My Northern Ontario Canoeing Trip Journal

In the summer of 1999, I was afforded the opportunity to go on a canoeing trip with my friends Aaron, John and Randy into the pristine wilderness of Northern Ontario. The trip was to be a seven day self-sufficient journey through a number of lakes in the Mississagi Wild River Provincial Park.This part of Ontario is primarily uninhabited, with the exception of a few scattered hunting and fishing resort outfits. We arrived at Lac au Sauble (Sauble Lake) outfitted with all of the necessities, except for our second canoe. This we acquired from the kind folks at the Ritchie Falls Resort -Moosewa Outpost, who were able to complete our adventuring needs. We drove approximately seventeen hours – through the entire state of Michigan on route 75 north(including the Northern Peninsula), through Sault Ste. Marie and into Canada. We had two Ford Ranger trucks, with John & Randy in one and Aaron & I in the other. For Aaron and I the drive seemed a breeze, since we were very anxious and had many things to talk about. We also had the fortune of driving the vehicle with the canoe on top, which made us all a little nervous at first, but we soon adjusted and sped along our way. On the Queen’s Highway #17 in Ontario we drove alongside the North Channel of Lake Huron, arriving in the town of Massey at about 5 a.m. Massey is a pleasantly small town with some of the nicest folks you might ever meet!

The following are the entries that I kept in my small CVS Fat Book, which surprisingly did not get soaked and ruined. My pen also lasted the entire trip; guess I got lucky.

Before we depart...

Ritchie Falls...

July 19, 1999
July 20, 1999
July 21, 1999
July 22, 1999
July 23, 1999
July 24, 1999

July 19, 1999
After a very long drive through the states of Ohio and Michigan we finally arrived in Canada. It was very early in the morning when we got to Massey; I think it must have been about 4:00 a.m. or so, Monday morning. We left Aaron & John’s house around 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening after a very long day of getting all of our things together. We went through everything to the last detail – most importantly our meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each one was broken down into separate storage bags according to the individual day, which gave us exactly enough food for seven days. This was crucial in keeping weight to a minimum – no extraneous items. We have lots of fishing gear which Randy and John bought, new, for all of us to use. I can’t wait to actually fish.

We tied down our packs, stow bags, and the canoe, to the truck and we were on our way. Aaron and I rode in one truck; Randy and John in the other. We had the canoe on top of our truck, which made the drive very interesting. Aaron drove first, into the small hours (I think until about 1 a.m.). I then drove most of the remaining way, which was in the dark. It rained in the northern part of Michigan, but with the exception of the length of the drive it was pretty much uneventful. We did have this person cut abruptly into our lane as we drove along. It was odd, because we were the only cars on the highway to be seen for miles. They just had to cut us off for some reason.

After driving through Massey along a winding side street, we came to a dirt road. I though that we had finally arrived at our destination. As it turned out we had to drive some fifty miles on a rock strewn dirt road. This was thrilling. The roads were very wide, able to accommodate an OVERSIZE LOAD truck or two. Our wheels slipped constantly as we accelerated over the small hills, shooting clouds of choking dust everywhere. It was serious fun after many hours of zoned-out highway driving. We stopped at Ritchie Falls Resort to inquire about our second canoe and continued further on to where we would finally rest.

Fox on road.

We have finally made it to Sauble Lake, our main point of departure. Since we arrived at such an early time and are generally exhausted from driving we have decided we will rest today and tonight and depart tomorrow. We have set up camp in a very shady area next to this very large lake (Sauble). (I hope I have taken a photo of it.) There are other campsites nearby with a couple of large motor campers set up for staying here all summer(!), but it is so absolutely quiet with all you hearing are the insects and the wind in the trees. Lots of insects. There are these small grasshoppers which fly around and click-click-click their wings – like the sound of fingers snapping quickly- and they are in abundance. Step through the dry grass (it has been particularly dry here, according to the summer-ians) and they will sometimes jump and startle you. Along the ground are these medium-sized black ants, and although they do crawl on you and everywhere, they seem to do no harm. Then, there are the flies. They are always buzzing around you, and when they get the opportunity they land on you and bite. The bite is painfully annoying, especially since you don’t know they are on you until they have bitten you. I think the best solution is to wear covering with minimally exposed skin. This is only early afternoon; who knows what flying, buzzing, crawling, clicking multi-legged, multi-eyed creature will try to do the same tonight!

There are the same small red squirrels with the strange rattlesnake-type sound here as those I noticed in Vermont.

Aaron and I tried the canoe out in order to get some freshwater. We have no water except that which we purify from the lake, and the water that seems to be free of most debris is that which we get from the deepest part. It was a challenge, with both of us being tired and inexperienced, but it was fun. Everyone is now taking a siesta; we have all been awake for at least twenty-four hours by now. The sun is high in the sky, it is warm, bugs are swarming, and I can’t sleep during the day. I am going to get freshened up in the lake and try to take a nap afterward. I’ll write more later.

Leech

I’m back from my swim, which was both exhilarating and terrifying. Exhilarating because the water is so clear and cool, and while the sun beats down on you in the shallows it is blissful. Swim to the deeper part, and it gets cold very quickly. That is not even the terrifying part. That part occurred when I got out of the water and saw swimming towards me the biggest leech I have ever seen. In fact, I think it’s only the second time I have ever seen one. It was very large. My curiosity overcoming my fear, I fished it out of the water with a stick. It scrunched up into a little ball that resembled the fleshy tip of a human thumb. I no sooner put it back in the water that I then saw another. I’m sure that they became aware of me in the water because of my splashing and were gonna feast on me if given the chance. I took a photo of it as it swam away. Yuck . . .

After trying for a while to take a nap, I got up. It’s very hard to take a nap in the afternoon, especially when there’s so much to see and explore. When Randy, John, and Aaron got up, Randy, the self-appointed chef of our trip, made us some dinner. He made us steaks and beans over a fire, which was quite delicious considering the basic tools. Randy is our cook since he was responsible for seeing to it that the proper foods in the proper ratio for each day was made. Basically, the menu was well thought out in advance. This is very important because each one of us has to carry food and the weight of too much food, from poor planning, would be troublesome and exhausting. Randy planned each meal down to the spices, each day’s requirement being carefully stored in lightweight, waterproof containers. This steak dinner, though, will be the last for a number of days. The only fresh flesh will be that of a fish, if we catch one.

When we finished eating, Aaron and I went out onto the lake in the canoe. We paddled to the large part of the lake, where it opened up and seemed a mile across. In the middle, we stopped at a very small island covered with trees. It was very isolating, standing on this little island in the middle of this huge lake, nothing but water and trees for as far as you could see. Green and blue.

On our way back, the most splendid event occurred. While paddling slowly along the shore, we heard a crash and crunch of trees in the immediate woods. We were only about ten yards from land. As we watched with excitement, a large (at least it seemed large!) black bear came to the water’s edge. It spotted us at about the same time as we saw it, and the bear looked at us for some time with what seemed to be equal curiosity. We watched it for at least ten minutes, during which time it knelt to the water and drank, walked along sniffing the air, and seemed to be looking for some food. We were spellbound. Fortunately, we seemed to be far enough from the bear that it was not angered nor frightened, and was content just wandering along. Another season, and it may not have been so lucky. After a while, the bear went back into the woods and disappeared from sight. We listened for a while, hearing it amble through the brush. Unfortunately, we left the camera at the campsite. I only hope we get so lucky again; maybe we’ll see a moose.

John came paddling out onto the lake in the other canoe, seeing how we were doing. We told him the sight we just beheld; he was very excited by what we told him. After John showed us a few pointers about rowing and boat control, we all went ashore.

