Our Last Stiff
(with apologies to Thumper!)
It is our last winter trip of the year and, as with all of our trips, we
experience new wonders as to how our nature works. With some sadness we prepare
for our last adventure of the winter season. Our gear is in good shape from our
last trip because each time we arrive home from a trip all the equipment is
"hung and dried" on nails in the basement, the tent poles are WD-40’d,
our down winter down bags are put in the dryer for a few minutes to "get
the fluff" back into them and then hung on nails to finish drying and of
course stay there and not stuffed in a bag for storage. All clothing and
wearables are washed and dried, footgear, snowshoes, skis, poles, all dried,
cleaned and stored (just itchin' for their next trip). Of yes, the cooking
stoves, pots and pans, plates, coffee pot, mugs, spoons, and the food are put
away nice and neat and tidy.
There is always the great anticipation when we prepare: gear, clothing, what
food to take, what things will happen on this trip? All packed, the pokes are
ready, just a few minor adjustments when we arrive. What will we see, what will
we hear, what experiences will we have, and of course the most important, what
thoughts will we share with each other?
At the starting point in Algonquin Park we have the pleasure of watching a
Dog Sled company arriving and setting up their dogs and sleds to take out a
group of enthusiasts just excited about their forthcoming day. We have an
interesting talk with the owners, finding out a little information about the
area, ice and snow conditions back in the areas we have planned on travelling.
What a joy seeing the dogs full of power and enthusiasm and ready to go. Makes
you proud of our heritage and history and maybe what it might have been like.
We are off again, all those dreams that are about to happen. Well the first
hill puts a stop to this in a hurry- I am concerned as to whether I am going to
make it up the 90 degree slope, Yeh yeh, a bit of an exaggeration but not by
much. And I think my conditioning is pretty good. The "little one" of
course, with her poke is gone up the hill like it is just a small hill. I only
have to stop 3 times and take a quick breather, of course Kathleen has lots of
time to rest 'cause she has to wait for me. Once at the top we have some fluids
and a couple of handfuls of gorp and set off again. The conditions are ideal, 30
cm base, 15 cm of powder, beautiful blue sky, no wind and –8 C.
Our therapy has started. Our talk is about how much we enjoy the outdoors.
How lucky we are to have all of this- the beauty and our experiences to
share with others. Our destination is off the trail to the right, however, the
lake is half a km away; we are going to have to bushwhack. Over the side we go,
I let the "little one" go first, how noble I am. She is laughing and giggling
as she stumbles and falls face first into the powder snow. As she rights herself
and gets her poles and poke in order, she says I had better not go this way. She
leads us up and over dead fall, large fallen trees and down to the lake, safe
I take the lead on the lake, very noble of me I think, the little one is
just howling at my bravery. The lake is absolutely breathtaking, pristine, 40 cm
of powder, at least 40 cm of ice, white hills of snow and red pine surrounding
us everywhere. We arrive at our campsite, somewhat tired, but looking forward to
Kathleen sets up her kitchen and gets some hot soup going right away. I
finish setting up our living quarters, go over to the wife and we enjoy our
soup, crackers and cheese. We finish up with a hot chocolate, recipe- in your
favourite mug add 2 heaping tablespoons of your favourite hot chocolate, 2 large
tablespoons of powdered milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar, fill it up with boiling
water-but not too full 'cause don’t forget you have to top it with minnie marshmallows-
yippee! Now this is heaven.
The sun is starting to disappear behind the hills; the birds have been quiet
for a while; it is time to organize for the night. We set up the tarp, as a
wind-snow break and to cover our gear just in case we get a big dump of the
white stuff (we hope). Nice fire, supper, reflections on the day. It is already
time to "hit the sack". The little one always warms my side first-
this is one of the reasons I am in love with her. I get in; we both have our
headlamps on in order to read before we turn the lights off. Only 3 or 4 minutes
of reading and out go the lights. What a fantastic day!
I wake up to a sound I have not experienced since the previous year. The ice
is cracking and moving, so much so it feels like it going to move the ground
under us. At this time of year in March, nature is going about its business and
changes are happening. The weather has been warmer this winter than in other
years. We have had very warm days and some very cold nights. This is one of
those nights when you can feel the changes.
Over the remainder of our trip we have temperatures during the day of +12 C
and at night –9 C. Cozy in our sleeping bags at night, we are awakened, but
what a joy to listen to the sounds of Mother Nature.
Because of the ice movement and the concern of the weakening ice conditions,
we take another route home, along a river bank, through a marshy area (what
beauty), and finish on the dog sled run back to our car. We load up for the trip
home, jump in the car and immediately ask each other our most joyous moments.
Mine of course is taking the lead on the ice (just kidding). My joy is just
being there and sharing this time with the one you love. Kathleen talks about
the animals we saw, the birds starting to get busy again, and of course sharing
this love with me.
Winter camping is over for this year, but what joy, happiness, sharing our
excitement together, and all of the memories. Hey, it doesn’t get any better
than this! It is called "therapy.
Through The Marsh
Kicking Frog has been waiting