault, I’ve seen plenty of composite boats handle abuse


on the river and not hold a single scar. I’ve also seen that Royalex boats aren’t immortal, getting deep cuts or dents that needed repair. But wor- rying about your boat, or other peoples boats will make you lose focus on what really matters: being out there. Instead of looking at how pretty the composite boat was, I should’ve been looking up in the sky and all around me, looking at the gorgeous views of Maine’s North Woods, the bald eagles flying above and the fauna hiding just beyond sight in the trees. My uncle should’ve stopped thinking about the damage to his boat, trusted the duct tape and focused on the rapids in front of him. No matter how fun the trip is, I wonder if I missed out on anything. I’m already planning my next trip to another section of wilderness, an-


other river and another pair of canoes. This time, I’m not going to be picky about what boats we decide to bring, whether they’re fast and light, wide and stable, old or new. Whether I’m cursing every ounce on the portage trail or skipping along, I can’t wait to focus on the woods around me. I also can’t wait to pick out some new boats; my knees are weak already. Ben Duchesney is the web editor of Kayakanglermag.com


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