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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through May 30, 2017 * Sturgeon River Trip < Previous Next >

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fireman
Member

Post Number: 208
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 6:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I find myself reading the posts on this forum and being taken with the genuine passion and love of canoeing and the wilderness shown by members of this site.It, wilderness canoeing, remains one of the few things that can still excite my imagination at the beaten down old age of 54.
I think, perhaps, the edges of my soul have been somewhat worn thin by my career and the press of humanity.
I must say that when I observe the numerous homeless people sleeping along the sidewalks of downtown Toronto and the ensuing discussion, the irony that I choose to head north and sleep outside with little more than a sleeping bag strikes me more and more.
Not to trivialize the plight of the homeless, but I can guarantee anyone who asks that those folks are not fretting over rising interest rates, a dandelion invasion of their lawn, nor about the internal politics of the work place.
Urban Camping? Maybe.

For me and a few close friends who have been canoeing together now for nearly 20 years (probably close to 100 trips), we will head up on Labour Day to the Sturgeon River crossing at Gervais Road, send our vehicle south to the Lakeland Lodge Parking Lot, and head down the Sturgeon one more time. But not the last.
We are off to commemorate the destruction of my lovely Swift Yukon that the River Gods consumed last fall.
I do not imagine we will find any remains unless it happened to wash up on the islet just downstream. But who knows.
After meeting Bucky at the lodge and describing our trips, his comment stuck with me. He was very impressed with where we had travelled and how far we could go in a day. But he remarked that perhaps we should be taking more time to simply be in the wilderness. more time for fishing, exploring, etc. It seems like obvious advice, and yet, every year we have pushed ourselves to cover as much distance as we could.
I am not sure if it is just the way we Westerners tend to be, or maybe we started out this way and have never really done it different.
So, we will try to take a more relaxed approach this time.
Twin Falls for two nights, Kettle Falls..we have nine days to make it back to Wanapetei. I am not sure how many times we have descended the Sturgeon. a Dozen, perhaps?
The goat path portage at Kettle Falls remains for me the measure of a real paddler. I know it is not fair to say so, but if someone can take a pack and a canoe up or down that trail in one go and still be breathing at the other end....well, that is the person I want to paddle with.

When we get to Pilgrim's Triangle, we will take some time so I can describe properly to my friends (who were not with me last year) just what happened.
I do not know why it is, but that location feels jinxed or haunted. too many trails, leading to too many places. Or maybe it is just me.

anyway, to all of you paddlers heading out this summer and fall, I salute you all for keeping the spirit of our past time alive and well.

And it would be unforgivable to wax poetic here without a major shout out to Brian and the cartographic miracle he has wrought. With the help of others, I am sure. But nothing brings more peace of mind than those maps.
So thanks.
And if anyone reading this is on the Sturgeon from Labour Day onward, look for us and come for a snort of Scotch, or whatever we have left.

it is a beautiful day in downtown Toronto. The Jays have won another game, there is a beer festival at Dundas Square, live music on the corners and the bars are full of happy smiling people.
But I would much rather be looking out on to Ghoul Lake and gathering firewood.

JR
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1750
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2016 - 8:37 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

It makes all the hours, both in Temagami and on the computer, worthwhile to hear how useful the maps have been to them. Thanks, Brian.
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eddy_turn
Member

Post Number: 88
Registered: 03-2011


Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2016 - 2:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for inspired and inspiring words, Firemen. The Sturgeon and its falls become among most treasured memories in my life, as Brian's maps become part of Temagami as I know it.
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 411
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2016 - 1:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Fireman, I think you're onto something with that parallel between homelessness and the real, all-on-your-own (no backup and no easy outs) experience of wilderness canoeing.
When I was much younger and the world was a much cheaper place to get around and survive in, I did a lot of travelling (as well as simple transport from place to place) by hitchhiking. The wonderful thing about that mode of travel was that you never knew what you were in for or where you'd end up that night. Maybe trying to sleep in some suburban bus shelter, or in the bushes, or in some hospitable soul's apartment or house. There was a big element of risk involved, and bad experiences did sometimes happen, but the reward far outweighed all of that.
By the early 90's it got too expensive for me to travel that way, and the world changed anyway- people became too fearful to pick up hitchhikers for one thing. That's a highly ironic statement by the way from te hitchiker's point of view!
So (thank God and Hap Wilson!) I turned to wilderness canoeing, which luckily I'd been trained to do at "camp" in the late 60's. And that is the ONLY activity that to some degree replicates all that hitchhiking experience, and generates comparable bittersweet memories- the only kind worth having in my opinion.
I don't think we are meant to go through life worrying about the dandelions on our lawn. In fact we are hard-wired to be nomadic creatures, totally dependent on the weather, on circumstance (i.e. luck) and occasionally the kindness of stangers (or the opposite!!) to get through it all.
With you, I don't want to relativize the horribe realities faced by homeless people in this homeowner's society, I just agree and want to acknowledge that there's a dimension within all of us that can cope with, and whose natural condition is, homelessness.
And just possibly that's one of the reasons all the people on this forum put ourselves through this crazy **** and keep coming back for more.
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mcon99
Member

Post Number: 11
Registered: 02-2015


Posted on Friday, June 24, 2016 - 7:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

fireman,

If your going to be at the Gervais crossing on the Monday of Labour Day weekend we might just see you. We'll be arriving there sometime between 4pm and 6pm, to camp the night in the gravel pit before heading to Scarecrow the next day.
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fireman
Member

Post Number: 209
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Friday, June 24, 2016 - 10:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hitch hiking has been rendered socially unacceptable due to mass paranoia, fear mongering and bad teen scream movies.
It was simply what people did and it was not an "issue". Women were warned to be careful and a lot of people saw a lot of this and other countries. And the boogey man that abducted young innocents never existed in any real way.
Not compared to social media crimes or even traffic deaths due to texting. And yet,no one does it anymore. Because we do not trust one another. it is very sad and results in more cars on the road, fewer unexpected adventures and less social interaction.
As a soldier, hitching was really the only way to get anywhere. But that was a mellenium ago.

Where i live, there are foreign workers who come to harvest apples. They are picked up regularly by all the locals. So I guess it still lives in some ways. but the hordes of youth with backpacks travelling our highways are no more.
I give credit to my older brother, 56, and riding his bike from Grey County to Vancouver. Camping along the way and meeting people in every town. finding a lot of angels along his trail, too.
I'll look for you guys on Labour Day, 99. Enjoy the summer.
JR
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 414
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 1:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Picked up a hitchiker about 2 yrs ago and drove him from Creemore to Wasaga Beach where he lived.
He was about a 70 year old guy and let us know that he had been told to "move on" by the police around Creemore, which is where his daughter (who sounded like a piece of work, frankly) lived. That was literally the last time I've seen anyone hitchhiking!
Sic transit gloria mundi

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