Day 3 – River of Contradiction

Time river rapids

I awakened several times during the night with a nightmare. I had been kidnapped by human traffickers and forced into sex slavery, to suffer humiliating, excruciating acts.

I tend to have these kinds of nightmares when I am here, in Algonquin. One year I screamed so loudly, hitchcockian-like, trying to get the rapist off of me and out of my tent, that I awakened the entire camp. I had thought the dreams were connected to the anxiety and vulnerability, the feeling of being unable to cover myself, that I experience in leadership roles, but I am not in such a role on this trip. Maybe it has more to do with being in wild dark places. Perhaps these wild dark places in me rise in response.

So, I arose early, walked to the west end of the land, to the place I had designated as my sacred circle, expressed deep gratitude to the north for yesterday’s gifts, for showing me that laying down my life for another may indeed be necessary after all – the laying down of my old, familiar ways of belonging in the world in order to grow the gift that is mine alone to bring to it.

Standing in the circle, the song that came to me was ‘Still, still, still’ ( As I hear it now, I notice that it’s dulcet melody echoes the song of the loon in some ways.) Something about the stillness of the north invites me to that same stillness within. So contradictory, paradoxical then, these opposing (balancing?) realities in me…. wildness and stillness, torment and calm.

From the perspective of the north I gazed out over the water, quietly witnessing its flow,  moving this morning with the wind, from west to east, past this outcrop of land, past these hillocks of pine and cedar, past the silent aged trees, flowing….

We paddled across Little Trout Lake again, crossed the short portage to Queer Lake, then followed a watery passageway around a bend that we had missed yesterday, into an enchanting, but hidden, inlet where yesterday’s quite elusive portage sign, today was quite obvious. The passing of a mere day and what was shrouded is suddenly manifest.

The portage from Queer Lake to the Tim River was long and quite difficult, very wet and extremely mucky, with significant uphill climbs and unfortunately a few falls in our small band of pilgrims. Footing was treacherous, with slick boardwalks doing little to alleviate the footing through boggy areas, and so the time to cross was long. This meant that, on my last trip across the mile-long trail, the canoe was on my shoulders for much longer than it ever has been before, a full hour. It was a hard walk, but I am gratefully astounded at the new strength in my body-soul. Truthfully, I find carrying the 57 pound canoe much more satisfying and, frankly, easier than hefting a 40+ pound pack on my back across these trails. The weight of the pack pulls me off balance, especially on uphill climbs and when stepping over logs, and it is work to not fall backwards. Shouldering the canoe, I have learned that strength is as much about balance as it is about muscularity, and not simply balance of the body and the boat itself, but also a delicate equilibrium between tenacity and composure, fortitude and ease, resistance and release.

Close to the end of the trek, the Tim River itself began to call out to us. We heard it first as a distant rustle, then a persistent rush, at last a resounding roar. What a powerful voice as it tumbled over and pummeled the boulders that made up its bed… and then, just beyond and below the magnificent torrent, utter calm. The Tim almost instantly became a slow-moving, meandering stream of a river, switching back and u-turning through an alpine bog.

We had thought, after a stop for lunch  at the put-in to the paddleable section, that we’d make camp easily by 2 or 3, but what appeared to be a few hundred meters on the map probably ‘wound’ up being several thousand. All at once, just when we were all wearily imagining that we had missed the orange campsite post, we were stopped short by a large downed tree spanning the river’s width. As in the child’s bear hunt chant, we’ couldn’t go over it, couldn’t go under it, and couldn’t go around it’. The cold water was at least chest high, perhaps deeper, so walking our boats in the riverbed was not an option, nor was standing atop the log as it was slick as ice.  After scouting several possibilities for emptying and lining our boats from the bank.. which promised either a vertical, brush covered rise on one side, or a hip sucking swamp on the other… we decided that we could get out of the boat and straddle the log if we pulled broadside to it.  We climbed onto the log and heaved the floatable packs from the canoe next to the log, near to the bank. We could then drag the canoe over the log and reload on the other side. Our friends followed our lead and 45 minutes later, we were at last on our way again.

Finally, we arrived at our campsite, made camp (including a tarp because it had begun to rain while paddling the Tim) and relaxed over a mug of rum while the chicken curry was cozying. Optimistically, we gathered wood and started a fire in the drizzle, which would periodically escalate to a shower and then quiet again, but as soon as the flames really caught on, so did the storm, chasing us into our tents for the night, where I now lay recording the events of the day.

I wonder at the ways of water. I once had the sensation of regurgitating an huge boulder that had been blocking the flow of my life, tripping me up and keeping me from bringing forth the presence of Love I wished to be in the world. That boulder contained my anxieties about being judged and my fear of being rejected, of not belonging, a fear that kept me in a nervous, people-pleasing state of heart and mind. I was often unable to dwell in a deep sense of presence, particularly in the presence of others, because this boulder was blocking the way. I guess some part of me has imagined that the removal of that obstacle would mean dwelling in a perpetual state of calmness (a stagnant pond?) rather than understanding that it may have opened me instead to a fuller, more passionate flow. The waters of this day, of this place… the river and the rain… have shown me that within one body, all is necessary, all is contained, all is allowed, and all is expressed, the raging torrent, the meandering stream, the drizzly-damp, the drenching downpour, the charming, but hidden inlet of invitation, and the impassable boundary log.

As for me, I  scream in my sleep and awaken to peace

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 16:53:56

    Vicki, I learned in the dream workshop I attended recently that our nightmares are meant to wake us up and that even they are given in service to our health and wholeness. May you find in them the grace hidden deep within your subconscious.



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