Algonquin – Day 6

Day 6, Sept 6. Day in camp

5:30 am. I have risen early, pre-dawn, and found my way to the sitting rock. The sky to the east is just beginning to brighten with a watercolor wash of pink and gray. Beneath it, the land is merely a deeper shade of gray. Both the air and the water were quite still when I arose, though now a subtle breeze ripples through them both. Perhaps a system is moving through or in.

The beaver thwacks its tail. There is curly scat on the tip of the rock this morning, confirming my suspicion about this being our friend’s stomping grounds. Two loons fly overhead, their wings creating vibrations that my ears detect as a whistle. Another loon wails, mournfully, from across the gray water.

Sometime during the night, the wind picked up, flapping the tent fly that we had pulled up and over for air when we retired for the night. The tent, up and away from the edge of the water, was quite stuffy when we crawled in, so we decided to open it up. The view of the recently revealed stars through the treetops kept me rapt in wonder for awhile.

The loons have gone into full alert now, their warning trills echoing robustly. The eagle appears again from around the bend, near the high cliffs.

Our neighbors, from the campsite just north of us, have broken camp and are on the water, their silhouettes gray upon gray.

Don is stirring awake. The air is beginning to warm and my tummy beginning to grumble. Time to put on the coffee.

oh my…. but not before a family of wolves yip and howl in the distance.

Afternoon- Atop a great granite boulder south of camp, covered in lichen and striped gray and white, pink and black, the latter bedazzled with sparkles, I am as grounded as she in a wind that blows whitecaps into the lake and my hat from my head. It continues to be so very warm, and today there is a strong gust from the southwest that feels almost tropical.

We’d set out this morning for a day of exploring. Don wanted to fish with his “Mister Champ” in the deeper water to try his hand (and his rod) at snagging one of those large lake trout that swim in the depths of larger lakes such as this, so I volunteered to paddle for him. He wanted to fish from the stern, trolling, but paddling from the bow in the wind eventually tired me out. We’d missed our window of calm water by the time he rerigged his gear and the wind had picked up into gusts that I was not strong enough from the bow position to manage.

Picking up the paddle in the stern, Don and I set a course for the peninsula campsite we’d originally hoped to occupy to check out the view. A glorious campsite, practically an island, surrounded by water – big water to the north and the west, 2 lagoon-like bodies of water to the east and the south – we both agreed it would be lovely to camp here one day. One could appreciate intimate small water habitat from one side of the peninsula and big water views from the other. Atop massive granite outcroppings, we sat for some time, watching the labor day ‘traffic’ of canoes (perhaps half a dozen), which were following the official canoe route along the opposite shoreline from Big Trout to the Grassy Bay.

Back at our campsite, after lunch, we decided to work for some time on readjusting the harness for the Billy Bag to make it more comfortable for Don’s back. Tomorrow we hope to be on the water quite early, by 6 o’clock, when the waters are calm, assuming they quiet as they typically do in those magical hours around dawn and dusk.

But now I am on this great pink and gray boulder. There stands a phenomenal pine, wrapping her legs around her, a few yards up the rise from where I now sit, solid as am I, with my own legs held fast to the surface. I think of love-making here, my legs wrapped tight for the ride, and I feel the pulse of the earth rise in me like the sap in the glorious pine. I watched a dragonfly earlier in the week try to beat her mate off her tail, repeatedly whacking her tail on the rocks and the water. He was hanging on for dear life. I wonder why she was trying to shake him?

Later.

I wound up bushwacking a bit to find a still pool in which to swim, nearby the granite boulder, where Don was now fishing. Again, donning underpants and lifevest, I entered the warm water, leaving my clothes in the care of a fallen log. In the end I didn’t venture far from the shoreline but laid back in the lilypads, holding onto a limb of the great fallen one, in order to rest in the lapping waves and not be swept away by the wind.

After some time, I crawled back to the rock, like a turtle to bask, warming and drying my skin on the sun-heated earth, flesh upon flesh.

Don and I spent some time after dinner (which we forced ourselves to eat, though we weren’t very hungry after such a lazy day but knowing we would need the energy for tomorrow’s long paddle through marshland) packing up camp for an early start. Only then, did we move to the rock ledge for a nightcap (having skipped happy hour today) for what has become our favorite part of the day, this lying back , watching the sky change.

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