Our campsite at the Blue River Campground was shrouded in rain and mosquito’s. The day before was a mission 14hr drive from Vancouver Island with an epic grocery shop thrown in there for provisions for our party of 12. I was feeling frazzled already, and we hadn’t even started packing. I had concerns….. Would the logging road that needed to take us 24km up the mountain be navigable for us in our large vehicle? Would we manage the 2.5km portage on foot, to get to Murtle Lake with all of our stuff? What if it’s really miserable trying to do this wilderness thing with all our kids – one of them a baby? What if it’s miserable for the other family that we are sharing our time with? What if it rains the whole time? What if the bugs are terrible?
I was asking myself as we spent all day packing for our large family, if I even liked this adventure thing? Is it even worth it? Sometimes it is just hard and the process test’s my resilience to the max. I have packed for many many trips like this. It’s how I earned my living before kids. But with these 5 small people that I’m jointly responsible for, the task felt very daunting. I so badly wanted it to be GREAT – the first of many wonderful family wilderness trips…..I hoped. But I felt taunted by all the ‘what if’s???’
But we did get packed. We did make it up the logging road without any problems. We survived the portage very well. And we got onto the water without any glitches. Yay!! And my last fear was alleviated when the campsite we were aiming for (after a 10km paddle) had room for our large group.
We then went about setting up camp, and doing our best to get everything, including the kids, organized. I took our baby into the bug shelter to change her, and realized why she had slept so well as we had paddled. She was feverish and had what looked like a viral rash. I had to suppress a little panic that we had bought her all the way out into the wilderness and she was unwell. I told myself that I didn’t need to make a big deal of it. 5 kids and 10 years of parenting and we had never needed to take our kids to the doctor when they were sick, so why would we need to now? We had everything with us that we needed to fight a simple virus. And the ranger cabin and emergency help wasn’t all that far away.
All of these thoughts and events had my mind hammering the question, over and over again…..Is this worth it?
As we settled into the rhythms of life in the wilderness, I began to let go a little of the craziness of what it took to make the trip happen. I could sit on the beach in my camp chair, watch the kids playing, having an awesome time with their cousins, and take in the beauty around me. I could let myself come to some conclusions to the question’s I was asking. Is it worth it? Do I/we like it? Does this matter to the kids? Is there enough payoff for the effort it is to pull this off?
And my answer?
Yes. It REALLY is worth it. Why, you ask? Because there is nothing like the silence and grandness of creation to give you clarity of mind. To strip away all the trappings of the world, for both the kids and us. Going back to basic’s is a great ‘re-set’ to be reminded of the things that really matter. For us that is, one, living simple, having just enough to survive, sharing with others. Two, valuing and growing friendships within our family and with other significant people. Three, understanding our smallness in this world, and the greatness of God. Our trip reminded me of all that and more.
I also loved seeing the kids playing the way kids should play – with lots of interaction, exclamation, imagination, creativity, laughter, movement and teamwork. It was so refreshing to see them content in their environment and with each other. I love that they loved it.
I love that Wi-Fi had no part. It’s awesome to see that fun is busting out of their tents to be part of the excitement of seeing a moose. Frog hunting. Daring each other to jump in the lake first or the most, listening to a read aloud novel. Squishing into a tent. Huddling under a makeshift tarp and eating lunch during a squall of rain and wind. That’s what magical memories are made of.
As adults, I enjoy being able to deepen friendships, hang out, and just be. I feel alive and well in the outdoors. And the hard parts? I remember them well, but they melt into insignificance and are far outweighed by all the good parts, and those feel-good moments are what makes it all worth it for us. Hardship and adversity makes us stronger. I challenge you in some small (or big) way to push a little outside of what is normal and comfortable and make some remember-forever moments!!
Read more about Murtle Lake here.
And some pictures of our 5 days in the wilderness.