Pukaskwa 2002 Part 2

Part 2 is a journal I kept on a day to day basis, hoping to capture our experiences.  Perhaps at a later time I can expand on each days events.

Superior (The Inland Ocean)

Day 1

-10 hours to Wawa, not much construction or traffic. I complain anyway.

-Columbia Restaurant, see Wayne (the owner, more on him later), he returns the little one's purse to us later that evening because she left it in his restaurant.

-down to NSA 

-early to bed and looking forward to excitement to come.

Day 2

-up and at'em, into Wawa and breakfast, a few final items for the trip and we are off

-Neys Provincial Park and here we come.  The drive over is quickened by our thoughts about our adventure.

-west of Pukaskwa turnoff on Hwy 17, the scenery becomes the Rockies of Ontario, what beauty.

-at Neys and a beautiful campsite just up from the water.

-we take Kicking Frog down to the lake for her first paddle of the trip.  Nice to paddle with the one you love who loves the same things you do.  Just a great evening

-a lot of history along this part of Superior, Pic Island, logging, fishing, villages, prisoner of war camps, and some of those who tried to escape, some caught and some shot.

-finish off day with a nice meal, fire, small talk (only kidding, little one)

Day 3

-up early and ready to go, decide not to go to Pic Island this year (time)-we want to go to Pukaskwa

-we go to the visitor centre to learn more about the park, wild life and history.

-off to Hattie's Cove, but first must find a 4.5 V bulb for one of our Petzels.(always have a spare), cannot find, still have one spare.

-register and give itinerary for our trip at the entrance

-we decide to pack up and go after our introduction to the park by one of the staff.  Warning us about the dangers of the lake, 1 in 3 days wind bound or as I say "the waves are way too big for Kicking Frog"  We do realize the dangers of the lake, the water temperature averages 4 degrees C, so one mistake and there could be serious consequences.

-water a bit choppy, but OK

-arrive at the mouth of White River, set up camp.  This is a very special place for us, this is the place I asked the little one to marry me.  She did say yes--yipeeee.

-great night, pizza, wine, fire, sunset

-to bed early (lovely spot)

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Day 4

-fantastic breakfast- coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast- yummie

-paddle up the river to the base of the gorge, what spectacular ruggedness and power.

-try fishing in my favourite pike hole and am much disappointed.

-we enjoy the effort and then paddle over to the put out for the trip over to the suspension bridge.  a short walk over to an absolutely breathtaking narrowing gorge, with the awesome power of water channeled between the steep cliffs

-the little one hesitates on her adventure crossing over the bridge, it is very scary, I put on a brave front and cross first, but think what happens if this thing collapses.

-a bite to eat and back we go, always taking time to enjoy

-half way back down the trail  there is a visitors book, we write a hello to everyone and leave our e-mail address

-the little one tries her luck fishing- no luck but I catch a 14 lber

-back to finish packing to move on to Willow River

-oh yeh, while fishing the MNR boat comes over and asks us for our fishing licenses and permits for the park, we show them and talk about how important it is for them to be out there checking with the visitors.

-off to the next stop, the lake is calm and beautiful, along the way we stop for a break and lie on the black rocks that have soaked up the sun and are a treat to relax on and enjoy.

-we arrive safely at a magnificent sandy beach, oops and we remember Willow River has a warning of bears patrolling this area.  Just remember to make sure your food is put away properly and this should prevent any problems.

-bugs are bad but remember that they have to eat also.

-we hear from another group that a big storm is coming, not to worry we are prepared.

-a filling supper of a ham steak cut up and put into Kraft dinner-good

-at 4 am we hear chewing outside of our tent, I heroically send Kathleen outside to see what it is.  a porcupine was chewing on our plywood board I had brought from home for our stove.  An hour later it was at it again, this time Kathleen shooed it away but also took some pictures.


