|I think she went along with my idea because she worried that, otherwise, I might back out.We rented our canoe and after a halting committee meeting attended by ourselves, the outfitter, his son, his daughter and just about everybody else in the immediate area we managed to launch with what finally appeared to be a well balanced load. After only a few strokes it struck me that Shirley seem to be a natural with a paddle.|
|On one hand I took
comfort in the extra measure of stability our gear gave
us but I was distressed by just how low the canoe rode in
the water with the extra weight. As the white caps built,
I anticipated being swamped with each one.
Acting on Shirleys suggestion I paddled closer to the lee shore where the waves were reduced in size. As we progressed, what initially had seemed precarious became comfortable and we settled into a steady rhythm. This had a pacifying effect on both of us. Perhaps this was artificially enhanced by the noise of the wind and the waves, which wouldnt let us argue effectively.
|As I peered out
from under my dark helmet I encountered nary a sneer nor
smirk from the observers and I felt both proud of myself
and foolish to have ever worried about their impressions.
Shirley had set out before me with a pack and a few other items, which she had carried to the next lake. She then returned, meeting me at the halfway point on the trail. We had agreed earlier to share the portage so I slipped the canoe off of my aching back and rested it on the ground. I was just about to break into a long-winded dissertation on how to lift and carry a canoe when Shirley deftly leaned over and easily rolled the canoe onto her shoulders. Slack jawed and wide-eyed, I watched as she quickly disappeared down the path. I finally turned around to fetch the other half of our equipment feeling totally dejected but determined not to say anything to her. I had plenty of time to find a secure rationalization for myself and set about the task immediately.
At the far end of the portage we launched onto Little Joe Lake which is less exposed than Canoe lake and consequently less choppy. This easy paddling was offset not five minutes later when storm clouds started to move across the sky. We hugged the shore in anticipation of what was to come. The ensuing clouds darkened, which had us paddling harder, our eyes narrowing in hopes of making out a campsite marker along the shore. We rounded a small point and a perfect site came into view. It just happened to be vacant.
|Our mirth was short
lived, as we watched some others not quite so lucky. Two
fully loaded canoes drifted by the shore with the
occupants performing a frenzied tribal dance. Their
awkward movements were a result of a vain attempt to
paddle while simultaneously trying to protect their
exposed heads from the onslaught of the hail stones. They
sat extremely low in the water, which made us believe
that their canoes were filling like bathtubs. Shirley
repeatedly called out to them to take refuge with us but
the downpour drowned out her shouts.
After several minutes the storm passed and we marveled at the number of large ice pellets that covered our site. This certainly wasnt something we had anticipated and it was the main topic of conversation until Shirley discovered the bathroom.
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