It had been a few years since I'd paddled on Lake Superior (and the Isle Royale trip was not yet planned). It was time to see something new again. Last fall I started bugging Kevin that he should go to Superior with me, and he gave me some dates to work with. It was going to be the best-planned Superior trip ever! We had our act together in *January*, when we went to visit Melissa and, on her advice, changed the route from Sibley-Rossport to the Slates. By April, we had our group organized, and I had my vacation lined up.
Well then. *You* no doubt see where this is headed - but I did not! I did not, for instance, anticipate that two of our five would have to drop out of our trip the week before (it wasn't their fault). I also hadn't planned on scheduling myself really tightly, but charter flights being what they were, I had a hard return date, and it's a long crossing to the Slates. We were only three, and one of those was May - who had shown up without a sprayskirt the first time I did a trip with her and a home-made fleece sprayskirt the second time (and ended up showing up without a PFD on this trip, but I'm getting ahead of myself). Suddenly, I was uncomfortable with the long crossing. And the car shuttle idea I'd had didn't really work with the reconfigured group, not unless we didn't carpool and I am a big fan of carpooling. Thus, less than a week before our trip, I talked to Kevin, and we agreed on the much less remote and no-crossings familiar (to me) route of Lake Superior Provincial Park. Three days before the trip, Elke sent out a generic "my plans for next week tanked, any ideas?" email and I delightedly embarked on convincing her to join us. It was a whole other trip than the one we'd planned, but we had a trip! (Even if we had a very bad start to the trip: Kevin and I got to Parry Sound only to discover that Highway 69 would be closed for the next *five hours*. The closest detour was North Bay. Which means that May and Elke had consumed several beverages with my parents by the time we *finally* showed up at the camp to meet with those two.)
Actually, maybe it was a trip of bad starts all around. When we got our permits, Kevin and I realized that we might not have enough gas to make it into Gargantua and back out, and had to backtrack to Montreal River. When we got to Gargantua, a thunderstorm was brewing. When we were loading up our boat, a zodiac was coming in - and in the process of removing the engine from that, somehow, there was a loud crunch on May's boat. This, however, turned out to be not so bad - there was no damage, and the apologetic owner felt bad enough that he provided May with a PFD when the conspicous absence of her own was felt. We had to wait out the thunderstorm. We got to Warp Bay to find all the sites but one taken (though the free one was a great site). And the wind kicked up, and it was a bit gloomy, and for a whole day, we sat, watching the surf and the solo sailor and the rain.
I make it sound like that part sucked. It didn't. We just didn't kayak. I had a new VHF radio for this trip. When we listened to it our first evening, my visions of an 8 a.m. start collapsed - it was a "let's check the weather again in the morning and see" sort of forecast. And when we saw, we saw that we might as well stay put. So we hiked across to Devil's Chair, we got out the plant book and got to work on improving our tree identification skills, lacking a mushroom book we took pictures of mushrooms for future identification (I never got around to that, though I believed we had found chanterelles, among others. My belief was not actually strong enough to *eat* the mushrooms, but that was easily explained away with "they're too old anyway".) May went swimming about 67 times. We had a campfire. We ate much good food. Kevin and Elke used pretzel sticks to do walrus impressions. We drank some drinks. We improved our tarp shelter. Elke voiced her disgust at my poor knot-tying skills. Kevin became a human tarp-pole until May, clad in her bathing suit, braved the deluge to get a paddle. The deluge was powerful enough that the water coming down exceeded the infiltration rate of *sand* even, and Elke's tent - pitched on sand! - started to float. It's a good thing her bathtub floor kept the bath out, because it was coming down so hard that there was absolutely nothing we could have done. I had never seen rain as intense in Ontario (or anywhere else for that matter). Yep. that was the start of our trip.