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Day 5

-up at 6:45 and great scrambled eggs, coffee.  Pack up quick and on the water at 8:10-very good

-water rough then calm then rough on way to Fisherman's Cove-absolutely beautiful spot

-20 km-rough and choppy but safe and good company

-arrive 1:15- little one says 1:00 and of course she is always right

-relax in the hot sun, enjoy the scene-wow

-start to set up and the MNR comes by in their boat to tell us there are no fires allowed between 9 am to 7 pm ,they are worried and waiting for rain. ( no big rain came)

-meet Ojibwa trail crew camped near us, they are widening the coastal trail from Hattie's Cove to North Swallow River

-a family of backpackers showed up and looked the worse for wear.  Bites everywhere on their bodies, twisted ankles, cuts and bruises.  They soaked in the cool water for hours.

-Kathleen made them some brownies and they enjoyed their newly found treat

-to bed early, had the bug netting up and it worked, no little critters at all.

-looks like a storm coming and we are ready, lights out to another one of those great days with the little one.

Day 6

-breakfast of blueberry apple pancakes with the real maple syrup from our favourite sugar bush up north.  Oh yes, fresh perked coffee.  And talk about our high expectations and what we will see and experience today.

-pack up, we are getting better at this.  On the water by 9:10

-water a bit rough but ok to paddle, better as the day progresses.  Blue sky and hot

-we fish and get 4 fish, 3 lake trout 2 lbs or so and another with leopard stripes ????  The little one  is now hooked (ha ha) on fishing.  I, of course, being the man of the family take the fish off the hook.  We let them go to grow bigger for when we return.

-I forgot to talk about what great rugged beauty we see each and every moment we paddle this coastline.  So many rock islands, the sheerness of the shoreline with 15 metre square granite bolders waiting to slide into the inland ocean,  the different levels of shoreline caused by the "storms of November", when you paddle and look over the side of the canoe and look down through the clear water 10-15 metres.  More later, I do not have the words to describe.

-arrive at North Swallow River and the sandy beach covered with waiting firewood.  Lunch is comprised of roast beef, cheese and mustard roll-ups, cookies, and jellybeans and peach drink.

-after lunch we have lots of time for setup so we go for a walk along the beach to the point, spend time talking about our day so far and then head back to the river where we had seen a big moose cow on a previous trip.  No luck this time but we really are not concerned.

-time to set up and no matter what part of the beach we set up the spectacular vista looking out to the lake could not get better.

-already time for supper, tacos, hot soup, cookies, fire and the thoughts while looking into the fire.  Next hot chocolate and oh yes a little scotch and a little drambuie.

-great conversation with Kathleen, oh our thoughts as we sit beside one another and realize just how very lucky we are.  The guy upstairs sure was kind to both of us.  I could write a book about our adventures and our happiness.


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Day 7

-late start today, on the water at 10:40 but fresh coffee and my favourite (not really) porridge and brown sugar first.  The little one absolutely hates this.  She puts all of our dehydrated fruits into her mug with the oats and only the fruits are consumed. 

-another hot beautiful day, the water has 1-2 footers, but not breaking.  Around points it gets a little tricky with reflection waves and some breakers as the surf builds as it approaches the shore.

-we travel up the Swallow River (a nice breather from the lake) to one of our special water falls.  It is only a couple of kms but is a unique spot.  We have to line Kicking Frog in order to reach the falls.  This is a first in the 4 times we have done this coast.

-we have been lucky to enjoy a family of otters, bird life, fish and an old trappers cabin as we paddle the river.

-back on the lake we feel like tourists, gazing at the ruggedness as we paddle

-catch a 4-5 lber and take a picture to prove it.

-arrive at what we call LYNX 2 cove, actually 2 inlets before Cascade Falls.

-another one of those sandy beach, gorgeous-view type of camping spots.  We arrive at 3 and decide to take a swim (bath), go for another walk (all the time) and then relax and lie in the sun before setup.

-our menu-kielbasa, mushrooms in an alfredo and noodle dish. yummie, and dessert cookies and pudding.  A nice fire, hot chocolate, a walk, nice conversation, wow

-to bed early, we can hear birds chirping and the crash of the waves against the rocky shore on the side of the sandy beach.  We hear this every night and always enjoy.

-life is tough, being here and having to share this with the one you love.