Everyone is settling in for the evening. We are all eager to get plenty of rest, especially with the knowledge of the distance ahead of us. I tried to stay up until it was dark enough to see the stars, but I was so exhausted from the last two days that I passed out as soon as I put my head on my makeshift pillow. I fell asleep counting stars instead of sheep.

Harold

July 20, 1999
When I woke this morning, it was very cold. Randy’s thermometer, which he had attached to his bag, read a cool Canadian 48 degrees. A lot of moisture had accumulated on the tent, packs, and anything else left outside. The air was very cold, but the sun, rising quickly over the hills, soon began to warm us up. Randy and John had already begun to make breakfast: bacon, eggs, and coffee. The meals we’ve been getting on this day and the previous night may be the pinnacle of ‘gourmet food.’ From here on out, only Randy knows . . . maybe John. After breakfast, lots of coffee and bathroom runs, we loaded up the canoes. With two persons per canoe, approximately fifty pounds per back pack (x4), and a mess bag per canoe (holding fishing gear and immediate need stuff), we were quite loaded down. Before launching, one of the summer-ians, Harold, introduced himself, asked where we were going and told us about himself. He was quite a traveler, driving around Canada and then planning to go to the southwest United States. He said he would probably be here when we got back, and if we hadn’t returned when we said we would he would notify the authorities. That sounded nice, but it certainly made me realize that we were nowhere near anyone out here! (He also took the photo of us at the top of the page – John, Randy, Aaron and me.) We said thanks, fare ye well, and were off. Everything was perfect as the canoe cut through the smooth water during the calm early hours of the day. It seemed like the trip had truly begun.

As the afternoon came upon us and we paddled further across the lake, the waves grew as did the wind. The waves were not large enough to cause actual problems, they just increased the effort required on each person’s rowing. Since Aaron and I both novices, we suffered the most due to lack of proper technique. John and Randy moved effortlessly through the water. The lakes here are very large. It was about two miles from where we started to the small creek that empties into Sauble Lake. The creek wound like a long snake, each turn being more exciting than the previous. As we maneuvered the various obstacles (such as large rocks, old and young fallen trees) our steering skills were put to the test. More than once we had a direct collision with some unyielding object (such as the bank) but we learned and moved on. At certain points, the water became so shallow that we had to step into it and pull our canoes. Since this was anticipated, we had an extra pair of shoes stowed in the packs. Onward we went. All this time, we were constantly on the lookout for a moose or another bear. A moose would have been awe inspiring. The possibility of seeing an 8 foot tall, 1,000 pound animal in the wild was very motivating.

We continued upstream to our first portage point. At this point, it became necessary to carry everything across land from one body of water to another. It can be a bit tricky, as it takes some effort to find a comfortable position on your shoulders for a 75 pound boat and walk at the same time. We remarked upon those indigenous peoples who carry things on their heads all of the time. The total carry was only about 200 yards; but we had to go back and get our packs. The dual portage of canoe, then backpacks, was part of the whole trip. We put on dry shoes and placed the wet shoes in a hidden area for the return trip.

The new lake we are now on is called Trout Lake, although we haven’t fished so we aren’t able to confirm their being any. This lake was not too difficult to cross; we were soon at our second portage.

This second portage was only about twenty yards long; it was relatively easy. This lake is called Big Trout Lake. This one has been my favorite. It has a very large distance between shores, which makes for increased winds and more challenging paddling. The sky is enormous. There is something expansive about the sky here; a large cloud will move overhead and the large distance it travels makes it appear to shrink.

