We're camped on Biggar Lake, a few kilometres past the portage from Hornbeam Lake. It's the same site Debbie and I used when we stopped here at the end of a rather miserable day in 1995.
The site has an exposed rock point and a few good tent pads. It gets a lot of breeze and has shade, which is important on scorchers like this. Irene is suntanning nude (she has to be able to wear a low-cut dress in a couple of weeks and the tripper tan just won't do.) I'm trying to squeeze a few words onto paper inbetween swatting the ubiquitous blackflies.
A small chipmunk with a scraggly tail is nibbling the buds of a basswood plant just to my left. Poor sot. In bushcraft at camp they used to make us eat those things as part of our wilderness survival requirement.
I woke up this morning to a horrible sight: Irene, sleeping beside me, the left side of her face thoroughly covered in blackfly bites. I felt horrible. The whole Algonquin in June Kiosk route was my suggestion, and as a result, I'd maimed my girlfriend.
When she woke up, we had a good discussion about it. She reminded me that she was equally responsible for coming on this trip and that it was her choice to come here.
"Have you seen your face?" I asked, not quite sure if that would make her less equinanimous. She hauled out her emergency signal mirror gazed at the neo-chickenpox on her cheek and seemed utterly non-plussed.
"Actually, this isn't bad," she said, in her usual calm voice. "I spent two summers in the north and it was much worse. Actually I prefer blackfly bites because they don't itch."
Well, didn't I just feel like the urban boy piker camper. So anyway, she dispelled my big moment of despair with her calming, encouraging words and at around 7:30am we got up.
We had bottle-scrambled eggs and bread for breakfast. Recipie: crack eggs and place in nalgene bottle for transport. Add a touch of milk and shake bottle.) Good protein. Not for late in the trip. We cleaned, packed and were on the water by 9:30am. We decided to pack the tent in its constituent parts so that we could more evenly stuff the green pack. It worked a bit - we had a much less lumpy pack, and I was able to fit the tarp into it.
The lake was calm, windless and the sun was unhindered by clouds. So we drank water like fiends as we made our way down Manitou Lake. We met a couple of groups as we approached the portage, one heading from North Tea and another heading to North Tea.
The portage from Manitou to North Tea has a steep incline for most of its 410m. Then it slopes down (steeply for a bit) before the put-in.
We headed out onto North Tea, again calm and windless, and rounded a point into Mangotasi Lake which is Algonkian for "many crappy campsites here." Great moose country. We spotted three, including another cow/calf pair before we hit the portage to Hornbeam. We also got close enough to a heron to hear its wings beat as it alit.
The 140m to Hornbeam was uneventful. Hornbeam is teensy - barely worth naming. From Hornbeam it was 90m into Biggar Creek and then 240m from Biggar Creek into Biggar Lake.
The wind came up a bit on Biggar. But by then it was afternoon, after all. We hit the lake around 12:40pm. We got to our site about 40 minutes later.
We had lunch when we got to our campsite: cheese and salsa with olive and pickled eggplant on Bread and Roses bulletproof sourdough rye. Despite being leavened bread, it works out well. It's solid, healthy and hearty. We lazed around a bit, pumped water and watched this seagull do yoga on a rock, 20m off shore.
Things that would be good:
Or for the anticonsumerist who eschews material goods, we could have:
I don't know how we're going to pack stuff in Killarney
So we're in the tent. Have been since 8pm. The bugs are humming and smacking against the tent.
Dinner was couscous with curried vegetables and chickpeas. Very nice. And lightweight too.
We washed the dishes, Irene hung the food and we ran. We've harvested the theory that the chicken pock-making black flies can get in at the apex where the top door zipper meets the bottom door zipper. So we've plugged them with fabric (bandana, shirt) Wish us luck.