The paradox

Posted by Ken Campbell April 25, 2009 0 Comment 670 views

On long trips, there comes a point, somewhere near the end, when you are hit with what I call the completion paradox. After paddling (or hiking, whatever), for days, maybe weeks, with the goal of finishing the route foremost in your mind, you’ll get to the point where the end is in sight, and you’ll find that you suddenly don’t want it to be over.

It’s because the daily exertion of an expedition brings a sense of purpose that is hard to duplicate back in the world of jobs and cars, clocks and responsibility. The days take on a rhythm of their own, every individual task a step along the way, all activity directed toward the finish. It’s comforting really, to have such a sense of purpose.
I remember the day that I completed the paddle around Newfoundland, after three straight months on the water. I had planned for that moment, looked forward to it all summer long, the time when I would finally be done. When I would sleep in something other than a tent, eat something that really tasted good. When I wouldn’t doze off at night with thoughts of the miles unrolling in my head. As I paddled into Quidi Vidi harbour, I was overcome with the feeling that I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to turn around and do it all over again, even though getting it done had been my daily goal for almost 100 days. It took me a half-hour to paddle the last 300 yards.

I’ve only got a couple of days left before I finish the Puget Sound Challenge – my hope was to complete it before the end of April and it looks like that’s what will happen. I’m planning on leaving Titlow Beach next Tuesday afternoon, paddling to Joemma State Park that day, then finishing at Allyn the next evening. There’s about 28 miles to go.

This is the first time I’ve done a trip like this, split up into segments, rather than doing the whole route at once. I’d prefer to be out there continuously, but the other aspects of life here in the new millenium make that impossible. Doing the route this way is the next best thing, however, and I am not complaining. Still, I can feel the paradox rustling around my subconscious as I near the end, a part of me not wanting it to be over.

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