1 Our first canoe camping experience in Canisbay Lake made us hungry for more, so we started looking for other places to explore. At our local Outdoors Oriented we bought a Kevin Callan "Paddler's Guide To Ontario Cottage Country". From among the two dozen choices we settled on Big East Lake and soon found that this (once free to canoe) crown land was now managed by the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails Reservation Service. We agonized over the map choices for a while but settled on site 3, which was not far from the access point and looked good from the pictures.
The portage from the parking lot down to the lake was a bit of a chore for us, since we were by no means travelling light, but this was soon forgotten when, after a short paddle, we found ourselves on a spacious campsite perched atop a magnificent rock. The campsite sits all by itself in a large bay directly across the lake from the access point, so all week long we could watch canoes coming and going along the main route on the north shore, and never once did a canoe venture within hailing distance of our site.
We couldn't believe our good fortune in getting such a good site, and we were quite certain we'd end up coming back after being less satisfied elsewhere.
2 The Google Earth image shows most of Big East Lake. The distance between the canoe launch and campsite 3 is less than a kilometre. The portage from the parking lot is about 200 metres. Click on the google map icon to view a map location.
4 I do not have a camera glued to my eye. I am happy to witness much of what goes by without the aid of zooming and artificial auto-focus. But, with the advent of digital photography and its gratifying feedback loop, I have become a much more prolific photographer than I ever was since I joined the camera club in high school some forty years ago. The personal satisfaction of being able to re-view the people and places of my past is immense. Desktop screensavers randomly cycling through our memories of a camping trip are an effective antidote to being cooped up in our home office.
You would think that a camera cannot see more than the eye can see, yet it does. Being on a quest for the best photograph opens our vision to views that we might miss or not bother with (like a five-thirty sunrise). But the camera also bears witness to our value of the things we see and imprints that value on the photo. The photographer values by waiting, watching, exploring, returning and arranging, and then by editing and viewing. The result, at best, are pictures imbued with love and desire.
In this gallery, I hope to leave evidence of my love for creation and the Creator, my delight in solitude and serenity, and of my desire for light, warmth, water and the woman who shares my life. Consider these pictures, then, as a thanks-giving.
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6 The sign at the top the portage trail
7 Henry is a real man - he engineered the tump line and carried the canoe.
8 The first order of business, after arriving on Saturday, was to set up the stove and heat up our gourmet supper - one of two that Tenielle prepared for us.
9 That evening, the sun, long out of sight, reaches us third hand - off the clouds and off the water.
10 On Sunday morning (our first full day) at 5:34 a.m., the world is still, almost without colour.
11 With colour waiting in the wings, the Pickerel-weed silhouettes take center stage.
12 The early morning sun reaches way back into the open forest around our site.
13 We enjoyed our first coffee of the trip while enjoying these cool cloud formations.
14 The sky parts . . .
15 . . . but the sun is still veiled.
16 It doesn't take long before Wendy succumbs to the irresistable urge to go skinny-dipping again, through the cirrostratus impressions on the slate-clear lake .
17 By ten, Wendy is working seriously at her second coffee and her first book.
18 Henry, refusing to bury his nose in a book just yet, does not suffer from the same frown.
19 Perhaps he's enjoying this lovely turn of leg.
20 This pine tree towers over our site.
21 Henry prefers to take pictures.
22 But he did settle in to read half a book.
23 This five lined skink made only one appearance during our stay.
24 We had yet another pre-cooked gourment supper by Tenielle.
25 The kitchen is still a work in progress. There is no picnic table on this site.
26 Our bedroom has been tidied and is being aired. It seems we have forgotten the ground sheet for the tent and must make do with a tarp instead.
27 The last rays of our first day light up the cove.
28 On Monday morning the privy awaits.
29 Campsite #3 is restricted to 3 tents and 10 persons. Thankfully, we are just 2 people in one tent.
30 This rock offers a warm and sunny spot. It is somewhat lacking in softness.
31 Wendy mingles with the water lilies and hyacinths.
32 I usually exercise in the Walker YMCA pool. This is a far superior facility.
33 A photo by the resident coffee maker
34 After recently reviewing our glum faces on pictures past, we put on our best smiles.
35 Tenielle's desserts went well with our coffee and novels.
36 Rising hot and high at midday, the sun bejewels the lake.
37 The water itself seems dimpled with pools of dark and light.
38 The high sun reaches down through the iron tinted water.
39 A lily competes with the clouds under the tree-sky canopy.
40 Wendy does the lunch dishes. This is still only our second day. Wendy is quite happy to do this. Really.
41 We are returning from an afternoon expedition to get more stuff from our van. This is the end of the portage trail from the parking lot, looking out over the lake towards our campsite.
