June 04, 2006

First Paddle of the Season

The other day at work, Kim, a colleague, asked me about places to learn canoeing and since I hadn't been out yet this season, I asked if she'd like to join me for a paddle at Chadburn Lake. She'd just moved up from Victora and has done a lot of sea kayaking, but not much canoeing.

We headed out on Saturday. It was one of those mornings where it looked like it might be sunny or it might pur with rain. The wind was brisk and there were thunderheads building, but it was looking more and more like the weather would lean to the nice side, so we went anyways.

In Whitehorse, if you don't like the weather, wait half-an-hour.

It was pretty nice by the time we get there, though the wind was blowing pretty steadily down the lake and the shore was crowded with canoes and kayaks for a product demonstration by a local rental and sales company.

I pulled out my GPS and entered the coordinates for a cache at the end of the lake. We never got there, because we were headed upwind and the wind was too strong. Instead, we pulled into the shore and I offered Kim the stern.

She picked things up pretty quickly and was sweeping and drawing in no time. Running with the wind, we ducked into the lee side of a point and paddled to shore.

A woman and her son were having a snack at a picnic table located up the bank. We asked if we could also occupy the spot and they gracefully obliged, stating that they were just about to leave anyways.

I had brought along my Liard Firebox, a kettle, some tea and some bannock mix. In no time, the firebox was set-up and a fire was boiling some water for tea. The woman and her son sat talking, checking out the firebox and watching the proceedings. We invited them to join us for some bannock on a stick.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Hot bannock slathered in jam and tea boiled over the fire is one of life's great culinary delicacies. And it's something you'd never be able to replicate in a restaurant.

After the bannock, the woman and her son left. There "just about to leave" had taken another hour or so, but we were happy they joined us.

Kim and I let the wood burn down to ash, packed up the firebox and went to see the views on the other side of the point. I plugged in a different set of coordinates for a nearby geocache I'd been to before and offered the GPS to Kim. She took the stern of the canoe and we were off to find the cache.

After a bit of a climb, we found the cache, and Kim was hooked. Geocaching is like that. I had the coordinates for one other cache past the end of the lake and we stuck out for that.

Again, running with the wind, we pulled the canoe out in a bay at the end of the lake, hopped over a hundred trees felled by beavers and picked up a trail the led towards the cache.

It was nice in the trees, out of the wind. The trail took us to to the Hidden Lakes. The cache was easy to find and had some great loot in it, but we didn't have anything to trade, so we signed the journal and left it there.

We were worried about the paddle back up the lake but, with Kim in the stern and me in the bow, we managed to power our way back to the lee side of the point in no time. The clouds were getting darker and it was obvious a storm was coming in, so we headed back to the car.

We got the canoe loaded just in time. It started raining just as we started driving back along the Chadburn Lake road.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday; my first day off in a looooong time.

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