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French River Canoe Trip 2009: Day 4

August 24, 2009

Even after the little jaunts yesterday, Ross and I are still antsy to be on the water.  This is supposed to be a canoe trip after all. Just two more days left and all we want is clear weather. To the camping gods, please. Just a little clear weather.

24 Aug 09

Beautifully sunny today.  Windy a bit. Eager to get going Ross and I get up and pack.  We are ready to leave this pretty little rock. But we don’t leave. Yet. R2 finally rises and decides on a swim. Then a warm breakie. We don’t get going until about 10:30. Sigh.

We start with Ross steering, myself as the passenger and R2 in the bow. We get lost a bit again at a place aptly named as Bad Turn.  Again, we are farther than I expected. We lunch and R2 and I swap places. Back to the Bad Turn and down the Main channel.  At the Elbow, we decide we can’t make it to Georgian Bay today and settle for a look at the rapids up the East Channel.  Our plan is to camp at the site directly preceding the rapids.

Luckily, a gent with his son flag us down before we go past the portage site for the rapids.  We had just begun to feel the pull of the river/rapids/current when he flagged us in. Apparently the site is too close to the rapids themselves.  We pull out at the portage, denoted by a huge old boiler, possibly from one of the old alligator boats that used to run this river.  It’s muddy and of course, I managed to slip right in as I pull up the canoe. Sigh.

We hop out to see how far the site is from the portage site.   I don’t really want to portage. Leaving R2 with the canoe, Ross and I go to explore the location. I discussed this with R2n before, but I wonder if we are alienating her a bit?  Ross and I have known each other for almost 20 yrs. I’ve been on two other 7/9 day canoe trips with him before and we were roommates during uni. We know exactly how each other thinks. This must be difficult for R2 whom I’ve known for only three weeks and Ross has only known for about a year.  We (Ross is better) try to keep her included, but I expect that she may feel a little alone as we diverge on our concept of canoe trips.

Ross is on the lookout for the site and the ‘loo’.  We go to look at the rapids. They are beautiful and not terrible. Ross is pretty sure we could shoot them if it were just us and a lighter canoe. I wouldn’t dare with R2n and the canoe laden as it is. It steers like a whale.  I’m proud that he would show such confidence in my abilities. Of course, it would depend more on his abilities as a steersman than mine as a bow paddler.  And I have all the confidence in the world in his abilities as a canoeist and camper.

I go back to pull the canoe up further and retrieve R2. She deserves to see the view. She knows how to appreciate the outdoors anyway. I noticed a small memorial stone on the rocks and honored the fellow with a few words to myself. I don’t know if he actually rests here or in the river, but it’s a great place to be. R2 notices something in the river and upon closer examination, it turns out to be an upturned canoe – identical to ours. Food for thought. I took a few pics just to remind me that smart people sometimes do stupid things.

I clamber up the rocks and take pics of everything. I see some power boat fishermen below the rapids and wave. I have tons of pics from today already. We saw a cormorant surveying the area as we paddled in and some ducks and terns as we made our way here. I love seeing the birds.  And also the sight of the different types of minnows tells me the river is alive and well. A heartening thought. Watching the terns fish is an amazing feeling. I love it here.

Unfortunately there is no ‘loo’ here. A shame as the site is beautiful, the rapids could lull us to sleep and the tent sites are amazing.  Perfect place for a fire with a grill and plenty of firewood. Oh well, Ross wants a ‘loo’ so we return to the site we passed on the way in. It has a beach, and a ‘loo’.  But, it is wide open and facing the wind.  R2 is now feeling rather off and Ross and I are tired.  We get the tent up and R2 lays down as she is now feeling ill.

I start rebuilding the firepit to block out the wind. Taking a break to look in on R2, I figure that she’s gotten far too much sun. She’s sunburnt and possibly close to sunstroke.  I fetch her some water and get her some aloe and tell her try to rest. She’s in no shape to do much. I vent the tent so she can cool down as much as possible.

Ross sets up the food cache and we get set up to have dinner. Bugs again, but the wind is picking up so hopefully between the wind and the fire/smoke, they’ll go away. It’s been a beautiful day, but I’ve had a headache for some time.  I work on finishing the fire pit and getting the fire started for dinner. I see a heron (not a great blue but one with a red blaze on the side of the head, will check when I get home), land in the nearby swampy area. Amazing.

I needed to drink more on the water.  I realize then that I’m suffering from the sun myself. My knees and shoulders are both sun and wind burnt. I’m dried right out. A good bottle of water will fix some of that and some of the aloe that I gave R2.   I’ve decided that although I like lemonade, Gatorade would’ve been a better bet.  I’ll use some of Ross’ Gatorade powder on tomorrow’s trip back.

Dinner is again a smorgasborg of everything we have. Ross is amazing. He cooks everything while I monitor the fire and try to roast myself 🙂
I spend my time sawing up wood and stoking the fire until we have another nice hot cook fire. Works nice, but I’m now starving and because we are having 3 different meals, we all get little bits of everything to eat. I gulp down the pasta and put some more on because I’m ravenous. After dinner the moon comes out and I get some more beautiful pics (I hope).  All are tired and I go to help Ross hoist the cache.  We see a flock of geese launch off the river. It’s an amazing sight.

I’m tired and getting eaten alive and am also very nervous about walking about on rocks in the dark. Not safe.  Ross shoos me away and I retreat to the fire.  He’s awesome. Have I said he’s awesome? He’s awesome.

Absolutely exhausted from his efforts, he turns in leaving R2 and I by the fire. I’m also tired, but R2 seems to have been revived by the food and wants to stay up. I think that she’s just cold, but I’m exhausted.  I feel obligated to
babysit my fire and douse it before I go to bed.  Finally she decides its time to turn in and I spread the coals and douse the fire. My last fire.

I decide to take a Claritin before bed tonight and apparently I didn’t snore. I slept well. 🙂 I did think I heard some creatures scuffling around the tent during the night though.

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