The following summer I went on a canoe trip with three friends. We were three days into a seven day canoe trip exploring one of the river and lake systems in Algonquin park. I had never been as far away from “civilization” before. I don’t remember us seeing another human being in over a day.
It was starting to get dark and our map showed two potential campsite on a small Island just ahead. We landed and explored one … it was adequate but not as nice as other places we had camped previously. I offered to check and see if the campsite on the other side of the Island was any better and took off at a jog along a thin trail through thick growth.
A few minutes later, about three quarters of the way across the Island, I heard a crunch followed by a rhythmic thumping. It took me until I felt a pain on my lower thigh to figure out that I had accidentally crushed a hive at the base of a tree while jogging and that the former occupants were swarming and dive-bombing me, drumming off the rim of my Tilley hat. I swerved to where I could see a glimpse of water and poured on the speed. Two more stingers struck home before I was able to dive beneath the water.
I was absolutely terrified as I swam around the Island to my pack, very aware of just how much space was between us and any professional medical help. My allergy specialist had told me that bee allergies varied widely. Sometimes they were confined to a specific by type of bee, sometimes it crossed over species to wasps and hornets. The insects that had stung me had been striped, but they also seemed much smaller than what I had encountered ten years earlier. Still I was praying and begging God for my life. All I could think about was the possibility of dying before accomplishing any of my dreams.
When I got back to my friends I briefly snapped out what had happened while I dug through my canoe’s contents, downed some benedryl and then sat in shallow cool water. I stared at my thigh, my Epipen poised and ready. About an hour later I got up and looked myself over carefully. None of the stings had reacted any worse than a bad horse fly bite.
I felt foolish and a little ashamed but, grateful to be alive, I walked up to the camp that my friends had set up and joined them for dinner.
The next morning we decided to spend the day at this location and just fish and relax for a break. I told my friends to go fishing without me and brought my Bible, journal and tin flute to the shoreline. I was determined to pray until I had defeated this fear once and for all.
A couple chapters of the Bible later I heard a small scuffling noise on the other side a tent. Wondering if I would have to scare away a raccoon, I got up to investigate.
A squirrel was rummaging through the fire pit where we had burned up the scraps from the previous night’s meal. Deciding that burning them wasn’t enough I went ahead and buried them as well, hoping that would be enough to keep away any larger scavengers.
I went back to my rock and continued reading. Once again I heard the scuffling noise and glanced over my shoulder to see if I could catch a glimpse of the squirrel from where I was.
The largest bull moose I had ever seen strolled out from between our tents and stared at me.