Jun 18, 2011

Monsters on the Clearwater Loop

Me and the fellers got out to the beach yesterday, as it finally got above 70 and we all had the afternoon off. Great time. We met a few other fellow trail residents, including a couple with a big friendly black dog named Monster. All of us had a blast playing catch on the endless sandbar, and it felt like summer for the first time. 
Johnson Falls, cooking

A week earlier the majority of our Clearwater crew got the rare opportunity for a group camping trip in June, and with two nights on the table we set out on the Clearwater Loop - one of our most popular trips in the mountainous eastern boundary waters: Clearwater to Caribou, to Little Caribou to Pine (passing Johnson Falls) to McFarland, to John to Little John to the Royal River, to Royal Lake to South Fowl to North Fowl to Moose to Vaseux to Fan to Mountain and finally back into Clearwater. Although we paddled this route in June it had yet to feel like summertime in the northern wilds, with vicious winds peppering our faces as we looked across the water into Canada. But it was no longer springtime, either. The bugs were thick, the nights no longer cold. 
After work on Monday we set out on calmer waters, racing all the way to the middle of Pine, one of the biggest lakes in the region, finally securing a dynamite campsite on the north shore, which featured a huge granite slab on the shoreline. Once night fell, Martini led a fantastic craw-dad hunt amongst the rocks, and we managed to fill the kettle for a breakfast feast. 
I was feeling alive, like an animal, so I grabbed my sleeping bag and set up on the slab under the stars that night, the first time I've done that in a long time. Clear skies and the Milky Way running over my left shoulder, the sound of doomed craw-dads scratching at the pot to my right, I remember thinking, wondering, I guess, what the chances were that this was real... giggling...
In the morning the light was uncoordinated, probably because of the storm moving towards us.
We waited out the rain and ate tiny lobsters, then began a long day of paddling into the wind. For all of us, it was the first serious paddling of the year. By afternoon we had made our way out to the border lakes and into Moose, where turning back west, the waves worked with us.
Approaching a mild point, Erik proclaimed someone would catch a fish here, and sure enough, it was his trolling line that was soon crushed by a monster laker, which we later ate for dinner on Mountain.
 Tuesday night I was seduced into the art of hammockry, and I must say it was comfortable sleep-floating between two pines. Erik and Tori, also in hammocks, reported the sounds of a terrible attack on the Canadian side of the lake during the night.
They said it sounded like an animal had become a meal, screaming. 
The wind shifted back to the west on Wednesday, and we struggled home, sore and happy. Once unpacked we hit up Trail Center for Prime Rib Night and feasted ourselves, satisfied. Then it was back to work, and thoughts of new adventures...