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Day 4 - Tuesday 7/232002

5pm, Obstacle Island, Georgian Bay

This is our site for a day and a half. Possibly two days.

We got up at our habitual 6am. Robert's very creative breakfast of rehydrated sweet potato and scrambled eggs hit the spot. After a brilliant sunset, moonrise and sunrise, we had high meterological hopes for today. Despite an early cloud over we were not disappointed.

We saddled up a bit after nine. Rick paddled solo, Denise and Robert paddle with Leo as a form of self-loading cargo in Robert's extra-hefty canoe which we lovingly call the bathtub. Bruce and Christine. Me and Denise, Helmut and Fred.

We started out with a bit of a thrill, shooting the Devil Door rapid. It was, in truth, not much of a challenge. Beyond "Point at the V, go straight, keep the dancing to a minimum," there wasn't much to it. We paddled around to pick up the heavy stuff. We didn't want to risk tipping or taking water with too-heavily-laden canoes. Then we headed off down some channel or other. It got quite shallow and we had to do a couple of liftovers and a couple of really short portages before we were at Georgian Bay.

The winds were stiff, but the waves were relatively small, which is good because as a group we were not at our paddling best. We weaved through some islets and channels, stopping for lunch off Sabine Island. We reached obstacle Island, our destination for the next day or so around 3:30pm. Rick, I imagine, had a tough paddle, with his canoe being blown around like a leaf in the wind.

Denise and I had a comparatively easy time of it. We had the 17 foot canoe filled (albeit flat) with stuff, so we were a harder target for the wind to move or turn.

Our site is nice, lots of places to swim, explore, paddle about etc. It's atop a small hill but with some shelter. If it stays sunny, I won't mind the rather ho-hum tent pad I have.

The club -- or maybe it's just this group -- has a thing about tent sites. When we hit camp, people spring forth from their canoes, leaving them loaded and just nudged ashore. They tear up to the site and throw down some article of clothing or equipment wherever they think will be a suitable tent site. It's just a little too chaqu'un pour soi for me.

At camp, the rule was always unload and secure the canoes, carry food and equipment up to the kitchen and then race for tent pads. I remember even telling one group of kids they had to forfeit their tent pad because they'd claimed it before "the trip" had been taken care of. Ah well. What are you gonna do? I just join the frenzy.

Also odd is the individualization of portaging and water filtering. At the portages, each canoe is responsible for moving its contents across the portage. And everyone brings their own water filter. There's no attempt to organize things so that they work best for "the trip."

At a certain level, given how much stuff people bring, it makes sense. Almost everyone has these 140L Black Feather canoe packs -- which should fit two or so people's stuff -- packed full just for their stuff. There are a few of these metal frame folding chairs that are just silly at festivals and over the top on canoe trips, if you ask me. Mind you, I'm sure people are just packing for comfort because we have no real portages. The YCCC system says: "Bring your brick collection. Fine. Just put it in your canoe so I don't have to carry it."

But there are injustices. Denise, for example, has serious limits on what she can carry. And "our" canoe -- the 17 foot one -- had four packs and its various flotsam and jetsam. Not all of it was our stuff, because Rick's solo canoe was almost empty and Robert and Denise were "carrying" Leo, who could presumably portage himself. So I made five trips across each portage today, each with a heavy pack or the canoe.

A more sane system would have pooled the equipment so that Denise could take all the group's small stuff and others could have taken more of the heavy stuff. All would have had as much as they could reasonably handle (by their own estimation) and we would have gotten across the portage faster.

For such short 'tages it's splitting hairs -- and wasn't I complaining yesterday about how languid this trip was? -- but I have to wonder how this system works on longer portages.

With the water filter stuff it's wierd. I imagine the club has filters, but they're probably often in bad repair, so people stop using them and bring their own. It means the cost (in terms of time and equipment purchase) is borne by individuals. And we have too many filters. Sure it avoids arguments over iodine vs ceramic etc etc, and it's one less thing for the group leader to worry about, but we share responsibility for food preparation (there's one stove for the group) why not water?

The other thing is people are just more familiar with their own gear. Rather than rent a club stove, Rick brought his own (two burner Coleman metal box) for that reason.

10pm

Well, we're consistent. At least when it comes to bed times. I have a bad sunburn on my hands. We had more of Robert's home-made dehydrated camp food. It was good. I had the corn-cheese bake which I enjoyed. The carnivores had a lima bean and sausage casserole. I know. It sounds like punishment for something, but they all said they liked it. Denise made delicious baked apples with a rather interesting looking collapsible oven that Robert put over his Whisperlite stove.

Tomorrow is a layover day. Farting around and maybe a day trip. Dunno.