healing waters – part 2

Saturday evening, July 22, Phipp’s Lake, campsite #2


Yes, we moved into the ‘house next door’. After fishing the rear bay this morning (no luck), we returned to camp for a breakfast of bacon and cinnamon buns (also a failure). It seems nothing was rising this morning. Several small groups paddled by as we ate breakfast, perched on a rock on the east side of the island, to which we’d bushwacked a bit for the view.

Back in the bay for some exploration after breakfast, Don dropped me on the far shoreline, where earlier I’d taken notice of a skinny trail into the bush, heading in the direction of the isolated body of water I’d noted on the map. Over the ridge, again I bushwacked my way down to a pristine spruce bog pond. The peat and moss mat was thick, alive with pitcher plant and blueberries, laurel and leatherleaf. The earth alternately crunched then sponged beneath my feet.

On my way back to the bay, where Don was waiting/fishing, I gathered handfuls of berries, popping them into my mouth as I went. Back in the canoe, we paddled around past our campsite to explore the second of the two sites on this lake, because, though I’d been certain that the one we’d landed upon yesterday would be perfect, I was surprisingly dissatisfied there.

So, despite Don’s reservations about moving camp, here we are on this site, high above the water, with the most spectacular views, though decidedly less friendly in terms of access and level ground. Everything is uphill here, quite significantly so, but of course, that is also what makes it so wonderful! 

We packed up everything and transported it here, including the wash line with my freshly laundered clothes (they smell fabulous now after a day in the wind and the sun!) and our pile of sticks for the stove. The cooking fire/ kitchen leaves a lot to be desired, with one small log upon which to sit, and it was difficult to find a level spot for the tent, not to mention the granite just beneath the thin layer of duff, making the placement of stakes a bit ‘hard’.  I know, it must make you scratch your head, too, but the negatives are so easily overlooked with this breathtaking overlook. Upon the ridge facing west, we are currently propped in our crazy creek chairs, soaking in that long alpine view. Seated in front of the netting we hung from the tarp, we are ready to retreat when the dusk barrage of mosquitos swarms.

Don and I tried fishing once again, trolling the length of the lake and back, after dinner. Again, with no luck. Of course, the hour we chose was the only time all day that the wind rose, and we were certain a storm was blowing in. But now the lake is still as glass, though the sky remains heavy with those clouds that were rolling in with the after-dinner blow.

The wood frogs croak their raspy rattle, the thrush picks up her evening flute, the loon calls out for her mate, and the mosquitos begin to drone.

Today, I felt the shift. No longer in a rush to get here, it feels as if we have arrived – in slow time, in presence, in companionship and rhythm, a rhythm that feels more natural between us than it has in a very long time.

Sunday, July 23, Phipp’s Lake, 6:30pm

The rain began overnight and has continued throughout this morning and afternoon, a steady rain, though not heavy, most often light showers. So, we kept to our plan to explore Kirkwood, Pardee, and Lawrence Lakes today. We had originally thought to move to Pardee today, but Don was uncertain about that with his ankle when we were making the reservation, so we decided to make it a day trip instead. 

The 715 meter portage into Lawrence was a muck mess, much different than I had recalled from last fall, which made it quite a bit more challenging with the canoe on my shoulders. Still, I am glad that I could carry it, because it opened so much more exploration to us. That campsite on Pardee Lake is a delight, as is the one on the far end of Lawrence Lake, which we’d bypassed last year by mistake, the wind deceiving us so.

Back now on the rocks overlooking Phipps lake, the clouds have not given up their hold on the sky, though it has not rained since we left Pardee @3:30 this afternoon. I am hopeful that they will clear before dark, The starry nightscape, for which I long, awaits beneath their cover.

I was fairly tired when we returned to camp, having carried the canoe 1500 meters today, especially since we’d gotten such a late start on our day, with the rainy morning convincing us to linger a while longer in our tent, listening to the patter on the roof. Breakfast was also a longer todo, with preparing it under the tarp, though we greatly appreciated the view from that perch, reinforcing again our decision to move here.

Now the breeze caresses my face as the waters lap the shoreline, each a pleasing sensation. The water today is much warmer than the air, which is surprisingly chilly for the end of July. This breeze from the east makes it so. There was even some convection fog as we returned to camp this afternoon. I have donned my heavy fleece for the evening, even though it is still rather young.

Monday, July 24, Phipp’s Lake

We are huddled beneath the tarp, pulled to the ground on the east wall to block the cold blasts of wind-driven rain. It is cozy enough and the view is still pleasing, even or perhaps especially in this gray.

The rains began again in earnest in the wee hours of the morning, intermittent at first, but by the time morning dawned fairly steady with occasional down pours. For a time, between showers, I had the tent door open to watch the water and sky, the air blowing in quite refreshing when curled beneath my down quilt. I was awake for the day by 5:30am but remained in the tent, listening to the rain and the wind before (human) nature urged me to venture forth. Fortunately for me, there was lull enough in the weather to fashion a cozier shelter by shoring up the tarp and to gather the things I would need for breakfast preparation beneath it before these hard driving rains began.

And so, I sat in the silence for quite some time, watching the sheets of rain blow down the lake, the windrows and ripples form and reform on its surface, the swirls of fog be picked up at cast into whirlpools of mist, the sky and the water one continuous element.

For a time, during the lighter showers of the morning, there were 2 birds, waxwing-like in appearance, snatching up blueberries on the bank beneath my feet. Last evening, we watched the dragonfly over this same embankment swirling and diving, snatching her own meal of evening mosquitos. She danced her food-gathering patterns for fifteen minutes or so before moving along. It was, for us, ensconced behind that bug netting,  like having front row seats at the ballet.

We are supposed to move camp today, just an hour’s paddle back from here . We will do so if the weather breaks, perhaps later, this afternoon, though we are not very good at all predicting such things. Usually it is more wishful thinking that convinces us of clearing weather more so than what our eyes see. If the weather remains this blustery, we shall stay put, move tomorrow, as we have the luxury of flexibility. It is always more pleasant to pack up camp and set up again when conditions and gear are both dry, though moving about does help a body’s warmth!! Who’d have guessed a down sweater atop my fleece in July.

Things feel well between Don and me. He does continue to struggle with walking, even around camp, tripping often and having great difficulty with the inclines of this site- the cost of this fabulous vista. I so appreciate his willingness to be here with me. He has even begun dreaming of future trips. I don’t believe a person begins dreaming if it is not something they hope for. Still, I know that he comes here for me. He told me yesterday that he ‘really does want me to be happy, after all.’

As I lay watching him sleep, even there, I can begin to see his aging, in the lines around his eyes. We may have only a few years of this. I must be able to live in the joy and beauty of this moment without clinging to it so tightly, be willing to let go when it must die. I note the grief in me at this, even as I accept this truth.

Who knows? Perhaps I will go before him.

There is only now, this breath, this view, this conversation, this chill in my toes, these trees, who stand in this great silence, witness to and giver of life long after I am gone, these ancient rocks, this perpetual recycling of water and sky, this thirsty earth.





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