Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Boldly going where I haven't gone before...day 1

July 28, 2016 - Lac La Peche, Quebec

Preparation                                     Day 2

There would be no rush to leave today. However I did have to be at LT's by 7:15 to pick up the canoe. I set my alarm and was up and there on time. As mentioned, I would be taking on all the tasks that LT does and I started off my day by doing something I have rarely done, lying on the ground on my back to hook the canoe tie down straps to the car's undercarriage. LT was in his work attire and I didn't think it'd be fair to expect him to do it. I did use one of the lifejackets to lie on because I'm a sissy like that.
Car parked and ready to go at my apartment
The second task I never do is drive the car with the canoe on it. We usually take my car when we go tripping, but LT does all the driving. This is probably the only time I have an advantage, being so much shorter, it's easier for me to see out the front windshield.

I picked Liz up shortly after 9. We made a stop at the Tim Horton's in Wakefield, coffee for Liz, tea for me. We continued on and were at the check-in around 10:30. We were the only party checking in today. That didn't mean there weren't already people camping. There were people on our spot who should be leaving by 11:30. It was suggested that we not try to get to the spot before 12:30. He gave us a map and showed us where the site could be found.

I asked about bear sightings so far this summer and there had been none. And BTW, he said, there's a food hanging station. What???? This was one LT task I was not looking forward to. And I had a station to use? No tree branch to find? Wow, this was going to be easy. So easy, stupid me, I left the ziploc bag with the paracord and the pulley in the car because - hey, I don't need that! When in fact I still needed the paracord. Oops.

We took our time unloading the canoe off the car, repacking some of the bags before putting all the gear into the canoe. Here is Liz waiting for me to get in the canoe.

"Are you in yet?"
The canoe is pointed in the direction that we're not going. We needed to do a hard left coming off the beach. It's a nice big lake though. And again, another LT task I'm doing here, sitting in the back and steering. Not my forte, but I did it.

There were a couple of motorboats being used by staff. There were a team of guys cutting down trees at campsites. I was a bit nervous when the boats would go by and create a wake for us. Liz was awesome in the canoe, very stable, a constant paddler and she never, ever complained about being tired of paddling.

It took us 45 minutes to get to our site. As we rounded the pennisula we ran into a group of about 4 or 5 canoes loaded with people and gear. I asked the first canoe if they were coming off site 6A and they confirmed that they were. Perfect!

Here's where the campsite placement differs from anywhere else I've seen. As we got closer to the shore, all we saw was a sign saying "6" with a tent underneath it. No letters. Hmmmm. It was a lovely landing, a sandy put in, with stairs going up to the path. 

We landed and got out to check things out. It turns out the campsites are in clusters, each one in our area very easily visible from the other. There were 4 in total, 6A to 6D. We had 6A, closest to the water. 
Best parking spot for 6!
We looked around and there wasn't anyone else there. We had the whole area to ourselves. And as I had been told there wasn't anyone else checking in today, no one else would be arriving. Nice!

Something I didn't notice in the paperwork was that firewood is supplied to the campsites. I've never seen this before either. This was great, I didn't think there'd be much deadwood to scrape together for a fire.
Help yourself!
I think Liz was a bit confused over my excitement over this next item:
The Food Hanging Station!
It was a bit hard to photograph. Along the top bar there are hooks on both sides. If you look closely you'll see the long bar hanging down closer to the right side. That's the pole you can use to help hang your food bag. From the looks of it, the chipmunk problem is probably greater than any other animal. And that we could cope with. Those guys are as cute as pie. Well until you catch them red-handed.
We set up the tent, unpacked the gear, set up the bug tent, which we never used because there was only one large fly that had adopted us. Here is where I discovered that LT's height is a requirement to get the bug shelter hung at the right height. 

We stopped at this point and ate the lunches we brought. I had some hummus with carrots, Liz brought bagels with her hummus. 

Another discovery, all these sites were served by a modern outhouse. Granted it was probably stinkier than a fresh air thunderbox, but with everyone having a line of sight to each other, the privacy was required. Also we shared this outhouse with the 3 campsites in the 7 cluster. They were around the other side of our pennisula.

The next LT task was to go out in the canoe and fill the dirty bag with lake water. Liz and I would be in an empty canoe, less stable. And the dirty bag holds about 12+ litres of water, which would weigh about 25 pounds. As Liz slowly paddled forward, I held the bag underwater, then struggled to get it closed before lifting it into the canoe. I had planned on possibly dragging it behind the canoe in the water tied up with an extra yellow rope we had, but that wasn't necessary. And Liz expertly balanced the canoe while I did the lifting. I did get her to carry it up from the canoe to the campsite for me. 
There are probably 8 litres in it now
I set up my relaxation hammock and after a bit I took a break in it. No bug netting needed.
Before supper we went for a paddle up to the top of the portion of the lake that we were on. If you look at the map on the previous post you'll see it's almost Y-shaped. And we were on the left upper section of the Y.

There were a couple of abandoned cottages on a tiny island near the top. I'd have to check out when I got home if there were roads into that area. There were also a couple of buildings on the shore nearby, also abandoned. I imagine that these were here before the Gatineau Park took possession of the land and the cottages were probably allowed to stay for a portion of time, which has now passed.

My father was telling me a story of how he'd come up to this lake as a young man to visit some people that farmed on it. He had come with his brother and his brother's girlfriend to pick blackberries that were very abundant. However black snakes were also abundant and he said he had to check every berry to make sure he wasn't grabbing the head of a snake. Ewwww! I was able to tell Liz the story as she loves frogs and snakes, it wouldn't bother her. I was mostly curious about the history of the lake and how it'd been used in the past.

Dinner was lasagna with banana bread pudding for dessert. I made a fire, although we weren't using it to cook with. I had brought LT's saw, which was handy in cutting some smaller branches we found on the ground to use for kindling. I didn't have a hatchet. Fires are part of LT's task list too. Probably because he enjoys making them. 

My not-too-shabby fire
The Gatineau Park has some pretty nice grills as part of their fire pits. They are a separate part of the pit, along the back, with a metal ring if you want to put charcoal in, and the grill has two handles that look like you can handle them if the grill is hot, with 4 settings of how high the grill is from the fire.
I had seen the same setup at the Lac Phillippe campground the previous week when I visited my sister and her family there.

To set up the bear bag I ended up using an extra yellow nylon rope that LT has stuffed in our safety kit for the canoe. I tied it to my extra large caribiner and that worked perfectly.

We wandered around on the flat rocks at the waterfront. And the sunset was spectacular.

Shortly after 9 we decided to go hang out in the tent. It's so big compared to what I'm used to having during canoe camping, we probably could have had lawn chairs inside!
My bed for the night
And last, but not least for today, something I have never done, is sleep without the fly on the tent! This tent has a lot of windows. It felt pretty warm when that decision was made. I woke up at 12:30 a.m. and had to go to the bathroom. When I lay back down on my mattress, I could see up through the big window on the back of the domed tent and see stars twinkling through the treetops. I would not be worried about any bears tonight.

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