Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation Journal, Part IV - BWCA Continued ...

September 12, 7:55am
Sunshine! After a night of wind and no rain, the sun is out and the sky is clear ... YAY!

Last night I woke to hear a coyote howling in the distance, and commented that it sounded so lonely. But Tim said there were others, and soon at least three - maybe four - were howling to one another across Phoebe lake.

The squirrels even seem to be in a great mood this morning. We heard them foraging for the pinecones we heard dropping (whether naturally or by the squirrels, I don't know?) and checking us and our green tarp out.

Tim fixed bandages for both my heels and is working on breakfast. I'm thankful to God for the clear weather and the much improved spirits (and appetites!) we are feeling this morning. We have several options - go a bit further and camp, stay camped here and do day-trip, or head towards Sawbill and camp closer.

7:05pm
We're on lake Ella right now, at the campsite just across from the portage from Grace. Grace! Where we've had the most trouble this trip! I'm watching the sunset while Tim washes the dishes from our amazing dinner (Cache Lake's beef stew and dumplings!) [isn't he wonderful for cleaning up and letting me write?]

**Insert here what you'll read about in a few paragraphs - but it really happened here. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get there**

We decided, partly due to the rough water on Phoebe (and so the wind would be at our backs) to head back towards Sawbill and take it easy, not pushing too hard to cover ground. So we thought!

We started out back towards the four or so portages between Phoebe and Grace, including the beaver dam that caused Tim trouble last year and on Friday. All went well, after some hard paddling to get off Phoebe and into the inlet to ride the rolling waves across the underwater grasses.

We stopped at the portage to Grace (the one we had trouble finding on Friday) for lunch. The lake was pretty calm, so we set out, filling up our water before making the turn around a peninsula into the larger part of Grace.

The wind was beginning to pick up. We got a little snippy as I didn't know you had to paddle into the wind to keep from being turned by it. But we successfully got our water and kept going. Soon, whitecaps were rearing up everywhere around us, and the canoe felt ready to tip if a badly timed wave caught us broadside. Prayer and Tim's excellent steering saved us. The shoreline was nothing but rocks, there wasn't a safe haven had we ended up in the water. At one point, Tim yelled over the water in a tense voice for me to put my lifejacket on. Then I did get pretty worried. If we had capsized, we'd be in cold water. The shore wasn't far, but again - it was rocky and being pounded by the waves insistently threatening to tip us. We could see the peninsula we needed to round, and I was paddling for my life and praying for calm on the other side.

God was with us, and we made it to the inlet, which was in fact calmer. The portage to Ella was among a tumble of rocks, and we weren't completely sure at first this was it. But the telltale glint of aluminum from other canoes on the rocks just below the surface of the water said that it probably was.

The portage itself was rocky and steep, with at least three large birches across the path along the way. But we made it to Ella, miraculously calm after the day we've had, and we set out for the campsite directly across from the portage.

The campsite is absolutely perfect. The exposed granite reminds us of Enchanted Rock back at home in Texas - where we've shared a very special evening before. There is a nice place for a tent, and the latrine is surprisingly beautiful, festooned with bright red maple leaves.

After our wonderful dinner, I was alternately writing and taking photos of the moon as it set. Tim finished up the dishes and came down to read me another story from the people he read to me about last night. About how their canoe trips started, and how BWCA has been a constant in the changes of their life.

Then he told me how much I mean to him, how special I am to him (by now we're both teared up) and how God brought us here to being our lives together. He got on his knee, and asked me - Amanda Marie, to marry him ... and I said yes yes YES! The ring he has been working on is gorgeous, unique, and so meaningful - but I cherish it most for its meaning as a symbol of our love.

I am a blessed woman. A loon called as we kissed, almost as if God were saying to us "This is GOOD!"

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