Woodland Caribou Provincial Park - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Extended Trip Report
Red Lake, ON
"Diary excerpts of a 'Southerner's' 1st trip into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park"
Thursday June 21/01
Ahhhh, where to begin, and yet having only done so. Today I have been introduced to what it really means to be 'immersed in nature'. My tendency has always been to over-romanticize potential excursions such as my adventure into the southeastern part of Woodland Caribou Park. Over the preceding weeks numerous visions of the wild north that I would have the privilege of dabbling my feet in, continued to grow in my head. Such things as a possible glimpse of the ever-elusive caribou that are signature to the land. Perhaps the sighting of an otter, moose, beaver, turtle or loon or just the time, solitude and opportunity to absorb completely into nature. But once again the reality of the situation, I must admit, has taken me by surprise. The day began with a relatively simple portage into Leano Lake. When loading the canoe into the water all I 'dabbled my feet in' was muddy leech infested water, not to mention my introduction to the swarms of bugs that are know to inhabit this northern land. Overhead, I feel the threat of a thunderstorm in my midst, so, cleverly and quickly I chose to retire into the first campsite I come across. During the set-up of my tent, soft raindrops gave confirmation and warning to what was yet to come. Once safely inside I peered outward at the complete war being raged upon the land. Now I have to admit having only a thin layer of material between myself and the natural occurrences outside makes it inevitable that I feel part of the storm, and it is awesome! As I looked skyward and saw the electric tearing of the clouds and feel the rumble of the earth I am humbled. Perhaps others who have ventured here can relate, that feeling of awe, having the effect of letting you know just how little you really are.
Friday June 22/01
Being it is my second day in the park and I haven't completely died yet… yet being the imperative word! I guess I am accepting to adapt rather than flight. My boots are still wet and it will take longer for my clothes to dry than my durable lightweight tent and tarp. Choosing to revert to my second change of clothing, I remind myself that I am in the thick of the areas for all my anticipated encounters with various species. The sky looks promising with fluffy clouds to shield me from the intense rays of the sun. The actual alternating of the clouds and the sun moving across the Black Spruce, Jack Pine and White Birch melody displays the effect of huge curtains being simultaneously swept open to revel the depth of this boreal terrain. Onward then to experience the solitude of the grand, nearly uninhabited bush I seem to have landed in. About half way through my day's route in a grassy hollow 'he' is spotted. A huge racked Bull Moose! I scurry to find my camera but realize I am missing this rare engagement almost entirely! Finally upon searching for my camera to no avail, I chose to idle the canoe close by and watch the large awkward creature depart the water, and soon after, my presence. I resumed my canoeing and from quite a distance away I shot a look backward to where I had seen the moose only to realize it was back to inquire as to who this invader was who interrupted his meal. Curiosity in this massive animal was an interesting concept. Just as I am inquisitive about him he is also about me. Only I am sure we would both agree… at a distance! Later during my supper a gathering of loons commences at the waters edge. The frolic splashing of the birds demands my attention. But the symphony of 'soul-plucking' music would demand the standing ovation of many a nature lover. I am contented to admit that it would be my desire to live as a loon. To sing, swim, dance, fish and fly is everything that would be required of me. Oh what a perfect life!
Saturday June 23/01
Today I was fortunate enough to complete a full day of welcoming warm sunshine. The water was relatively choppy because of the breeze but my persistent spirit pushed me onward. As I paddled through a grassy narrow I caught sight of the seemingly head-less and tail-less bird of prey circling above me. The blending of the white against the clear sky made it seem difficult to identify. Hum? A bald eagle? Ah but yes! I was right in my assumption. I stopped a moment to visually soar beside the lingering circle of the eagle as it stole a moment of my diligent paddling. During the proceeding portage I paused a moment to question the hollow beating sound coming from the woods. This I quickly identified, must be the ruffed grouse. Although, had I not inquired to it before and been told the grouse is intent on making this 'drumming' sound as part of the mating ritual, I may have mistaken it for a far-off man-made motor. Once reaching my site that held a seeming tranquil layout, the exhaustion of the hours of paddling and portaging in persistent hours of sunlight was taking a toll on my body. But despite the crying limbs of my existence I chose to stay up and witness the majesty of the setting sun. Oh and what majesty the northern sunset holds. Even the beavers retire from there labours of tree-carving to visit the sun-bronzed waters adjacent to my site. I quickly snapped a couple pictures of their splashing with the sunset in the back-'drop'(s) of their tails. Now with the array of colors still dancing in my thoughts I will seek refuge from the bugs in my tent and gain some much-needed strength for my day ahead.
Sunday June 24/01
My last day in the park and I think I will try my hand at fishing. After about six casts I've got something… yes a small walleye that could have been easily mistaken as weeds. I release the little guy as I anxiously pondered the thought of another catch large enough for supper. I fished and fished and fished… to no avail. Is it possible that they could sense my urgency? I changed lures and cast again. The second cast grabbed a 31-inch pike! Wow, this fish was overwhelming. It was in the slot so I released it and retired from fishing for the day. Soon I will have to leave this tranquil home I have made for myself. I cherish and am happy that this park has been my host over the last few days. It seems that this hard won friendship makes it hard to leave. As I leave these days of solitude and wonderment behind I feel closer to the natural parts that have been in my existence, as well as becoming a part of me, and recall a quote I have read in the past:
"What, prey tell, would I buy? There is nothing out here that is
not free for the asking. Can you buy a sunrise? Is there
a price to the exhilaration we feel from the thunderstorm that
rages outside? Nature is the truest democracy, and not the richest
man in the world is served a grander sunset than the beggar."
- Michael Furtman -
Written By Nika Linseman
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