Monday, November 29, 2010

Rock Lake Algonquin park

I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I must go. There is a passion involved, however it is really hard for me to put my finger on the feeling. Looking for something is the best way I can put it.

I finally executed my excursion back into Algonquin that I had been planning for a while. The Sunday morning early drive was quiet, the kind that holds the same mood as a CBC radio news broadcast. Interesting but peaceful. Most traffic was sitting in places of worship or in driveways with their families. Not me. I was heading west along highway 60 with one goal in mind; find the pictographs at Rock lake.

 I found Algonquin’s east gate actually manned. At first I was looking for a box to honour system drop my money in and take my ticket; as I do on “my” side of the park. I was surprised to be greeted by a older gentleman behind the counter. He seemed a bit standoffish first; then again I look much younger than I am with my grey hairs covered under a ball cap. He soon realised my respectful manner wasn’t the act of a insincere 20 year old. He pointed out that the visitor center was open down the road and I was more than welcome to take a walk around by the logging museum. 14 bucks paid and another “thank you” that the old guy smiled to…I was on my way.
I drove into the visitor center as I heard the friends of Algonquin park were having a fundraiser there. Not seeing much sign of much of anything I didn’t stop. Just down the road I found my turnoff.

Sizing up the road I decided to roll the dice and take my front wheel drive Kia Rondo (with about 3 cm of ground clearance) down the unploughed road. Once committed….I didn’t let off the gas. The drive down was really nice, a large mink stood up strait in the road in front of me. He was either trying to figure out what was ripping through the foot high snow….or double checking if that really was a Kia Rondo coming towards him. He scurried off as I screamed by at 30km/h…my max speed in the snow.

I finally made it to the rock lake campground. I pulled into the snow covered parking lot and quickly packed my gear into the kayak and donned my dry suit. I held my breath. Aside from my heart beat…..pure quiet. A raven flew by as I listened to his wings push against the air.
Ssshhh shhhhh shhhh shhhh shh sh sh into the distance.

My Afghanistan scarf yet again doubled as my harness and the kayak slipped along top of the snow for the km walk down to Rock lake.

Becoming overheated I dropped my suit and quickly took off my top layers to prevent myself from sweating. Nothing destroys the day more than sitting in a pile of your own cold sweat. The cold air felt great on my torso as I walked over the campsites and onto the sandy beach at the launch. A truck drove by slowing down to stair at the half naked Newfoundlander in the woods dragging a kayak. I guess it isn’t a normal occurrence in these parts.
Suiting up and pushing off I decided I was going to paddle directly to the pictographs and start my trip that way. I found that if I go directly to what I’m looking for and get that curiosity done first, I can enjoy my time on the lake more and appreciate the little things along the way. Not to mention I was really excited to check these out!

The small change in lat and long had also changed the elevation drastically. Here had much more snow than in Petawawa, and the amount of ice displayed the temperature difference from in the valley.

Heading into Picto bay I slowly paddled along as I only had a general area to go on for the location of the ancient paintings. The cliff’s were awe inspiring and adorned with icicles a good 16 feet in length.

 Keeping that in mind I gave the cliff a bit of a wide berth just in case.

And there they were. The faint red messages left on the granite cliff’s.

One looked like number marks; however you could tell it had lost a lot of the art back into nature.

 The horned man with a tail painted in red automatically brought my mind to Satan; while no such word was uttered on this continent at this time. Was it a demonic creature? Who can really say. What a feeling to touch this as I sit in my kayak; knowing people with many of the same ideals and connection to the wilderness sat in their boat and painted this. I sat. I just couldn’t take my eyes off the red beast. My mind ran over stories in my imagination. The hair stood on the back of my neck and arms.


My heart jump up my throat to be honest. I snapped out of picturing the birch bark canoe here on a warm sunny day to a scanning of my surroundings to a huge pain in my arm.

An icicle had let go on the cliff above hitting my right arm and kayak. If something this small hurt like that I was not in the mood to find out what one of those 16 footers would do.


As I rounded the next corner there were another set! Possibly men in a canoe?

And above that 45 degree angle strips. Depicting meteorological conditions? Or that actions of the spirits? We may never know. It is however fun to depict your own stories out of them.

Not wanting a repeat occurrence I paddled off; quite content that I had found these pictographs. Absolutely beautiful. Much like the frozen scenery of this lake in it’s last breaths of fall.

 The next bay was completely frozen over. I was glad I had decided not to put this trip off this weekend, as I figure it will be completely caught over by the next.

 I pulled onto a sandy point on Rose Island for lunch. Having some premade store bought meals made lunch a quick task. I flipped my kayak up onto it’s side, lighting my stove close to the cockpit. Lying behind it with my head on my paddle float, and the heat coming from my Coleman I was quite content. Beautiful view, nice warm heat on my torso and the smell of white fuel. The Coleman giving out a peaceful white noise…time to make my sandwich before I fall asleep!

I rolled over onto my stomach and spooned some frozen jalapeno cheesewizz onto my bread. Within one bight I felt a thump on the back of my PFD. Looking onto my shoulder a grey jay tilted his head in disbelief that I was a living thing this colourful. And with a quick hop to my left shoulder took a bite of my sandwich and flew up onto a pine to eat it.

I usually don’t feed any animals, but I couldn’t resist. Besides this guy was going to be persistent anyway. He had zero fear of me, which sort of made me feel like Grey Owl with his beavers. First time I’ve ever seen a Grey jay up close like this.

It was a coincidence that just the night before I had curled up with my wife watching “Alone in the Wilderness” about one of my hero’s Dick Proenneke feeding these guys. He commented they were a member of the crow family; something I hadn’t knew. Now here I was feeding this bold grey jay who was very comfortable with human interaction

Warm meal shared with a friend I used the water I boiled my bagged chicken breast in; and made come coffee. No coffee holder on this kayak, but no waves to spill it anyway.


