Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's good to be back...

My apologies for the lack of blogging recently, but I've spent most of my online time looking for work... here's a quick injection of Sushi and Maple Syrup for you, with another one percolating as I type this.

This past weekend, as I rounded my first month since returning home from Japan, I enjoyed my first "real" camping trip in quite some time. You see, there are different versions of "camping" depending on who and how it is done. For some, it includes a fully outfitted RV complete with wide screen TV and satellite dish... for others it involves nothing more than a backpack and a tent. I find myself somewhere in between those two, but definitely closer to the latter. My most memorable trips have all included throwing all our stuff into a canoe (or 2) and heading "that way" for a while to find a place to camp.

The plan this time around was to drop in to a really fantastic little spot about just about 3 hours away from Ottawa and spend two nights on the lake, do a little fishing maybe, and just chill out and reconnect with this part of my "pre-Japan" life which was/is so important to me.

Saturday morning, at the crack of 8AM, I swung by Sean's apartment with my fully loaded (complete with canoe on the roof) truck to pick him up. We then made our only shopping stop of the morning to pick up some of Dirienzo's great sandwiches for lunch and were soon on the highway heading out of town. This was definitely one of our better organized departures, mostly due to us leaving on Saturday morning and not Friday night. It was nice not to have to setup camp in the middle of the night for once... not that it's that big of a setup what with both Sean and I camping in hammocks.

On the way out, we stopped by Ottawa Valley Canoe and Kayak and Sean had a look at what they had on offer. He's pretty much settled on Royalite as a material for its balance between weight and strength and it was great to chat with the on-site canoe expert about stuff. We then hopped back in and continued on our way up through Renfrew and up into the Ottawa Valley. Our final destination was beautiful Long Mallory Lake, which is connected (in a drag your canoe over beaver dams sort of way) with a great Bass fishing lake called Wickware. To get in there, you drive up a snowmobile trail which sees very limited maintenance and even that only sporadically. I was quite pleased with how my newly acquired vehicle took to the trail and made quick work of the dips and hills and washouts and rocks. Unfortunately, about halfway in to the lake, I made a mistake on the fly and bottomed out on a big rock which damaged my exhaust... doh! Still made it in and out ok, and I now know my truck's weaknesses, which will be eliminated with Sean's help and a few after-market modifications and shielding.

As we pulled up to the beautiful beach which runs a good half kilometer along the lake when the water is low, we were somewhat dismayed but not entirely surprised to find a variety of riff raff setup all over the place, many of which were well over "intoxicated" and running quads all over the place. With this being a long weekend, we'd expected to see some folks out here, which is why we were aiming to camp on the point at the other end of the lake. While enjoying out Dirienzo's sandwiches and enjoying the view, we struck up a conversation with a fellow who was there with his kids and he offered to help us run our stuff across the lake in his row boat. Seeing as we like to camp in comfort, we'd brought along a large cooler full of food, a BBQ, a Coleman stove and other assorted gadgets which meant 2 trips to get everything across. We gladly took him up on his offer and soon left the chaos of the beach behind as we made our way the 2km across the lake to the point. After dumping our stuff off, our helpful friend turned his boat around and headed on back to the beach.

Unfortunately for him, he had this to contend with.

We on the other hand, had only Kai for company. This little guy is an inuksuk we built the last time we were out here 3? years ago. We were quite pleased to see that it was still up, though in a different configuration than when we made it. This is a close reconstruction. An inuksuk, by the way, is a pile of stones used by the Inuit as a marker in the flat lands of the North to help with navigation. It's often used around these parts to mark the head of a trail or something along those lines.

We quickly set about getting our camp ready, which doesn't take long. For me, it's just stringing up my hammock between 2 trees and tying down 4 lines to the ground... simple! With that done, and a healthy dose of bitching about our loud though distant neighbours, I set about throwing my fishing rod around a bit. Low and behold, after less than 20 casts I reeled in a really nice Bass! This is the only shot we managed to get, it's always best not to keep them out of the water too long... for the record... I have large hands, it was a fat fish.

At some point, we got some company in the form of a beaver starting his evening of wood scavenging. While we were quite pleased with the visit, we ended up cursing this little guy as he kept splashing around all night quite loudly and waking us up frequently.

As the evening pressed on and we began dinner preparations, that magic hour arrived where everything gets still and the water is almost a mirror. Definitely my favourite time to be out on a lake.

After a wonderful dinner of steak and potatoes, we enjoyed a nice evening by the campfire and were quite pleased when the noise from the yahoos on the beach died out around midnight as we turned in for the night. Unfortunately for us, the weather turned and I was awakened at about 3AM with my rain fly flapping uncontrollably in the wind. I made the necessary adjustments and managed to get a decent amount of sleep between the howling of the wind and the splashing of the beaver. When dawn broke and I took a quick walk out in the cold, I quickly returned to the warmth of my sleeping bag. When we finally got up at 11AM and took a glance at the beach, we were quite surprised to see this:

They were all gone! The only vehicle still visible was mine off in the woods a bit. The weather was quite nasty though, and cold. With the wind whipping across the lake and us on a point, we were getting hammered pretty good. We took a decision early on to head across the lake and camp on the beach so that at least if the weather got worse, we'd be closer to the vehicle and have one of our two loads across the lake done. A window of egress appeared a little after 3PM and we quickly split our stuff into "need tonight" and "don't need tonight" and made our run across the lake. When we got to the beach, we were quite disappointed with what we found.

The beach was in horrible shape. Beer bottles and litter were strewn all over the place, used toilet paper lined the beach and broken glass was all over the place. The way we figure, the police must have come in and shut down their party early the night before. With the beach unfit to camp on, we ended up in a clearing in the woods that wasn't quite as bad, though it was outfitted with a watermelon broken in half, beer bottles and tissues everywhere and a spot or two of vomit. I've never understood people who do this kind of thing. It's one thing to go into the bush and get drunk, but quite another to leave it in this condition. Such a beautiful place when it is in the condition in which I initially found it some years ago.

In a much worse mood than the night before, and after making a second run out to get our stuff with the wind quieting down, we turned in for the night. As usually happens, our last day dawned to some gorgeous weather. Having slept in the truck and thus having nothing to take down, I took a quick walk down to the lake to remind myself of the beauty that it still holds, despite the idiots who trash it every long weekend.

This really is a great place, the beach is almost twice as wide later in the summer as it is now. You can see the difference in colour in the water where the sand it higher... that'll be dry in the next few weeks.

The drive out was uneventful in that I didn't damage anything else... lol Here is the Explorer handling a washout on a hill. You can't see much from these angles, but the trail is quite bad and any vehicle will take quite a pounding on the way in/out.

So that was the end of a great weekend, with it's shares of ups and downs. Today, Yoshiko and I took a tour on the Lady Dive, an amphibious vehicle which tours on both land and water... that's the next blog posting... off to shower now. I leave you with a few stitched shots of the lake.
From the beach: (the point we camped on is about where the tree line dips down in this pic)

From the point:


Blogger tornados28 said...

Time to take the wife camping.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Absolutely! The weather has been a bit too cold I think... but today and tomorrow are going over 30 so the time may well have come. We may be going for a short one nighter this weekend, we shall see.

11:23 AM  
Blogger theladouceurs said...

AHHH yes camping I have to admit I am definitly the rv shower type but it certainly looks like you guys had fun. amazing scenery as always. I look forward to your next blog

8:53 PM  

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