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  • Thursday August 12, 1999

    Peter Brewster writes:

    Celebrating loud and long

    PETER
BREWSTER AT LIMESTONE RAPIDS, WINISK RIVER: Heaven can wait.

    So can Peawanuck, at least for a day.

    Tonight's campsite, put in the context of almost 20 years of northern wilderness canoeing, rates a 9.5 under a clear blue sky.

    But that's not all.

    To most people, today is simply the day before Friday the thirteenth.

    But to the lifer members of the Hide-Away Canoe Club, it is a day we celebrate loud and long.

    Of course, it usually falls at a point in a trip when we are close to finishing (as is the case tonight) or is the defining moment in a 28-day expedition when we wonder a. if it was wise to start and b, if it will ever end.

    BREWSTER
    Tom Stevens has a cigar.
    -->to photo gallery
    It is, without further drama, the wedding anniversary of our charter member and er, spiritual director the Rev. Peter Scott. It's the night when we toast the long life and happiness of Peter and his wife Elizabeth and their two children.

    At least, that's the excuse for (are you ready?) champagne, margaritas, REAL foie gras with appropriate crackers, olives, Remy Martin, Cuban cigars for those who like 'em and a can of Boddington's ale from my native Manchester - all organized by quartermaster David Peake.

    During this festivity and hilarity we even remember to wish the Rev. Scott all the best.

    Now back to the campsite. After negotiating about half of rollicking Limestone rapids we ferried across to a rocky beach on the left bank and climbed up on top the cliff.

    The scenery is truly spectacular. To the south, the swifts, big waves and rocky shoals we enjoyed this afternoon. North, more of the same, with an incredible view down to more limestone cliffs.

    Firewood is strewn everywhere, the detritus of a thousand spring runoffs that must be awesome to watch, given how high we are.

    The terrain is slabs of limestone, with shards of broken rock of all sizes everywhere. As usual, this tent is close to the clifftop and any nocturnal outings will require some care.

    Did I mention the view?

    The approach to Limestone is deceptive. The water quickens, as the maps say it should, until you are in continuous swifts with choppy, standing waves and small islands of gravel on both sides.

    None of it was a serious problem, until 'our' beach showed itself and we had to get over to the left side fairly smartly.

    Once the tents were up, Geoff and Tom portaged their canoe up to the head of the immediate rapid and did a couple of unladen runs.

    Before canapes and bubbly we bathed and surfed the current, marvelling at the warmth of the river, still, and relishing the solitude.

    Friday, we'll paddle down into Peawanuck, which we are looking forward to enormously. Before that, Mike has a date with CBC Radio (catch us at 10.40 am EDT),

    The only cloud on the horizon is a huge one - a rogue weather system that has been sucked in by the high that was over us as we camped.

    It has that nasty look to it that does not bode well.

    Should the world end we'll mention it on the radio.



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