Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Secret Lake the Faller Showed Me

Logged Area Surrounding Black Lake
I have known a few fallers.  As a boy, a timber faller, his dented orange hard hat and red checked jacket, talked to my father at the truck window about the way the earth thumps when the big trunks land. They were big trunks in those days. I watched the man step off the road, over logs, up the bank. His friendly wave before picking up his saw.  The tattered ends of his jeans lifting and dropping on his high shafted boots as he stepped over debris and slash. Dad started the truck, and we headed on to the fishing hole.  I turned in my seat to watch one of the trees at the edge of the cut fall down hill. The springiness of it as it landed.

A faller, his nostrils full of wood dust and the smell of chain oil, feels the power of internal combustion attached to a flying chain of blades, the challenge and exhilaration of dropping large pillars of carbon, tons of wood - the neck stretching openness in the canopy for the blue sky  to step around in fractals between the remaining treetops.

Plug for the gender mold. The archetypal-larger-than-life-macho-logger.  Steel toed boots, the heavy fabric of faller chaps stained with oil, the saw jamming fabric shirt brown with sweat and dirt, the constant current of danger like an eel in a river, the constant numbness in the arms from vibration, the finger tips buzzing.

After the saw is snuffed into silence, after the foam removed from ears, after the sky begins sucking away as much heat as the sun brings in, now low to the horizon - then he stops and ponders the beauty of the place, the funny way the cut opens the forest like an ancient story opens a deepness in the soul. The sweet smell of cut logs mixed with the minty crackle of gum. Good to end a day alive, and then go for a beer with the others in the warm loud span of laughter and forgetting.

A Fire Warden I met on a dusty logging road this summer on the hottest day of the year showed me a lake I could paddle on. His lake. One of his secret spots. He found it years ago when he was a faller. We sat in our vehicles, window to window talking about the changes in the forests - small contractors, more fatalities, a changing way of life. Companies from China securing fibre rights, converting mills to specialty products. And then, he said, he was married to a woman who was Chinese.

The walk to the lake was worth it, he told me, because he had saved a swath of old growth trees. The hillsides around the lake were covered in uniform carpet of new growth as I looked around after easing the canoe into the water from my shoulder.

The same familiar shortness of young trees. But along the edge of the water on one half of the lake a fringe of large trees. The faller's gift. He had asked the timber boss if they could be saved. The saws were already wining their way down the hill overlooking the lake, the trucks hauling away the big cellulose tubes. The boss said no, then a few days later, called back, "OK," he said, "The rest won't be cut." Sort of a miracle.

I paddled and admired the stand of old growth. At the south end of the lake, I tied the boat and walked in the shallow water.

The air was hazy with smoke from distant forest fires. The wind had been blowing earlier but had dropped. The shade of the massive trees seemed to provide an oasis from the heat and smoke.  The pattern of wave splash along the rocks.

They are rugged. They curse and spit and compete and joke. The rough company of men.  The guys who gave me a ride when I locked my keys in my Tracker a few years ago looked at me reluctantly from their Silverado LT 4X4. Working hard not to call me an idiot to my face. In the woods, regardless of how stupid someone is, you help him out.

Almost all the lakes I wish were protected, I accessed from the edge of a logging road. The patchwork quilt of cuts visible from space, and me disappearing like the speckles on a trout's back after you let it go.

on the hillside
a logger steps from log to log
hot saw swinging

Thursday, 18 November 2010

It's Hedgehog Season!

Hydnum umbilicatum
I have been struggling with some pain from a chronic health condition, but walking seems to help, so I have taken a few long lunch breaks over the last few days to walk through the forest near my home. 

Being under the trees, the rain water dripping all around me, the warm glow of hedgehog mushrooms dotting the deep moss -- it reminds me of being a child looking for Easter eggs. Hedgehogs are the colour of the inside of orange peel. A soft warm peach colour.

"All of our senses and capabilities, even our spiritual capacities, are based on ongoing contact with the natural world," said Stephen Kellert, professor of social ecology at Yale University. "Contact with nature is essential to our heath and physical well-being."

Today was cool, just above freezing when I headed out, and I was surprised to find that several of the mushrooms I left in the field to fatten up a few days ago, were already large enough to pick. I always try to take half of the mushrooms in a patch. I leave the rest to cast their spores and in case there are other pickers coming along after me. 

This has been a good year for Hedgehogs and I have seen very few Boletes although last year seemed to produce Boletes in large numbers. The mysterious factors behind mushroom proliferation...
The leaves are now off most of the trees. The alders are looking ratty, though still holding their old green leaves, the invasive hawthorns are fringed with tan and orange, still green near their crowns, the apple trees in the neighborhoods show wet apples as the leaves thin and turn to gold. The Oaks, maples, and deciduous shrubs have all given up their brown and red and gold to the relentless rains. 

Soon only the winter oyster mushrooms will draw me off the trails. Then the long sleep of winter. And THEN paddling time!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sold! -- One Close Friend, memories not included (I'm keeping those)

November 5, 2010
January 30, 2011 -- Sold

2008 Wenonah Solo Plus canoe for sale, Kevlar® Ultra-light layup with black anodized aluminum gunwales, burgundy gel coat, and Super Seat. 45 lbs. 
Price: $1650.00 Canadian

Current price on the Wenonah Website (USA prices):

Feature Price
Kevlar® Ultra-light layup
Burgundy Gel Coat
All-black aluminum trim
Super Seat

Here she is:

She is sitting on Anutz Lake and earlier in the morning I snapped this shot from her gunwales:

She is currently set up for solo paddling from the centre seat:

This was the view I had from that seat on that particular paddle:

You can see I have taken out the front seat. 

But the boat can be paddled tandem as in this shot:
That's one of the beauties of the Solo Plus. But I have to tell you, she shines best as a solo, and that is how I have mostly gone out in her.

Her is a shot that shows the excellent centre seat and how easily you can reach the water with her ample tumblehome:

So if you like a single blade style of paddling, she is well suited. But if you like to use a double blade, that is fine too:

One of the things I like most about her is the feeling of secondary stability and sea-worthiness. Here I am paddling her on Cedar Lake in a bit of a wind. Note the low profile which means she does not catch too much wind:

This boat has great lines, consequently I have taken just a few shots of her over the 2+ years I have had her. Here are a few of my favorites:
On McNair Lake
On Lower Campbell Lake
On Dickson Lake at Sunset (Thanks James, for washing her out while I took pictures. What a friend!)
River Near Claude Elliot Lake
Now that last shot was taken after we did some down-river paddling, and over the years she has, well, you know, grazed and tapped against a few rocks here and there. On this trip a tiny piece of Gel Coat came out and I patched it as some as I got home:

And in the interest of full disclosure, there are a few scratches on her. Here is a video to give you some idea:

Here are a few more shots of what her hull looks like the day I made this post:


You can see a tiny hole in the gel coat there which I just discovered when I took these photos. Pretty minor, and a good polishing would bring her back to showroom shine in in no time. Most of the scratches are on the bottom, but there are a few above water line, and of course on the gunwales:

But all in all she is still in very fine shape. 

One aspect of the Solo Plus I really like is the adjustable seat. Here is a video close up of that feature:

The inside of the boat has been treated annually (sometimes more often) with 303 and is in good shape:

She has been stored on these horses the whole time I have owned her and in August I refinished the thwarts by sanding them down to wood and applying 4 coats of spar varnish.

Additional Info:

If you are interested in coming by to have a look, please e-mail me at: inboxonmars at

I don't have the capacity to arrange shipping. You will need to pick the boat up in person.
Payment must be certified cheque or bank draft.

I am not flexible on the price, as I believe it is reasonable, and I follow the old Quaker idea that a price should be the price, no games or dickering. 

I'm not in any hurry and will amend this post to say "sold" when someone buys her. If it doesn't say that on this post, she is still for sale. This Canoe is now sold.