Embracing the uncertainty of a spring adventure in Keji

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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As Simple as That - a column by Jonathan Riley

The only way to know, is to go.

People were telling us all last week, as we planned a little canoeing and fishing trip, that we’d never find any water for canoeing.

The lakes they told us were frozen solid.

“I’m taking my canoe anyway,” I told Danny.

We stopped at the Lequille store to get our fishing licences for Keji.

The canoe strapped to the truck drew some attention and I knew we were in for some teasing.

Buddy walked by once with a big silly smirk before coming back to suggest we’d do better with an icebreaker than a canoe.

“Oh yeah,” I said not paying him much attention.

“I had my half-ton on the lake this morning,” he said.

I didn’t ask what lake.

Danny left then; he later told me he was afraid I was going to tell buddy off.

I didn’t; I just tried to educate him a little.

“We’ve got our eye on a couple stretches of river,” I said.

“Oh the Mersey’s running,” he allowed. “But I think she’d be a bit barky.”

I don’t know what that meant but I didn’t trust myself to ask. Time for me to go.

We stopped at a little run near the main road to fish for a while.

We even put the canoe in, ran a little rapid, sat in a little eddy and fished a few holes. Mostly just to say we tried.

After a bit we headed up to Keji to see what we could see.

The Mersey was running high at Mill Falls and the Oak Ledges—not exactly perfect fishing conditions.

Parks Canada didn’t plow all winter past the parking lot at Mills Falls but someone, I’m guessing right-minded park employees, had been driving a big four-wheel drive vehicle through the snow enough to make a couple of good solid ruts.

We decided to give it a try. And once we started, there really was no way to turn around.

We made it to the bridge over the Mersey without too much trouble and I liked the look of the river—not so much for fishing but for canoeing.

The whole thing was in flood; all the rapids were washed out making for a smooth ride on a wide fast current.

The only question was whether we could get the truck to Jake’s Landing or not.

We went to see. We slipped out of the ruts a couple times and I thought we were headed on a one-way trip to the snowy rhubarb, but we lucked back into the ruts.

Once we got down to Jake’s Landing, the next question was whether we could get back up out of there. We could and did and soon Danny was dropping me off at the bridge.

Not long after I paddled away, a warden stopped by to chat with Danny.

The warden didn’t think we could get the truck to Jake’s Landing.

“We just came from there,” Danny told him.

Danny was probably feeling the way I felt about buddy earlier.

Meanwhile I was having the best canoe trip so far this year – my sixth for the record, but who’s counting.

The boat was flying down the river, the sunshine sparkling on the waves and I was smiling like a little kid.

After a couple of kilometres the river widened out and pretty much came to a rest. The woods around me were flooded and the calm dark waters reflected the twisty riverside maples.

I paddled through the woods and picked up Danny at Jake’s Landing.

We headed out from there to see how solid the lake was. It wasn’t.

The lake was opening up before us.

The ice, more like hard slush, was evaporating before our eyes.

Buddy must drive an awfully light half-ton.

We paddled a couple kilometres out in the middle of the lake following a wide lead.

It was gorgeous—a flat mirror reflecting blue sky and white clouds.

It was a fantastic day on the water, one I would have missed if I had listened to the naysayers.

I’ll admit I enjoyed it more because people told us we couldn’t do it.

But really I wasn’t there out of a masochistic desire to prove people wrong. For me it’s about getting outside and exploring whenever I can.

So I do listen to what people are saying, I listen to the weather forecasts, and then I try to make a plan that takes all of that into account.

I prepare for the best-case and the worst-case scenario and then I go and see.

To be adventurous is to embrace that kind of uncertainty, to not know, but go anyway, hoping.

The good stuff is hiding in uncertainty; it’s made of unexpected discoveries, it’s the stuff no one else can tell you about.

Plain and simple it's curiosity that pushes me out the door.

Are the lakes frozen or aren’t they?

I could listen to a hundred people tell me what they think, but the only way to know, is to go.


Organizations: Parks Canada

Geographic location: Kejimkujik Lake

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Recent comments

  • al simpson
    April 09, 2014 - 09:39

    Great adventure!

  • Colin Mudle
    April 08, 2014 - 18:13

    I was there Monday and would agree with your assessment of the lake ice, due to the current weather we are experiencing I would expect most of the big lake will be clear by the weekend. On the main road in the worse snow conditions are always in the first kilometer but I expect that will be gone to, about the only potential problem area will be the gravel road down to Jim Charles point the was still a lot of snow and I expect it will be very soft for a week or so.