I had the time of my life – day 3

Day 3, May 16, Grass Lake

Quiet morning in camp.

A raspy raven squawks, an intermittent bird twitters, a distant blue jay caws, an occasional breeze rushes the pines, an early insect buzzes my ear. Beyond that, beneath that, before and behind that, silence.

It is already noon on this slow morning of repose. We have only within the last hour finished with our breakfast after lingering long over coffee and conversation. A stroll along the marshy edges enveloping our point, along the river and the inlet, revealed the morning quiet to be the providence of not only the human but the creaturely mood as well. Along an animal trail through the forest, just up from the river’s edge, I followed for some time with my camera finding few photos but many signs — heaps of moose droppings– and much dry wood for the fire.

The marsh is a painter’s palette of earth tones, orangey rusts tipping the brushes of budding twigs en masse, taupe strands of last summer’s grasses lying down in a canvas mat even as this spring’s bright green blades reach for the sun, and of course the ever present evergreen forest offering both shadow and backdrop, not to mention shelter. The farthest ridges show hints of yellow and reds in the new buds of birch and maple, both mimicking and hinting at the autumn array that will paint those hillsides in October.

Otter trails line the waterway here, though I could detect no other signs of their presence, so perhaps they have left (or not yet returned to?) these waters.  Time will tell, I suppose.  Many beaver lodges enroute yesterday appeared to be either deserted or washed out and the few that I noted along this stretch of the river appeared to be flooded as well. I imagine these banks were filled to the brink a week ago.

I am content to be here, no matter, listening, observing, touching, smelling, breathing. Still at last. Even closing my eyes, not seeing a thing, brings pleasure and peace, as the breeze blows loose strands across my cheek, the fragrance of dried grass fills my breath, and the song of birds lilting from across the water caresses my ears.


Studying the map, I note that we are 8 hours (our travel time) from the last party we saw on Big Bob Lake and at least 6 hours from the next lake, upon which we will camp tomorrow.  There were just three campsites along the entire stretch of the Nippissing through which we paddled yesterday, the last one just ½ hour’s paddle back from here, but none of those 3 sites were terribly appealing, being directly on the portage trails around rapids as they were.  Perhaps one might crash there for the night while passing through, but I can’t imagine setting up camp there.  I am thinking that it is unlikely that anyone will show up here with a reservation for this campsite tonight. I truly hope not since we made the decision last night, after two long 8 hour days of paddling and portaging, to take a rest and recovery day before embarking on yet a third one, although we do not have a permit for this site. We simply could not push through. Emotionally and physically we needed a break.  If someone should show up, we really have nowhere to go (there is one more campsite farther along the Nippising before the portage into Loontail Creek which we could move to if necessary, probably 45 minutes paddle from here) but we shall deal with it if that should occur.

I so much love this site I would make the trip in to it again in a heartbeat, even through that alder thicket in the full leaf!  Somehow I expect that even in the height of the summer paddling season, this site would feel remote and wild, in some respect precisely because of that thicket. However, it is evident that others have been here before us already this season. As with many other sites we passed through, there is a makeshift, bushcraft shelter erected by campers, likely finding themselves storm-bound during the torrential rains and snow that fell here only one week ago. Today, though, I am stripped down to one layer, and have had to go for my cap to protect my eyes and face from the sun.

Tomorrow looks to be another long day. We have been taking about 1 ½ times what the map indicates our travel time should be. Tomorrow’s route indicates a travel time of 4 hours and 40 minutes, but there are 3 portages in there, one quite long, and that is where we lose most of our time. It will surely be another physical day for us, but we hope to be up and on the water by 7 so that we may at least be able to make camp before dinner!  We’ll dig through the food barrel this evening for a breakfast that we can grab and go without needing to cook or clean up and make our morning coffee tonight, keep it warm overnight in the thermos.

… but now the fragrance of dry grasses, picked up by the breeze, invites me to pay attention to here and now. THIS slender blade of bright green, THIS orange bundle of blossoms, THIS sparkle of light on that wind kissed ripple, THIS hint of shadow on the page promising the sun’s reemergence, THIS star-shaped moss, THIS pink and green granite perch that extends a view from both sides, THIS everchanging, moment by moment, layered sky, THIS thread of silk hinting at the hidden hundreds I caught a glimpse of last evening in the low angled rays of twilight, THIS eager peeper beginning his serenade at three in the afternoon, THIS ‘Sweet Canada’ whistle that has become such a song of endearment to my ears.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Nielsen
    Jun 29, 2017 @ 14:38:01

    Beautiful wording and imagery.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: