Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 7: What are you going to do about... Shelter?

I quit the day early because I was fed up by the wind. After about eight hours out on the water, I had only gone 12 miles (20 km) or so, constantly being whirred around one side or the other while I tried to keep the boat's bow generally downstream. I would have understood, and perhaps been able to adjust better, if the wind simply flipped me backwards. But it seemed the wind was intent on turning me to a right angle in relation to it, which is a situation I still don't understand, physically, so I was unsure what to do about it. The next day seemed to be improved by adjusting the loading on the boat.

The wind at this point had been an occasional enemy for several days, seemingly always in opposition to my goal. I turn left, it would turn left to keep going against me. I turn right, it turns right. My guess is this wind was generally about 20-25 mph (30-40 km/h), based on the wind scale index I found in one of my books. At least once, while I was trying to set up my tent before a storm, the wind reached such speeds as to nearly knock me off my feet. I should write a letter to the tent manufacturer asking if they have a wind-tunnel in which to try erecting their tents in gale-force winds.

In any case, since not much exciting happened this day I will take some time to discuss shelter and how I select a campsite.

My tent is an MSR "Hubba-Hubba", a dome structure intended for two people. This means that I can easily fit myself and all the stuff I want inside during the night, and I cannot imagine being comfortable in a one-person structure for this length of time. This kind of tent can be set up multiple ways - you can set up just the bug mesh, just the rainfly, both, or, I suppose, neither. This two layer construction is almost essential for keeping dew and condensation off of me.

In Canada, generally river islands and land below the "usual high-water mark" are "Crown lands", similar to the American concept of public property (which also applies in similar situations). So legally, one should try to keep to these areas as much as possible. However, other factors often come into play when selecting a campsite. I have come to the conclusion that generally, if an area is not posted; has no signs of human usage such as fences, buildings, or livestock; and is difficult to access from any nearby roads, it's reasonable to camp there even if it is unclear whether you are below the mythical high-water line. With these considerations, no one will know you are there, and if you are tidy, no one will even know you _were_ there, nor care, since the land is unused. However, it is especially important to keep a clean campsite if you are uncertain about the land's legal status, so as not to disturb the property owner, and keep the area open for later travellers.

Take all of that with a grain of salt; I am neither judge nor property-owner so cannot predict how either will react toyou camping in a certain place. So far, all of my campsites have been in apparently unused areas -- either islands, clearly legal, or in thin strips of land between the river and the bluffs, probably legal, depending on how the high-water line is defined.

At this stage of my journey, I do not ask much of a campsite. The less mud I have to deal with, the better. Anything else, like a flat place to lay out my tent, trees to dry clothes from or tie my canoe to, or a nice angle for the sun to wake me at the correct hour, are pure extras.

End day 7: 50*18.098N, 112*09.994W

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