~Guest submission by Luke Player~
Here’s a fabulous adventure and survival story from my little bro. Prepare to be very, very scared. Shivering in your boots and thanking your lucky stars that you’re dry and warm as you read…
The winding country road was once again under construction. In the twenty-six years both as passenger and driver on that road, Luke had witnessed few changes in the 14-kilometer trek from Rex Falls to the town of Maggie River. Every inch was etched in his mind: every bump to avoid; every curve that had caused a fatal accident; every long hill that brought back the rush of deliberate speed of bike trips as a teen; every business sign battered and torn by winter’s cold and every cozy structure that lined the highway with backyards of dense forest or boggy swamp with poorly rooted trees leaning loosely to one side.
This road often triggered a set of paradoxical emotions, with both excitement and melancholy. Every turned corner held another vividly colourful memory of childhood summers. Driving to town with siblings to do errands was always a treat and the family’s weekly trip to church brought all of us together to share in the week’s joys and sorrows. Luke’s reflections were suddenly cut off by an unexpected bump and the long rough sound of gravel under the car’s wheels.
The heat of this July day was exceptional. Luke casually observed the straggling construction crew, noticing the look of dogged monotony in the eyes of one anonymous worker, draped in the ubiquitous orange which made him stand out like a flash of fire at the side of the road. He thought to himself that the sign in his hand was more than a warning to drivers to slow down; it was a warning as well to slow down before the power of the sun stripped them all of their energy.
As he turned another corner, just before entering the camp, he reminded himself to stop at the spring on High Road for some cold water. He could remember as a small child looking down at the bubbles in the crude wooden box which contained the spring water. His mother dunked the neck of the water jugs to fill them as she commented (with a pained smile) on how perfectly cold the water was on her hands. Today, the old wooden box has been replaced by the modernized well and tap that create the seemingly never-ending sound of water on the smooth, polished rock below.
Luke bent down for a long drink and he noticed a tiny bright green frog playing in the stream of spring water. As a child, he caught the same tiny green frogs for the purpose of scaring his big sister with the slippery creatures. He splashed cold water on his face and the memory was driven away with a feeling of cool, refreshing relief.
He filled the jugs, threw them in the back seat and was confident that in a few minutes he would be unabashedly running to dive in the lake that he had known all his life.
As he finally neared the entrance to the camp, that old familiar anticipation rose in his being. He looked to his left and saw that the sprawling bay was unusually calm except for the group of children diving off the raft near the beach. Even though the raft was far away, he knew they were his boisterous teenage nephews. He turned into the old camp road, reducing his speed, as the car rolled gently over the incorrigible rutted grass-line, cutting the rugged road in half with long green grass. He then drove straight for the beach.
He parked under the natural shade of an old pine tree, quickly exited the car and did a running dive into the water. As he swam in slow motion under the water, his heat exhaustion was washed away. He thought to himself about an ongoing contest he once had with his sister Morgan, in which they had devised an underwater race, with the winner being the first to come up to the surface and touch the raft.
He reached the raft and called to his eldest sister’s oldest son, who was swimming about ten feet to his right. The last time they had talked in May, they had decided on canoeing up the lake, and all they had to do now was decide when to go.
They had planned to paddle to the small island, approximately ten kilometers up Eight-Mile Lake, near a gigantic landmark by the name of Echo Rock. It is the name for a place where one can climb up 50 feet to dive into the deep water below, with the Precambrian wall of rock providing a unique, natural location for diving.
The water was extraordinarily calm as they started up the lake. It made the canoe’s speed easy to increase over the glass-like water. The afternoon heat was overpowering in the middle of the lake; so they headed over to the shoreline, to allow for the natural shade of the over-hanging trees.
As they paddled through a narrow stretch of the lake, they kept their eyes on a well-known wooden bridge which gave access to a dock for a group of cottagers. The canoe skimmed briskly over the serene waters of Eight-Mile Lake. As Luke looked down into the water, he saw the flash of rock and dead tree stumps, but they were just deep enough to be missed by the canoe, and Luke thought that the canoe is truly a superior water craft, for it can intimately explore every inch of a lake. He would soon think a little differently about it…
…Continued at Canoe Island’s Cataclysmic Storm part 2
(all pictures courtesy of Google images except the highway and the two spring pics which are from ‘Nature’s Knocking’ Blog on WordPress)