An Evening Paddle

I have been here at my Princess Cabin in Atikokan since Sunday July 24th . Today is Tuesday. I am up here trying to work up the courage to do a solo paddle trip next Tuesday in Quetico. It’s a process to get myself worked in to this. I have major bearanoia up here! I know there are probably a million other things I should be worried about i.e my ability to navigate myself through the chain of lakes and some of the portages. Possible injuries on the trail like twisted ankles, wolves taking my dog, or weather. Weather can be a real force up here. It can turn on ya, and it can whip up waves that are too much for one person to handle, even too much for two and the most experienced paddlers. Also the chance of being wind bound for longer than my trip calls for is a possibility.  So though you might plan a two night trip, it could be an unplanned four nighter!  Those are some very real fears, but my mind is locked on being woken from a tent with a bear dragging me out! I don’t know why that one sticks with me, but it’s real for me.  If I could get this fear under control, you'd never see me again!  I love being up here in Sunset Country and Lake Superior area too,  I would get lost up here if that were an option.   

My current trip as reserved has me going in at Beaverhouse Lake next Tuesday. It was booked five months ago on the premise that my boyfriend would be joining me, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to come up. But here I am up north.  I had to come up.  I need to come up here as much as possible, it's good for my soul!   

I have been thinking about other trip options i.e. do I try going in at Nym Lake. I was down there yesterday to check out the put in. A gentleman and his lady were coming off the portage, I asked them how their trip went, but they were returning early as she was hurt and required medical attention for stitches. They were in good spirits, but again, an example of a real possibility in the wilderness. But of course I prepare for those things - i.e. first aid kit on hand. I told the man I have been working up the courage to get out in Quetico on my own. He told me "go lady, once you do you will be addicted."  I told him I was already addicted to Quetico! It’s quite the perfect place!   It’s been part of me since my trip out in 2019 with my daughter and Rachel!

Today over my lunch hour I decided to go to the Park office and have a chat with them about my trip. They offered me a fantastic alternative. It involves going in at Lerome Lake through some crown land... navigating a series of smaller lakes, much easier to manage solo in the case of high winds, and also the portages are smaller, and at the end I would be rewarded with Sue Falls which is in the park itself!  This was a trip more suitable for a solo paddler.  As for bear reports, they've only had one.  It was a bluff charge.  Oh good, that's all they had so far!  The good news is the berries are healthy this year, and a great berry crop makes me less of a necessary option for a bear meal!

As for the rest of my day, today was super rainy. The weather has been on and off. Unpredictable going from hot to cold in mere minutes from sunny to rain, to wind again .  Typical.  But if you know me I always say don’t worry about the weather it will change. Though I pay attention to forecasts I don’t generally let them manage my plans. I use forecasts as a guide on expectations and what gear to pack. But I know not to take them overly seriously. Anything can happen!  Look to the skies, there is your forecast!  LOL  

When I was done work today it was still raining on and off. So I decided to take a drive down to Lerome Lake put in to check out the possibility. It really does look like it might be my answer, if I can get over my bearanoia. I can park my car right there and not have to depend on the outfitter to come get me.  In the event things don’t go as planned it's a short drive home to the Princess Cabin.  This is becoming a trip that feels less overwhelming as things unfold and I do my homework and planning and research with locals.  Though I use lots of resources to get information about trip plans, nothing beats the expertise and wisdom of the locals who live with it every day!  

So as of today, I have solved my big lake problem, solved my big portage problem and I feel comfortable about navigating that series of lakes. I picked up a topographical map from our local Walt’s Fishing store. It will be a great supplement to my Quetico map.

I left Lerome Lake feeling a bit more confident about my choices. But I am not done being outside yet, even though it's raining. I then drove up the highway to Seine River Lodge to see if I can order me some dinner with a view, and maybe ask about fishing off their dock. The hosts were very friendly but told me they weren’t serving dinner tonight.  I asked if it was ok if I stuck around and fished off their dock. They were happy to oblige. So Presley and I headed to the dock. The weather is still not very good, but I don’t care. It’s just rain. I have a merino wool sweater on, though it gets wet it regulates my temperature. I had no luck fishing but that's ok.  I enjoyed me some dock time with my dog.  

I got my car packed up and ready to leave but needed to use the washroom so back inside one more time to ask if I can use their washroom. When I went in they let me know they decided they would cook after all if I wanted something! So back outside to one of their tables on the deck, to get me some dinner in the rain.  Yes, I could've sat inside, but I don't if I don't have to.  I am happy sitting outside with an eye to the sky.  The sky is changing, slowly!

The owner and I talked about the weather and he’s basically like me, don’t worry about it, it will change! I inquired as to what he would charge if wanted to take a canoe out. So after dinner, guess what, I was getting in to a canoe! I was so excited. He had the Souris River canoes made right here in Atikokan and my favourite boat so far. So light and so sturdy, I learned that on my first trip in to Quetico when those boats were a life saver, literally!

Wouldn’t you know it as I am loading up the canoe at the dock, the sun starts to peak out. Presley and I get in with my fishing gear, and I park my buns right there on the floor slightly off centre in the 17’ canoe! And  we are off paddling on Banning Lake. Wouldn’t you know it the sun comes right on out! And the air warms up to a refreshing July evening. Presley and I enjoy padding and trolling our fishing line. Again I didn’t catch anything, but I wasn’t really worried about that. I was too thankful for what I was catching, thanks to my eagerness to ignore the weather and get outside anyways!

So what did I catch today. I caught the sounds of loons, I caught an opportunity to confirm that yes indeed, I can still paddle. Maybe even better at it solo than tandem. I can turn the canoe, j-storke, draw, and keep my canoe straight, or turn it quickly if needed to. I was so pleased with myself. Thank you Nature Alive in Barrhead Alberta, Dale and Colleen for those lessons back in 2019 on the Athabasca River! It was one less thing for me to be worrying about having tested my paddling skills to make sure they were up to par. My stokes are just fine! But more than all that, you know what I caught this evening….

What a sun!!!   Paddling on those near perfect still waters into the sunlight glimmering across the lake amongst the trees with the loons seranading us!

What a perfect way to end a random Tuesday… You know not everytime I head out in bad weather does it end like this, but when it does, I don’t regret that I headed out anyways! Then there are the times I head out and get exactly what the forecast called for. But that’s what rain gear and warm clothes are for! Life isn’t meant to be lived with certainty. We can’t control anything except our attitude, and our choice to find joy in the simple things. They truly are the best things in life.  And those simple surprises are the greatest blessing!  If you trudge through the tough stuff, well the sun will follow!  :)  The sun always rises after dark skies!

Though it was just a quick evening paddle it was one of the most beautiful paddles I have enjoyed. Of course I say that about all of them, but no, really.. This was the best one yet!

I have worked out my concerns about a trip plan. CHECK
I have worked out my concerns about my paddling skills. CHECK

I have made sure my gear is well stocked and I have solid topo maps. CHECK

But guess what I saw on my way back to the Princess Cabin, a BEAR!

Just to keep it real with me. Like look lady, are you sure you wanna do this???

To be determined.

I am still accepting offers of a paddle buddy for Tuesday! YOU IN?

The only qualification is that you run slower than me, (lucky I am not athelete and can't run at all!)

Here’s to an evening outside being about as perfect as it can get - paddling Banning Lake!!!

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Fishing off the dock at Banning Lake 

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Dinner on the patio!  It was pretty darn good actually.

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Me and My Doggie enjoying an evening paddle on Banning Lake!  

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My Favourite picture from our outing

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Heading back to the Princess Cabin feeling very content with our evening!

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