Victoria Holiday Week, 2018

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As a young kid, the end of winter was officially over once we were able to go to Pog and open camp for the summer season. It was always the May 24th weekend and my cousins and I eagerly looked forward to getting back to our favourite place. The ice was mostly gone, except for the glacier-like slab of ice in the south-western corner of Dead Horse Bay.

Three weeks ago I doubted we would get there as the ice was three feet thick and not much ice was melting with the very cold April. But then, it started to melt and as I followed the NASA satellite images I was sure the ice was gone two weeks ago. My hastiness was cooled by a photo Jamie sent me of a photo Cam took.

Jamie was convinced we wouldn’t be blocked by ice as we had a couple of warm days to extinguish the remaining ice flow. With the ice finally out the Wilmots and ourselves headed to Pog on Thursday, May 17. I hadn’t seen such a large group of travellers on the Budd car since the summer. Most were fishers going to their camps for the opening of the pickerel season. It is reassuring to see more people using this fine Via service: finally we can count on our transportation being regular and on-time. One unfortunate change, however, was that the Sheahan station was knocked down a few weeks earlier and buried on the spot. Apparently several other stations were also demolished by the CP wrecking crew. Now there will be no where to escape the winter storms or the summer bugs. Go prepared! See http://andythomsonbooks.ca/2703-2/

Former site of the Sheahan station

Jamie met us and after hauling our boxes, packs and coolers to the river, we crossed the Spanish that wasn’t as high or fast-flowing as previous years. We piled our gear into our ATV’s and headed for the lake. The road up the sand hill was much rougher than I remember it, as the rain water created deep gorges which made the driving challenging. The lake water level was higher than usual but at least there was little wind and we made it to camp in good time.

Jamie had filled the water tank but our camp was the only one with water in our pipes as the pipes to the south of us were still frozen. Opening camp is a busy time as pipes have to be checked – I had a few leaks because I had forgotten to drain my taps properly and they had frozen although I thought I had fixed them in February. I also needed to take out my water heater – it was over fifty years old and too high a danger to risk lighting it.

Mornings were cold so we lit fires for the first few days but by the afternoon the inside temperatures were pleasant. As we completed our chores and the temperature warmed up we headed out for a few excursions to our favourite spots.

Jamie had told us that the suckers were running at Little Pog Creek so we headed there. As we approached the old dam we were assured the suckers were running when we saw four eagles flying off once they noticed us. The stream was flowing fast and as we walked up the far bank we could see schools of the suckers swimming against the current searching for a choice spot to spawn.

Sunday morning was such a beautiful day we motored down to check out the water level at the dam and weren’t surprised to see it at such a high level. Domtar had checked it a few days before but lots of water was still coming into the lake, plus a day of rain, had increased the level about six inches and was close to its ‘maximum’ level of 1207. The water was so high at our camp we had no beach and the water was lapping at our sand bank. (By the time I returned to Toronto and notified Domtar they had been up to the dam to remove a stop log.)

We walked to the Spanish as we’ve always enjoyed the walk along the gurgling white water steam. To our surprise we ran into three guys who were coming up the trail. They were paddling the Spanish and had hiked up the see the dam. As we were chatting I turned my head and there stood another 17 paddlers! Wow, I’d never seen so many guys on a trip before.

We both carried on, Mandy and I to the Spanish and the ‘Score’ to the dam. When we climbed over the CP tracks we saw another group, this time led by Alex and Fraser’s good friend, Jennifer Holub, who was leading a group of ten paddlers. She had also stayed with us at our camp ten years earlier and she had signed our guest book. I could only imagine the negotiating for the campsites between the two leaders that went on in the Budd car at Cartier.

Our longest outing was to paddle to the south end as we knew with the high water we could get further to the end than during the summer. We passed Picnic Island and saw the three beautiful pines lying on their sides that were blown down last summer by a violent wind storm.

We finally reached the end of the lake (below), then checked out the site of Half-Way cabin that marked the route between Sheahan (then called Wye) and Sinaminda Lake. I could find very little evidence of the cabin early foresters such as Jimmy Dwyer, Otto Seppala or Tom Kingston who had spent time on their way to check out the Sinaminda dam.We crossed to the opposite shore and hiked the portage and to Kennedy and ate our lunch on the shore. Once we returned to Pog, we headed home after a four-hour trip.

The following day we packed up, closed our camp and headed for the CP stop, sadly I can no longer say ‘station.’ We reached the tracks ten minutes before the Budd was due. Sure enough it arrived exactly on time: 13:41. We made it to Sudbury by three and were headed home to Toronto.

On our way to Sudbury we stopped at the French River Trading post to drop off some books and after seeing these T-shirts decided it was appropriate to buy two. As I walked into Thomson’s wearing one, with the other tucked in my shorts so it couldn’t be seen, Robin met me with: “Where’s mine?” It worked and we both got to share our uncle’s story once again.