Molly's Folly or the Best Laid Plans of Moose and Mollies
Eastern Ontario was more agricultural than I expected. I was told that Mennonites bought vast tracks, sold the lumber, cleared the stumps and roots, and farmed away. I stopped at a chip stand because when in Rome.
I saw two moose on the shoulders and crossed lots of swift rivers. The trout lakes I'd hoped to fish had a trail closed sign on them. I was tempted to ignore it, but pressed on. In Thunder Bay, I saw a tall, strong woman hitchhiking. I gave her a lift to Kenora, Ontario, atop Lake of the Woods. She was on her way to Vancouver. I just had an essay published called "Red Checks" about wearing a red checkered shirt on my first trip into the bush and she was also wearing a red checkered shirt. I felt like I gave a lift to myself.
My first lake was right beside the trans-Canada highway down a power line trail. Weirdly, it only held small fish. I moseyed down a nearby four mile logging cut. It wasn't as wet as it can get and was a fairly easy ride. I fished a skinny lake with steep banks, which was lovely, but didn't like paddling back to my SUV to sleep in the rear, so I switched to a tent and stuck with that. I fished a couple other lakes on the way out and then drove to a lake a little farther north.
Going down that logging road was violent at times. I lost my passenger side rear view mirror and dented that same side twice. Hundreds of scratches too. I later learned that the Canadian Army was using the trail and their vehicles had chewed on it like a rawhide stick. I reached the lake, but immediately worried about getting out if it rained, so I left the next morning via a different route, hoping it would be easier, but got bogged in sucking clay up to my thighs. I failed to dig myself out and my come along was locked in place, so I walked four miles to the asphalt road. I saw a hundreds of tracks and scat piles, mostly bear and wolf and then I saw one of the biggest bears of my life. That made me happy. He was so huge and glossy and healthy and I was glad to see at least one wild critter was thriving. I reached the highway smeared with clay and the first truck stopped for me. She took me to Kenora where I talked to a rescue crew. They were retrieving a semi that had gone into a river, so I waited all day.
They had a Kubota that wasn't road legal, but great for off-road with an electric winch with a pully and locking rear and front axles. Even it got stuck on the way in and the driver kept saying, "No way in fooking Hell you came down this road!"
I kept pointing out my trail markers and he'd say, "You got a pair, girl!"
The Kubota couldn't pull my SUV free until they tied it to a tree and the tow hook in the front got stuck on a rock on the way out, which necessitated pulling that rock out of the Earth. I added two more dents to the Nissan Xterra Pro4X and spent the night in a motel, licking my paws and washing my britches again and again in the shower, as we came out as the Sun was setting.
Smacked down by clay, I went to a familiar lake, fought the wind that was the common denominator at all the lakes, and caught fat bass. On this lake, I saw the only person I'd see on water, a trapper checking his trap line cabin. One night I was camped on a knoll of an island and a storm was brewing, so I moved my camp to the flat shoreline at dusk. One morning, I thought a big beaver was swimming in front of my canoe as they often do. It was hard to see because I was paddling into the rising sun with mucho glare, but when it exited the water, I was delighted to see it was a bear. I also saw a giant rabbit in one lake, struggling to climb ashore. It looked at me, hopped a few times, and looked at me again, as if I were to follow it, but I'm no Alice. I also had a critter on that same like keep moving my supplies. It tried to chew into my one pound of pecans, so I left a pile of them for whatever it was when I left.
I visited a couple other lakes and was frustrated by the wind, but it sure helped me sleep at night. I was too tuckered to worry about critters. I was also frustrated by my fish photos. I thought I'd photograph all my fish against a tape, but many were blurred for whatever reason.
A medical family emergency pulled me out of the bush early and I then drove from dawn until midnight to get home and spent the next 22 days in a hospital, the first 11 nights sleeping bedside in an I.C.U. So strange to go from the quiet, beautiful wilderness to the noise and bustle of a hospital.