Tuesday July 17 early. Johnnie Lake
cr:Ah, morning. In the interest of lightening our load we're eating everything in sight - french toast, links, fried potatoes, coffee.
Lynne: fourth vertebrae where the "cervical killer", I mean the vertebrae killer (portage yoke) hit.
Chris: tricep and shoulder on left side.
Karin: bug bite right on vertebrae, upper back and shoulders
Cathy: collarbones from strap on canoe pack, hands and hip flexors.
Everyone reports that toes and feet are fine.
We're camped illegally, in a "resting" site. After losing steam on Johnnie lake, paddling and paddling to find a site, only to realize that "ours" was the swamp by the dam back - way back - at the beginning of the lake. The site is pretty - up on a little hill, water on three sides. Treed nicely with red pine. Heaven to us after yesterday.
The barrell survived the night intact with a canoe on top of it covered with human scent-infused stuff for good measure.
4pm Tuesday July 17th (I think) 2001, Balsam Lake
cmkl: It seems the biggest challenge today was getting a campsite and our greatest adversary the other campers. We were determined not to get screwed for a campsite again after yesterday.
We had a light day but we lit out early (9:30 I think) (a) to avoid getting nicked by the rangers and (b) to meet the objective mentionned in the previous paragraph. The sun shone steadily down on us the whole way. We made good time through the rest of the (very popular) Johnnie Lake and whipped across a blink-and-you-miss-it 300m portage from Johnnie Lake to Bell Lake.
Bell has a park access point (in fact the portage goes right through the parking lot - ick) so it was swimming with people. This was main street Killarney Park. We headed off from Bell Lake watching all these other canoes and plotting how to capsize or otherwise delay them.
The usual chit chat between parties crossing paths grew in significance and importance as we turned each such good-natured encounter into an intelligence gathering operation. Witness:
Us: Hey! How're ya doin?
They: Great. You?
Us: Great [Hmm. Lots of gear. Badly organized. External frame pack in a canoe. Very bad. Paddling in stroke? Nope. Good. We can beat them.]
They: Where ya from?
We: Ottawa. And you?
They: [can't remember. Too busy plotting. Hmmm. Just put in at Bell. Don't look like they could make it beyond our target lake. Probably a threat. Kevlar canoe. Can't hole it. Will have to tip them or lie about the location of a portage]
We gathered intelligence from this family from Pittsburgh for a while till we got to the 30m trolley over from Bell to Balsam Lake. The tramway is this concrete sidewalk with metal rails and a cart. The cart has two ribs onto which you float your canoe. Then you haul the canoe, fully loaded, up a slight incline, along the rail and into the other lake. Yesterday I would have voted for Mike Harris if he'd promised to put one of these on every portage.
We paddled along Balsam, getting increasingly anxious about finding a site amid what seemed like a dazzling array of canoe flotillas. We found one on an island and we grabbed it.
kj: We're sharing our site with loons - an adult and chick swam by while we were in for a swim. Lovely.
Our belches are improving as the trip progresses.
Lynne, the sexy swamp queen is truly impressive in her drive to accomplish her artistic vision. Can't wait to see the photos, without looking, of course.
We turned away a party of ten who wanted to share our island camp site. Not enough room. Hopefully they'll find sites together. We couldn't return the karma of orange overall man (aka cr's fiancé) who'd offered to let us share his site yesterday on Johnnie.
lp Day 2.5
Rest for our weary bodies. A restorative siesta and now I'm ready for another swim. No signs of spanish armadas so we can strip and dip so long as we don't gawk at each other. The urge is sometimes difficult to contain. Hope the others don't notice this about me. I must remember that this is a group journal for public consumption. Perhaps we can agree to designate certain passages as under the canoe dome.
Loon cries in the early afternoon. They are so welcoming to our presence and I'm grateful to be in this perfect place despite the hard day yesterday everything seems perfect. Even a hard long day with rain seems an essential ingredient to the quintissential ontario canoe trip.
The plunge in the swamp seemed also urgent or maybe only in my canoe head.