Posted on January 20, 2016
Over the years, I’ve learned that the best experiences come from entering situations with as little expectation as possible. If you open yourself up to an option, idea or opportunity, often you will emerge transformed, changed by the experience which has swept you away. But when sliding into a tributary of a stream titled the Unknown River, it’s hard to control the excitement of entering the unknown.
As our small tributary dumped our team out into the current of the Unknown River proper, an exploding plume of mist burst upwards, breaking the soft mist of the clouds which almost constantly fall onto the land and waters of Labrador. Horizonlines, as they are called within the river-running community, are a sure sign of excitement when looking downstream on any body of water. The fall of water off a ledge of any height is exactly the sort of river feature we had traveled to Labrador to experience, however the size of this plume exploding into the air, suggested it might be too high to experience from within our small plastic kayaks.
The team has a moment of indecision, the vegetation on the bank of the river was uninviting, with densely packed and thorn-covered vines guarding what appeared to otherwise be an enchanting forest. Half the team went towards the thorns, half went to opposite bank, and I continued downstream, hypnotized by the mammoth horizonline and thundering roar of what could only be assumed to be a large feature at this point.
. What lay downstream creating that roar and explosion of water over the horizonline? Which side of the river would be best to have a look at whatever it was? If we couldn’t go over it in our kayaks, how would we get around it, and how long would it take? We only had enough food packed within our kayaks for a few days. If we spent an entire day trying to get around this one particular spot on the river, would the rest of the river grant us safe passage, or would it too be filled with similarly dangerous obstacles, forcing us to make slower progress with our heavy boats on our shoulders?
It was these very questions that led us to Labrador. Nothing was known. Nothing could be predicted. As I continued walking through this forest dreamscape on my own, I slowly began to hear the roar of the river again. A little further and the moss began to get deeper. So deep in fact that it felt like I was trudging through the fresh snow of a blizzard without snowshoes. Each step sinking up to my knees. Just as my body began sweating inside my well-insulated drysuit to the point that it felt like a sauna, through a small window in the trees to my left appeared the sight of all that noise. A waterfall. Pouring over a cliff with the intensity of a landslide, and the height of a small skyscraper.
I stood, panting, exhausted, incredulous, and in awe.