One of my very favorite activities is canoeing, especially canoe tripping—a several day journey down a river or through a series of lakes connected by no more than a (relatively) short portage (a portage is where you have to pick your canoe up and carry it across a stretch of land). A tradition among canoeists is the “trip report”. The trip report is a summary of a canoe trip, usually stressing the water level, number of rapids and portages, campsites and other practical matters. The sport is rare enough that these trip reports are an important resource for other canoeists. Sometimes they are the only way that you can know what you may run into on a certain route.
One good friend of mine is extremely diligent about preparing trip reports, and is also one of the most positive, optimistic people I have ever known. After reading his trip report about a trip that I know didn’t go nearly as well as he described it, I wrote the following:
Trip Report--the Donner Party--by P--- K---- Summary In short, although I cannot deny that we had our differences from time to time, I still believe that every person on the expedition made a contribution--in one way or another--to its success. Sure, there were disagreements and even a few people who criticized the route that we took, but in the end the group became almost as one. I wish that I had been able to spend more time with some members of the expedition, but I appreciated in unexpected ways the qualities of even those persons that failed to complete our travels. The scenery was spectacular, even if we did not see as much wildlife as we had hoped. Even though the trip took far longer than expected, I can say that I would look forward to tripping again with those members of the group that were not eaten, so long as we did not do so in winter weather and sufficient supplies were available. I believe that I became a much better person and learned a great deal about tripping from this experience. It may take a little more planning time, but I look forward to using the lessons I learned in even more ambitious trips.
My brother, who has the true Midwestern ability to tell you everything you need to know in the fewest words possible, shortened the trip report to this:
Long trip, Short on food, damn snow. Won't take that route again. Need new recipes.
If any of you aren’t familiar with the Donner Expedition, you can find information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donner_Party.