About two weeks ago, I went on a trip.
It really wasn’t a trip like any other I’d been on. I’d been camping before, but this was a more untraditional sort of a camping trip; it was a canoe trip combined with some camping. And by some, I mean I slept about less than 10 hours that weekend. This canoe trip was one that had us traveling from Lansing to Grand Haven. More specifically, we [my friend Claire and I] paddled from the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing to Grand Haven State Park, although we technically ended at a boat launch, just before the actual state park.
This trip, nicknamed Campus to Coast, sponsored by the MSU Outdoors Club, consisted of Claire and I paddling for about 16 hours a day and sleeping very much less, if any. And when I was woken up from the little sleep I got, I wasn’t always the best with not giving Claire angry looks (I’m sorry!). In total, We had about nine dams to portage and many miles to paddle. So naturally, this trip was around 150 miles and almost 60 hours.
Before you say “What were you thinking?!” I wasn’t. I didn’t look at the total mileage of the trip before I agreed to do it with Claire. When I did, it was definitely unnerving, I kept repeating, "What did I just get myself into?!" On the trip, I was kind of dying by the second day, but as Claire would say, “We thrived!”
While it was seriously a tiring trip, we both enjoyed ourselves, Claire probably more than me considering she’s doing it again next year. Overall, this trip was an adventure—an adventure where we made friends and had an experience I don’t think many people are able to say they’ve completed. An adventure where we shared many laughs and answers to questions just to pass the time while paddling. An adventure where we also forgot sunscreen… Yeah… Not a good thing when you’re paddling for about 16+ hours a day and the sun is reflecting off of the (gross) water of the Grand River.
This trip was one that I don’t think I ever could’ve guessed I would go on, but it was one that was very worthwhile. I’m proud of Claire and myself for getting through the entire thing, for surviving on mostly Cliff and granola bars that weekend, not dying of dehydration and for actually finishing that race. There were about 110 participants when we started and throughout the course of the race, about 12 teams dropped. It was shocking to hear, but also when the water was that gross and freezing, it was understandable.
My point in all of this is to remember to wear sunscreen on trips because Claire and I burned. BAD. Thankfully due to friends and A LOT of aloe vera and chapstick, we were okay. In the minds of two college freshmen who really have no clue what exactly they’re in for, we got burned, quite literally. Even before the race started, we (read: I) rolled my eyes a little at the guys putting sunscreen on at 6:50 a.m. I didn’t even think of it until it was too late. So, don’t be stupid or be lazy or even just want to be tan so you’re not pale; put on the dang sunscreen.
This trip was and is one for the books for sure. As much as I might sound like I complain about it, I actually loved the adventure that was taken. I loved making new friends and learning afterwards that our campus ministry group had been tracking us through the MSUOC website, which held a spreadsheet of what times each team arrived at various portages and camps. I think even through all of the pain I was in after and during the race (canoes are heavy, ya know), I wouldn’t trade this race or this experience. I loved spending the weekend outside, and sleeping in a hammock and a sleeping bag in 30 degree weather wasn’t a total damper on a wild weekend adventure.
**Word of warning: if you go on this trip, remember sunscreen (this is number one!), make sure you have the upper body strength of two people who can lift 80+ pounds and use a tent. I like the hammock camping, but I do not recommend it. Oh, and remember to have fun and stay positive!**