“…what age the other women would be on the trip? And what level of fitness would they be? Or if maybe I am over-estimating how “rough” the trip will be and they will all be wearing cute yoga pants and flip flops while I stand there like a dork all outfitted up. And mostly, if I looked this ridiculous in the change room, how ridiculous would I look when I was actually outdoors?”
I put myself to the dork test before I even got on the plane. My hiking boots were so bulky that they were taking up too much room in my suitcase. I concluded with a sigh of resignation that I’d need to wear them on the plane so I wouldn’t have to pack them.
As I waited for a delayed plane, I was tweeting away in the airport with @thegrumpymama, who was quick to agree that yes, I must certainly look like a dork. (She’s helpful like that.) I added to her enjoyment that not only was I wearing shiny new hiking boots, but I was also carrying a hiking pack and making a swish-swish sound as I walked in my quick-dry pants. @thegrumpymama and @finola piped up that they wanted a picture. I succumbed to their wishes, but tried to do it as surreptitiously as possible … I mean, who sits in the airport taking pictures of their dorky outfit?? (The guy across from me totally noticed, btw.)
When I finally did arrive in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, I met my fellow travel writers in the airport. One was a young 20-something wearing skinny jeans tucked into leather boots with a blazer and her hair in an adorable up-do. A second was wearing cotton capris, a hoody and running shoes. Also a 20-something. And the third was more my age and was wearing black dress pants, leather shoes and a blouse. No, I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb whatsoever.
I figured that once we started doing our activities though, I would surely not be the only one wearing clothes from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I was wrong. Here is what my fellow travellers’ footwear looked like every day of the trip. (I also tried to take this photo surreptitiously. Not sure that worked either.)
Our host and all three writers had a great sense of humour, so I let go of any pretence of self-consciousness and told them about my boot dilemma. How I’d bought brand spanking new hiking boots specifically for the trip, while they were saundering around with light-weight runners and ankle socks.
From then on, the boots were included in every picture. Here, for instance, you can see me decked out in traditional fur and leather dress from when the Saguenay area was populated by the First Nations Montagnais tribe and fur traders, which was part of an interpretation session on the Okwari Adventures tour. Don’t my boots blend in nicely?
By this point, I was happy having fun making fun of myself, while secretly enjoying the comfort of my fancy-pantsy Salomon hiking boots. But little did I know the fun was just about to begin …
The next day was torrential rain (or what our host prefers to call “liquid sunshine”). But the trip needed to go onward, regardless of weather. That day, we had a big tour through the Zoo sauvage (all the details about this place, which I truly loved, can be read here). Not only did this tour include a 45-minute hike in the woods, but it meant campfire time and canoe time too.
Needless to say, the cute running shoes got soaked within 10 minutes in the rain. These poor women had no other shoes but dripping wet running shoes! Not comfy. I, on the other hand, was really testing out the water-proof guarantee on my boots. My tootsies were dry as a bone. I didn’t even rub it in (yet).
By the time we went canoeing, I was tired of the other women being so worried about getting even more wet. Come on! We’re intrepid adventure travellers, aren’t we?! So while they were tip-toeing their way into the canoes, I stood ankle deep in the water. It felt really, really strange to just walk into water with boots on. But hey, I had a guarantee to test out! And guess what? Dry as a bone. Still.
This was a whole new world to me. I mean, I don’t even have water-proof winter boots … I just kind of run from my house to the car and hope for the best. But here I am standing in a lake — in boots — and nothing it seeping in. I admit, I did get one comment, “Oh, look at you, standing in the water with your new hiking boots! Rubbing it in, are you?” And then I said, “Why, yes, of course.”
After I got out of the canoe, I looked down at my boots again. Instead of seeing an ugly yellow and grey colour combination, I thought they looked really cute.
And the next morning, while I was lacing up dry boots and the others were having to put their feet in still-wet shoes, they even looked cuter than the Fluvogs.
For details on where to stay and what to do in this area of Northern Quebec, you can visit Road Trips for Families where I’ve written my recommendations for a winter road trip as well as Kids in the Capital, where I’ve shared my new found love for glamping.