|Nanook's Campfire Tales|
Yes, I did get to make my annual pilgrimmage up Lyons Stream and back. It was May 1st, as a matter of fact, usually the best time for this trip. Lyons Stream is a spring paddle, where a lot of water is required to get up through the shallows and into the deadwater. As you New Brunswick readers know, it's been a very dry spring, but that alone was not the cause of the warwounds I left on my canoe on that day. Let me explain...
First of all, there was an addition to our family last fall, so this was the inaugural trip for my six-month-old son. That meant we were sitting a little lower in the water than usual, but not enough that it should have been a problem. Upon arrival, however, one look at the water had me a little concerned about potential scrapes to my 2nd year Discovery. (I love my baby, what can I say?) I had commented to my wife that it looked unusually low for this time of year. As we took the canoe off the truck, we couldn't help but notice how many black flies there were, as well. It was quite a surprise to us because we hadn't seen any at home, yet.
A few minutes later we were on our way, the baby asleep and me with a permagrin on my face. It was a beautiful day, the first sunny and hot day of our early week-long taste of summer weather. My wife and I were wearing sunscreen but we had made a canopy for our son, protecting against both bugs and the sun.
On the way up through the shallow water, I was forced to get out and check the water temperature a couple of times, pushing the canoe through the spots that were a little too shallow for my liking. I was wishing that I had a pole for the day. It would have been ideal. After around two kilometres of shallows, (depth range from too shallow to four feet), we discovered the reason for the unusually shallow water.
There was always a beaver dam that bridged the shallows and the deadwater, but it was at least four hundred metres above where we were. Sure enough, the little critters had been very busy this spring, building a second dam that stretched completely across the stream. I got out and waded up above the dam, grabbing the painter from the bow as I went. It wasn't ten seconds later, the canoe was pulled above the dam without too much trouble. My wife's feet were still dry, and the baby, still asleep. I hopped back in and we continued. After flushing a pair of ducks and having experienced a fly-by from our province's finest water-bombers on their way to a Brockway forest fire, we soon found ourselves at the original dam. Unfortunately, this time my wife also had to vacate the bow of the canoe as I pulled it over the obstruction and into the deadwater.
That was the end of the difficulty, we thought. there was still a half-hour paddle to get to a friend's camp, where we had planned to eat lunch. The terrain was like a typical deadwater, with low-lying brush lining the banks of the water for forty or fifty yards before becoming dry land and thick woods. It's an ideal area for ducks and geese, which we observed on occasion, and there was also a resident beaver who made an appearance, but the real treat in an area like this is to see a moose or deer. Last year we had a friend's son with us on this trip and quietly paddled to within twenty-five yards of a young moose. The previous year it was a deer, so we were trying to be discreet, but a hungry six-month-old knows nothing about discretion, so our immediate goal changed from watching to paddling. Hard.
We did have a nice lunch in the sun, and after a little rest and rejuvenation, we made our way back to the water's edge and what do you suppose we saw three-hundred yards upstream? It was a nice little white-tailed deer, with no concern for the visitors downstream and downwind. I scrambled for my camcorder, but didn't really have to, she was taking her time and I got the proof on tape.
We had a beautiful paddle back to the truck. I only had to get out once, pushing the canoe through the first dam and shooting the second, we finished up with a few scrapes on our boat, but I knew that my wife's comments would ultimately decide whether or not it was a successful first run of the year. I didn't get my answer until we drove back into our driveway at home. As I shut off the truck, I looked at my wife who, with a twinkle in her eye, said "Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again. Why don't you just leave the canoe on the roof." Enough said.
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