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Day 8

-meals for the day started with bacon sandwiches washed down with some great home brew, coffee of course.  Lunch was roast beef rolos, mustard and fresh fruit (it lasts and is of course good for you).  Snacks all day, jelly beans, lanyega, crackers, popcorn (sugared of course), apples and oranges and washed down again with our peach drink.  The little one makes me wait or beg for the treats.  She says we cannot eat them all at once but a little at a time.  Supper is noodles and beef with mushroom sauce.  Cookies, hot chocolate, nice fire, and great conversation with the one you like to be with.  The questions about our favourite part of the day, best site, animals or birds we have seen.

-let's not forget about our day, Cascade Falls was just a short paddle from Lynx 2 Cove.  This area was one of Bill Mason's favourite spots on Lake Superior.  Our's also.  Bill completed many films about the Canadian canoe wilderness.  In one of his films he camped on the shore beside the falls and proceeded to paint one of the falls crashing into the lake and then was dissatisfied with his work and put it into the fire and started another.  What a thrill for us to be on that same shore looking at the same view as he was when he was painting part of the Falls.

-Otter Island is across from Cascade Falls (about 4-5 K's), a light house and quarters for the light house keeper, (in beautiful shape still) and open so visitors can tour, also an assistant lighthouse keeper's house that people can sleep in with beds.  There is an abandoned fishing camp nearby, (we saw a big bull moose on one of our other trips).  Have pictures to prove (boaters did not believe us).  Anyway on this trip we decided to paddle down the shore from the falls and try and locate an abandoned prisoners of war camp.  We think we saw the beach area and somewhat of a clearing.

-We paddled down to the end of Otter Island and crossed over to the island.  As we approached the end of the island Kathleen caught a nice laker, yeh yeh I had to take pictures and congratulate her again.  Inside of course I am delighted and very proud of her. 

-We have also seen caribou on the end of the island on two previous trips, and what a thrill.  They swim out to island and have their calves, no predators.

-beautiful day, warm and sunny, no wind, clear water and when is this going to change?  We have never experienced this pleasure with the very dangerous Lake Superior in the 4 trips we have done.

-On to Point Canadienne, we try to find the climbing path to the top and cannot.  Next time we will allow for extra time. 

-Our experience as we paddled into Imogene Cove is another one of spectacular beauty, and not only the shore, cliffs, sandy beaches, coloured walls and water but the screeching and diving peregrine falcons.  As we paddle into the cove, all we can hear from far above the sheer cliffs is this loud high-pitched sound of two parents a little upset at our closeness to them.  We take pictures of them very high in the air as we go by their territory. 

-we paddled again to one of familiar stops and that being the old Pukaskwa logging camp.  And what excitement as we again walk through the area where families once lived for a number of years logging this area of the lake.  There are many books and stories about this area and its history, we have read most of them.  Makes us very lucky to experience just where these people lived and how they lived.

-Camped just past Imagine Cove, another one of those picturesque camp sites.  Islands all around us and a view of Michipicoten Island.  Our plan is to paddle around this next year!

-what a day, what an evening, what great company!

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Day 9

-off to Crane Island, short paddle (12 k) but first we sleep in and it feels great, wake up to the sun shining trying to burn off a little touch of fog, and it does.

-breakfast this nice sun shiny morning is blueberry pancakes, bacon, coffee, oh so boring ha ha.

-we relax, take our time packing up and loading the canoe, a short let's take in the day kind of day.  And what a day it is.  Just relax, enjoy the scenery, water, sky, throw a fishing line in as we go and tell stories about growing up.

-as we mosey along we realize how close to the rock faces, bays and the points we paddle around.  On all of our other trips here we have had to stay a little farther out, and especially around the points because of the roughness, winds, and reflection waves, but not on this trip.  Are we ever fortunate, we have experienced some of the worst condition for open canoes on this inland ocean.  Let's enjoy!

-the Wheat Bin is our stop for lunch.  A multi-layered almost 2 k sandy beautiful beach that we have camped at before.  We stop because of the changes we recognize and because we enjoy it so much.  Out of the canoe and away we go exploring, the flowers, grasses, trees, old logs washed-up from the winter storms, and all of the other washed-up human things we also observe.  We walk hand in hand and then each of us sees something and off we go-in our own world observing our love for all of this.  The little one has picked up small pebbles with different shapes and colours.  Wants to take them home as a reminder.

