As it was his turn, cousin Henry “manned-up” and powered our trusty boat Bertha through the portage like a champion, and we were back on Cassell’s lake in a jiffy. Now we had a long long paddle back, through fairly calm waters, only the odd wind here and there, it wasn’t too bad. As is the tradition, let me embellish the story a bit. The paddle back has always been a little bit challenging in my experience [the one other time I went on a canoe trip], due to the diminishing energy I have left. The lake is kind of dark and deceiving on the way back, in that there are little inlets and islands and potential wrong-ways….we almost navigated ourselves into an extended trip of an extra four hours, but, I shit you not, the ‘sea-spirits’ guided us and led us to where our vehicle was. You need to be careful if you are not familiar with the area though, these lakes will swallow you whole if you aren’t on your game, if you are an amateur on the lake-you could tip your canoe, and never be seen again….that’s what I was thinking looking down into the deep dark waters as we paddled as hard as we could and only seemed to be going about .25 km/h, I thought “we could tip at any time now, and we would be totally fucked if we did”…it was brutal at times, but what could else could we do but paddle like we never have paddled before, it was almost sundown, and if we didn’t find where the hell our truck was parked by sundown, we would be finished. It was then that we realized we didn’t really know where the SUV was, all these lakeside forest scenes and turn-offs look the same…we kept cool, cuz freakin’ out in any way wouldn’t have helped, shit it could cost one their life in this type of situation, perhaps, we were making a bigger deal about all of this then needed, maybe the truck was just up ahead…that is what I kept telling myself as the muscle ache set in. Why does the wind have to blow against your direction when you are paddling a canoe toward an unknown destination, moments before sundown with dwindling energy.
Here is what happened, we couldn’t find our way and we were about to lose it and try and call the coast(lake?) guard with the cell phone, but right the moment before a total freakout we heard the call of a falcon….we looked up and circling was a huge falcon (Eagle, Hawk, I wasn’t exactly sure), who promptly went into a dive and dropped straight down, coming right at us! We were just like, WTF!?, but the falcon kept diving down from high above,screeching a blood-curdling scrawk….only to then pierce the surface of the water not 1 foot in front of Bertha our canoe! straight into the water, it was under there for a good minute it seemed, then SHPLASH! out of the water the falcon came flying straight up, letting out another fearsome cry, the screech of the great grey water falcon is something one could never forget! Clasped between its razor sharp talons was the fattest fish we had ever seen, twitching and tweaking is agony, knowing that it was finished, and the falcon seemed to jet straight up without even flapping its wings, soaring majestically. When the wings finally did stretch out we were astounded by the wingspan of this mighty falcon, this water phoenix was huge and gnarly and beyond amazing!, it freaked us out a tad. It let out another mighty call and flapped towards a big White Pine that stood out above its neighbors on the Eastward shore. Below and just beyond the huge Pine was an orange marker, barely visible but jutting out just enough to be perceptible. We recognized a cement jetty boat ramp thing that we had launched our trusted vessel, the good ship Bertha, from. It turns out this the Water-spirit-Falcon was giving us a signal and at the same time blowing our minds with a display in order to get our attention and guide us to safety! The ‘Forest Spirits’ were letting us know that we were ok, the didn’t want us to perish in the deep cold waters of Cassel’s lake and that we could come back and visit anytime, and that they (the Water Falcon and his Forest Friends*) loved us and considered us friends! Or that is how I interpret what happened anyways. I suppose you could say it was ‘interpretive journeying’, an initiation, a quest to find a mythic forest and then the arduous journey back. True story with a mythic twist.
I for one will most definitely be coming back to BlueBerry Lake at some point, without a doubt, and I think I have just discovered a new favorite pass-time…..Exploring Old-Growth Forests !..Booooooyaaaakaaashaaa!
Stay tuned for more Old Growth Explorations!