Key Largo to Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Florida / February 16 - 26, 2015
February 27, 2015
Chokoloskee to Key Largo (Florida) / January 7 - 17, 2015
January 18, 2015
Key Largo à Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Floride / 16 - 26 février 2015
February 27, 2015
Matheson Island (MB) to The Pas (MB) / May 4 to 31, 2016
June 1, 2016
Wednesday, May 4 to Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Wow! Almost a month has gone by since the last blog update. Time flies! Here is a summary of what has happened during those weeks.
On May 4, we were back at Matheson Island with our replacement canoe. The old one had been sent, the previous day, to a friend for repair. We took our new canoe and made some changes that we love! That day, Manitoba had several temperature records. In Winnipeg, it was 34.9C with only 13% humidity. At Matheson Island, it was almost 25C!
With access to television, we have followed the situation in Fort McMurray with great interest and compassion. The devastating fires have forced the evacuation of 88,000 people and burned much of the city. Fort McMurray is on our path. We'll be there in a few months. Already, we have started to think about an alternative route, in the event that the fires still rages, and moves towards Saskatchewan.
The weather kept us in Matheson Island until Sunday, May 8. Between the 4th and 8th, we had the opportunity to spend more time with Smitty and Connie who continued to help us discover their world and island. I helped Smitty create a website for his company and for the exhibition of his works. Smitty is a great artist and sculptor (www.mathesonisland.wix.com/bctourslandandwater). We had an incredible time in Matheson Island. We will miss it enormously.
When we left on the morning of May 8, we used Smitty's truck to carry our gear to the beach. The wind was strong that day and there was a lot of smoke in the air and could smell the fires. We could not see further than two kilometres. The smoke had come from fires on the Manitoba/Ontario border. In the afternoon, we took advantage of a favourable wind to use our sail, for the first time this year, and covered a great distance of 41 km at the end of the day (no more ice on the lake). We stopped on a deserted beach, where driftwood was piled near the bushes. The smoke dissipated and let us enjoy the last rays of the sun.
The next day, we woke up under a bright sun only slightly obscured by smoke. No condensation, no mosquitos, no ice and a little heat! It was the most beautiful morning! We were also well protected from the wind, with Pelicans to keep us company. We did a 12km crossing, despite the waves and wind. It went well. At McBeth Point, we again had to navigate through ice and it was cold. We were pleasantly surprised by the change of the shore. The coast was more abrupt. The warm colours of the limestone and green colour of the water married together perfectly. On the edge of the shore, there was still ice that was blue, like that on glaciers. We anchored to one of these piles of ice to stop for dinner. When we left, the wind was warm and made us feel good. We took our time to admire the rock walls before starting another crossing. On the other side, we were surprised by the amount of birds and otters we saw. The more we progress, more species appear and become more diversified. We finally found a long white sandy beach to camp. It was still warm and we kept all the doors in our tent open until the sunset.
The morning of May 10 was rather grey and it began to rain. It was only a matter of time before even Jasmine had to wear her rain suit. After travelling south about 10 kilometres along the side of the east shore of Sturgeon Bay, we began a series of crossings from island to island before joining the west side of Lake Winnipeg. Then we started looking for a place to stop. No sandy beach! Only rock and very little shore free of trees to set up camp. The rain intensified. Jasmine began to look miserable. We finally stopped at a place that had room to pitch the tent. It was an uneven, steep terrain, but it allowed us to pitch the tarp and tent. Snug in our shelter, we noticed that we were not alone. There were dozens and dozens of ticks crawling on the tent!
The next day, two wolves came to investigate us (but kept their distance). They were drawn to the smell of a big fish that an otter had brought to shore (a big carp practically as long as Jasmine). We moved our camp a little further into the forest where we were better protected from the wind. We had a snow fall that forced us to get up every two hours during the night to empty the tarp to prevent an accumulation of snow. Pierre went 3 times during the night and I went twice. The atmosphere was very special. The flakes fell heavily and seemed even bigger when seen in the beam of our headlamps. We stayed four nights at this location. The wind and waves kept us there. The snow was just the icing on the cake!
