By Daniel Jenny
My cold nose woke me as it usually does. The fire was almost out and I was beginning to get chilled. The only warm spot was where my dog Molly was leaning up against my side. Flipping my blanket back, I grabbed a couple logs and threw them on the fire. The fire crack led, sparks flew, and a flame slowly came back to life. It felt good. I lifted the lid on the pot that sat at the edge of the fire. It was a concoction of beans, slab bacon, onions and basil. They had been cooking all night and were almost ready. I moved them closer to the fire. Breakfast would ward off the morning chill and provide the energy for a hard day of paddling. Dawn was breaking. A light Jog hung close to the ground and the dampness see med to hang on everything. Molly stood up, stretched, her nose working the spruce behind camp, hoping for a chance partridge…
The receptionist walked into my office and brought me back.
“How was your trip?”
“Good,” I answered, not really wanting to talk.
“Where’d ya go?” She asked.
“Labrador,” I said. Watching her frown, I knew the next question.
“Where’s Labrador?” she asked.
“Northeast side of Quebec,” I answered, praying for no more questions.
Again she frowned. It was the look I was used to following a trip. She just could not understand. I wasn’t about to explain.
Finally she said, “My idea of roughing it is a week at the Holiday Inn!”
I forced a smile. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that comment. I could retire.
“On behalf of wilderness canoeists, we’re glad you like the Holiday Inn. It’s getting crowded up north!” (Way to go Dan, alienate everyone.)
I sat up and laced my moose hide moccasins around my ankle. Grabbing the kettle, I stood up and stretched. The morning air was crisp and cold. This was my favorite time of day.
There is something about the smell of early morning up north, the clean air, the smell of spruce. I could hear the Cache River rippling a dozen yards away. Suddenly a partridge bolted for deeper cover. Molly jumped in pursuit. I walked to the edge of the river and paused, hoping to spot a moose. Nothing this morning. The dew soaked through my moccasins and into my socks. It was a familiar feeling, part of the morning ritual. I filled the kettle. The old tea leaves came back to life and danced. As I turned back to camp, I looked overhead and noticed there were no clouds. It was going to be a great day…
Patrick, the office manager, popped his head into my office.
“How was the trip?” he asked.
“Good,” I answered, thinking maybe I should close my door.
“Are there any golf courses in Labrador?” he asked.
“I hope not!” I responded, knowing full well there was one in Goose Bay.
“Glad to have you back.”
I looked at the clock on my wall. It wasn’t even 8 o’clock. I would never last the day.
I slipped my Cedar strip canoe in the water and secured the Duluth pack in the center. Molly hopped in the bow and we were off. We had camped on the east shore of the Cache River where it flows into the Churchill River. The last several hundred yards of the Cache was fast water and we soon entered the Churchill. The Churchill at this point was somewhat narrow and fast. This area is reported to have lots of moose, though I had not seen any yet. I kept to the north shore hoping to spot one.
The steep slopes and mountains surrounding Churchill River and Winokapau Lake are breathtaking. One beautiful waterfall followed another, particularly along the north shore of Winokapau Lake. I couldn’t wait for the next turn in the river…
Bob, another colleague, came through the door and looked at me. He smiled.
“My wife, Nancy, calls it PTD,” he smirked. “That’s for Post Trip Depression.”
Bob understood. I was fortunate in that I shared an office with a fellow wilderness canoeist. I wonder what the odds of that are?
“You’re right,” I mused, “I am depressed. It usually starts the last night in the bush. It gets worse during the drive home.”
“You’ll get over it in a couple days.”
“I know…” I moaned. “I have trouble concentrating. I day dream a lot, relive the trip in my mind, even the details. I’ll start planning my next trip and that usually cures me.”
My phone rang. I ignored it. These people have no heart. Thank goodness for voice mail. It’s only 7:45 a.m!
–This story first ran in the July 1995 issue of Canoe & Kayak.