I’d wanted a layover day to slow the trip down. It had taken years to get here, why have it go by quickly. Even after a night of rain, a morning of rain, and no prospect of clearing I figured I’d have a layover day at Grey Brook. It was a nice site, and Long Lake had a peaceful feeling about it I liked. I might even rig the fishing rod and cast about a bit. I stood on the shore in the rain with coffee, and the two couples come up along the lake shore. The sight of the canoes moving through the water roused me out of my layover torpor, and before they even pass by I’m breaking camp, eager to be on the water again. I didn’t really want to sit here alone in the rain all day anyway.
Folks do line their canoes down Long Lake Dam, but the water is high. Someone more familiar with the dam might run it - there’ s probably plenty of water covering the feared spikes – but I’ve no local knowledge, and even if I did, things can change. I join the two couples and the Boy Scouts in portaging around the dam.
The couples and I ended up traveling together. Nothing intentional, it’s just the way it worked out. They’d be ahead for a while, then I’d be in front. There was a certain sociability to the arrangement – a reality check in a way. Yeah, we really are out here in the rain. Did you see that moose? Which one?
I spent too much time thinking the sky might clear, when actually the rain was pleasant for the most part. The focus of the trip did however, turn into an exercise in water management. Every day more of my clothes and gear got wet. I’d string up the tarp first, then set up the tent under the tarp to keep the rain out of the tent. then in the morning take the tent down under the tarp. It worked for the most part. I managed to keep my sleeping bag, and the inside of the tent damp, not wet.
At one point I came up to a moose standing on the left side of the river. I moved way over to the right to give him as wide a berth as possible, trying not to disturb him. He watched me for a minute, then walked into the river and started swimming across to the other side right in front of me. I switched tactics, now paddling back to the left bank to try and give him as wide a berth as possible.
When he got to shore he gave me a funny look, then walked into the woods. I love the way a moose can be right there, and then is just gone. You know he’s still there somewhere, probably watching you, but you sure as heck can’t see him.
At the end of the day I pull into Outlet Campsite at Round Pond. It’s low, grassy, and thick with mosquitoes. I set up the tent, then reluctantly stretch the tarp over the pole and tie it off. I say reluctantly because the tarp is so unwieldy. It’s 16′ by 24′, and is the perfect size to cover the table and edge of the fire pit. If there’s any breeze you end up chasing the thing around, tinkering with adjustments to get it squared up just so, and then there’s a dozen ropes to pull taut and find a place to tie to. It’s a chore doing it alone, but it’s always worth it, especially if it rains, and it always does. The couples pass by in the rain now but don’t say a word. I suspect they’re feeling the same as me, too wet to talk about it.
It’s nearing the end of June. Even with the thick clouds daylight lasts a long time. The next morning, hours before dawn, I hear canoes in the dark. Dragging, bumping, then paddles on thwarts. At the time I thought someone was up early fishing, but later I discovered it had been the Boy Scouts, who had camped on the opposite side of the pond, six canoes moving out on the river in the dark.