Thursday

This. THIS is why we come every year.

It didn’t rain all night and, though damp, the cousins reported a good night’s sleep. They requested pancakes for breakfast and after the day they had yesterday, we were more than happy to oblige. We also wanted to put in a day trip though, weather permitting, which means an early start. Pancakes takes a long time to make for so many people making the timing a little tricky. However, I ended up being awake early this morning so instead of snuggling back in my cozy sleeping bag, I got up to start breakfast. I busied myself getting water, taking the food down from the tree, and setting up the stove. It was pretty overcast this morning, windy and on the cold side so a slower start with pancakes seemed to be the perfect idea while we waited for the weather to cooperate.

Heidi came out shortly after I did and went on a moose hunt. I was just stirring the coffee pot when she came crashing back into camp, startling the dog and waking everyone up in the process. She saw a moose!! This got EVERYONE out of their tents. We dropped everything and trekked after her into the woods. My three kids were still in their pj’s (Read: both boys were shirtless) and shoeless, as their only footwear was still soaked from yesterday. There was a path but we eventually had to leave it. That was when Derk and Sharon turned back. I would have too, as Odin was on a leash with me and really didn’t need to see a moose, but I couldn’t leave my five year old crashing through the bush, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and crawling over fallen logs with no shoes on.

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Bushwhacking, with Heidi leading the way! The moose is actually in the background there right beside Heidi.

Trev caught a glimpse of the moose earlier, as he moves significantly faster than the rest of the family, so he took the dog back to camp and I trudged on with Ria and Zeke. We caught up with Heidi and Leah (Ken had seen the moose and turned back at this point too)  and there he was. A beautiful young buck. We got a fantastic look at him and then returned back to camp. Heidi was on Cloud 9. What a great start to the morning!

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And that was not even the end of it! Odin spotted a grouse that we all got a good look at. Strangely, he was only interested in chasing the squirrels on our site. He was content just to watch the bird.

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I showed this photo yesterday too. But it turns out I got my days mixed up.

The children also found two garter snakes along the beach and Trev caught one so we could all see it, and the daring of us touch it.

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After a filling breakfast, we hung out our wet things from yesterday. It was decided that Sharon stay back to ensure the gear dried out and didn’t get rained on by the overcast clouds above. The rest of us packed into two canoes and set out on our adventure. Trev and I had the three kids and the dog in our canoe. Ken, Heidi and Leah used a second canoe.

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The canoe to the falls was relatively uneventful. Almost as soon as we rounded the corner into North Tea East, the sky changed and the sun came out. There was a pleasant light breeze and our landscape was beautiful. There were very few people about, which makes it all the more peaceful. We went over another small beaver dam and saw several more beaver lodges. There was an easy 240m portage to our destination, canoeing through Hornbeam Lake. This is a small lake between the 240m and 90m portages. The are no sites on it and it has a small waterfall coming into it from the smaller portage side with a rapids leading out. Trev was so happy to share this little gem of a spot with us and has plans to build a cabin on it.

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We hung out at the waterfall for a while. We were supposed to eat lunch there but forgot the utensils we would need to eat our fruit and quinoa salad. Oops! Thank goodness we had lots of trail mix, Thrive Mountain Mix, some candy, summer sausage and granola bars.

While we were there Derk found what he thought was a dead crayfish. It turned out that it was very much alive – it was just working on shedding it’s exoskeleton, which Derk helped it pull off so it could be free to move again.

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We then travelled back to our site, asking anyone along the way if the fire ban was lifted yet. Unfortunately no one knew. Ah well.  Three quarters of the way home we ran into our next treat – otters!! Our boat only saw one but the cousins saw two. We didn’t get a picture of him, but we loved how he chuffed at us and bobbed in and out of the water. What a blessing to see!

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The final twenty minutes back to our site were a bit intense as we had some headwind at the narrowing between North Tea East and West, with some waves to contend with. Overall though, we made great time getting back to the site.

As soon as we returned, we doled out the fruit salad and it was as good as we were hoping it would be.

Trev and I aired out the tent by hanging our blankets, sleeping bags and ThermaRests now that the cousin’s gear had all dried out. The kids played on the beach and did some more swimming while we caught up on Sharon’s adventures. She didn’t report anything too crazy except for one very demanding duck who chased her down in the hopes of getting some food! She also saw two large low-flying planes coming from behind the site. We see planes like this on Penn Lake too. We aren’t sure but we think there may be an army base around here somewhere.

Supper was a raging success: sweet and sour meatballs with mashed potatoes. It’s a meal we look forward to each camping trip and this year was no exception. The cousins were amazed that we could have something so tasty and normal on day 4 of a camping trip. Man do we love our Thrive foods!

After supper we just played and hung out a bit more before all having an early bedtime. We spent over five hours on the water today and were all ready for a good night’s sleep.

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