West Bethel July 15
The first time Mike and I went to Algonquin Park in Ontario was in July 1956, three months after our wedding. Rae and Sig Peck, Hiram College friends of ours, went with us for a week of wilderness, fishing, and fun. It certainly was fun, because we have been back at least 40 times since, and it is still one of our favorite vacation spots. Moreover, our three daughters, their spouses, and our six grandchildren have all been to the Park and seem to love it as much as we do.
We went in on a train that first year, and for reasons too complex and incredible to explain, the 25-mile trip from Kearney, Ontario, to Eagle Lake Landing on Rain Lake (a lean-to building across the lake from the camp we were headed for) took about six hours. We arrived around midnight on a moonless night, and fortunately for us, the camp owner, Ralph Bice, was with us to lead the way across the lake.
Said train never ran again after 1956, the tracks were taken up, and the old railroad bed became a primitive roadway to the foot of Rain Lake, and part of the Western Uplands Hiking Trail from there on. The rickety wooden trestle over a deep gulch was torn down, and I never missed that because I didn’t much like the way it swayed as we went over it! The camp is now owned by Ralph’s daughter, our friend Marilyn MacKay, with her daughter, Kelly, doing upkeep since Rod MacKay passed on two years ago.
Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Ontario and one of the largest in all of Canada. It comprises 7,725 square kilometers and was created in 1893 (by some very wise and foresighted people) as a wildlife sanctuary, and to protect the headwaters of five major rivers flowing from the Park. Logging was and is allowed in accordance with forest management plans. xcept for the Highway 60 corridor, the Park is largely a wilderness area which is much appreciated by Canadians, not to mention a few Americans we know.
The first two nights at camp this year, starting on July 4, the little cabin next door to ours housed a delightful young French fellow (from Bordeaux, France) who now lives in Toronto and makes his living as a freelance journalist for French publications and TV shows in Canada. Charlot Rouyer specializes in environmental and health topics and seems to practice what he preaches. He was very patient with me, allowing me to practice my français with him, and making me feel very comfortable doing so. We bid adieu on Tuesday afternoon, promising to keep in touch via the Internet.
Our Boston daughter, Kate Griffin, and her husband, Ken, arrived on Monday afternoon to join us for the next five days. We portaged, fished, ate our fill of lake trout, and had a great visit as well. Kate and Ken left in clear, bright weather and on calm waters Saturday morning Mike and I fished the “Glory Hole” on Rain Lake for a couple of hours with sundry nibbles but no real strikes, so we paddled home and put away the trolling gear for another year.
Later that day Mike and I had a leisurely paddle around the shallow cove to the right of the cabin. We saw clumps of yellow loosestrife at the water’s edge, along with remnants of flag iris. We surprised a doe across the way, first deer we’d seen all week—and no moose! We also passed what may have been wild rice growing in the shallows, sheltering myriad minnows and tadpoles. Farther along Mike spotted some pink flowers which turned out to be orchids (fringed polygala, I think) in the sphagnum bog, one of many orchid varieties we’ve seen in the Park.
Wherever a fir tree has fallen into the water, one can expect to find minnows and tadpoles lurking among its branches. This is handy for us as we use pieces of minnow on our spoons and spinners to tease the lake trout (“togue” in Maine) into coming back for a strike. Everywhere under water is evidence of old logging activities, with sawn-end logs submerged for years and years.
Birds we saw and heard included thrushes—veery, wood thrush, hermit thrush, Swainson’s thrush; chestnut-sided warblers, yellowthroat, white-throated sparrow; also a family of Canada geese, male, female, and two teenagers; and, of course, the gulls who swing by to clean up the fish guts we leave for them in the lake.
On Sunday morning the 11th, we left camp a little before 9 with an unprecedented calm lake all the way to the end. On the way we saw loons and herons and took some photos of undetermined quality as of this writing. Have yet to download the camera’s contents. Once more we regretted having to leave but look forward to next year when we hope to return.
While we were away, I received an e-mail from Pauline Applin, asking me to mention that the Grange flea market will be open on Friday, the 16th. But it will NOT be open on Saturday the 17th so that members can enjoy the Mollyockett Day festivities. Please make a note of that.
We here at the Garden of Eden will be celebrating not only Mollyockett Days, but a few notable birthdays. Our granddaughter, Molly Siegel, turned 16 yesterday, July 14. Her granddad and my spouse, Mike, will have his 80th on Sunday the 18th, and our brother-in-law, Fred Smith, will have his 80th in August. Since Fred and his wife, Ruth, who is Mike’s sister, will be visiting this weekend, we’ll do a clean sweep of these “anniversaires.”
Until next week, enjoy the weekend, the summer weather, the fruits of your gardens, and just being alive. You can reach me at email@example.com or 824-2917.