Monday, July 25, 2011

Premature-'Circumnavigation' of Franklin Island

Franklin Island is not only a treat for paddlers, but
photographers as well, as there are
endless possibilities.

As you all know, I don't do trip reports. No day by day play of when I got up, what I ate, where I buried my 'nuggets', how far I paddled, and where I camped. Could you imagine how much I would have to write, besides the repetitive nature of each day? What I do like to write about is the unique things that happen on trips that may entertain or amuse my readers. Many times it has centered on me, but other times I like to focus the attention on someone else, like Lynne.

There are 2 places to access Franklin Island, either from Snug
Harbour or Dillon. We opted to set off from
the public docks at Dillon.

Lynne is an experienced paddler which I met online. I needed a whitewater partner for a river trip this year and found she had done some decent trips on rivers such as the Esagami in northern Ontario, the Wind in the Yukon, and the Dumoine in Quebec. Ideally, I would have preferred to paddle some whitewater in the spring with her, but was too busy and couldn't get out. So, with the Coulonge River trip coming up, (which she committed to) I wanted to at least get out for a short trip together to size each other up. Ideally, it should have been a river trip, but since it was only us, we decided last minute to just circumnavigate Franklin Island on the recommendation of another paddling friend. I figured with her experience, we would gel pretty quickly.

Lynne made an amazing chicken satay dinner the first night.
And no, the chicken wasn't rehydrated, it was
the real stuff! Yum!

The irony with Lynne is that she is a writer and photographer, like me. Normally she writes about the quirks and whims of other people she has paddled with, including snapping photos of them. Well, the roles reversed on this trip as she was being photographed and scrutinized by moi for interesting subject matter. It was amusing as we both threatened to write about each other, but unfortunately she had a hard time finding anything of interest to write about me. Unlike me, it was like I hit jackpot. I couldn't keep up with the barrage of stuff to write about her! Yes, she moaned a lot when she realized the roles had changed on this trip and for once, she would be the subject.

I'm sure someone was just bored, but I have to say, this thing
really looks odd. Almost Stonehenge-like. (Them aliens!)

Now I have paddled with many people, from the greenest of the green, to those more experienced than I. Everyone including myself have things about them that are odd, peculiar, or just different. Really, what is normal? Also, when you've tripped for many years, you adopt certain habits and routines or do things a certain way to suit your needs, such as Lynne having breakfast the first moment she gets up. For that reason alone, we decided to bring our own breakfast, no problem. (I usually like to have a hot drink first, and then have breakfast later on.) Also, she is like clockwork when it comes to brushing her teeth after every meal, which for the most part is no problem. Except when she pulled out her toothbrush inside the tent after breakfast one morning! Yes, it was pouring outside, but couldn't she just wait, or skip it altogether for once?! She claims she doesn't usually do that,...right! The clincher was when she popped her tooth brush back in its case unrinsed and didn't bother rinsing her mouth out! Yeah, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets - but that's Lynne.

Franklin Island has lots of sand beaches. It really is a slice
of paradise. Luckily we didn't have to contend
with many weekend campers.

I like to look over a route before heading out on a trip, but since the decision to paddle around Franklin Island was last minute, I didn't have much information on it or a map for that matter. Since Lynne lives close by Toronto's MEC, she graciously offered to get a map for the trip. I decided due to her experience and the fact she said she was "good at navigating", I would for once leave it to someone else. So off we went on that lovely day from the dock at Dillon with Lynne in the stern. We stopped a couple times for short breaks, to take photos, and to explore the numerous beautiful coves and beaches. I asked her unassumingly where we were a couple times when we stopped, just to get a gauge of our location, (This is normal, is it not?) especially since there were islands everywhere and it could get confusing real fast. She would reply vaguely that we were "somewhere on the map". A little bird was twittering loudly in my head, but I decided to just let it go.

As small as Franklin Island is, it was logged too! The loggers
really left no stone unturned. Evidence found both
in the water and on land.

From Dillon, we were to head west across the north end of Franklin Island, then paddle south along its western edge. Somewhere along its western side, we were supposed to set camp for the first night. Then we were supposed to continue to the SW end of the island before turning east along the south end towards Snug Harbour. Lastly, we would then turn back north along the eastern edge of the island and spend our last night close to Dillon. Simple enough, but that wasn't how the trip turned out.

More than a decade of hard use and I never once blackened
my stove,...until now. Lynne apparently has a
track record with white gas stoves!