johnpic16

There are many clouds in the sky today, with the sun shining through brightly. As we moved along, we spotted a fire tower on a distant mountain; from afar it looked like a radio tower. We marveled at how difficult it must be to get to such a remote area, considering the distance we have traveled to get here. I suspect they get there by helicopter. On the opposite end of the lake we stopped to have lunch at a cabin that, it appears, some local hunters and trappers use in wintertime. It seems that trapping and fishing (plus moose and bear hunting) are very popular in the winter. In fact, more people come up in the colder months than in the summer. Maybe because of the bugs. We couldn’t enter the cabin, as it was locked (and possibly trapped), but we did peak through the windows. Inside were all the essentials of a cold winter survival: woodstove, fuel, rope, nets, lanterns. It was very simple yet pleasantly appealing. I could enjoy a nice long stay in a place like this. After snooping around, we ate our slim-jims and cashews. Meat is here in its most durable form. I have no complaints. We also made some fruit punch from powder, which is a great addition to iodine-treated water. It takes away the yellowish brown color and the medicinal taste. We shoved off, heading around this small peninsula to a point farther north on the lake.

johnpic15

The route that we had planned on taking was up a small stream, a small portage, into the next lake, and then to set up camp. This proved to be a little more challenging. The original stream which John and Randy knew twelve years ago (the last time they were here) – blocked by beaver dams then, but still negotiable – had slowed down greatly in its strength. We traveled as far as we could in the canoe, until they just bottomed out. At this point, we had to walk. The bad thing about this was that we had ditched our wet shoes and were not prepared to soak our only remaining pair – so we went into the water in bare feet. There wasn’t any soft mud on the bottom of this stream. It was covered with fist-sized rocks that gave the soles of our feet a beating. It was very painful to walk, and stepping into the waist high holes made it much more treacherous. Finding the actual portage trail was difficult; it seems no one had come through here in a long time and it became hidden by undergrowth. We reached the end of the stream when John said he felt it was just over a nearby hill. We went to take a look; luckily it was right where he predicted. This trail was nice, because it was covered in blueberries. I have never eaten so many blueberries, with so much glee, as I did during this week. This was a mini-portage; it actually consisted of two small portages, across a shallow pond, to another large lake (Long Lake). Fortunately, it would be our last for the day. We decided that we should set up camp, as we were all exhausted, and stay the night. We found a great spot that had been previously been setup by someone else, probably the Canadian Boy Scouts.

johnpic13

They had also set up a latrine, which even had a plastic toilet seat. We set up tents, established the essentials such as bathroom, food bag tree, and fireplace, and began to take it easy. Aaron and I took the opportunity to do some fishing for the first time, but as we were so tired and it as very windy on the water, it didn’t last too long. We caught nothing this time, but maybe we’ll try again in the morning. When we came back, Randy had made dinner – “sausage casserole” (pasta with cheese sauce and sausage) – which really hit the spot. Being so tired, we sat around talking about the day’s events, how Randy and John first planned to come here (“the fishing in Ohio was terrible”) and the plans for tomorrow. A nice fire burned in the elaborately made pit – at least three feet deep, with a large wall of stones around it to protect it from the wind. The sky at night is overwhelming with stars. John said it looked like someone “spilled salt across the sky.” I love it all and can’t wait until tomorrow!

July 21, 1999
Well – if I had known that today was going to be as difficult as it was, I would have been less eager than I was when I started. For starters, my back was very sore when I woke up, which was not unanticipated, and was helped by my regimen of aspirin and stretching. The morning was also a little warmer than it was yesterday – in fact it was 62 degrees – which made a lot of difference in rolling out of the tent. After a breakfast of smoked almonds, spicy beef jerky and coffee, we freshened up and packed out. Leave-no-trace is our motto. John gave me a geode that he had found along the shore. There also was an axle from an old train sitting along the shore! It must have weighed a ton. We wondered how it got here, since the only way in is by boat or plane. There must have been a train system through here back in the day used by the logging industry.

