Portaging, hiking in, walking to the pub, kayak hauling comes in many forms and we all must at some point carry the plastic beast from one place to another. On the best of occasions, it’s from your car to the water in few steps. In the worst(could also be considered best), the kayak is fully loaded, on a steep, wet, slippery slope with the kayak pulling you off balance off the side of a mountain, with miles to go. Of course, you’re not on a trail, and the shoulder high underbrush between the thorned trees only hinders your progress. While it seems strong enough to hold your weight, undoubtedly it snaps or its roots give way as you show the slightest need for support. On the other hand, when you try to walk through a single thread-sized vine it presses back with cutting force and somehow multiplies itself and is suddenly wrapped around your legs and feet as you curse and struggle against its all-powerful grip. And though plenty strong, they never catch your kayak after pulling you to the ground and the kayak off your shoulder.
Yes wear real shoes, few of which are kayak specific or even water specific. I prefer synthetic material climbing approach shoes.
Yes dress and layer appropriately for the conditions. Not too hot or too cold!
Yes know where you’re going, either by local knowledge or some mapping.
Definitely be well fed and especially hydrated, always try to carry water.
Here are 5 easy steps to an enjoyable carrying experience, in no particular order:
- Curse. A lot, especially at the vines and trees that grab the ends of your kayak. At your kayak too of course, it’s the thing that got you into this mess in the first place.
- Drop your kayak. Or throw, depending on level of misery. Preferably where an apparently strong tree or rock can hold it long enough for you to start to relax before either breaking or silently letting your kayak slide off down the hill. Go get it, and start over again.
- Use that river knife because you looked at, but didn’t bring the machete. It’s not going to do much but it feels great to wildly swing it at the vines as you curse like the wild man you’re starting to feel like. Even if it gets you nowhere, it can still make you feel like Rambo.
- Put your head down. Everything hurts, you’re not nearly as far along as you should be, maybe it’s getting dark. It’s definitley staggeringly hot and humid, or depressingly cold. But all that works against you, somehow gives you inspiration and strength. You’re out here to experience the place as fully as possible, right? Just put your head down and keep moving one foot in front of the other.
- Don’t think of things you want to eat, or any other place for that matter. You are where you are, and you’re going nowhere fast. Appreciate it for what it is.