pukaskwa   8 comments

Posted at 12:19 pm in Uncategorized

Ever the optimist (well, about some things, that is), I thought that the new USB stick modem would be the answer to keeping at least somewhat connected to the net, my blog, and email, during this trip. Ha! Not so. Unlike past trips, I’ve chosen places or routes that often put me outside of internet coffee shops, and even the most robust cellphone range. The most reliable connectivity has been via the blackberry, but in many cases, it would work only for email and not as a phone. I did not use it to browse the net as, on last year’s trip, I found that slow and expensive, so had that service removed. To send or receive email, often I had to walk to the top of the tallest hills, or out onto open beaches, turning one way or the other while waving the handset above my head, or else set it somewhere for a couple of hours so that it could catch a stray signal now and then.

Have I missed having a lot of connectivity? Not as much as those who know me might guess. After the events of the past year or two, and selling the farm, moving, getting us on the road, etc.. it seems as though I’ve had some kind of energy implosion. The crazy drive that kept me going for almost two years has ebbed away, leaving me weary and feeling like pulling a Rip van Winkle for the next decade or two. Plans for spending a night or two at this place or that, morphed into something quite else. A couple of times, I found myself re-registering for another night, and another, and then another… reluctant to leave a place that felt peaceful, or comfortable. Of these, Pukaskwa National Park on the wild northeast shore of Lake Superior holds the record for keeping me captive. Of course, it was with good reason. It’s a remote and beautiful place of high domes of dark pillow lava rising high above the breaking waves of Superior. Its windswept beaches are piled with driftwood thrust high onto the rocks by waves, and its coastal boreal forests deep and mysterious with mosses and fungi.

For a week, the dogs and I explored the headland and coastal trails, following paths across glacier etched rock outcrops, or up and down the ingenious system of rustic stairs, ramps and bridges around Halfway Lake. Sage had her first real opportunity to cut her teeth as a trail dog and she did admirably. However, at times, it was Sabrina who had to take the lead on the staircases, showing that even the steepest and craziest ones can be negotiated if you take your time and don’t spend too much time looking off to the side.

After having owned five Rough Collies in the past thirty years, I know that climbing and descending steep stairs, crossing suspension bridges, or walking over metal grid bridges across gorges, does not come naturally to these dogs. It takes time for them to feel comfortable in these situations. Sabrina is about as trail savvy as they come, although reaching an age where I often have to give her a boost up steps that rise a little too steep or high. Still, she’s been a great help in teaching Sage how to pick out the main trail and not be side-tracked by dead ends and game trails. She has the most endearing walk over bridges or boardwalks where the boards are spaced at just the right distance to trap a collie toe — she walks with her hind feet turned outwards, on her large foot pads with her toes held up so that they won’t stick in a crack. Don and I used to laugh as we followed her across as she looked like an old, bow-legged cowpoke with curled up toes on his boots.

Sabrina was in her element at Pukaskwa. She loves the forest and would stop countless times to sniff at a stump or inspect a fern. One can only guess what message she is reading – a skunk rooted at this moss – here, a fox or coyote left its scent on this mound of soil – there, a deer nibbled at this bush. Our campsite was always active too – with crows dropping from the trees to try to steal a crumb, and a fox trotting into our midst only to be surprised to find that there was someone occupying “his” part of the campground. Although we didn’t see them, a black bear and her cubs made a number of appearances around other campsites throughout the week.

All in all, it was a good place to get some rest and build up the energy needed for the next several weeks of travel that lay ahead. No guarantees, but I believe that I’ll have better opportunities for net connections from now on, so will do some catching up on the many places we have wandered since leaving Pukaskwa.

Written by bev on October 6th, 2009