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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the end of rock lake I found a beautiful little cottage. Quaint and just perfect in my mind.
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.
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.
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.