Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Canoeing: Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit (1)

Hard to believe it's been four years since my wife and I completed the Sayward circuit as part of her annual birthday celebration trip. Since this year's birthday fell on a Tuesday during a really busy work week, we're left with memories from 2010 until we can find a few days to sneak away again. Another visit to the Sayward Circuit may be just right.

June 15, 2010: Things weren’t looking very good when, fewer than 50 kilometres from our launching point for the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit, my wife and I hit the heart of a big-box mega-complex.

Alas, this was the surest place to invest in the fishing equipment that would reward us with countless gut-busting lake-side feasts. Toting shinny new rods and lures as well as a few last-minute grocery items (including one kilo of rice crackers), we continue the drive north.

The scenery along the 30-minute drive from Campbell River to our launching point on Mohun Lake wasted little time shedding aside Campbell River's heavy and historic industrial mantle. In exchange, we were greeted with the Sayward Forest's modest backwoods landscape.

We entered the Mohun Lake camping compound at the lake’s south end and were greeted by a woodsy caretaker who offered us a photocopied map of the route.

Mohun Lake Campground: leave your car here and rest assured it will be there when you return.

“You guys have a map?” he asked, only minutes before we were to set off on our four-day paddle.

Given that the map had fewer than half of the route’s actual established campsites and scant detail about the portages along the way, it likely causes canoeists more grief than good.

'Woodsy' then made sure to catch us up on tales of those who came before us.

There was the couple that chose to turn back after getting mixed up in a beaver damn-strewn swamp. There was another group that decided, mid-journey, to pack it in and hike back along several kilometres of dusty logging road. And then there was the group of spirited youngsters who wrapped their aluminum canoe around a rock at the circuit's lone set of rapids.

We grabbed the map and asked for some tips.

The attendant couldn’t really say what lay in store since he hadn’t actually been to the lake’s other end in years, let alone to any of the circuit's other 12 lakes.

Probably time for a new map. We had already packed this one, released in early 2010.

It almost made the trip too easy, almost.

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