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Day 2 - Sunday 7/21/2002

6:00am

Everyone just sort of magically woke up.

3:40pm

So we've made camp on the Western Outlet, a few km (like maybe three or four) past Pig Island.

I had set my alarm for 7am, thinking that's what would be required for a 9am departure. We were out on the water by about 8:30 or so.

The sky was cloudy, with rain threatening from daylight. It was well-behaved until about 10am, I reckon, then it really started. I was relieved it held off until everything was safely waterproofed and loaded into the canoes. With camp set up, and in canoe-bound dry bags everything is relatively impervious to rain. It's just that window of vulnerability making and breaking camp.

Just after it started raining we were "greeted" by a park ranger who told us in a surprisingly sanctimonious tone that there was a total fire ban in the park. I think he must have figured us for the people who made the camp fire at the island just west of Hartley Bay. We said in all honesty that we hadn't seen any signs or notices about it and that the marina staff hadn't mentionned it.

He went on about these huge, eminently noticable signs and how it wasn't the marina staff's job to inform people but rather our job to inform ourselves insofaras we would be the ones paying the $190 fine if we were caught with a lit fire. Oh and I hope you have other means of cooking. I figured if we said "no" he wasn't going to lend us his peanut butter.

He motored off leaving us in the rain to paddle on, scraping away along the river against a rather aggressive wind.

March 19 2004: I got an email today from a woman who has a cottage in the area who quite rightly pointed out how important park rangers are and that the ranger I'm dissing above actually is a really nice person who's just seen too many dopey campers start wildfires. I can believe her and I take her point that paddlers can be obnoxious in their own special ways. For the record, I think parks need more rangers, but the rangers need better signage.

We ate lunch at around 11:30, putting up a temporary rain tarp which seemed like a lot of effort. But it was well worth it because it made the rain stop. Pickled eggplant and poppyseed cake highlighted a lunch of cheese (and salami) sandwiches with olives, lettuce, cucumber, roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes.

After lunch we paddled for a couple more hours before putting in on a windward beach, facing west. The wind is tugging at my anchor lines. The site itself is quite small. We're all in pretty close quarters, but apart from that, it's fine. Has a thunderbox, swim area, kitchen area -- all mod cons. No cedar bough broom though. We figure the wind will discourage the bugs. I hope it doesn't discourage us too. No cottages in sight. Feels like wilderness.

The rain and cloud have given way to sun. People are snoozing and Rick is putting up the bear hoist thing, which is neat. It's a collection of rope with pulleys to take the agony out of hoisting your food in a tree to prevent (or so legend goes) bears from getting at it.

It's funny feeling tired without feeling any tiredness in my legs. I'm so used to biking. My shoulder/collar bone was fine today - even after a full day. Or, rather, as good as it ever gets -- so that's encouraging.

10pm

I can't believe I decided to pitch my tent here. What a slant. It's ridiculous. Shit. Oh well. The mosquitoes have driven me indoors. A horde of dragonflies flitting about my head was inadequate to the task of taming the bug nuisance.

So dinner was pasta with tomato sauce and salad. Very nice. Everyone ate everything. Must have been the hard day's paddling. No fire, so we sat around and stared at where a fire might have been.

Where are all these mosquitoes coming from? They're in my tent, godammit.

Water level. I must talk about the water level. The French River has dropped about a metre in the last week. Apparently they want to keep more water in Lake Nippissing, so they closed the dam between the lake and the river. This can't be good for the ecosystem. As a result the entire shoreline looks like it's wearing a milk mustache from the residue of the recent high water. Sleep now.