We slipped the canoes silently into the water under dark, greying skies. The forecast wind hadn't yet materialised but the threat of it was clear. An hour's paddling, followed by an open crossing which approached a mile, was completed and the gusts began to build. There were still over ten miles to journey and a hard day beckoned, the rain began to fall. In short transits, interspersed by periods of tracking the canoes on ropes along beaches, we progressed slowly down the loch in a westerly direction. A long day passed, early evening approached and sunshine began to make the odd fleeting appearance. As the wind abated we landed the boats on a shingle shore with over twelve hard miles completed.
A simple camp was established on the beach. Fire lit and the midges held at bay it was time to cook. The food was good; a dram was enjoyed; the company and the conversation in the smoke filled atmosphere quiet but full of the joy such a situation brings. The evening ended all too soon, the following day it was time to return to civilisation.
Its nearly two years since our last open canoe expedition and I have been a part of numerous conversations around this subject in the meantime. In some there is a delight at the prospect of a temporary lifestyle that is more basic in nature, where the priorities of finding a spot to camp for the night; establishing fire and cleaning water more than compensate for the dis-functionality of their mobile phones. However, for most the notion of no: brick walls; central heating or personal "electronica" is abhorent. Denial becomes an interesting concept, does the denial lie in embarking upon the expedition in the understanding that the comforts of daily life are to be forsaken? Or is it that the denial lies in shunning the truth and intrinsic connection we retain with these instinctive human needs for food, shelter and warmth in a simplistic way?