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  • Monday August 9, 1999

    Peter Brewster writes:

    An easy rhythm

BREWSTER MILE 180, WINISK RIVER: On most canoe trips there comes a time when you find that the group has slid into an easy rhythm.
     We're in that stage now.
     The packs are lighter as we load and unload the canoes - so far there has been no portaging - as the food supply is about two-thirds gone.
    Checking out the view.
    -->To the photo gallery

     However., as also happens on most HACC trips, aberrations in food stocks start to appear.
     To wit, we have enough cinnamon left to start a cookie factory, but have had a couple of low cheese days due to some nice old cheddar parked at Pickle Lake.
     There have been threats and regrets about the cheese, but none of that explains the raisin situation, which is chronic. That same cookie factory will be just fine for raisins.
     Then there's the setting up of camp and taking it down, which is done with an almost mindless routine that is at once comfortable and enjoyable.
     Maybe it was our lazy Sunday yesterday, when we rose as usual before eight but talked and read through alternating sunshine and rain showers until lunchtime. It was cool enough that pea soup, dehydrated at home, and slices of Geoff's bread did the trick.
     Today was another late start day, as Geoff had more of that bread to make and by now everyone is deep into their trip books.
     In this regard the odd one is the Rev. Scott, who is reading Tom Clancy's Executive Orders.
     He actually started it two years ago on our last trip together, the first on-line journey down the George River in northern Quebec.
     Peter got halfway through Clancy's epic then, and put it down until this year's outing came along. He was reading it this morning as we waited for bread-making to end, and says the book is 'adequate'.
     The river is wide and still fast, a touch featureless in parts but displaying dense spruce forest on the left bank, with high clay slopes, and a growth of smaller trees on the right, with thick willows almost to the water.
     At mid-afternoon we spotted our first bear. Not a great sighting, just a glimpse of his black butt going up the clay slope and into the trees.
     The last two mornings have been cool, with 8 a.m. temperatures around 42F. (5C) but it warms up steadily throughout the day.
     Tonight's camp is a good one, a wide flat on the right shore opposite a large island. Geoff got a 20-some foot dead spruce pole in the bush, and the Ontario flag we carry with us is fluttering gamely over a sunny scene.
     On the muddy clay bank behind the tents I found a set of very fresh - and very large - bear paw prints while gathering firewood. It's a good night to keep the bear pepper spray handy, and keep a clean and tidy kitchen.
     Supper is on the way, but before that I've just got time for a fast dunk in the river.
     Finally, I'd like to pass on the good news we had this morning when we downloaded e-mails from those following this adventure, and messages from CANOE home base.
     Our Toronto connection tells us that this website has had 55,000 hits to date, and that's already about double what the George River site had. It's truly gratifying to know there is that level of interest, and while I'd be lying if I said we weren't having a damned good time it still helps a lot to get feedback.
     I'm making the risky assumption here that those who log on to the site are having fun too, joining us on the river.
     That, after all, is what this is mostly about.

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