I had the time of my life- day 1

Day 1, May 14, Big Bob Lake

We worked so very hard today. I’d expected this first day to be grueling, as there was no place to stop and make camp after committing to that first 400 meter portage, north out of Tim Lake, until we arrived at this one, two 400 meter and two 800 meter portages later. Much later, as it turned out, as we arrived here (slogging down the lake in the midst of a heavy downpour) around 4:30, some 8 hours after having put in to the water this morning.  Today’s exertion was really the extent of my capabilities. We were both beat upon making camp.

Cold too. D had taken an unexpected plunge getting the gear out of the boat at the start of that very first portage, the entrance of which was blocked by a recently downed tree making the unloading of the boat a bit more tricky than usual. And though we unpacked the Billy Bag then and there so that she could change out of her wet things immediately, the insides of her boots were wet and so her feet, too.  She retired to the tent for warmth as soon as we had cleaned up our dinner of chili, which we’d  quickly rehydrated upon making camp while we took some hot tea into our bellies and then heated hastily over a small fire. Had the rain not relented after making it to shore, I think we both would have been in our tents as soon as we made camp, eating gorp, perhaps, for dinner.

It is now 8 o’clock and I am propped up, writing in the warmth of my own tent in the dimming light of the day. I am set up in a sheltered area where it is obvious that a weather-stranded camper must’ve also taken shelter at some point during these last weeks of inclemency. There is a pile of wood and evidence of a fire back here….

We were up early, had a leisurely breakfast of granola in the cabin at Edgewater Park Lodge and were on the road before 8.  Arriving at the access point to the Tim River, it took us some time to unload and repack the car and then load up the canoe for travel. The paddle to Tim Lake along the Tim river was enchanting in the swollen waters. Already we noticed that were going to be slowed a bit by the taking off and putting on jackets and underlayers with the clouds passing so quickly overhead, sometimes dumping rain, sometimes revealing a warm sun.

Tim Lake appears to be a gem of a lake, with its large island in the center creating a sense of intimacy for a lake of its size, and I admit that I second guessed myself many times about our route. Should we have continued through Tim Lake to reenter into the Tim river where it empties on the opposite shoreline, taken that short 120 meter portage and made our way eastward to Rosebary Lake rather than heading north into Big Bob and the Nippissing River? Only time will tell, I suppose, as this trip unfolds.

I do expect this will be the more isolated, wild, and remote route, which is something we both appreciate. I knew this would be an aggressive endeavor, though when I discussed it with D, she wanted to stick with the plan. We’ve been trying to map out a route into the Wolf Marsh along the Nippissing that D has been eyeing on the map for some time. Though we don’t have the number of days required to make it there on this trip, it will be good to test the waters.

Still, I think we would have been fine today had it not been for the slick conditions of the trails, so impacted by these weeks of rain. D lost her footing a second time on that very first portage, slipping on a root and landing face first on the trail. Until she got up I was anxious that she might really be injured, but she was just checking in with her body. It seemed that her smaller daypack, which she’d hung on the front of her body, had cushioned her fall. There were several more slips and tumbles, by both of us, throughout the day, though D’s boots seem to be especially slippery. The roots and wet mats of leaves make for treacherous footing, and the muck is slick as well, especially on sloping grades.

It rained off and on throughout the entire day, beginning at the lodge this morning at 7. Though the forecast had called for it to abate by mid afternoon, we had our heaviest rains after lunch, which we took before we embarked on the two back-to-back 800 meter portages on either side of the tiny West Koko Pond.

The forest floor is thick with trout lily, too, and so our eyes, needing to be attentive to each footfall, were also blessed by it. The trillium are just beginning to bloom as are the Spring Beauties.  There were so many tracks of moose to follow and we thought we identified a bear track, too, along with a smaller weasel-like track which may have been marten. Piles and piles of mooseberries littered the way. Surely we will be greeted by one before our time is up here.

This site has an enticing long view to the west, though the heavy cloud cover seems to have precluded any opportunity to view the sunset this evening.  A gull broods on her nest atop the granite islet just offshore from our campsite. Her partner swoops in from time to time to roost on the remains of an inukshuk left behind by a camper. Turtle eggs have been dug up on the bank of our campsite’s landing. So much evidence of life everywhere.

The peepers are just beginning their evensong, the loons their evening serenade, and an occasional raven puts in a word or two. Overhead, the wind continues to rush through the treetops, though the tent has stopped flapping now, as the system seems to be lifting. I am cozy enough in my down quilt, though my nose is getting quite nippy. I will soon blow out the candle. It is almost 9.

At once, I notice a subtle glow lighting the side of the tent. Like opening the curtain to a symphony, I pull back the tent flap to reveal a stunning sky, peach in color and mirrored in the waters below.  Stepping out to grab a quick photo, the sky turns to dusk just as quickly. What a grace it was to have noticed, to have opened to that gift.

Closeby now, a white-throated sparrow whistles her clear ‘Sweet Canada’ response to another somewhere across the water, where the peepers chorus crescendos into a fully voiced lullaby. Someone splashes into the water below.

I can hear D snoring softly from her tent up above. She was so exhausted tonight I do hope tomorrow makes all of the work of today worthwhile.  

I should close the journal and simply be…the day has been so very full .

I am suddenly quite sleepy too.


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