I took this past Friday off and packed up my newest camping equipment along with an eager beagle and drove off after waking up at 5:30. After driving about 380 km, after picking up a fishing license in Barrie and the last bits and pieces at a Sobey's grocery store and Canadian Tire, I was on my way. I rented a solo canoe which was incredibly light -lighter than the 2 man job I carried for about 4 km last September - this one would have been a breeze. Made of Kevlar, so it likely would have been a little bullet proof, if the chipmunks got a little out of hand. I plopped Monty into the canoe, who squeaked as much as he could to protest his watery imprisonment, and padddled on down the river, out into the lake, and made a beeline for a set of islands on the opposite end of the lake - about 45 minutes away by one-stroke engine (ha, I made that joke up just now).
When I made camp, I sat for a moment in my folding chair and thought about what to do. I cooked up some curried-rice and grilled a steak over the fire, and shared the steak with Monty who was very helpful in reminding me that I had some left on my plate whenever I looked away from him.
Then it was 1:00 PM and I listened to the CBC on my Grundig shortwave/fm/am wind-up radio powered by AA batteries - why wind it up when it can use batteries instead? I read my book for a while in my chair, gathered fire wood, discussed chipmunks with Monty, and hours passed, and I got hungry again.
Since I had left my new fishing rod at home for some reason or another, I figured catching a fish was out of the question. But then I remembered Ray Mears saying a rule of bushcraft is to make the tool that you need. So I got some kitchen cotton string, a dead pine sapling, trimmed it, tied a 15 foot length string to the end, a hook and fake wriggly salamander lure to the end and threw it in the water.
That is, I threw it, instead of casting, because it all bundled up and landed by my foot. So I tried again, with a long, graceful swooping movement, and the salamander dipped under the surface and vanished about 12 feet away and 4 feet down, over the edge of a dark rock in the lake.
I looked carefully at the rod I'd crafted with my hatchet and shifted my feet and all of a sudden felt an insistent, almost anxious tugging on the string. I yanked the rod, and pulled up a 4 foot, 120 lb bass (see image below, some numbers have been exaggerated).
After cleaning it, I threw it in a firepan with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked it up over the fire. Beer and pan-fried fish - perfect. Monty had some too, after reminding me that I had some left over.
He settled down on a blanket with his stuffed toy (important for comfort) and all the while kept an eye on the chipmunk territory in the woods, taking off after them every so often with a smile on his face.
I wandered the edge of the island where I was from time to time, and found thick growths of soft lichen on the granite, and was followed by my trusty canine companion. He kept watch over the island - climbing like a mountain goat up the steep cliff around the camp site.
The first thing I noticed about the camping spot as I pulled in with the canoe were the blueberry bushes, small, but covered with blueberries.
I picked a few for snacks and on Saturday morning made blueberry pancakes. Very good. Scrambled eggs and tea accompanied the pancakes. Nothing better for breakfast.
The early morning sun warmed up the island - weather was perfect, warm in the day, cool in the evening.
Monty had a great time, and snoozed when he could, but also kept a close eye on the chipmunks as much as he could.
One evening I made a lantern out of pine pitch, a branch and some spruce roots. It burned for several minutes in the blackness, and illuminated the site clearly.
When I returned, Spring told me that she'd be up to going camping the next time I went - so we'll all be going up in August some time!
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