Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Old School

I've been watching an old video a friend lent me, named "Waterwalker". It is a chronicle of artist, filmmaker, and canoeist Bill Mason's experiences during several months spent "roughing it" in the beautiful, and rugged wilderness around Lake Superior.

Nothing extraordinary really happens during the video; it's simply a man canoeing and enjoying nature. But, it is amazing to watch him maneuver this simple open canoe in the fury of Lake Superior.

I'd not heard of Bill Mason before, though I've come to know he was quite a name in the world of canoeing and conservation. Honoring him, there is an annual 'Waterwalker Film Festival', sponsored by Paddle Canada.

Mason passed away about 20 years ago, this is not a recent video, his last and one of many that he evidently made during his lifetime. It's clear immediately when the video starts that he's a member of the 'old school', minimal camping gear, red plaid shirt, denim cutoff shorts.

These days, new paddlers have difficulty with all the various choices of boat styles, fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber, gortex, etc... It also seems sometimes that there is too much expectation that gear and boats are responsible for our abilities, skills, and speed.

We have much to learn from these accomplished veterans.


Kristen said...

well put, Dawn. I think of the miles my dad paddled in the 50s to islands 20m+ offshore to camp and fish, in a tin canoe he built, and no "serious" gear. Mind you, if anything happens to us these days, we're immediately criticised for not having all that lovely expensive gear.

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

A man (woman) need to know their limitations! Then apply the knowledge.

There are hundreds of serious outdoorsman and women you never here of, doing it their own way.

I hope to run into a few more some day.

Love this posting.

Michael said...

Mason's daughter Becky and son Paul have both continued in their father's tradition and live/work in some aspect of outdoor life. Becky used to give a 'Dancing Canoe' demo in which she showed people how maneuverable a canoe can be. Paul works as a cartoonist, often with outdoor topics. Their father's red Prospector canoe, seen in your photo today, is in the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. An amazing man with several films and books to his credit.

DaveO said...

He was indeed 'the man' in the Lake Superior region. I'm still amazed at how he could maneuver that canoe, even when Gitchee Gumee was in an ornery mood.