We continued our way through Long lake – about three miles – and then made another portage. Portage is what makes the trip what it is – the necessity of having to carry all of one’s gear to the next lake brings one into further isolation. Each portage has been very tough for each of us, carrying a solid pack first, then a 75 lb. canoe, sometimes on your head, sometimes shoulders, sometimes both. The portage from Long Lake to Beaumage Lake was relatively uneventful, although Aaron and I were able to do it fairly quickly, gaining a head start on John and Randy. We paddled out onto Beaumage, which at the time seemed very large. The next stop would be Bark Lake, our primary destination.

johnpic10

The portage to this lake was truly like hell. First, the large blue spruce and pines that make up a large part of the forest here had fallen upon the trail in many places, either by lightning or by very strong wind. This made the trail almost insurmountable in places (see photo). We had to move as much of the debris as we could, but to remove a 48″ diameter tree that is over 100 feet long is impossible without a chainsaw. (We made a note to bring one next time.) The portage consisted of crossing a trail, then a pond and then another trail. The pond we called Black Ink pond, as it was dark and seemed uninviting. It was a tiny, shallow pond that had become overgrown with lilies. The water was undrinkable even by our standards, and the presence of several large animal prints along shore – which seemed to be bear and moose, maybe wildcat – made us eager to get back onto the canoes. As I pushed our canoe into the water I glanced back and saw a pair of leeches swimming in pursuit of the canoe. The leeches are in every lake, and they just plain old give me the creeps. As we paddled across the pond, we picked up the scent of something foul – decaying flesh of some sort. Three-fourths of the way across, we saw the source of the smell – a half submerged, gas bloated moose carcass with flies all over it and just plain noxious. I tried to persuade Aaron to paddle near it, but he was very apprehensive. I was interested in seeing the head, to see just how large they really are, but there was no head to be seen. It may have fallen to the bottom; we do not know. Hunting moose is very popular, so we suspect it may have been killed in the water and it’s head removed for a trophy. We were glad to get away from it though. The hot sun was only making the smell worse and we didn’t want to be anywhere near it any longer.

johnpic11

The second half of our portage was a nightmare – longer than the first half, it also had twice as many fallen trees. It seemed as if someone didn’t want this trail used. We made three trips – first to bring our packs, second to return to the canoes, and finally to to bring the canoes across. There was a canoe at the end of Black Ink pond, and we wondered if it had any connection with the moose in the middle. It had been there for sometime – they may not have been interested in attempting the portage we were about to do.The portage was full of the worst of all possibilities: sharp branches jutting out onto the path and into your shins; immovable trees and tree limbs; too much sun and lots of mud. At one point my leg sunk into the mud up to my knee and released a stinking cloud of methane gas. Everyone was pushed to their limits, suffering from sheer exhaustion. I was beat.

johnpic23

Taking a canoe across land like this is one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had, but the reward was well worth the effort. All along the trail, blueberries grew in abundance. I found myself constantly running to catch up because I have stopped to eatso many of them. I find if I look carefully amongst the brush, I can find beautiful mushrooms and flowers growing in the rich soil.

Bark Lake is the biggest lake of ’em all, thirty seven miles from end to end. It was also the last lake, which meant no more portage till the return, but there was plenty more canoeing to be done. We decided it would be best to take a break after that portage, so we renewed our supply of water and ate some lunch – pineapple and jerky.

johnpic3

We canoed onto Bark Lake after our reprieve. The lake has many small islands on it and is enormous – the sky goes on forever and the water seems to follow it. We paddled to a nice campsite on a peninsula where we had a splendid view of the Canadian wilderness.Randy made a fantastic meal of pasta, pine nuts and green beans in a special chicken sauce. We sat around the fire and talked about all that we had overcome that day. We looked at stars; I pointed out the satellites that were passing overhead. It was such a clear night that we spent some time looking at all of the satellites passing us by. Soon we were all tuckered in our sleeping bags and dreaming of being portaged on wings.

July 22, 1999
Today we tried to get an early start, although I am not sure exactly what time it is. None of us, as far as I know, have brought a watch. I guess it is around 8:00 a.m. Randy, who gets up earliest everyday to start breakfast and coffee (today’s breakfast: oatmeal), said he went fishing but had no luck. Not one of us have yet. We better, since it is to be our primary food for the next few days.