-at the south end of the beach is a creek called Julia Creek, we have some camping friends, John and Julia, yes we take a small smooth rock for Julia from Julia Creek.

-after a couple of fast hours we start off for Crane Island.  A nice sandy beach across from Crane Island is our next home, camping spot.  It only gets better as we go down the coast and that is saying a lot. 

-we decide to pitch camp right on the sandy beach, surrounded by clear crystal water, sand everywhere, islands all around us, sun shining, blue sky.  I sound like a broken record.

-wind starts to blow from the N W just after we set up, and then in just 5 min. the wind changes to the S E and is cooler.  The waves pick up to close to 1 metre and we wonder what is to come.  No problem, just one thing and that is if it does get worse we will move camp to higher ground.

-snack of salami and cheese on crackers, jelly beans, mini oreos, and lemon drink.  And no begging!  After all this, a sleep in the sun.  Wind was getting worse so I set up the canoe as a wind block for Kathleen and her kitchen (remember, her domain).  After the wind shifts I move Kicking Frog around, propped  up again with the paddles (works great) and fill in the ends with sand and voila-you are out of the wind.

-went for a walk, hand in hand of course, set up the pulley system in the trees for the food bag.  We go pump some water for today and the next day and decide to go for a swim and to clean up.  What a feeling to be able to feel alone and free to be able to do this in the raw.  So we did!

-supper fantastic- potatoes stroganoff, banana nut cake (baked in our Outback Oven)-light and fluffy just like at home.  Makes me want to say, "well, why do this at home, get out there and enjoy it outdoors".  Hot chocolate, nice fire, conversation about weather for tomorrow and all of our experiences of the day.  Another one of those awesome sunsets.

-we feel so very lucky, enjoying nature and ourselves, one with another.  Therapy

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Day 10

-Crane Island to Floating Heart Bay.  22 Km

-early start, so this means porridge and coffee.  I add brown sugar, and the little one adds her fruits.  We know what's left.

-efficiency means we are on the water at 8.30, good day to make time because the wind has shifted again and at our backs.  We move, at times 5 Km in an hour.  We make it to our destination at 1.30.  On shore, another sandy beach surrounded by cliffs, small islands, shoreline and a small river.  Wow

-walk down the beach, 150 metres and back.  As we are grateful and thankful about our new home and we are off the water because the wind has picked up causing choppy conditions, a pointy boat appears from around a point we have passed.  He arrives, we think he is alone, well what a surprise when 10 miutes. later his 7 other pointy boat friends join him on the beach.  So much for solitude today.  They set up 8 tents all over the remaining beach. 

-at 5 o'clock 2 more pointies also make their way onto the now crowded beach, but at least they share the same tent.  Enough for now, I will discuss the pointies at another time.

-great supper, the little one has settled me down by now, yeh I know I dont own the beach!

-Lasagna, soup, cookies, hot chocolate, banana nut cake, fire and yes lots of great conversation with the people in the pointy boats. 

-wind is getting stronger, there is talk about the conditions for tomorrow.  Off to bed and a great sleep.

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Day 11

-Floating Heart Bay to Ghost River.   8 Km

-woke up to very windy conditions, up to 1 m waves and then it gets  worse, white caps as far out as you can see.  We decide to stay put and a wise decision.

-the group of 8 kayaks decide to leave, now the wind is directly against them from the east.  It will be very difficult and rough for them.  We wish them luck as they set off.

-blueberry  pancakes, bacon, coffee and thoughts about the 8 being OK in the rough conditions.

-lazy morning, clean up a bit rest, watch the winds getting stronger and the white caps getting bigger.

-we spend some time with Mike and Eric, they have made the decision to stay and enjoy the day rather than fight the lake.  A couple of friends, met at university when getting their graduate degrees at Queen's in Kingston.  They prove to us that they are paddlers but also monkeys.  They climb up and down a rock wall twice, the second time they take books to read and relax while enjoying the vista from the top.

-Kathleen and I attempt to follow but can only make it almost all the way.  We do have a wonderful place to take pictures and enjoy the view.  Wow

-on the way back Kathleen slides part way down and takes a chunk of skin off her toe.  Nasty, I play doctor later, she is so tough, not a whimper.

