OUR DESTINATION was JUST a 9-hour drive to upper Ontario from Boston, then a half hour on gravel, then another hour on rutted wandering dirt roads,

and from there It would take us 3 days, 8 lakes and 7 portages to get into our destination, radiant lake, a lake of true beauty and peace.

My wife and I have been wilderness canoer's, we had 5 kids, 3 now grown but we wanted to show the beauties of it all to our last 2 kids, Heather and little Tommy,

Get away from cars, roads, city lights, Show them the

  • wonder of a moose and calf munching of greens by the shore,
  • A mother loon with paddling on the water with a baby chick riding on her back
  • Or sitting by a camp fire and watching the Northern lights in the night sky

The best way to do that was to go North, way way up North.

Finally getting there, put the 2 canoes in the water and opened up the car and took a look at all of the stuff, We’re old hands at this, but it was new to the kids, so We also wanted it to be comfortable, so we packed a lot, a really lot of a lot of extra gear you normally wouldn’t bring on this kind of trip.  Putting the Canoes into the water, I heard from behind me:

Then I heard “Daddy, Can I help” I said “Its Ok, we’ve got this, just enjoy the day

And proceeded to, Put the stuff for Paddling, stuff for sleeping, stuff for cooking, and stuff for fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lanterns

Paddled across the lake to a Portage, Up north, portage is a trail between lakes (makes it sound nicer since you have to hike all your things across to the next lake and it will take 3 trips, that’s 5 hikes. It’s also called a “Carry” in Minnesota named probably after the carry of the 80 pound, 17-foot canoe’s, balanced painfully on the center wooden bar across your shoulders across to the next lake!

So I Took out the stuff for Paddling, stuff for sleeping, stuff for cooking, and stuff for fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lanterns

Dad can I help? It’s ok dear, just look for fish. And carried it all across to the next lake,

Then Put the 2 canoes into the water, Put the stuff for Paddling, stuff for sleeping, stuff for cooking, and stuff for fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lanterns, Tied it all in and paddled across the lake, where we came to a PORTAGE

Where we Took out the stuff for Paddling, stuff for sleeping, stuff for cooking, and stuff for fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lanterns

Dad can I help? It’s ok dear, just look for fish.

Put the 2 canoes into the water, Put the stuff for Paddling, stuff for sleeping, stuff for cooking, and stuff for fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lanterns

When we finally got to our Island camp site, we where exhausted, That night we crashed early, looking across the tent at each other my wife and I said a silent “having fun yet” and fell to sleep.

After a few days of this, we got to the biggest of the portage, And Paddle across the lake to the Portage.  Unload: the stuff for Paddling, sleeping, cooking, and fun like screen house, chairs, board games and lantern

Father let me help? – its ok, just look for some frogs

Put the canoe on my shoulders It was the first hike across with the canoes, and stairing only at my feet and murdering, “having fun yet” and the trail took a sudden left turn and went down a hill, Picking up speed with the 17 foot 80 pound canoe, started trotting, Then the trail took a sudden right,

BOOM, WAM !!

The bow of the canoe hit an oak tree, the sound magnified by the empty space around my head,

§  And pushed the canoe off of my shoulders and WAM down on my head,

§  I crumpled, driven to the ground,

§  And then fell off the trail down the hill,

§  And rolled and rolled my head thumping around inside the canoe

o   I sat up,

§  the sound must have been heard for miles, looking up I saw my family, very concerned, many miles and 8 lakes and 7 portages from an hour and half of dirt road.

 

The Headache

·      I said I was ok, but getting a headache

·       

 

That Night Wandering around with a massive headache trying to setup camp, Oh bother, in the wilderness it is very important to hang the food away from camp and 10 feet up and 10 feet from a tree. Wandering around followed by my daughter we looked for a good tree

o   FLASH, POUNDING, VISION GONE,

Up a hill, there was one, with a large branch hanging off of a cliff over the lake, not high, but well off the cliff and over the water, good enough

o   FLASH, POUNDING, VISION GONE,

Had to find a rock to tie to the rope to through over the branch, there was one at my feet, bent down to tie it on

o   FLASH, POUNDING, VISION GONE,

Straightening up , wondering what I was doing, had to recheck, yes the rock was tied on, started swinging the rock and rope to toss over the branch,

o   FLASH, POUNDING, VISION GONE,

Ooo, it hurts, what was I doing, oh the rock rope, what could I be forgetting, .. did I secure the end of the rope so that it doesn’t shoot over the branch and disappear into the deep black waters at the end of the cliff. Bending down I saw a small tree, I’ll tie it off to that

o   FLASH, POUNDING, VISION GONE,

Straightening up, oooo, it hurts, what was I doing, what could I have been doing, Shine the light up on the tree,

o   But Dad I can do that,

I need to see the branch

o   let me do that!

!!Just shine the!!

She interrupted me, Should you have . .  tied the rope to your ankle?  Looking down, I had missed the tree and tied the rope to my ankle, the rope with the rock, that I was just going to toss over the branch, over a cliff, over black deep lake water, A shudder of cold fear and sweat ran down my back..  

Handing the rope to my daughter, I agreed, she was in charge now. And she had no problem, got it on the first try, She Led us back to camp through the woods, And started the fire, set out the chairs, make the hot co-co,  I take more migraine meds and sit down, it’s been a hard day, but..  Back at the camp, relaxing and watching the fire’s sparks rise up to meet the stars in the sky(and not in my head), the northern lights, Green, Red and Gold ribbons shimmer and wave in the sky, and reflect off the lake, I looked across the fire at my Responsible, -PAUSE-, thoughtful, -PAUSE-, Intelligent, -PAUSE- – - -!! 12year old pre-teen !! and thought,

Sometimes it takes a real whack to the head

        To see our loved ones for who they really are!