We cleaned up, broke camp, and were off. The sun is out with full effect today. Today we paddled the most that we have in one day – about ten miles. it was very tiring,combined with yesterday’s portage. We finally found an island in the northern end of Bark Lake; islands provide safe storage of food from bears. Normally we stow it high in the trees with ropes. We intend to be here for two days, I think, which will give us plenty of rest (much needed at this point). The morning temperature was 62 degrees. This afternoon,the temperature in the shade was 82 degrees; in the sun, at least ten degrees hotter. The sky is cloudless and the sun is very bright. I hope it doesn’t get warmer. We will be fishing soon, with all of us keeping our fingers crossed for luck. Aaron is taking a nap, Randy is cleaning his clothes (our clothes have become very dirty – I have had mine on for days!), and John is setting up his rod. All is well.

johnpic18

The heat continued throughout the day. I tried fishing off of the stones. Aaron was sleeping, and John and Randy went fishing in the canoe. I caught nothing. As I sat under some trees, a hummingbird came hovering right above my head. It was such an unusual sound, the intense flapping of its wings, that at first I thought a very large buzzing insect was nearby. It probably picked up the odor of my body or the food we had been eating. The bird was a bright green with red wings, and was harmless. Just looking for a refresher in the hot sun. When Aaron woke up, we went fishing in the canoe.  Aaron caught a tiny perch, which he threw back. The sun was so intense today that it made me miserable. It seemed at times that all you could do was sit in a little patch of shade and attempt to stay cool.

johnpic4

It felt like I was cooking most of the time. I have gotten a little sunburn; not too bad though. John and Randy caught a “small” pike: about a foot long. Part of our food plan is based on fish, so it’s very important that something be caught. Aaron and I caught nothing edible. Randy was able to make fish stew w/rice, which was so good that I had second and third servings (in part because it took more to feel satiated). Later, I had to go to the bathroom (p-o-o-p); it was very watery, and for a while I was concerned that I drank some bad water, but all seems well now. Probably the spicy soup. The night comes slowly here; the light across the big sky takes it’s time turning to darkness. With the gradual darkness, though, come the mosquitoes. Until this point they were not so bad, but on our little island (Juaron Island, we have named it) they are overwhelming. The heat did not recede either, so after a short time I went to bed. It was still early, I’m sure.It was also very stuffy in the the tent, but sleep comes quickly, and I slept well.

July 23, 1999
Today is the fifth day of the trip. I only know this because we are on day five of the food bags. I have lost track of what day of the week it is; time is based on ‘time to eat,”time to sleep’, etc. I feel the habits and ways of my self breaking down. It is both intimidating and reassuring, since I feel new each day (tabula rosa). John and Randy went out fishing today and caught two medium sized pike; they sound funny when they say mention the size, since the fish seem large to me. I tried to catch something but have still had no luck. Today is the first and only day we will be staying at one campsite. It is a relief. Aaron slept in; I was awakened by the sound of loons, which seemed to be fighting. It is a very fascinating bird; their cry is very eerie at times, while at other times it sounds like the laugh of a madman. The tale of the loon is supposed to be that it is always looking for its mate, and that’s why it cries the way it does. When Aaron awoke we went fishing; caught nada. A rainstorm came in while we were out in the canoe, so we made haste to shore, where we sat under some trees and talked (“shoot the guff” is how Harold put it). Aaron and John went out to try to catch some more fish; I am gonna try and do the same. For lunch we had dry cherries and beef jerky; for breakfast we had apples and raisins mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar and cooked in water.  Mmmmmm . . . tasty. I look forward to fish dinner.