42 After a short 15 minutes of canoeing from the trail, we are safely back at our canoe landing.
43 Henry takes a power nap.
44 Wendy too is blessed by rest.
45 Two birds with one stone
46 An after-supper trip down the lake and around its island yielded this view of a spectacular cloud formation.
47 Just before we turned back to the gloom of our east facing site we caught this view of the setting sun (8:45 pm).
48 Tuesday morning, 7:45, Wendy is back in the magical waters of Big East Lake.
49 Another book begun
50 Sunny side up for a 9:30 breakfast. Freeze dried food has its place, but can't compare to a pan full of real food.
51 Tucking in is better than tumping up.
52 A morning walk through the woods to the other side of the peninsula brought us past this moss meadow at the summit
53 On the other side of the peninsula we discover the unoccupied site six.
54 My reflection and shadow are in the same picture. Does their relative size tell me anything about the depth of the water or my height above it?
55 We chased the loons again for a while, waiting and angling for that perfect shot.
56 A Tuesday afternoon excursion to get supplies at Carnarvon
57 Walking the highway for a quick visit to Bentshoe Lake on the north side
58 A family of ducks in Bentshoe Lake
59 The parking lot serves Big East Lake and Bentshoe Lake.
60 The portage trail takes us straight back down to water's edge.
61 Close-up of our plague. The deer fly is not dear to us.
62 Tuesday evening we took our lawn chairs and books and canoed to a small island with a view of the sunset.
63 Still water looking west
64 A simple glow
65 By 6:30 am, Wednesday morning we were paddling again for a short visit the north-western arm of the lake.
66 Paddling photographer
67 A too-quick pic of a beaver
68 By seven-ten we were close to 'home' again.
69 Wendy gets her bearings before embarking on the morning rituals.
70 Ten minutes later we were socked in by fog.
71 But the sun came back
72 Un-self consciously showing off her wedding ring
73 Wendy's favourite tree
74 Wendy just loves mushrooms
75 ~ There are differing orthopraxies even among the water striders (also known as Jesus bugs)
76 Lilies fringed the shore of our cove.
77 Mid-morning, Henry waded out into the water with a canoe in tow to get some close-ups of aquatic plants.
78 Still more lilies with Pickerel-weeds as a backdrop
79 ~ Only time can account for the glory that is and will be again.
80 A view over the lily pad to the rock where we were camped
81 Here I'm coming back from a photo expedition with my faithful canoe. It's difficult to take pictures carefully from inside a canoe because the stupid thing is always moving. So I decided to swim out to the lily patches with my canoe in tow, get a good foothold on the lake bottom and then reach into the canoe for the camera whenever I was ready to take a picture. It was, occasionally, a bit nerve racking.
82 Back at sunset-view island, it wasn't cold, but the flies were crazy.
83 A burst of colour during our last sunset. After the sun disappeared it was still light enough to read for a while.
84 ~ In seeking itself the sun succumbs to the darkness.
85 Thursday morning sunrise
86 ~ The space between one and another rock, both rooted closely in the same fertile lake bed, is riven by the light from a distant sky.
87 ~ Beneath the water's gleaming face, we send out leggy shoots to take root in the elemental, fluid space.
88 A view of our morning sun-drenched rock
89 ~ The shattered, scattered rocks pile up proudly by the water's edge.
90 Wendy, washed and dressed for civilization, says goodbye to the Big East Lake.
Newmaker is the spirit that drives a lifetime of creativity, and is a reflection of the Creator who continues to make all things new.
H.James Company is the business name for the renovation services of Henry de Jong since 1991. Services have been offered as sub-contractor and as contractor, but primarily as a professional craftsman working alone. Working on small to medium size jobs allows a personal committment to executing every detail with the same care, and to working one job at a time, on a steady and predictable schedule.