Day 1 – algonquin diaries

Day 1, Monday, Sept 15

The day began over a lovely breakfast of ‘leftovers’ savored at the cabin’s kitchen table, the same table at which we had spread, feast-like, our 10 days fare of dried food last evening and ordered it into the blue barrel, which was to be our pantry for the trip. The breakfast leftovers had been gathered from our friends’ stay, prior to our arrival, at a lodge for a few days and, likewise, our breakfast conversation contained gathered bits of their week here thus far, adventures in waterlogged tents and beaver dams.

Gathering the threads of our friendship over a lingering meal, we thus began to weave the story of our time-away, laying down the warp. I am always struck by the colors of friendships here, the way they can look so very different away from the distractions and busy-ness of life-back-home, and I sensed that our friends had shifted already into deeper hues of themselves than we had, since we had just spent the last 10 hours in a fast-moving automobile, not at the deepening pace of the paddle, drawing from the wisdom of water and woods.

Still, I fretted over their contentment, worrying that, since they had found their companions of last week to be so pleasurable, I would somehow not measure up. I worried over the times that I had found a trip to be miserable .. perhaps the misery was in me?  Perhaps my expectations, unmet, had led me to internal suffering and external judgment. Perhaps my codependent sense of responsibility for the other(s) had harbored dysfunction. Of course, both couples had joked about whether or not we would still be friends after the trip we had planned, so perhaps there was some nervousness in us all.  They had also confessed to us that they too were hopeful that they had found some friends who, at last, enjoyed what they did and would be true partners with them in the experience. Would this trip bond or break us?

The lingering threads were suddenly cut. Time was beckoning. We had a long day of paddling and portaging to get to our first night’s campsite, and we still had to drive into Kearney to pick up the permits and then make the 45 minute drive to the Magnetawan Lake put-in over rough, washed out roads. A dissipating, hurrying energy replaced the gathering one and we were on our way. Arriving at the parking lot over an hour later, we were surprised to find so many cars, along with an outfitter’s van and trailer that was being loaded with probably a dozen rental canoes. None of us had used this access point in the past and we were beginning to worry that we would be paddling on a virtual lake-highway, inundated by other canoe campers. However, save a few departing camping parties, which we passed early on portage trails and exiting Ralph Bice Lake, we have seen not a soul, not since we crashed into that cove at lunchtime….

Magnetawan Lake was a short paddle across its northern end to the portage trail, then an equally short portage (175m) to Hambone Lake, during which we learned that some of the packs needed adjusting, etc, a good practice run. Hambone Lake itself was likewise a short, but pleasant paddle, which brought us to the 295m portage into the largest lake of the day for us, Ralph Bice Lake, which we had read was prone to high winds and waves because of its orientation along the axis of a SSW wind. The weather thus far had been overcast and drizzly-damp, and we hoped that the hard rains of the day had passed through earlier in the morning, as the forecast had indicated would be the case. The trail into Ralph Bice was quite mucky already and we arrived at its end to outright rain. We decided to try to make the paddle across her before breaking for lunch at the portage to Little Trout Lake, where we planned to camp for the night.

The paddle across Ralph Bice, reported to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Algonquin, was shrouded in fog, and our eyes were so focused on staying the course, in the winds that whipped the water into whitecaps, that we sadly didn’t see much of her beauty today. The lake was a much longer paddle than we had anticipated, even with the wind at our backs, and we eventually heeded the call from our friends to pull into the cove of an island ahead, a landing we made less-than-gracefully with the wind, now a full-blown storm, pushing us into it. Until we made land, we hadn’t realized how difficult the paddle had been for our friends in their new boat, which did not handle the wind and choppy waters as well as they’d hoped. We had taken the lead and, knowing they were strong paddlers, hadn’t looked back.

On the island we sought some shelter/protection from the pelting rain, and hunkered down for a lunch of Logan Bread, Beef Jerky, kale chips and dried pineapple in the lee of a hillock on the northeast side of the island. For a time we thought perhaps we’d be stranded there for the night, but a break in the weather and a cursory trip around the island to check out its possible campsites (unfavorable) encouraged us to continue on. I was relieved personally by this decision, though at first it seemed a mistake as the storm picked up again as soon as we left shore, but as we rounded the corner into the northeast bay we came into calmer waters at last and the rest of the paddle was indeed lovely.

The longest portage of the day, 435m, into Little Trout Lake, didn’t seem as long, perhaps because we were almost ‘home’. The trail landed in a lovely cove, the quiet water being shaken upon lightly by the tail end of the departing storm, creating lovely ripples on its surface. Some searching for the ‘best’ campsite — we were wind-shy and thought we’d prefer a north-facing site, given our afternoon paddle, but didn’t find one to Don’s liking. I was tired and ready to just ‘pick one already!’– led us to this lovely rock overlooking the water, a perfect spot for contemplation and happy hour both!

The frustration I felt in finding a campsite reminded me of my desire to be less critical, less ‘my way’, less fearful/perfectionistic on this trip…as in my life. I am seeking to be kinder, gentler (less nagging, please?).  I am seeking to relax,  to let go, to just be. Of course, letting go and just being are more difficult with companions, and solitude is not easy to find or take, even in a small group. But I also know I must take it, to reground myself in who I am, in the place I want to come FROM.

I cast my circle this evening after dinner. Took a walk to the west shoreline of our jutting out point (it really is a lovely site, thanks to don’s insistence) and chose some orienting logs and boulders for the four directions. Here, in the north, I seek to find the nurturing, compassionate, generative one in me. She will help me come from this deeper, less reactive place in me, from a more far-seeing place, from a safe place in myself. I ask her for balance, balance that helps me connect to others in healthy, reciprocally nurturing ways and also keeps me connected to Spirit and Soul so that I can bring forth into relationship that which is authentically me and authentically mine to give (rather than people pleasing, care-taking that is overly concerned with what others think and gives from a place of apology and fear of rejection)

Oh, there is such a longing, still, in me. I hope to find/listen to this place in me, ‘to bring up from the deep’ (yes, that metaphor is perfect… up.. into awareness, into embodiment, into life) that which my soul alone knows and is hidden from– a hidden treasure in– me. This longing awareness always seems to rise in me here in Algonquin. It’s as if there is space here for it to emerge/to be heard.

How can I practice, this week, these things? How can I listen for soul here?

I trust that this pilgrimage will bring something up and forth for me. My practice will ground me, root me, in wisdom; my prayer will keep my eyes/heart open to what Wisdom may have to reveal to me.

Tomorrow I shall keep my eyes open for a Spirit animal guide for this journey, a sacred totem, a stone, a tree… as the Wild Mind exercise suggests. Yes, I’ll look for that in the morning…. or let myself be found by it.

Tonight I am sleepy…

algonquin 2014 010

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 09:59:58

    So glad you are sharing this with us.



  2. emmaatlast
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 00:32:15

    I’m glad you are here too, Carolyn.



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