I have been fortunate to have experienced very little rain on my numerous canoe trips over the years. This particular weekend on Ragged Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, we (my son and I) faced two days of very unsettling weather. During our paddle over the long windy stretch of Smoke Lake and on into Ragged Lake, the sun slowly set behind the hills as we paddled in search of a campsite. Too dark to read the map accurately, we decided to set up camp (9:30 PM) a little short of our desired destination – Parkside Bay. Our 6:30 arrival on Smoke Lake, was later than anticipated and setting up the tent in the dark was something new for us. So was starting a fire at 10:00PM and staying up late and sleeping in the following morning.
Sleeping in was easy. We were in no hurry to get out of bed, not only because of our long paddle and late night, but also it had rained through the night. The night air had cooled the inside of the tent and there was no morning sun to heat up our tent to sauna-like temperatures. As we enjoyed breakfast down by the shore, we watched a few families that had already packed up their site and were on to their next lake or campsite canoe by us. Normally we would have been in our canoe and out on the lake by that time of day. Mind you, we were not in any hurry. This would be our site for another day. After breakfast (more like brunch) fire wood was collected and placed in a dry location, in preparation for more rain. If it was going to rain all day, we were determined to at least have enough wood for a good long fire.
After a tarp was secured and a bowl of hot soup, we headed out in the canoe to see the far side of Ragged Lake. There was not much activity on the lake that afternoon – no one swimming or canoeing. I think most campers were content to stay on site and rest or dry out whatever got wet from the night before. The sky threatened to rain all afternoon and finally came through with a light sprinkle just before supper.
It was during our afternoon marathon of cards that we noticed the rain. Safely under our tarp, and beside the fire, we continued with our games until hunger set in and we decided to stop to make dinner. I have never enjoyed such a long fire as I did that gloomy day on Ragged Lake – from mid afternoon until we turned in for the night.
This was also the first canoe trip were I failed to take video! I just didn’t feel like it and instead of forcing the desire and creativity to flow once more, I instead gave it a rest and gave myself up solely to the company of my son. I have to admit it was a very strange feeling to return home from a canoe trip with no video to edit. It felt a little unproductive and impractical to have carried the equipment all that way and then not use it.
And lastly, I would not have believed you if you would have told me I would not swim at all during a canoe trip in late July. I cannot remember a time when I have not swam, even in late September! It was not the trip I had envisioned, but a great trip all the same. Once again, camping is teaching me about adversity, adapting and appreciating what you do have instead of sulking about what you don’t have. In a way, the trip was more rewarding than anything I would have planned.
The Innocence Mission / The Lakes of Canada