-wind has shifted again and the water has calmed down so we decide to pack up and go, knowing we have a short  paddle.

-Mike and Eric also decide to leave, it is a pleasure to have spent time and conversation with them.

-we tell them where we are headed, maybe we will see them again.

-on the water by 4 and the wind is at our back and we make great time.  However just before we finish and we have made good time for 1-1/2 hours the white caps are starting to be a concern.  This is the lake we have come to love and respect.  It is so unpredictable, it can and has changed in a  time of 5 minutes.

-we are very glad to have made it safely and on shore, and this was no easy task.  But working with Kathleen and communicating how we would make our approach and what each of us was going to do as we approached the shore became critical.  The decisions are made and because of this we land as if we had been landing in this type of conditions all of our lives.  Not.

-we are very pleased to see Mike and Eric pull in down beach from us.  Happy to see they are ok.  Two great guys from Toronto, one with Pratt and Whitney and the other with the TD bank.

-Mike and Eric ask us down for a fire later.

-supper of Kielbasa and noodles.

-the guys supply the fire and hot chocolate and super conversation and we bring down the cookies.  Oh yeh the guys have the marshmallows also and know how to cook them to perfection.  We enjoy the evening very much.

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Day 12

Ghost River to False Dog Harbour.  18 Km

-up and at'em, everything is wet but no rain over night.  One of our fast breakfasts, yeh the same one Kathleen loves, of course I have fun saying how much I enjoy it and how we could eat this every day while on the water.

-not long packing up, on the water by 8.30, bit of a tail wind and off we go.

-we will be paddling the open water of Isacor, a 5-7 Km expanse of 300 metre sheer cliffs rising straight out of the lake with no place to put in if the weather starts.  I cannot stress the part about getting off the water because there is none.  With dramatic speed, Lake Superior can blow up 2 to 4m crashing waves within minutes.  Last year we  had to spend an extra day at Ghost River because of gale warnings.  And we are aware of the danger and extra time you must account for because of this. 

-we have been so lucky on this trip, flat, sunny, hot days since we began.  So here we go and the conditions are the best we have had in the previous four trips.  We know we can get by Isacor in about 2 hours if the weather turns bad on us.  There is a window however, we would not start unless conditions are absolutely perfect when we start.  We do paddle hard for the first hour or so but our luck is with us.  We have the pleasure of not only moving on flat water but staying as close to shore as we can.

-the camera and movie camera are now very busy, recording our delight with this magnificent beauty.  As we are moving, a family of Otters swim within 20 m of us to say hello, all 5 sound their approval of us and off they go on their adventure.  The little one is thrilled to have seen this family. 

-we stop at a gravel area, flat with the water and a depth of 6 m.  I thought if in trouble we could put in here, then I realized a 1 m wave would crash into the wall.  Kathleen is busy looking for small pebbles, I take Kicking Frog and paddle out from shore about 200 m and take a few pictures of Kathleen against the wall.  I can hardly see her against the wall and cannot even get the top of the rock face in the picture.  Wow, incredible.

-we now are relaxed and continue on the full length of Isacor at a slower pace and just try to absorb what we are experiencing.

-arrive at False Dog Harbour safe and sound.  One of those other pristine camping stops, we have enjoyed this stop so much on our previous trips.  Same ole clear water, sandy beach, islands, ruggedness, oh how I will think and dream of this come winter and the city.

-lunch of ham roll-ups, nice dijon mustard, fudge, jelly beans, soup, cheese and crackers, and lots of fluids.

-must be time to set up and relax, oh maybe I should sleep for a while and the little one decides to relax and read about the coast.  Well 2 hours later there are chores to be done.  Water to pump, wood to collect for our fire, put gear away, food rope, oh busy, busy, busy.

-well time to eat again,soup,scones (baked) and tuna surprise.  Time for the fire and the accompanying hot chocolate, questions about our day, favourite experience of the day, Kathleen's is the otter family.  Mine is just being with her and all the joy we are having.

-then a motor boat shows up, anchors in front of us, comes ashore with their BBQ for their supper.  We are not overly friendly and go to sleep.  Yeh I know, we don't own the beach or the lake.

