Algonquin Day 1

Day 1, Sept 1. Magnetawan through Hambone, The Pond, and into Daisy. 5 km traveled, 600 meters portage.

The day began bathed in gray, the blanket so heavy it concealed the opposite shoreline, so thick it deposited stitches of water on my skin as I walked to the water’s edge . Chilled, I added a layer but by the time we reached the end of the first portage , I’d shed those layers, though the sky took much longer to shake loose that blanket.

Now, I have found a delicious rock upon which to perch, lazyboy style. On solid ground, I feel as if I am floating, as the water rocks and caresses my dangling feet. Occasionally a fish attempts to nibble my toes. The feeling of utter release after the first day’s physical work is exceedingly glorious. Sighs escape from deep in my chest, deeper perhaps than that, carrying with them any stress that remains in my wonderfully fatigued body.

Don is next to me, as he has been all day. It has been a good, good day.

Now the lake reflects an azure blue sky, as yellowing lily pads dance on the breeze-rippled water. It is so quiet, save the breeze. An occasional red squirrels scolds or a raven honks, a tree frog chirps or a loon calls, but I am struck most of all by the silence. We noted it almost simultaneously, as we emerged from our car after the 45 minute drive along the gravel road that led to the put-in, the profound quietness of this place.

It is a bit ‘busier’ here than we are accustomed. We paddled and portaged for some time with a young couple, with whom we parted ways at the portage to Ralph Bice Lake, where they were headed for the week, and we passed a group of four heading back in from a few days on the water– 2 kids with their dads. We noticed a man with 2 children on the island campsite on Daisy, and an hour or so ago a young couple with 2 wee little ones paddled past our campsite. It is so good to see young children experiencing this place. I smiled so deeply at the 6 and 8 year old girls who were coming in from a weekend with their father just as we were entering the water this morning. The one said to her daddy, ‘… and we can tell mommy that we didn’t even die!’ At this time, I suspect we may be sharing the lake with 2 other parties, both of which are camped on the island across the water, where the sun will set this evening.

It is time to begin dinner prep. I hope to finish dinner in time to visit the beaver water-trails I noted when I followed the footpath from the box around to the tip of the boggy bay beside which we are camped. I noticed a huge moose track in the muck there. Perhaps he will come for a drink as the sun begins to fade…

Later

Oh my! oh My! Shortly after I finished the last entry, as I was going about gathering supplies to prepare dinner, I heard Don’s voice summoning. He had taken his fishing rod around to the bayside of the point to cast in a few lines before dinner. In a low but strong voice I heard him say ‘Vicki, Vicki, there’s a huge bull moose over here’.

I grabbed the camera and rushed his way, following the trail to the box. I had thought Don had seen him nearer to the water, but suddenly, at the top of the rise he was just standing there, not 20 feet from me on the trail! I stopped short, stunned by his massive size. I think I even said, ‘Oh my!’ as my gaze met his. I cannot describe the feeling of coming so close to such a creature. His antlers were in velvet and it seemed to me his front legs were as tall as me!

I backed away slowly, then turned and walked more quickly for he seemed to be confused abaout which way to go, being cornered as he was between Don and myself. Later, I learned that he headed in Don’s direction, on his way to the water, and he passed quite close to Don, running by then, as Don darted behind a slender tree, smaller in girth than himself, for ‘protection’. We both laughed about that.

For quite some time after that, we sat and watched him grazing in the shallows, occasionally tossing his head and splashing the water with a snort. A few times he pranced about, making a spray of the water with his hoofs. It was so remarkable for us.

Finally, I left the scene to continue with dinner prep, as it was getting late. After dinner, we sat at the water’s edge, basking in the remarkable silence and peace once again. An otter swam past and then back again. A turtle slowly made its way across the water towards us. And as the mosquitos began to hover, so did the massive dragonflies, who swooped in like helicopters to snatch them away from our warm bodied aura, in a sort of mutual benefit.

With nothing to distract us, we waited, lying back on the rocks, watching the stars turn on one-by-one, until the milky way swept its brushstroke across the sky from horizon to horizon. And now..to bed, for I am weary and tomorrow is another day.

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