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Published: August 8th 2015
Mark wanted to get to a place on the west arm called Tropicana -- just a "short easy 24 km paddle" with a dreamy sandy beach, mermaids galore and clothing, optional. Mark, as mentioned, is a master in getting one to do things they don’t think they can. I was unsure we would be able to do this whole leg (even with the promised mermaids) so in the back of my mind, I had several options for alternate locations along the way... just in case.
The trip started out amazingly--the sun was out, very few clouds in the sky, and the water was a sky mirror. We opted to do as direct a route to the point where the north and west arms were joined. This meant a 12 km stretch down the middle of the lake, one that is known for quick changing weather. We did it in fantastic time and made Sunshine Cove for lunch.
Off for the next half. As we rounded the point and ventured down the west arm, the wind picked up and became quite brutal in our faces. Mark wanted to go the direct route point to point that meant paddling the open
water against the whipping wind. I opted for the longer shore route and was glad of it. We had a longer paddle but with less wind, we gained, and were ahead for most of that leg. When Mark caught up, he wished he had taken the shore route also. He was going flat out into the wind and at points was not able to see as his eyes were watering so much. One for the wimp!
The swell from the wind-licked water was about to test our skills. We rested and caught our breath behind a point where the trees and rock sheltered us from the wicked wind, then with some trepidation, headed out and around the point. Wow! The wind was fierce, creating waves that rocked our canoe with great force. Matthew and I paddled like never before to round the point, our hips rolling back and forth to steady our rolling ride and headed for “calmer” waters while trying to keep away from the sharp rocks the waves were pushing us towards. We took on some water as did Mark who was a lot lower to the water in his kayak. (No spray skirt on.) Keeping our
nerves in check, we headed against the wind, one stroke after another after another. Matthew was pushing himself, and the pain in his hands, to keep going. As we rounded more points, we rested in the shadows of the trees and rock when we could. Finally, the wind started to wane (thank the maker) as we only covered a few kms in a couple hours. I was looking at the shore and planning our camp spot--not the Tropicana one when....
Mark shouted, "Fairyslipper Island is over there, just a little further to Tropicana!" I looked at the GPS and acknowledge, "Hummm, yeah, right, just a little further." He said "See, the wind is gone. We can make it”. Yes, it had calmed down but there was always a brief reprieve before the next blow. Keeping an eye on the land markers to measure progress was what kept us going. Fairyslipper Island moved to our left and eventually behind. Next came Leo island, one of our other alternate spots. It was on the south side of the west arm, and we were on the north side, which meant more open-wind, exposed waters…. we crossed our fingers. Fortunately, the wind quieted
a little more and Leo Island was in our grasp, but it was occupied with a large group. Next stop -- Tropicana.
We made it. There was only one other couple on the island. We choose a spot out of the wind (We'd had just a little too much of it.) I was beat as were Mark and Matthew. It took what reserves I had to help unload and setup camp. I needed coffee! I mean I really, really needed coffee ... for their sake.
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