Sipping on my coffee I allowed the wind at my back to slowly push me between the pine covered islands. Occasionally dipping my paddle gently into the water to control my direction on my free ride. The channel was slowly freezing over.

On occasion the sun tried to break through to no avail. A few flurries started. What a wonderful day.

The "rock" in rock lake is quite appropriate. This sandy bottom lake sits in a bowl of 200 to 400m cliffs.

 Although it was clear on the far side of Rock lake the snow had hit thicker in a short wave of white back near the campground. The hill's in the distance quickly disappeared.
At the end of rock lake I found a beautiful little cottage. Quaint and just perfect in my mind.

 As quickly as the wind and snow had come a dead calm hit the lake.

A lake being occupied by cabins usually bug's me. however all the cabins on this lake looked like they belonged. One could really imagine a time not so long ago.

 Slowly points on the islands were trying to grasp for the points a few hundred meters to the shore. united they would soon encompass the lake.

Heading home.

 There are many tall beautiful tree's here. Signs of a forest that once was....and is slowly regenerating.

Soon enough my paddle was complete. I gave myself plenty of time by keeping my eye on the sun. I refuse to wear a watch while paddling.

A end to a great paddle on Rock Lake.

 But wait....that parking lot? Well may car being heavy and the parking lot being a lawn for the campground....the front sunk in.

I was just starting to gather fallen trees and was in under my car jacking it up (with a new functional jack!) when a gentleman and his wife hauled in behind me. They asked if it was OK if they dropped their boat off to their cottage first. NO PROBLEM! They asked if I wanted to come along but I didn't feel like intruding. In retrospect I would have tagged along to get to know them a little better. Soon enough they were back and through the act of shovelling with my paddles and getting me unstuck I learned about them and vise versa. Really great people. As me and his wife pushed the car bonnet as the husband pulled with his SUV we talked about our sons, how she missed hers who was off to college. They of course new a few Newfoundlanders and a few people on base (one I knew) and as we snapped rope and re tried again we had great conversation. From them pulling a German in lederhosen out of a snow bank here one year!! To their family having lived in the area for a long time. We talked conservation, logging you name it.

 They drove ahead of me out to the highway. We shook hands and were on our way. It's not everyday you meet good people, and it was refreshing to have done so.
So after all of that have I found what I'm looking for? Not yet. However I'm sure it's out there on a lake, ocean or a river. And I will find it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lamure bay Ottawa River

My cheeks and bit's that stick out on my body are still holding the cold energy of the day as I type this report up. My original plan for today was to awake early and head to Rock lake in Algonquin park, a good 2 hour drive from my house. Waking before sunrise I seen my VERY sleepy wife who had been babysitting for a friend last night and was up until 2 am. Directing her back to bed I got the lad's breakfast and watched some cartoons.

Winter has finally come to the valley. The fresh white blanket on my unplowed street allowed me to pretend I was in my dream location as I stared out the window.With my family where roads don't intrude.Sitting curled up in a homemade woolen blanket I watched the small gusts of wind push miniature blizzards low across the ground. The comfortable chair by the window, my two boy's body heat as we watched Alice in wonderland... allowed some nice quiet moments for daydreaming.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to shovel the snow off my tiny residential driveway. Not that the snow was heavy, or there was much down.... trying to corral a 1 year old in the yard took most of my energy.

Placing him in a sled and getting my oldest to pull him away served a double purpose. Keep the 1 yr old from running off down the street, and tiring out my 4 year old. Not to mention I finally get the 3 minutes it takes to the driveway.

By noon my wife snapped out of her slumber. About 3 coffee's later I decided that even though my trip wasn't gonna happen today; I would get out on the water for an hour to "scratch the itch". The drive down was even relaxing, no people to be seen.

They snow and ice provided a nice "portage" to the water in Lamure bay. Guiding my kayak across the icy beach with my paddle made easy work of it. Merely getting into my kayak blew my ankle out as I sat down....pain filled my reality. Pushing off my ankle throbbed and subsided.

The wind was funneled down through the river valley kicking up small but breaking waves. Each wave left it's deposit of ice drops on my deck.

 Drop's that I usually watch moving to and fro during long crossings to keep me occupied; stood solid and defiant on my deck. Slowly blending into the encasement of ice.

The rain we had a few days back has frozen quickly to the tree's making everything look like a postcard of what winter should look like. After playing in the small (but fun!) waves I turned in to check out the coast.

The birch and small bushes still covered in a coating from the past week's freezing rain; shimmered in the setting sunlight. The beach was quiet. Where once a gull, a raccoon, a deer left their tracks to decorate the shoreline now sits peaceful in a perfect manicured icing. The Pine's stood still in the foreground with a light dusting of snow on their heavy branches. The only colour contrasting the world of whites and grey.

Time moves ahead fast this time of year in the North. The sun's last rays of warmth glistened over the breakwater on my way home. So quick as the day is done, this year has past. I'm planning on making the most out of these next few weeks. In mere moments my passion will be frozen here in the inland eastern province.

Spot 2 finally activated; I decided it will accompany me from now on just for the tracking feature. Not only can my family log onto my profile and track my progress, it gives them a better idea geographically "where in the heck I'm gone now!"

My track from today and some message tests.

Landing on Black bear beach with white slowly turning blue in the twilight I was full relaxed. A VERY short paddle but a primer for Rock lake in Algonquin park tomorrow.

The relaxed feeling slowly subsided once I had to fidget with frozen straps to secure my kayak.....but some things and words are best left to the imagination.

Less than 12 hours to Pictographs! Spot trace located: Here