Usually, when you need to just get away with your besties, most women book themselves into the spa to indulge in body wraps, side-by-side pedicures and to chit-chat by the pool while sipping wine. A ladies retreat, where you come out scrubbed, polished and relaxed.
Sounds lovely, but let’s do a reality check here.
I live in Sioux Lookout.
“Where!?”, you ask.
Ah yes, let me tell you. It’s in the middle of nowhere, just a few hours from nowhere and just north of nowhere. Let me show you:
We have two restaurants that are occasionally open and that’s about it. No mall, no public pool, no private gym and certainly no spa . Our only fast-food option is Tim Hortons and our only bar is the Legion. There isn’t one singular stoplight in our whole town. It’s that tiny.
If you want your legs waxed or a facial, well, that’s just a short 4.5 hour drive east to Thunder Bay or a quick 5 hour jaunt west to Winnipeg. Take your pick.
So, when it comes to getaway options for my girlfriends and I, there is only one obvious choice. Backcountry canoeing – because if you paid attention to the map at the beginning of this post, you’d see that where Sioux Lookout lacks in amenities, it sure makes up for in the number of lakes. We absolutely live in the heart of paddling paradise.
While spending precious vacation time in the backwoods of Northwestern Ontario isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, thankfully, it is mine! And even more astonishing is, that battling headwinds, bugs and blazing sun is actually the stuff that my best girlfriends’ dreams are made of. In this tiny town in the heart of nowhere, I have found my soulmates.
You may recall last year, out of desperation to have a little slice of kid-free, work-free time to myself, I convinced three of my best friends to go on a mini-canoe trip. On our last day, as we paddled home, we promised each other that we would make this an annual event. Just us ladies – no kids, no partners – each summer.
With busy schedules, growing families, new partners and endless other commitments, I had my doubts that our Women in the Wilderness 2018 trip would come to fruition. But, with months of planning, we miraculously aligned our schedules and even found two new recruits!
After a wine-fuelled planning meeting that involved a conference call to our dear friend Cat in Masset, Haida Gwaii, we had nailed down our route and completed a menu and grocery list that mostly involved more wine and lots of chocolate. After a day of packing and sorting gear, we were set.
With canoes strapped onto the vehicles, we bombed out of town and drove an hour down a remote highway and eventually along an old railroad track, further and further into the bush. We unloaded the boats and got on the water and were on our way!
The next four days were full of swimming, sunbathing, dutch blitz, charades, skinny-dipping, relay races, camping Olympics, heart-to-heart conversations, tears and many, many laughs.
We paddled hard into headwinds, survived vicious ankle-biting bugs, lifted each other’s spirits when the going got tough and pretty much kicked ass in the teamwork department on the portage trail. We gorged ourselves on excessive amounts of summer sausage, wine and chocolate and generally had the time of our lives.
There is just something so unique and awesome about an all-woman trip. No stress, no regard to physical appearance, seamless synergy. It’s magic.
So here is to my fierce, strong, bad-ass paddling buddies! Can’t wait for next July!
Day 1: Off we go!
Day 2: You can get so much done when you wake up at 5am!