May 14, we were back on the water and glad to be there. Very early in the morning, there was no wind, but once we launched, the wind picked up. We had gusts up to 50 km/hour! We had to stop and wait until the wind subsided. Once passed Hladun point, it was better. Gradually, as the day wore on, conditions improved. Our bet was good ... the day was good to resume our paddling. We stopped on a beautiful long beach at Sandy Point. We joked saying that there was three levels: the beach, the main floor and the terrace. From the terrace, we had a breathtaking view of the lake. In addition, we could go for a walk, sheltered from the wind, in the backyard. We found a beautiful pond where life was very abundant. Beavers, otters, foxes, wolves, moose, royals and bald eagles, ducks, ...truly, a very special place. Perfect for us especially because we had to stay a second night (strong wind, waves and rain). In the afternoon, we had fun carving miniature paddles. We do not know what we will do with them, but they are pretty.
Monday, May 16 marked a stage of three consecutive, productive canoeing days. Despite the mileage covered, we took the time to observe, to discover, to feel, see and fish (unsuccessfully). The day began with a royal eagle perched on a tree overlooking our camp. At dinner, we found refuge by a creek to protect us from the cold wind. A few kilometres away near another stream, we saw the lake divide into three distinctive colours, green, brown and a yellowish-green. Beautiful! We saw a lot of old fishing nets discarded on the beach and containers used by commercial fisheries. At every kilometre there was, unfortunately, the presence of humans. Even 7up bottles! Late afternoon, we found a small beach of sand and pebbles. Close to the beach, Pierre collected ice from a glacier to replenish our drinking water. It was good and cold!
The next day we left without hurry. During his morning walk with Jasmine, Pierre found fossils of shells and lizards. It took forever for us to get ready to leave that morning! The wind was still strong and we had decided to paddle along the coast to protect ourselves from the southwest wind and get as far as possible. We just decided to enjoy every moment of the day. Pierre fished while we took a leisurely lunch on a beach. Here we found a very large footprint from a wolf. It was the size of my hand!
In spite of our expectations, the day was wicked and we covered 65km! Just as we got to the place where we were thinking to stop for the night, the wind picked up and, for once, it was blowing in the right direction. After considering all options we decided to attempt a crossing to a stretch of land located south of Long Point. We were able to use the sail for a while, but in the middle of the crossing, the wind died. We had to combat waves nearly 10 feet high before arriving at the other shore. In such conditions not a second of rest is possible. We had to keep on paddling! Finally we saw an opening to get to the other side of this famous piece of land. We finally found a place to stop at the bottom of the bay. The sun was setting when we reached shore. Supper was at 10:00 p.m., in the tent.
After a short night, interrupted by naughty otters who were playing near the camp, making Jasmine anxious, we packed up and began paddling with the intention of going around the eastern tip of Long Point. Nothing was in our favour! But, we successfully made it around the tip. The wind was from the southeast at first (on the right side of us). Waves formed quickly and we saw them grow as we were moved along. At the eastern tip of Long Point the waves reached 18 feet! The waves were breaking and our speed was greatly affected. Pierre kept the canoe on an angle. The wind shifted to the east and the waves were still on our right. When it was time to make a 90 degree turn to the west we experienced a really frightening moment! A breaking wave formed at the last minute and hit us. I could not see, from my position, as the water flowed over the canoe. Jasmine had her paws in the water! All I could see was the crest of the wave that struck the gunwale up to the top and continued its race with us. I was nervous and wondered when the wave would let us go. I gave everything I had to help Pierre successfully turn the canoe. Finally, we succeeded! 300 meters away, it was quiet again and we had the wind at your back. Two bald eagles flew over us as if greeting us to the north side of Long Point. After taking a short break we found a superb long, sandy beach. It was hot and everything dried quickly. We enjoyed the end of the day under bright sunshine.