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  • August 8, 1997

    Peter Brewster writes:

BREWSTER (STILL} ON LAC DE LA HUTTE SAUVAGE: There is a special rhythm to a long day of lake travel after time spent on moving water.

      Although the body tells you at the end of the day that it has been working hard, and the eyes can still feel the raw wind, the mind is actually fresh. Once the arms and shoulders settle into a steady swing, switching sides occasionally as conditions dictate, your mind is able to float free.

      It's almost dreaming, and once you achieve the desired state whole miles can pass by and you can still recall them ... but only just.

      It can be very therapeutic, and I use the time to sort and re-sort the mental flotsam from 38 years of newspapering, the rollercoaster of personal life and, if it is a cold day, thoughts of food to be eaten on return home.

      At least half an hour went by this morning while I considered the merits of barbecued rack of pork, caramelized onions, roast potatoes with coriander and a green salad, washed down by a decent Rioja.

      After the chill wind of last night, with icy rain lashing the tents, we woke to a gentler day. Still cold early, but as the morning progressed the wind swung until it was on our rear quarter, and helped propel the canoes northwards down the lake at a good clip.

      Total mileage today was 37 km, abut one third of the length of this spectacular lake. Indian House is essentially a valley rimmed by low, bald hills, and it acts like a wind tunnel most days. This was our lucky one, apparently, and other than a wet crossing from the east side we had good help from the weather.

      Numerous north-facing gullies on the west side of the lake still have snow in them, and we saw a bear, ambling along doing whatever it is that bears do, an otter, and a wolf, etched starkly against a western ridge as we made camp. Tonight we are comfortably settled on the west side of the lake, at the remains of a Quebec government geology camp where, 14 years ago, we were fed until we almost burst by an eager cook named Hilda Pike. Clearly this site has not been operational in some years - but why do cabins get trashed in the north for no good reason, when, left alone and used sensibly, they'd be there for any travellers?

      Some people just cant leave things alone.


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