Moolight on Ferguson Bay


Ferguson Bay, Lake Temagami

So this is another kind of canoe tripping. I can't believe all the gear we have. It was all we could manage today to drive the six hours to Temagami and haul our stuff to the lake (about 600m). Three great big barrels of food, (that would be half a barrel each) one plastic box of equipment, another equipment pack, then everyone has their own gear (generally a huge knapsack each) and a smaller day pack. All this for six people. All I'm saying is thank God we managed to empty the big red Coleman cooler. Some nifty gear they have nowadays, though.

This means that one pass portaging is going to be a fond remembrance. But Dennis has a plan for that too.

I'm sitting here in front of the fire, swatting bugs, watching fire flies, and listening to the lake lap at the shore. It's beautiful but for the gated community on pontoons moored several dozen metres to the east of me. Dennis says a lot of people rent houseboats as an easy way to see the lakes.

Weather. Must talk about the weather. I wouldn't be human if I didn't talk about the weather. We arrived in a downpour. It had been alternating cloud and sun en route. Really demoralizing. I piled on my rain suit and stared in awe at all the gear. Can we fit all that into three canoes? No fucking way. Ah well. Trust in Dennis.

Dennis is the guide. He's got a lot of experience and he's quite good with a van and trailer to boot. Sensible, not macho, with a 'no heroes' approach to tripping.

The others? Hmm. First impressions? Snap judgements? Damning indictments? Perhaps not. Too early in the trip. How about just superlatives?

Dennis: guide. Works full time for the Ottawa Outing Club in the office. Grew up in the Temagami area. Now lives in Ottawa.

Luke: guide in training. Rugby player whose teammates call him "bun". E-mail him if you want to know what it means. Just finished high school. Gear-head. Lives to trip.

Andy: real quiet easy going guy. An e-business consultant. He's been on Outing Club trips before but I get the impression he's new to canoe tripping.

Richard: drives a bus for OC Transpo. Very outgoing type. Permanently happy and chatty. This enthusiasm will come in handy often (see: rain).

Diane: Owns a private day care in Hull. I think this is her first wilderness trip, but she's already got plans to take her daughter on a second one. Richard and Diane know each other from past outings with the club.

Chris: (it's only fair) How can a guy who always seems to be scowling make so many smart-ass remarks? Thirty-something web designer, works for a trade union in Ottawa. Used to do a lot of canoe trips.

Anyway, it's 11pm, the bugs are everywhere, and we've got a day of paddling and portaging ahead. Well, two portages, anyway: one is 800m, the other 75m. I say here and now that the 800m will take at least two hours. I just don't know how we're going to make it.


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