I had a dream last night, in it I was a ghost, and I was wandering around a town that I knew. I came across a part of the town that was new to m e and I was surprised that I hadn’t seen it before. It was a bit rough and untidy, and bohemian in nature – and a bit wild, yet I felt comfortable there. There was a whole bunch of people who were dressed different: punks, goths, hippies; most with some kind of alternative appearance. I felt accepted and excited to join in and find my own original alternative appearance. I talked to a woman who looked tough but intelligent; she had body piercings, tattoos, and brightly dyed hair. She offered to change my hair, and I accepted. I can’t remember the outcome but it was very different from my usual boring style, and she gave me some hair jewellery! It felt good to feel comfortable with who I was, and to be amongst people who were all so colourful and different. I was accepted and accepting and the world was full of beautiful people, not anonymous look-alikes.
We are all different in some way and we seem to become more beautiful the more we accept ourselves and others – regardless of the differences. Accepting the difference in yourself means you also have to develop a kind of toughness to shun off the peer pressure which tries to tell us all to conform. Most of the time we don’t know who we are and we try to conform to some unspoken mold. “Bears know who they are,” an Indian told me once.
After replaying the dream to myself to help me remember I got dressed and climbed out of my tent to see the world afresh – it was 7am. Chris was up and had made coffee, bless him, and was now busy looking at the map for the next push. We were going to head south to see if we could get to the ‘super campsite’ on the west side of the lake. He smiled enigmatically when he used the word ‘super’. I raised an eyebrow to myself in anticipation of the nature of this super-site. Time would tell.
Looking around, I felt a little uneasy because I realised that we were camped on a beach. I felt uneasy because if you tried this in Orkney, or anywhere on a sea shore, you risk being washed away. Not so with a lake: there are no lunar tides to worry about. There are seasonal variations when increased rain and glacier meltwater add to the lake but that occurs over months, not twice a day. This sandy beach fooled my brain into thinking that there was a tidal change in ‘sea’ level – there wasn’t.
The view was wonderful. I could see across mirror calm water to rising forests in the other side of the lake like a green furry carpet fading at it rose to the grey rock of the mountains. The peaks were sharp and jagged an d the tops were covered in snow. To the left, further south down the lake, there was a glacier in view that was cradled by the peaks of a high mountain. The glacier was not like the snow on the other peaks – it was more like a large tongue lazily drooling towards the slopes below. Guessing at the scale of the mountain itself, the glacier must have been huge, and hundreds of feet thick. There was a hint of a blue under glow to the ice. I’m sure it would have tasted minty if I’d be able to try it.
It’s hard to look down surrounded by such scenery but when i did I found some new tracks in the sand of a young bear that had must have wandered along the water line during the night – probably looking for salmon that might wash up on the water’s edge. This is the time of the salmon-run where the mothers try to return to the place of their birth to lay their eggs. The weaker fish don’t make it and die on the way. These dead fish end up being washed up somewhere providing free meals for the first animals to find them. Indeed, There was a salmon skeleton further down the beach but the bear prints told me that it hadn’t stopped to feed. There were bird prints around, however, and they were the same kind that I saw yesterday. The heron must have returned and found the carcass in the night before the bear: it would have been a good sized meal for either of them.
The fire was still glowing and was easy to bring back to life again to supply some morning warmth to the crew. We broke camp after warming our toes, having some coffee and breakfast, and then we set off South again – with no howling this time from Dancer. A part of me was hoping that he would turn up but I knew that it would be too dangerous for him this far from the campsites with wolves around.
With little effort we covered the some distance and a few miles down someone spotted something in the trees. we went to investigate. It appeared to be a platform made out of wood. On coming closer to the site we made out a table, benches, and other structures. We just had to land and take a closer look. What we found was astonishing: a fully kitted out camp, with tables, benches, wind breaks, even cupboards made out of deadwood. There was a fire enclosure and, stashed away under a tree, there was a frame for what seemed to be a teepee. There was also a pole set into the ground that looked like a totem pole – not carved but with interesting natural 3D patterns along its length. Near the pole was the cupboard with four or five carefully constructed shelves. On one shelf was a number of jars that contained candles, matches and a couple of handwritten notes.
We all had lunch at the camp and enjoyed the scenery. I thought it would make a great camp site if we stopped here on the way back with ready made facilities – probably a ‘wash room’ here somewhere too. The wind started to pick up in strength a little so Chris ushered us back into the canoe and we paddled on. We aimed offshore towards the west side of the lake towards the next camp site: the ‘super camp’.
The growing became quite tough and the wind strengthened more making it quite a fight to get to the other side. Knackered, we found a sheltered spot and recovered for a while before setting camp.
It was a good campsite and decent weather. It was more sheltered on this side and the wind wasn’t noticeable as we sat around the fire and each retreated into our own activities. Some read, some napped, some just took in the scenery and chilled. Brandon started to Marilyn’s drum; he was drawing the outline of two bears: a brown and a spirit (or Kermode) bear.
I played around with some twigs to try to remember how to make a trigger system for catching rabbits and other small animals – not that I was planning to catch anything. I keep thinking there’s someone missing; and, of course there is: Jenny.
It got cold as sun set and we all huddled closer to the fire. It was a little odd for me as there was the sound of waves but it was not the sea! There are no tides, no salt spray and you can Drink from lake, the water is so pure; I would only be wary of drinking from a creek if I couldn’t check upstream for animal carcasses.
Chirpy chipmunks chattered in the foliage of the trees and loons howled on the water. And I eventually drifted to my sleeping bag.
It’s was not the super camp but it was a comfortable resting point before the fight ahead tomorrow.