AHHH! I have just pushed the kayak off the shore of Big Dam Lake and am gliding on liquid glass. The paddle dips ever so slowly in the water, and that is the largest sound in my world. Being out in the wilderness is not quiet, but the drop in background noise is always a delightful shock. Rush-hour traffic this morning consists of a pair of loons, some singing birds, maybe a muskrat or two and oh yes, the two Gonzos ahead of me, Sun god and Viking. I can hear some nattering, but perhaps that just one of the local chipmunks.
Part of Chinese Yin/Yang philosophy states that "Nothing exists except in relation to it's opposite". Fall is when Summer and Winter do battle. Winter always wins but on a day like today, neither side has the advantage.
I can see my breath in the air and feel the warm sun on my face. The air is cold, but the water is warm, holding the heat it has stored up during Summer, knowing that Fall was coming. A morning fog covers our passage, but the presence of the sun can be seen in the shadows it casts off the surrounding trees.
Looking ahead of me, the scenery is fantastic. Behind me, with the sun pushing through is even more fantastic. The water feels like a pillow and the air is so fresh, you wonder what you breathe the rest of your time. The smell evokes deep memories that you can't put a name on, but the overall feeling is relaxation. All your senses are getting that spiritual massage that they need to keep the batteries charged up.
There are some portages today, but it's a day trip and we get through some of them without leaving the boats. I do two of them in the kayak that involve a lot of rocks and gravel. By the time we enter Frozen Ocean Lake, the sun has banished all traces of fog and the colors are unbelievable.
It is sometimes hard to take in the subtlety that Fall brings, but I think that as we get older we are more aware of the seasons as they change and appreciate the way they mark time for us. The north side of the lake is filled with green softwood trees, but the shoreline is ringed with maples, all bursting in a riot of colours, like someone outlined the lake with funky jewellery. Some part of me just wants to float to the portage point, but this is a Gonzo event and some manual labour is required to move forward.
The paddle is very enjoyable. We cross some loons and another couple in a canoe, but we all seem to be going our own ways, so the talk is minimal. We take a mid-morning break just before leaving to go down the Little River. It is a fine day. The bugs are few and far between and quite half-hearted in their attempts to annoy. They're just punching the clock, waiting for the Big Freeze.
Coasting down the streams between the lakes, the water is like a polished mirror. You can't tell where the sky ends and the water begins. The effect is surreal. You feel that if you tipped over, you would be in an alternate universe, with the same trees and clouds in the sky. Some of the trees are so orange as to look like they are consuming themselves with an internal fire.
My favorite view this day belongs to the little wonderlands that live on top of the log ends that protrude from the river every so often. They're little miniatures of the world around you. There's moss as a base cover, then a collection of various sized and coloured plants. You almost feel like some little elves must live there and hide when you go by. Off course the animal droppings which provide the nurturing for these little worlds would be the size of hay bales to these Lilliputians.
Coming into Channel Lake, Gordon encounters a moose. Unfortunately (for some), it's man-made and non-recyclable, so Dipper does the honour of relieving the can of its contents.
The trip into Kejimkujik Lake brings us out of the quiet, peaceful woodlands and into the reality of a big lake surrounded by flat land. Lots of wind, even on a very calm day. We have to beat our way around Indian Point with the waves coming at us at 30 degrees and making concentration a priority. Bit of a shock after the serenity of the past few hours.
Prior to Hog Island we get to turn and have the wind at our backs, with a 1 to 2 foot swell that can be ridden at times without a lot of work. Lots of fun. Of course, the next turn towards Jeremy's places us directly into the wind for the final push. Lots of water coming over the bows and real effort required out of the muscles.
We hit the beach, load up the car call the hikers to tell them we're leaving and sprint back to Halifax.
I can't imagine a nicer way to spend a day. One of the portages that I ran in the kayak was surrounded by hemlocks. The smell will now be forever linked with this great Gonzo day.