How to: Portage


the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters:

   The term portage comes from the French Le Porter, which means to carry. When the French explorers came to North America and started traveling the rivers by canoe they called it Porter, and then it got picked up by everyone else as Portage. That's a simplified history of the term anyway. I’m sure people were doing this long before it became known as portaging. 

     That is the way of things in our world. They become named things after they are things. What an interesting world it would be if we came up with names for things before, we decided what that would be. Invent a new word and then make a definition for what it could be later on. I have several words like this already and I can’t wait till I decide what I will use them for. Just wait till I unleash my new rules of rhetoric. Every sentence not only “CAN” but “WILL” start with “BUT”.

     I also still have a problem with the name glamping and have come up with at least a dozen other names for this. I’m pushing hard to have that renamed into something that would appeal to more people.

  I can live with the term Portage, unless we are removing all other language words from English. No more Latin, French, Spanish, or any of the other languages English has borrowed from. I would definitely sign up for this. Not because I have problems with those languages, I would just like to be part of that project. Then one day I could tell my children, when I have them, "Your mom and dad came up with those words together but keep it our family secret. Not everybody needs to know we invented words. If anybody asks, tell them your dad works at the office and ask your mom what you can tell them she does. Answer all other questions with “FISHING” and you’ll be fine, those are the only answers I’ll give them too.”

      You have to have dreams, right? I’m sure the reality of how all this will actually happen will be quite different but till then. 

    People plan on canoeing down a gentle river till it’s not and they have to portage.

    (That was a writer's example of a portage: The beginning was a little dry, so I went around it. Most things can be used in multiple areas of our lives if we look for ways to use them. Like Faith)


Too rough

    Canoeing can be a fun and peaceful excursion down a gently flowing river. Sometimes that gently flowing river turns into a sea of raging rapids that can tear a canoe to pieces as well as its occupants. This is a good time to portage.

    When the river starts to go beyond your skill or equipment level, Portage. Carrying the canoe and walking around the rapids is safer and smarter than trying to shoot it. 

    Pride can be a dangerous thing in many ways. It might not be the way we want to get by the rapids but if we are trying to get down the river it might be the only way. Life is not a race and it’s not about proving anything, it’s usually about the journey and the final destination. Trying to go through waters out of our level can end the journey. Don’t let pride tell you to do something that should have been avoided. Not all battles are worth fighting. 

    Jesus said God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but canoeing is not a test of faith. God wants us to enjoy the world he created but to also use the brain he gave us. Trust me on this “A test of faith does not involve kayaking down a river.” We are not supposed to test God either and if you are expecting Him to miracle you through the rapids that you entered on purpose you might be in for a disappointment. He CAN get you through it but don’t put Him to the test. He will get you through the things He brought you to as long as you have faith in Him. I would use common sense on portaging. 

Too shallow

    The time to portage doesn’t have to be when it’s too rough either; it can also get too shallow. When the bottom of your canoe or kayak starts dragging the bottom it’s time to evaluate the situation. Can I lighten the load by dispersing the weight better or am I just out of water?

   Portaging over the shallows isn’t as bad as going around the rapids. You can leave the boat in the water as long as it can float somewhat. It might not be as easy as riding in it but it’s definitely easier than carrying it overland. The water still supports some of the weight. Work smarter not harder. If the water can support the load. LET IT!

   This applies to life as well. Jesus said we should take his yoke because his burden was light and easy to bear. We can put all the things we can’t handle on His shoulders because he can carry it. We aren’t made to or equipped to tackle everything in the world. Jesus is. 

Be Smart

    Not all boats are made the same. Canoes are made for some things, kayaks for others, and rafts for stuff too. You can probably go through those rapids in a kayak but risking it in a canoe means you will probably lose most of your stuff.

    Rafts are great if you have a lot of gear and know the river. They are fine for most things but have a real disadvantage versus waterfalls. If you attempt a waterfall of any size in a raft, you're going to lose the things in it and probably you. The raft will keep floating, empty, down the river. Then you have to spend the rest of the day gathering your things. 

    Rafts also require a larger space to fit through. If the river you’re going down has a lot of tight spaces through the rocks, you will be doing a lot of portaging.

    Kayaks can pretty much go through anything, but they don’t carry that much stuff. You can pack some of them with gear for a few days but for a lengthy excursion you’ll need to carry the rest in something else or pull another kayak just for gear.

     Everything has a place and is built for a purpose. The one you use will depend on the river you’re going down. For general all-purpose short trips, I think kayaks are the way to go. The choice is your thought. If you're just having an enjoyable time on the water any of them can work . . . to a point. Flipping a canoe in melted ice is never a good time. It will get your blood pumping but there’s only a handful of people who would call it FUN. I’m not one of them. The polar bear thing eludes me. I honestly don’t want to join that club. 

Back In.

    Once you get past whatever obstacle was in your way it’s time to get back into the water. This part is easy. All you have to do is reenact the way you started your trip. It is another beginning on the river.

    That’s how I look at it. Especially for long trips. If you break them down to short stops and starts it makes it easier to plan ahead. Maps are GREAT TOOLS if you use them. Most rivers now have satellite imagery on topography maps so you can see most of the hard parts ahead of time.

    You won’t get any maps like this for life. Sorry, they don’t exist. In life we don’t usually see the hardest obstacles we will face until we are already facing them. You probably aren't the first person to face it, but you still have to face some things in life that we don’t plan on. They are called the “probably won’t but could happens” and they will happen.

     When I’m questioning if it’s time to Portage in life, I refer to the Bible. God wants us to face some challenges in life to show others he will bring us through it. It’s not always about us. He will bring you through it though. Sometimes he wants us to go around. It’s hard to know when to do what He wants us to do, and we don’t always get it right, but it will work out how He needs it to as long as we stay faithful to Him.

 Have faith in Jesus for life and be smart on the water. Getting in over your head is not always a bad thing either. Life is complicated and none of us is perfect. Rivers can be complicated too, but we can plan ahead for most of them. A general plan for life is more like a suggestion than a rule. What we want to do and what life throws at us can be completely different. It’s like the weather when we are outdoors. It will happen but what will happen is anybody’s guess, only God knows the future. Be grateful for all of it because it is part of God’s plan. You just might not understand it till later. 

    Portage as needed.

Live by Faith. Love the Outdoors. Life is Out Here!

written by Benjamin Evans