Category Archives: Fitness

Ordeal Debrief

Before I start, I want to recognize my wife, Kara, who very bravely and sensitively supported me in this endeavor.  I can’t imagine how hard it is to send your spouse off into a dangerous Ordeal.  I honor her sacrifice in this.

My friend John also contributed a waterproof phone case so that I could have some kind of lifeline just in case.  I was instructed that I could bring the phone, so long as I didn’t engage with it while I was in the water.  Luckily, I never had to call anyone, but it was good that I had it.

For dress, I wore swim trunks and an orange hooded vest.  As far as offerings, I selected a nice tobacco blend (I think- I can’t smoke) and a nice pipe because those seem to be traditional.  I also brought along some high-end chocolate because there are indigenous reports of offering non-local goods (like coffee) as well.  All of this was in a series of waterproof bags in a backpack with some other possible needs.  I also brought the smoky quartz from Sandbar State Park.

Kara dropped me off and I hit the water at about 1400 local and discovered, once again, that it is apparently my fate in life to walk over sharp rocks.  This is the THIRD time I’ve walked over sharp rocks to visit a Power.  The “beach” was basically rocks covered in moss and mussels.  A sane person would’ve turned around at that point and packed it in.

Eventually I got into deep enough water that I could drag myself along the bottom with my hands.  I did that for awhile, running into lots of seaweed.  I’m not sure how long it took, but I made it deep enough to actually swim.

I had planned to sidestroke the Journey.  I did try to do this, alternating between sides and my back as I went.  A little less than halfway, right about the time I hit really deep water… I broke.

My arms and legs seized up.  I wanted to stop, but I was too far from shore, and the shoreline was a rocky cliff.  I began to panic.  I started sensing the Others in the lake, the dangerous ones.  In a fit of surrender, I gave in to His will.

I found myself calm and performing some weird kind of mutant breaststroke, in which my legs were crossed beneath me and I was almost vertical in the water.  MY arms were done, but somehow they kept moving in this way.  My legs would cramp up anytime I tried to use them for more than a couple strokes.  This was the best position, strangely enough.

In retrospect, I think He was keeping my feet in a south-north current that flowed towards Him.  Even with His strength moving my arms, I can’t imagine making the Journey as quickly as I did in such an un-hydrodynamic position.

In this part of the transit, the most difficult piece was keeping focused on the task at hand. I frequently found my mind drifting to practical concerns.  Strangely, though I felt small and vulnerable, I could feel the love He feels for His lake and all that dwells within.  I was still faintly aware of the dangerous Others, but they were either uninterested or kept at bay.

He had a practical method of refocusing my mind- waves.  The lake is full of boat wakes and wind chop, so anytime I found myself thinking about how I would get back from His rock… SLAP!  Wave up the nose!

Hmm… I wonder if someone will give me a ride back… SLAP!  Wave up the nose!

Of course, I had to deal with the waves all the time, but I realize that they were the worst when I was unfocused.

Eventually, I found myself doing the mutant breaststroke through more seaweed.  Soon, the bottom shoaled again and I found myself crawling along the same kind of mossy, rocky, mussel-coated shoreline I had left.  As I got closer, I began to walk again.  On one slip, I sliced open the tips of my right-hand middle and ring fingers.  Slowly, painfully, carefully, I made my way onto Odzihozo’s rock.

I think that Lake Champlain is low, perhaps due to a drought or something.  His rock was far larger than in the pictures that I’d seen.  The islet was at least fifty yards across, while the photos show one that is maybe twenty?  That’s in addition to about fifty yards of shoal on the side I approached.

As I approached His dwelling place, His rocky form, I found a small flat shelf on to which I began unpacking my offerings with my quivering, bloody hands.

At this point, I encountered another Test.  Sadly, I failed to force my body to navigate back down to the water to save a tiny shrimp that I found struggling on my backpack.  I got it on my finger and turned to walk back down.  I could barely stand.  Every part of my body was shaking with exhaustion.  I wanted to help the shrimp, but my fear and pain was too great. I took the easy way out and flicked it towards the surf.  I could feel the disappointment in an instant.

I failed to take care of the helpless shrimp in the way that He had taken care of me.  I am ashamed of my weakness.  I knew better, but I could not force my body to obey.  What pain did it cost Him to safeguard me, a mere shrimp in comparison?

I then forced myself to unpack the rest of my offering.  I laid down a sheet of obsidian.  I set the smoky quartz He had given me to the side, hoping to reinforce its connection to Him.  I packed some of the tobacco in the pipe and lit it, puffing slightly to get it going.  That’s about my limit on smoking tobacco.  I presented the pipe to Him and laid it on the obsidian slab.  I then carefully surrounded the pipe with the remaining tobacco and two boxes of matches in case He wanted to light the pipe again.

Next, I unwrapped the chocolates and presented those to Him in turn before laying them alongside the tobacco.  I then knelt down and thanked Him for my safe Journey and asked Him for safe passage back to land.  I was also instructed to leave the smoky quartz.  I had planned to bring it back, but He had other plans.

After that, I packed up my gear, taking my trash with me.  I put my orange vest and backpack on again and turned and sat down on the next shelf down from where I’d placed my offerings.  Feeling a water bottle crunch in my pack, I realized that I could’ve kept the shrimp alive in the half-full bottle until I went back down.  My failure to care for the tiny creature hurt that much more.

I rested there on His rock for awhile until I understood a very clear “TIME TO GO”.  Mind you, I did not hear this, I simply understood it.  Much like we hear a voice from someone and then parse the meaning, I parsed without hearing.  The tone was forceful but matter-of-fact, not a “get off my lawn you durn kids” sort of message.

I stood and gingerly picked my way back out into the water.  I slowly crawled back into the water and did the strange breaststroke back through the seaweed.  After a time, I got back into the deep water.  I still had no sharp panic about the deep water, but His strength was less available.  I could still feel the love and protection, but I was getting pushed north.  This is why I suspect that there was a south-north current in the channel.  I was crossing the channel, slowly and painfully, but I was drifting too far north to make landfall.

About halfway across the channel, His strength left my arms.  I found myself floating, but barely able to move my arms and legs again.  At this point, a boat came near and asked if I was okay.  To this I replied, “could you give me a lift back to land?”

The family that picked me up had a nice speedboat.  I sadly cannot remember their names, but they were kind and about as understanding as parents, grandparents, and child can be of a strange lunatic who swims alone out to a Holy Power’s dwelling place.  They seemed to struggle with the notion that I was responding to a Call, so I eventually told them I wanted to be like the guy in the Dos Equis commercials.

They kindly brought me back to a much sandier part of the same beach I’d left.  I found Kara waiting there.  I’d been gone about two-and-a-half hours.

I think the takeaway from this final part of the Ordeal was that even with supernatural help, humans are interdependent.  This is an idea that often challenges me, not because I want to tell everyone to pound sand, but because I often feel abandoned by other people.  In this case, I think that He sent me off his islet at just the right time for me to be noticed by a boat full of helpful people.

I still have a lot of ruminating to do, but this at least sets down some of the important information so I can hopefully not forget it all.

View Odzihozo in a larger map