July 24, 1999
Today is the sixth day of our trip. We woke at the first break of dawn; around 5:30-6:00 (I think). Randy continues to get up early; we had coffee and then went fishing. My luck had finally changed – after 2or 3 hours of fishing, I finally caught a pike! They are long slender fish with very sharp teeth, and they can grow several feet long. It put up a fight – Aaron and I were nervous about hauling it into the boat, but it was actually no problem. I put the stringer through it’s gills, being extra careful around those teeth. We continued fishing, but caught nothing more. Since we had plans to break camp today, and this would be for lunch only, we decided to head back. The wind had pushed us very far from the camp, so we had a good bit of paddling to do.

johnpic20

johnpic1

As we pulled onto shore, I enthusiastically told Randy and John my fish story. They were both very happy for me, and it was a good feeling. I was hardly prepared then, when Randy told me to take a look at the fish he had caught. Hooked but still in the water was a very vigorous looking pike over three feet long! When I pocked it up, it felt like it must have weighed at least twenty-five pounds! It was a monster! It was more than twice the size of my catch, which had been the norm until this one. Randy’s catch was surely atrophy. Unfortunately for both Randy and the fish, it would be two more days until we would be back to civilization, so we decided to fillet it and save it for dinner. We filleted both fish – and had fish steaks, baked and fried, for lunch and dinner. Randy showed his versatility as a chef with the little small supplies that we had, making great meals each time.

filet_101

Between the two meals, we broke camp. We left the upper part of Bark Lake and went to another island. During the trip, rain broke out. This was the first time it occurred while we had our gear in the canoe. The clouds hurried in above our heads and the rain fell quickly. We had to go ashore to cover our stuff with bags to keep it dry. My foot fell into the water – another wet foot for a day. Dealing with that type of discomfort is the norm. Always dirty, wet, buggy, etc. Once you lose the feeling for certain habits that you normally take for granted, such as showering or resting on a soft chair, things outdoors become much easier. We scouted out some new sites which John and Randy had not been to yet. We settled at a spot on a very large unnamed island. It is a nice open spot with lots of soft pine needles on the ground and a open view across the lake. We set up camp and settled in. Randy set up dinner; Aaron, John and I freshened up in the water.

johnpic22

It’s been very refreshing to swim here, but the leeches always come shortly after you’ve entered the water. They seem to be attracted by the vibrations of splashing. There are different types, also: spotted ones, black ones, green ones, etc. All the amphibians are here, too: many toads, plus green, brown, and leopard colored frogs. After getting cleaned, we had dinner: fish, rice and beans, and noodles. We had coffee afterward – a very nice post-dinner boost. We then settled in for the evening – we will be getting up early tomorrow to begin our journey back. It’s a long and hard trip and we’ll need as much energy as possible (and I hope my back will not give out). We’re hoping to have no bear troubles this evening – John said that he saw some bear droppings near our camp, but it seems unlikely that a bear would stay on an island, with it’s limited resources. It’s possible that the droppings came from a bear that crossed onto the island in the winter,when ice would have connected it to the mainland. The lakes freeze thick in the wintertime, making ice fishing for trout a popular event. Hunters, trappers, and fisherman suffer through the winters here for their sport.

johnpic5

I finished up most of the remaining fish that evening, although there was a little left when I was done. It was too bad we couldn’t save any. Soon after the sun went down, we all went to sleep. Curling into your bag after a hard day’s work is so nice, you doze right off. I had some bad dreams during the night. I woke up in a struggle with my sleeping bag,while dream-fighting with my brother. I fell back to sleep.

Woke up today feeling crappy. Our tent spot was not so great; it wasn’t very flat, and by morning time I was curled into the fetal position in an attempt to comfort my back. It was a tough sleep. The rain showers that rolled by yesterday created a fine dew on everything this morning, more than is usual. The lingering dampness in the morning makes getting up difficult. The coffee – once again, thanks to Randy – was a welcome motivator.We packed up, said farewell to the spot (territorial pissings), and were off. I do recall having waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The moon the first couple of nights has been waxing, and made stargazing more difficult; but tonight it was waning, and the sky multiplied in brightness from the stars. The Milky Way is clearly visible to the naked eye. The night sky in Canada is mind expanding.

Photos to be organized w/text later:

john_aaron_rainy_day

johnpic6

dinner_in_ontario

johnpic8

johnpic2

Thanks for reading. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someone