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Monday August 2, 1999 - SIMCOE DAY
Settling in nicely
Geoffrey Peake writes:
DAY 3: Monday Aug 2
RISING TIME: 7AM-8AM
TEMP.8 AM: 17 DEGREES C.
WEATHER: CLOUDY WITH SUNNY BREAKS, SHOWERS. CLEARING BY EVENING
BREAKFAST: CORNMEAL PANCAKES
LUNCH: BAGELS, SALAMI/TOFU, PB AND JAM
DINNER: FRIED FISH FILLETS WITH MASHED POTATOES
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 30 KM.
Now that things have quieted down around the camp, I feel finally prepared to get down to writing today's journal. Unlike Peter Brewster, who usually heads off to his tent soon after we hit camp, I find I am too easily distracted by the conversation around camp to be able to sit in my tent and ignore it.
Actually, it's my favorite time of the day. There's nothing better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a handful of gorp, and having a good old fashioned argument. Peter Scott and I, who share somewhat similar tastes regarding these types of discussions, will often square off on different sides of a variety of obscure or arcane topics and, because we both argue in a somewhat vociferous and theatrical style, tend to draw other innocent bystanders into the fray.
This evening, we actually chose a less contentious issue on which all of us could agree: the importance of being in shape for these trips. While this trip has not been physically demanding yet (we haven't even even done a real portage yet), many of the injuries that happen out here occur when you are not physically prepared. This evening, for example, Peter slipped while unloading the canoes and fell, nearly landing himself and the pack back in the water. Now, while he was not hurt, this is exactly the type of situation where someone could be. The fact is that Peter's daily job does not generally entail hauling around 80 pound food packs. But it is precisely this situation that tends to get people injured. We all understand that these trips are going to offer us more of a physical challenge than we would expect at home. But by the same token, because we often find ourselves pushing those physical limits, we increase the likelihood of being hurt. There is a certain amount of physical preparation that is really important for these trips if one is going to enjoy them without feeling exhausted at the end of every day. So far--knock on wood--we have never yet had what I would call a serious injury on any of our trips.
One of the biggest decisions of every afternoon is this: where do we camp? There is nothing more discouraging than stopping at a poor site for the night. What constitutes a good site? The ideal site has a smooth rock base, at least three level tent sites, a nice view of the river, and easy access to the water. We are fortunate to have such a site tonight, especially since it is probably the best one we've seen on the river all day.
The high water has made the river very lively and active, and we made 30 km. on an easy day of paddling. All the rapids were run easily today, and the river twisted and turned around many corners today, with many small channels created through the maze of islands, offering us a bewildering array of options for paddling. The great granite bones of the Canadian Shield are blanketed here by the stands of spruce trees and muskeg bogs. Only at rapids does the rock appear, where high waters and the youthful force of spring breakup have scraped away the growth, leaving the smooth grey bedrock of the shield exposed like a fresh wound.
The beauty of these days is that our world revolves around such elemental things as these: rock, water, wind, and rain. We have settled into the routine of things now. Within 25 minutes of landing, we had our gear unpacked, our canoes stowed, the tents up, and a pot of tea ready (my daily Soy Chai!) Would that all my days at home could be so productive!
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