-we decide it has been such a wonderful day just being out here.

Day 13

False Dog to Dragon Fly Beach

-great sleep, not that difficult to sleep like we do up here.  Breakfast of strawberry pancakes, our favourite syrup and coffee.  Never get tired of our menu.

-everything wet again but no rain, must be a change in the weather.  Pack up and on the water at 8.35 and off we go to the real False Dog Harbour.  See a shack on shore and paddle by a rock face with writings on it dating back to 1938 to say how they had got caught out on the lake and had to spend days inside the harbour to be safe from the lake.

-again we are off for our next adventure--Dog River and Dennison Falls.  Words cannot describe the beauty and ruggedness of the hike to get back to the lower falls, the rope climb up a vertical wall and then a hike again to the upper falls, we wonder when all of this is going to stop.  The first time we came to the lower falls we did not realize there was an upper falls, so we just enjoyed the lower falls, lunch and all, and talked about it until Dave Wells asked us if the rope was still OK to get up to the upper falls.  Ever since we have not missed the climb up.

-the hike back in to the falls starts with a short paddle up the Dog River, we put in to shore at the rapids.  Cover our gear, take off the Tevas and put on our running shoes and off we go trying to find the rugged rough trail back in.  We make it of course, wow, make the climb up, hike over 50 m, wow.  We just stand there amazed at the spectacle, it must be 100 m high of power crashing volumes of water.  We hike around and start our climb up to the top of the waterfalls.  As we climb we feel and hear the power of the water.  Our voices cannot be heard by each other.  Two thirds of the way up we stop beside the falls and have our lunch.  The lunch tastes better today, hmm maybe something to do with where we are perhaps.

-we complete our climb, stand at the top, take lots of pictures and just hold each other and not say a word, our love grows because of what we sense being here.

-as we make our way back to the Kicking Frog we agree to come back.  At the put in we go for a swim and as we are drying off we look up and see two bald eagles.  Time to go, you never know about the changing conditions of the lake.

-we stop at the mouth of the Dog and the lake for a break before we get going.  Two motor boats are there, and a man who comes over  to say hi.  It is Joel Cooper from the MNR in Wawa up with his family for the weekend.  What a joy it is talking with him, very open with what his role has been along the coast and how important it is for everyone to keep this area as pristine as we can.  He confirms our sighting of the bald eagles and tells us where we can see their nest as we continue to paddle towards Michipicoten Harbour.

-Joel also shares with us that his wife is the chief naturalist for Lake Superior Provincial Park.  She has taken their family for the hike up to Dennison Falls.  A story to be told later about the people we have met on our trip.

-we say our goodbyes and away we go to Dragonfly Cove, just another one of those places we have been staying at.  However this one is, well, pretty nice, long long sandy beach, small island in front, clear water, facing west for the sunset as a backdrop.  Supper is special tonight, because this is our last night on this part of our trip.  All we have experienced is once again repeated and then bed time yipee.

-well almost repeated, the little one wakes me up at 12 am and says the zipper is caught because it is raining and pouring, lightning, and blowing up a big storm and she has tried to close the zipper to protect us and it has become stuck.  I did not even hear or sense a thing.  What a night, it storms, rains, blows, and is like a fire works display as the lightning flashes the inside of the tent.  And then of course the sounds of thunder.  I do fall asleep with no problems but Kathleen keeps waking me wanting company.  We feel very secure with each other in our home away from home.

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Day 14

Dragonfly Beach to Michipicoten Harbour  15 Km

-the storm lasts til 4 am, quiet peaceful sleep until we wake up.  Blue sky, calm water and no wind.  This will never happen again, or maybe it will.

-we pack wet, eat another great breakfast, enjoy our last morning and away we go.

-we make good time, a bit of a tail wind now.  We get to the harbour and decide to cross over rather than go around the shore.  A bit foggy but make the crossing quickly and smoothly and right on compass.

-once on shore we always hug one another, tell each other of our love and say how very lucky we have been.

In closing, we hope you have enjoyed experiencing our trip with us- we have a love for the outdoors, our environment, Canada, and each other. 

David and Kathleen Cranmer