Monday, August 24, 2009

Romaine River Trip - Sand

Sand was everywhere on the Romaine River,
whether we liked it or not!

We humans are finicky and temperamental - when its hot, we want it to be cold. When its cold, we can't wait for the heat. We are never satisfied unless its perfect, - even then! Being out in the wilderness far from many modern day conveniences, we are subject to the whims of nature. We try to prepare as best we can, but it doesn't always work out. Kind of like the first few nights of the trip. It was really cold. The temperature dropped below 5C and I was huddled in my sleeping bag rated to guess what?!,...5 degrees Celsius! Lovely! Didn't brilliant moi sleep in my underwear and T-shirt with no socks that night?! Even when the long johns, socks and fleece top was donned, I was still chilled. (Rob, you want to cuddle?) I wished it was warmer. Then fast track near the end of the trip where it was 21C in the friggin tent! It was a sweat lodge! I slept atop the sleeping bag with just my underwear! (Rob preferred that I keep them on) Yes, damn right I wished it was cooler!

We took the opportunity to climb a few eskers - the
sand was fine like talcum

The view from atop this esker was breathtaking!

Well, I admit, we were those temperamental humans, especially when it came to sand. It was definitely a love and hate relationship on this trip from the moment we were introduced! At first we loved the sand beach campsites. They were gorgeous, scenic, and great to camp on. It feels great under your feet, easy for digging firepits or inserting poles, comfortable to sleep/sit on, drain well, good to scrub pots with and even to draw on! (I will refrain from describing the images - lets just say it wasn't SOS!) There is no doubt sand gave us much enjoyment. Whether in the water or on land, we appreciated the textures, subtle shades, and the delicate forms resulting from wind and water action. Some of the many superlatives from this trip included the vast sand flats and eskers on this river. It was mind-boggling to see so much sand in the boreal forest! Who would have known that they co-exist? However, that's where the buck stops.

The sand helped us to identify the local
fauna - bear in this case

Digging fire pits in the sand for cooking over was
easy and very effective

After camping all of 3 nights on sand, it started to grate on us. (literally) When the rare opportunity presented itself, we sought out non-sand campsites as it got in anything and everything we had. There was no where to hide. We couldn't shake, wipe, blow or wash enough to get all the sand out. The rare time when you were dry you could shake most of it out, but some of it was as fine as talcum and it stuck to you regardless! And let me tell you, when it was wet, forget it! Mornings were the worst as it was regularly misty/foggy making most things wet or damp. I don't know why we bothered but if it was nice the previous day we'd dry everything and shake all the sand out. But come morning, we'd be back at square one! (we had to believe we were making progress) You just knew you were packing heavier that day with the combination of sand and water!

A great beach campsite with an amazing view!
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

The nice level sand flats were great for camping on!

Sand loves tents - especially the inside! It always seems that just when you were about to go in, they'd find a way to hitchhike in with you. Arrrgh! We'd all shake the hell out of the tents but it was useless. There was no way it was coming out. And if it did, you ended up with it in your hair, which ultimately ended back in the tent! By the way, shaking the tent is overrated. When you shake it, sand gets stuck in the damp mesh walls. Guess what rains in the tent when you set it up that evening and hit the tent wall trying to kill a mosquito?! There were also "sand" rules that we tried to follow in helping us deal with it, which included the obvious (not always!) such as closing your mouth and eyes when shaking things, walking downwind of the food, placing your gear on other people's stuff when packing, and not putting the toilet paper on the sand. Of course these only alleviated the problems temporarily. Unsurprisingly, sand even became part of our daily food group supplying many essential minerals and fiber! (I'm sure Health Canada doesn't know about this one!) There's nothing like a crunchy meal when the cook states that it shouldn't be!

How about a friendly competition of sand-pizza
flipping contest!

We'll admit, sand bottoms are much better to wade
through then rocks, mud, or bog!

It was the one battle we lost and admit we couldn't defeat. Its insatiable desire to be with us even out did the black flies and mosquitoes! Everything we packed whether we liked it or not, included the ubiquitous sand. As much as we loved it, we hated it and it was one part of the Romaine River trip we didn't want to take home with us.We dearly missed pine needles, flat rocks, and soil, but then again if that was all we had, we would want sand wouldn't we?!!

Sand - just one of the things that the Romaine River
will be remembered for!
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