Touring Temagami

Day 6

4:30pm, Monday August 1st, Diamond Lake

Well that was (is) spectacular. We've just witnessed (and still may be witnessing) the most amazing thunderstorm.

We arrived here at around noon, after setting out from Willow Island Lake at 8:20am. The sky had only the faintest smattering of clouds. It was sweltering.

The wind was blowing up from the south, however, which, as Ms Abs tells us, means rain.

We expected it would take much longer to get to Diamond Lake than it did. But we stopped anyway. We'd decided to push harder to be able to leave with more time to deal with a problem car. Now we were leaning towards coming home a day early. The rest of our journey was to be through beautiful territory, but too settled for our tastes.

We set up he tent and experienced the first signs of the impending storm. Clouds swarmed the sun and a smattering of rain drops hit us and evaporated on the sun baked rocks that made up most of our island site. But it cleared, and we went on with our lazy afternoon.

We put up the tent - more for shade than anything - and had lunch. Avocado and cheese quesadillas.

We looked up at some point (around 3pm maybe?) and saw the sky to the north had changed to a monolithic dark blue-gray, with tinges of purple. Whiter, fluffier clouds were poised closer, and higher up in the sky. The wind picked up. Diamond Lake began churning into a froth.

Then, fork lightning, at first to the north west, seemingly tens of kilometres away, if not further, proceeding east, in step with the gray-purple cloud mass.

Thunder rumbled across the sky, but rain never came. The north sky settled down. Meanwhile in our little microclimate, we were still sunny with cloudy periods, high near baking celsius.

Then a second wave of dark purple cloud formed across the north east. Again more fork lightning. Again it moved past us to the east. Our sun stayed.

"It's amazing that the sky and the lake is so big, so open that you can watch the weather happen somewhere else," I said to Irene, just as a curious band of white cloud, appeared close and low across the sky as though it came from a giant can of Reddiwhip.

Irene smiled as I verbalized this dopey analogy. "It's getting closer," she added.

Suddenly the wind changed direction, blowing in from the east. Our tarp undulated frenetically. The temperature seemed to drop several degrees. That spray of white cloud enshrouded the north shore of Diamond Lake and the wind, driving harder still, switched back and forth between east and north.

There were still more lightning forks - closer still - and suddenly rain. Big, heavy drops, then a curtain-like barrage, wind-driven to all but the south west corner of our tarp, where we huddled in our banana suits.

Diamond Lake was parading a relentless army of white caps southward, foot soldiers of the storm that was now most definitely upon us.

All of this took place in about an hour. We thought about the paddlers we'd seen heading in both directions - including one canoe with two very small children - and hoped they'd made it off the lake before things got squirrelly.

After about 20 minutes of pounding, driving rain, intense thunder and lightning, it stopped. First the rain slowed, then stopped. The sky cleared. The wind died. Diamond Lake calmed. The rocks of our site, still hot from the early afternoon scorching, were already dry.

Mind you, the sky to the north is going dark again and we continue to hear long, leisurely thunder rumbles across the sky, with the occasional fork of lightning. So we're likely in for more.

But that's not the reason we decided to go home tomorrow. No - this is a wonderful spectacle. We've got a busy schedule in town and we're longing for a little more time to get ready for our visitors. And our plan to stay on Ferguson Bay tomorrow night wasn't sounding too appealing. It's a busy lake and likely to be well-travelled.

The thunder is getting closer.

We set out this morning expecting a five or six hour trip including a dozen or so km of paddling and two portages adding up to a kilometre of schlepping. But it didn't take us anywhere near that long. I think we get faster as the trip progresses.

The portage from Willow Island Lake to the unnamed lake is fairly easy to find if you remind yourself that you're looking for a sock, not a yellow diamond. At 400m, it's positively Algonquin in its reasonableness, until the end when you experience another boulder-hopping descent (not precipitous but good footing is important).

The unnamed lake is a good one for spotting wildlife. We saw three otters and fresh tracks from a large hoofed animal.

The first few dozen metres of the portage from the unnamed lake to Lady Evelyn are along side a very mudy creek bed. Be sure not to be wearing your cricket ducks for this one.

Once you get away from the creek, this portage becomes more manageable. Marked at the west end with the traditional discarded sock, it starts to the right of the creek. The east end still has its marker.

9pm, the tent. Same place.

We got the grand spectacle a few minutes after my last entry. Rain so intense we had to shout to be heard. The entire lake disappeared into cloud but for ten or so metres off shore.

This rain would swamp a canoe in minutes, I would think.

The torrent slowed to steady rain and the wind died down enough for us to eat at around 7:30pm. Good timing. We were getting bored of my attempts to milk the tarp lakes for rainwater.

Dinner was a wonderful casserole of lentils, chick peas and rice with pesto and parmesan cheese. People think pesto is just for pasta. Well, Mike Jansen taught us different a few weekends ago. We used pesto in a tube. It worked. Also effective were the dried, cooked, then re-dehydrated lentils and chickpeas.

After dinner we watched the sun creep back into view and cast a perfect rainbow across the eastern sky. I doubt the pictures will do it justice.

Tomorrow we're headed home. While the weather spectacle got a bit tired after the first three hours, watching it unfold was a highlight of the trip for both of us.

stripslashes(Diamond Lake: storm coming)

Diamond Lake: storm coming

stripslashes(Cloud retreating from Diamond Lake after the grand finale thunderstorm. 6:30pm.)

Cloud retreating from Diamond Lake after the grand finale thunderstorm. 6:30pm.

stripslashes(Diamond Lake, 9pm, after the thunderstorm)

Diamond Lake, 9pm, after the thunderstorm