Paddling your boat gently down the stream,
you may merrily discover how to enjoy life as if it were but a dream...
Article about a previous White-Water DreamQuest reprinted from The Montreal Gazette Travel Section, 96/4/20
Just such an adventure has been dreamt up by Lucid Adventures of Montreal, Quebec, a company which organizes week-long lucid living paddling trips down Quebec's fabled Dumoine River. By combining the findings of cutting edge dream research at Montreal's Sacré Coeur Hospital and California's Stanford University with canoe tripping in Canada's wilderness, Lucid Adventures specializes in training people about the nature and beneficial waking applications of dreams and lucid dreams in a unique outdoor adventure setting.
Richly steeped in the history of turn of the century lumber men, the Dumoine River is widely considered one of the best white-water experiences in central Canada. Three hours north-west of Ottawa, it plunges some 500 feet down the rocky granite of the Laurentian Highlands, weaving between steep pine-covered hills and picturesque cliffs that often offer surprisingly crisp echoes to floaters-by, and emptying finally into the Ottawa River.
The adventure begins even before paddle and water get acquainted, since access upriver is provided by an incredible, breathtaking bush flight with canoe strapped to pontoon. The half-hour flight provides an unmatched, bird's-eye view of the twisting and turning hills, lakes, thirty or so rapids, and dozen waterfalls that will fill the week to follow with the remarkable sights, exciting paddling, and portages that make up the Dumoine.
Landing at Alligator Point, adventurers set up camp near intriguing, turn of the century style "skidders" - large steam-powered contraptions that used to haul themselves across land by powerful winches or tow log booms across lakes by paddle wheel.
Along the river, a sharp eye may spot occasional moose, wolves, or deer, while encounters with beavers, otters, muskrat, mink, nesting hawks and eagles, and other wildlife (which often includes members of the camping party once the fetters of society are removed) are par for the course. Loons too, will surely pop up here and there, calling each other with their eerie wilderness laughter.
Swimming open-mouthed is fine, since Dumoine water is (surprise!) pleasantly pure and drinkable. Another delight, a level of magnitude larger, comes upon reaching Grand Chute, near mid trip.
Camped on the parapet over the most spectacular of four series of falls, the feeling of a fine, fresh spume on the face is matched only by the incredible view of a gorge whose sheer cliff walls have been carved over a hundred feet high by thousands of years of rushing water.
At Grande Chute and elsewhere, a camera is a must but make sure it's packed like everything else -- water-tight and shock-proof. For cameras, a commercially available Pelican Box is ideal and provides quick access for that unexpected otter. For clothes and food, waterproof dry bags are a worthwhile investment, but doubled-up garbage bags work okay in a pinch. Re-package the camera once you're done. It's one less worry if a storm whips up, and even if it's sunny, your paddling partner may decide you look too dry.
And just when it seems that the trip can't get any better, it's cheese and tomato on rye, or peanut butter and jam if you prefer, and maybe a sesame snap or granola bar, as the shores of the Dumoine whisk by the flotilla of lashed-together canoes while everyone enjoys a floating lunch on the last day of the trip. Then, drifting lazily around a bend in the river, the crew of now-veteran Dumoiners quietly stir from a post-meal nap, humbled in awe beneath the rugged, towering beauty of majestic 550 foot Eagle Cliffs.
The lucid living training is fun and insightful, and ranges from sensory illusions and philosophical allusions that explore the nature of perception and consciousness to techniques for benefiting more from an average night's sleep by remembering, understanding and applying dreams practically and by learning how to have lucid dreams.
Besides rapids and lucid living training there's plenty to do, from swimming, hiking, fishing, rock-climbing and canoe games all the way to astounding stargazing away from city lights, especially early in August, meteor-shower month, where a couple shooting stars a minute is common, and apparently conducive to dreaming lucidly.
"Sleeping beside everyone out under the stars," said businessman Doug Baard of Montreal, about his final night of the expedition, "I suddenly, spontaneously realized I was dreaming, and launched myself Superman-style into an exhilarating, long, soaring flight -- my first lucid dream in years."
Or if you need to relax tired paddling muscles at day's end, then take a sauna. Yes, a home-made sweat-lodge, no kidding - a true Lucid Adventures specialty. With a large tarpaulin acting as walls and roof, sand or rocks holding down the edges, and a sturdy stick or paddle acting as the central support teepee-style, the sauna stands in anticipation. A few dry, tennis-ball-sized rocks, get heated on a grill over the campfire, and then everyone huddles under the tarp as the last two people carry in a full pot of water and the rock-laden grill using thick, wet gloves and appropriate caution. A dab of tigerbaum in the water or a few pine needles on the rocks becomes a sinus cleansing treat, and once everyone's nicely steamed, a quick dash into the cool evening water under the stars is truly divine, but just one of many highlights on this outdoor adventure definitely worth scheduling into your 'waking Dream' -- a term the folks at Lucid Adventures affectionately use to describe life.
To find out Lucid Adventures trip dates, or about courses, lectures and pamphlets on dreams and lucid dreams, contact: The DREAMS Foundation, Box 513 Snowdon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3X 3T7, 514-990-2113, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. White-water canoeing, especially on remote rivers such as the Dumoine, requires a healthy blend of white-water and camping skills, and such excursions shouldn't be attempted by neophytes without the benefit of a guided, instructional river tour. For experienced trippers, a truly excellent paddling companion is Hap Wilson's "Rivière DUMOINE" guidebook (phone: 519-473-2109).
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