After our original plans to visit friends in Fort Liard fell through, I decided to make the best of the situation and declare a Daddy 'n' Daughter Sailing Adventure. The plan was to take Jade, who is now over-the-hill on the path to becoming a five-year-old and spend four days exploring the far reaches of Lake Laberge.
The season for sailing is rapidly coming to an end. Ice has formed on the calmer creeks and ponds and snow keeps falling from the sky. The days are short and the nights are cold. It would surely be an adventure, indeed.
The trip started off well enough. Fawn and I (Fawn especially) spent a couple of nights preparing Jade's keto meals. Jade and I kicked off the trip with a hearty cold lunch each.
It was a gorgeous fall day, although there wasn't much wind to sail by. Nonetheless, Jade made me run the sails up a couple of times. It wasn't because she thought there was enough wind (she knew there wasn't), it was because she knew that sailing time meant story time. I won't tell stories when the outboard is running - it's just too hard to speak over the engine and wind and splashing water.
Eventually we gave up on the wind and motored slowly down the lake. I wanted to find a nice place to spend the night while the light was still good. We slipped by limestone cliffs and rocky beaches and mysterious caves.
Jade cried. She missed her Mama. She missed her sister. She wanted to go home. This was not what our sailing adventure was supposed to be. It was supposed to be fun! Adventurous! Pleasantly memorable! Not traumatizing! Definitely not traumatizing!
When we came to a long stretch of beach, Jade asked if she could throw some rocks into the water. We pulled up and tied off, enjoying the warmth of the fall sun on the dark, sand and gravel beach. We had fun on that beach. She's won't be homesick after this, I thought.
The day was getting long and, although the wind was starting to pick up, it was time to find a sheltered harbour for the night. Lake Laberge can really kick up and it doesn't take long for that to happen.
We stopped at another beach that was sheltered from the predominantly south winds and somewhat sheltered from a possible north wind. We spent a little time exploring the shoreline, taking in the views and discovering smooth pieces of beach glass.
As interesting as the beach was, the rocky outcrops at the end of the beach was even more fun. We started by passing through a small, hidden canyon that acted as a gate to a section of shoreline that hid a small, wave-eroded cave.
From there we followed a cleft in the rocks to the top of the bluffs to take in the view of the lake.
Back into the boat for supper and a couple of bedtime stories and it was time for bed. But Jade just wanted to go home to see her sister. Now.
I explained that we couldn't and, after after crawling under the blankets, reading a few more stories, and having a few giggles, Jade drifted off, happily, to sleep.
The night was chilly, but we were snug and warm under piles of blankets and comforters. Unfortunately, in spite of our snugness, Jade's nose started running like a faucet halfway through the night. She was coming down with a cold and coming down with it fast.
Our adventure was as good as over.
With Jade holed up in the cabin, I bundled up and went out into the cockpit. We had been sailing up and down Lake Laberge all summer long and still hadn't seen the end of the lake. I was determined to see it. The wind was perfect for a sailing run down to the end but I was pushing my luck as it was. Instead, I concocted a plan to motor down one side and back up the other. Jade was in agreement with this plan.
At the end of the lake, I brought the boat around to head back up the other side. The sun rose over the mountains and we were bathed in sunlight. For a brief moment I felt the warmth creeping through my many layers - and then the wind picked up. I could hear it roaring in my ears like a freight train. I worked our way back across the lake and into the shadows again, where the limestone cliffs offered shelter from the strong south wind. I hopped from little bay to little bay most of the way back up.
When it came time to cross the lake again, the wind had been screaming and kicking up a good spray for over an hour. The waves were several feet high and close together. Under power, the boat would, occasionally, ramp off the waves. I was getting soaked by the spray.
(These pictures were taken on a different trip, but give a close approximation of what it was like. Thanks for taking them, Tammy Beese!)
I peeked into the cabin to see how Jade was doing. I was worried that she was getting banged around.
She smiled a huge smile from under an incredibly runny nose.
"Jade," I asked, "Are you OK?"
"When you go off the waves again," she replied, grinning, "I might say HOLEY MOLEY! HOLEY MOLEY!"
Yeah, so the trip was cut short - and there were some bumps along the way - but it turned out to be a fun and memorable adventure after all.
Not bad for the last sail of the season.