Day 7: June 4th (Tamarack Bay to Minnekona Point, 24 km)
With more light in the morning, it is apparent that others have also used this campsite. Two sites are evident in the trees and more sites are available on the beach. The weather is clear and calm in contrast to yesterday’s somewhat harrowing afternoon paddle. A routine is being established: early departure, paddle until wind forces a break, then paddle on until just before darkness – I’m beginning to relish a timetable dictated solely by whims of the wind. I feel more like a voyager with these early morning go’s and late day paddles.
It’s an easy calm paddle of 9km into False Dog Harbour. An old trappers cabin sags slowly back into the earth, its weather worn walls rotting back into the ground from where those trees long ago sprung. What a snug little cove however, and I could well imagine calling this place home.
Having read so much about the fabled Dog River (now named the University), the traditional stopping grounds of past Voyagers, it’s just around the corner and I can hardly wait! Finally, 1 km further south, the river mouth appears. A healthy outflow from the Dog pushes our canoes towards the naked stone beach. A sign nailed to a tree reads: “Dog River, established 1763”. Flotsam from previous travelers (some old, some newer) is scattered throughout the vicinity. We follow a rough trail upstream the Dog for about 2 km – it a slow 2 hours as many trees have been blown down across the trail. Finally, at a crook in the river, Dennison Falls comes in to view, its broad ledge spilling water, its last path to Lake Superior.
By 2pm, it’s hot and the bug intensity is building: we are back on the water and sweating. A bald eagle rides thermals above, even the lady slippers are drooping their heads. We peel off the layers and soak up the sun. After 5 days of poly long underwear and wetsuits, the skin is thankful to breathe. A small island is the chosen nesting ground for gulls, and the adult birds wheel above protective of their chicks. The white splash and stench is impressive. Dave puts his shirt back on…
McCoy’s harbour looks like an attractive overnight stop but the day is young and we paddle on, conscious that the west wind is building and we need to make more miles. Heeding the advice of the trip guide, we aim for the campsite at Minnekona Point.
Although a slight weather change seems to be in the works (a high overcast has developed), we opt to camp early. I’m glad as this is our last (intended) campsite on the lake. Its time to reflect, celebrate and relax! Although the black flies are annoying in the bush, it is the beauty of the sculpted granite rock, which draws us to the breezy lake side location. Rounded humps like the backs of prehistoric beasts emerge from sand and water. The most spiritual place on the journey. Ron finally notices that “Mikes Hard lemonade” has vodka…
I stick my head in the lake – for a split second it feel sooo good, soothing the itch of dirty scalp and bug bites, then the reality of ice cold water sets in and my head starts to ache. The refreshing water drips down my back sending shivers down my spine. Pretending to be voyagers, we laugh and enjoy the scenery.