Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Canoe Saga Continues...

Will and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Speaking of anniversaries, Will's folks took Lliam overnight to their friends' 50th anniversary party this weekend, while Will and I went canoe camping at Spicer Meadow Reservior (which is about 6 or 7 miles west of Bear Valley).

We had been canoe camping there before, probably the year we were married. That first time, we brought Will's dog Clyde, who was afraid of the water. Since Will is a man, and therefore can't stand to leave anything in its original, unmodified form, he attached his trolling motor to the stern of the canoe, not so much because he didn't want to paddle, but he wanted the thrill of "beating the system."

Imagine loading up the motor, a heavy car battery, a 15-year-old Airedale, and all of our camping gear in the canoe. On our first attempt to launch, we were towing some of our gear in an inflatable raft, which promptly capsized. We headed back to shore to consolidate the load, after which our gear made a mound that protruded several inches past the gunnels. Then there was a delicate matter of forklifting the dog on top. He splayed out his paws awkwardly in an attempt to foil our heinous plot to get him aboard. By the time we got going, a crowd had gathered to see if we would succeed, and they practically cheered when we launched.

That trip made quite an impression on us. So much so, that we dreamed about it years afterward, but for the life of us, we couldn't remember what the place was called or where exactly it was. Will and I are in love with the Sierra Nevada. We have the beauty of the mountains, the crisp peacefulness, the sound of the breeze rustling the pine trees in our blood. This year we were finally determined to find the place and go back. After sifting through google maps for an hour or so, Will finally had it narrowed down to three possible places. When I heard "Spicer", a lightbulb went on, and I knew it was the place.

This time, our load was much lighter, and we decided to go human powered. After all, I just got a new paddle that worked much better than Will's paddle from childhood, which is about the right size for a six-year-old.

We set out mid-afternoon, determined to find our original campsite. Along the way, there were many submerged rocks and lots of driftwood. I remembered taking a "walking on water" picture of Will standing on a shallow rock in the middle of the lake. We were trying to recapture that moment, but instead had to settle for this:

This picture was not without a price. On the climb up, a branch snapped, and Will ended up with a nasty scrape on his chest and cut under his arm. Needless to say, I refrained from saying "I told you so," although I did observe loudly before Will made his attempt that the branches looked rather brittle from all the moisture.

When we arrived at the cove where our campsite had been on our first trip to Spicer, our resting place was nowhere to be seen. That was when we realized that the water level was a good 25' or possibly more above where it had been the first time. Our former campground was under water, and so were a number of trees.

We explored deeper into the much larger cove amid submerged trees and tracts of driftwood. It wasn't long before we found the perfect campsite, with a spot graded for the tent by previous campers.

There was no other human being in sight, as we had the whole cove to ourselves. After setting up camp, I crashed in the tent for a power nap. By the time I woke up, Will had already built a sturdy fire pit and was diligently splitting kindling for our campfire.

Before long, he had a nice blaze going, and we had an easy dinner, played cards and relaxed.

The next morning, the water was as smooth as glass. It was such a peaceful counterpoint to our electronic lives. We can't wait to take Lliam canoe camping.

Check out flickr for more pics.

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