Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 25: The pelicans are never wrong

I have been paddling, making good progress all day on the lake, but evening and the next storm are closing in.

Now my aim was to make it to at least the regional park in this area. I don't know exactly what distinguishes these from their more grandiose brethren, provincial and national parks, but on my maps they are very small and I can't imagine them being much more than a nice, paid parking lots for campers. So while I stop at every provincial park that I can, I generally bypass these, figuring that I am not missing much by free camping on the shore instead.

Now the sun is setting, and now I have big storm clouds on three sides of me. On my left, which keeps me to shore, on my right, which wants me to stay on the lake, and behind me, pushing me onward.

Some motorboats put in at the regional park, making good fishing out of the time and the weather. But I push on. I see what look to be two large outcrops of shore ahead of me, which could indicate bays. According to my map, there is a very deep bay poorly serviced by roads, which ought to mean good camping. But there are also a number of very shallow ones, where I will be exposed to the lake.

I stare at my map and try to compare the features I see there to the ones before me. But it is hard, my Saskatchewan mapbook is an older version than my Alberta one and it does not include the topographic data which greatly aid this. My naked eyes suggest that the large bay is behind the second outcropping of land.

I turn on my GPS to try to pinpoint my position, and then find those coordinates on my map. This again suggests the better bay is further on ahead. But the wind is getting rough, and I might not make it there. I may as well peek into the first one which I must pass anyway.

And as I do, I see a flock of pelicans sitting at the far end. Pelicans are my harbingers of good camping. They sit in nice, clean locations which are relatively undisturbed by large animals, other than me. I immediately wheel into the bay and land on the soft, rocky shore. There is here a hill of mud, weathered like the badlands and bearing at least a ton of quartz, if the fragments I could see poking out were in indication. There is a beautiful, flat secluded spot in the bay and I set up my tent there as the storm nears. The wind is getting quite fierce but my place provides a little protection and I cook my dinner for the evening, and take photos of the sunset torn apart by the storm.

The next morning I pass by the next outcropping of land. There is nothing there, no deep bay, no flat spot for a tent. I do not know which is wrong, but the GPS coordinates given by my unit increasingly disagree with those given by the map in this area. But fortunately, the pelicans are never wrong.

Day 25 ended: 50*41.322N, 107*21.034W


Hutch said...

I was struck with the sort of nostalgia one can get around the time of time honored conventional spectacles, in this the case the high school reunion, and so it was that I stumbled upon this site and your little you are rather easily googled -- a verb that wasn't even around when we were in high school, interestingly enough. Anyway, I just wanted to know that you had an old acquaintance keeping up with your adventure and enjoying your updates. Good luck to you!

Of course, if this is just some other fellow with the same name and general appearance of who I think it is, best of luck to you still, just disregard the parts of that which make no sense.

--Jack Hutcheson

Kevin Saff said...

Hi Jack Hutcheson,

I did know someone with your name and general appearance who might be celebrating a high school reunion at this time. Assuming you are he, it is likely I am the same Kevin Saff.

I am in a terrible rush at the moment but hopefully will have time to nostalgically see what you are up to at my next stop.