We spent the first day leisurely exploring the west end of the island as we paddled along at an easy pace. However, when the landscape opened up to the south of us and we started turning east while following the shoreline, I questioned whether we had already paddled the west side of the island. She quickly rebuffed my suggestion and stated we couldn't have finished so soon. She surmised it was probably just a big bay we were seeing in front of us. We were obviously now heading east, (which I confirmed with the compass on my watch) and I again questioned her since I could now easily see the mainland. Her second response was much more muted this time, as she looked intensely at the map trying to locate ourselves. As we drifted, she finally conceded that I could be right. I asked for the map and quickly determined our location and figured we had paddled 2/3's of the island in just over 3 hours! We were both very surprised, but I think I was even more surprised by Lynne's navigational skills. She did state she was good at navigating. (?!?)

We took every opportunity to explore the mesmerizing
shoreline. Lines were leading everywhere!

In the end, there was no harm done, but the incident certainly had me questioning my assumption. We ended up staying 2 nights at the same campsite, which worked out great as a big storm hit us the next morning. The wind and rain, combined with the big rollers coming in was not ideal paddling conditions in an open canoe. As we hunkered down in the shelter of both the tent and bug shelter, we learned a lot more about Franklin Island from the back of the Chrismar map. We quickly found out it was a total of 17 kms to circumnavigate the island - which we could have easily done once each day! we also found out that the scale of the map was much bigger than what Lynne was use to, therefore confusing her. In any case, no big deal as we had fun once the storm broke and we spent the rest of the day exploring the beautiful area. We did manage to find ourselves back at Dillon the next day to finish the trip, as I politely insisted on navigating the rest of the way back!


This seagull hung around us when we were eating, hoping
to get a morsel. When we didn't oblige, it expressed
its displeasure by 'mooning' us!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hard Drive Failure!

After many fruitful years together, she has finally decided to
call it quits! Very disappointed, now time to look
for a 'newer, younger model'!

Its amazing how traumatic a hard drive failure on a computer can be! Predictably, people's lives, including mine, are bound more and more to computers, laptops, smartphones, and now tablets. Of course many of the things associated with computers are probably not all that necessary, (eg. games, social media,...well maybe) however, computers definitely make our lives easier and they have become pretty essential nowadays. (I just heard a survey that said computers are replacing pets as companions!) Well, when you lose access to your computer, you can quickly feel disconnected, but more importantly when you lose access to your hard drive, you can lose a lot of important data and personal stuff. Literally, all the things you have accumulated over the years can be lost in a split second. Scary stuff!

Decided to see if I can attempt to recover data from the hard
drive using some techniques I found on the internet,
although, I am not expecting anything.

Well, a few days ago, my computer starting acting up. I had a funny feeling something bad was going to happen. I quickly proceeded to back things up to an external hard drive. I was lucky enough to even get some kind of warning as sometimes it just quits. Anyhow, I was able to get most of my stuff uploaded before the drive finally stopped working. The damage was minimal (I think), but I'm sure I lost some stuff. I'm having to resort at the moment to move things to another computer for the time being until I get things sorted out - not fun. I really do feel somewhat 'disjointed', but do feel lucky too. I regularly back up my photos, but not usually everything else. Guess what's going to change now?! Well, time to assess the damage and get reorganized. Hopefully will have a normal post out soon!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back From Paddling!

Dimitry about to be force-fed water on the Coulonge!

Its been over a month since I've last blogged, wow, time does fly. Lots have been going on since then, namely 4 canoe trips totally 22 days, which could have been 24 if it were not for us finishing the Coulonge River trip early. As you can see, it didn't leave me many days in between to prep for the next trip, including the fact all those non-paddling days were spent at work too, so I apologize that I've haven't been anywhere close to updating my blog. Now that the dust has settled, (a least for now) besides all the housework, yarkwork, bills and other mundane things that need to be done, I will have some time to hopefully post a few blogs.

Fred admiring the scenery from a vantage point
high above the French River

I had a great time during the past month on these trips and almost feel lost not having the urgency to run around like a chicken without a head. Although, I do admit, it does feel great to sit 'on the can' relaxed in an air-conditioned house without having to be attacked by hordes of mosquitoes! There is always so much to write about on my trips - the ideas and subject matter doesn't stop flowing, but its near impossible to write about them all. I'm positive I could write a book if I had the time to sit down and just write,.......right, like that will happen! (Not planning to retire from canoeing anytime soon!) In any case, despite badly slicing my finger just before a canoe trip and risk cancelling it, finding no relief from mosquitoes while sleeping in a cabin, dumping in a rapid and losing my new favourite hat, as well as having my beloved stove blacken for the first time ever, all is good. Kind of like that line of T-shirts that says "Life is Good", it really is, despite it all. Ok, time to get writing! Hope all of you have got out paddling or will be soon! The weather is perfect for it!


And who else but me, licking my fingers rather
than kneading the bannock mix!
Photo: Anita DeVries