I spent a year planning and dreaming about the Yukon descent. My waking life for that eternity was geared to making the journey happen. Top of the list was making it enjoyable. Problems and suffering was at the bottom. At times, canoes, sponsors and logistics consumed my thoughts. For months I would fall asleep at night visualising the image of myself in a canoe with a paddle gripped in my hands. This would play out like a stuttering old film using the back of my eyelids as a screen. Fast-forward one year and in a whirlwind of kit bags and printed boarding passes I was off, wholeheartedly consumed in completing the journey and coming home alive.
Returning to England was magical. To see the green fields from the plane and to hear the broad London accent of the customs officer welcomed me back like a warm hug. As I waited to be picked up, the feelings of being home anxiously fizzed in my stomach like an alka seltzer.
For the next few weeks I threw myself into a frenzy of blog posts and networking with magazines and podcasts. My mind became a hurricane of new expedition ideas and a deep crevasse of memories. Albeit an exciting period I wasn’t feeling myself. There was something that needed addressing, something far more important: a feeling of loss. I noticed these hollow moments felt as if I’d lost a dear friend. Like leaving them behind alone on another continent, never to speak again. I couldn’t decipher how I felt other than I longed to be back in the unsophisticated and lucid world of my journey. I found the feeling of loss was down to leaving my friend, the expedition, behind.
Life on the Yukon had a simplistic beauty and this is what I missed. We would wake, eat, paddle for four hours, eat, paddle for another four hours, eat and sleep. We had a target mileage each day and a clear objective. I was important, we were important, the journey was important. This way of life made sense to me in a place only my DNA could reach. In the canoe I had everything I needed to succeed; Food, water, tents, spare paddles, my journal and a direction of travel. Everything else I could live without. For three months this river routine stripped away my previous exterior and brought my character and soul back to a meditative and tranquil footing via a wilderness cleansing. In the act of coming home and losing this i’d now discovered how I wanted to live - Outdoors and with simplicity. With fire and with passion.
Today I can feel my daily choices and decisions silently being driven by the positive imprint of the expedition and not the sensation of what I left behind. I’ve found more than ever, that I have a deep desire to live the simple and creative outdoor life. The transparency and effect of living this way now permeates through me like water seeping through rock, positively changing its structure.
I can still feel that my friend the river is out there somewhere, alive and waiting for me to return. Even though the texture of loss still remains it now serves a different purpose as a helpful reminder to what has been and what immense feats can be achieved. It’s with those nostalgic feelings in tow that I re-load my canoe with a ferocious forward thinking positivity while not forgetting to appreciate and remember my river. From here I look to the future, to the next chapter and a bright new horizon.