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Day 4

July 31st, 5:40pm, David Lake, site 100

We're facing east, on a point. Good swimming, good food hanging tree. Been picked over like crazy. We got up early this morning, - 6:30 - and left our Balsam Lake site by 8:30. We paddled to the portage into David and met the Tim Hortons Summer Experience people - who we could hear 2km and one bay away last night - at the portage.

You can't really keep kids from having fun in the woods, nor should you. And they were really respectul of us when we encountered them, I hasten to add. They were kind enough to let us through. Someone should give them lighter canoes. The were using these ABS whitewater beasts.

We did the 665m into David easily and were on the lake for around 10:30am. We paddled around David a bit to find many of the sites taken. I reckon we were actually there too early. Many groups were still having breakfast, sleeping or making to leave, so we didn't know which sites were actually free.

We battened down the hatches. It was looking like rain. With our food up in the tree, tarp well hung, we set off for Silver Peak, the trailhead for which was about 1km away from our site, across the lake.

The trail to Silver Peak crosses the portage into Boundary Lake. It's about a 6km hike, with an elevation gain of 530m. It crosses a ridge, then heads into a valley before ascending. You can hike it in running shoes, but light hiking boots wouldn't be overkill. We set off on it around 11:20.

We ran into two guys running it in full jogging regalia. As they hopped from rock to rock, they talked about people falling and all the accidents they'd seen. Imagine that.

The trail is more or less well marked with blue dots that have an arrow showing you "the true path." You cross a number of flat-ish rock faces where there's nowhere to put a marker. For this, various freelance trail makers have built cairns and pseudo-inukshuks out of chunks of quartzite.

Favour the markers over the cairns for you know not what the maker had in mind.

As it happens, there's one particularly useful rock structure, a huge horking arrow that helps you relocate the trail after crossing a ridge. It's been built up since the last time I did this trail. It's now about 60cm high. Hard to miss, unlike last time.

We got to Silver Peak around 1:20pm. Despite the haze (rain held off and we'd even seen sun on the trail) the view was beautiful. Irene said it was one of the most beautiful places she'd been. I'd have to agree. We had a few moments of solitude before the groups we'd passed on the way up (and some who'd started up afterward) arrived, including the camp group who'd passed by our site on Carlyle.

We stayed around for an hour and a half or so, had lunch and headed down. We were back at our site for 4pm ish.

We've been hanging out here for an hour or so and have watched a number of groups float by on a search for a campsite. With the park this populated, the pressure to have a down-to-the-site reservation system must be intense. It would have saved us some paddling today and yesterday, and may well save us some tomorrow.

On the other hand it does tie your hands. If you're in the middle of a long trip and someone hurts themselves, you can't stop for a day to let them recover without causing problems. And if you're tired, you can't quit any earlier than grabbing the first site you see on your reserved lake.

Tomorrow is the first of two big nasty days. 20 plus km of paddling and 5km of portages. Wish us luck.

Today's breakfast of seven grain cereal, aka Red River Cereal, aka birdseed stew was a real stove cooking marathon. It takes way longer than oatmeal. Irene prefers it. For my part I celebrate our diversity of opinion on this issue. Were it not for the birdseed stew, we would have been on the water by 8:00am. I choked it back (s'all yer gettin' dude) and off we went.

We picked blueberries on the way down from Silver Peak. Must find the definitive no-trace camping rule on that. Seems to me we're depriving wildlife of habitat. On the other hand, is it an an appreciable deterioration?

The question is: does it leave a trace? There were so many berries there, we figured "not."

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