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June 11

Saint Froid Lake

"Today's Goal: Saint Froid"


  We covered 18 miles upstream today first by poling, then by sailing the length of Eagle Lake, then by poling again in the Nadeau Thorofare. We stopped in a campground to see if we could buy a cup of coffee. Turned out to be a private campground, but "Karen" offered us coffee, in exchange for our story. It was instant, but tasted good just the same. Karen also took a picture of us with a twelve pound togue and promised to email us a copy (she never did). Then her father showed, who actually owned the trailer. They knew Lee Theriault, babysat his nephews. Small world up here, I guess. The dad gave us some pointers on our route and mentioned slim pickings for campsites on St. Froid Lake.

The folks up this way all have French accents, but I think it was Dinah that said they all speak a bastardized French on the US side of the border.

Anyway, the afternoon wore on as we hunted for a campsite along the Nadeau Thorofare. It was really nasty shopping. The terrain varied between steep slopes right into the water to vast wet marshes. We poled the current, a nice gravel bottom right to the Rte 11 bridge below the lake outlet. I saw one spot possible for a tent. But we opted to continue into the lake.

We had to pole up through a sharp drop. I went first, lost my purchase, and swung downstream. I ended up doing a ferry from left to right, then completing the drop with a lift over a log. JS did just about the same. Not wanting to repeat that, we felt committed to camping on St. Froid or keep moving.

Houses, houses. Yes, and everywhere in between them seemed to be an alder swamp. Then we spied a long gravel beach on the right. We got out, walked into the scrubby poplars, and there was an ancient picnic table hewn from giant slabs of pine. Next to the table was a fire ring made from a truck rim. We practiced our stealth-camping and pulled the boats into the brush before unloading. We set the tents among the willows. Even the fire was hidden from view. Before we made ourselves at home, though, we wandered down the beach to the nearest house to ask permission. It was a summer camp and looked as though no one had been there in a long time.

POOF! Picture yourself on a beach of smooth flat pebbles, using a driftwood log for a pillow. In front of you, the waxing moon floats with the stars. The horizon of pointy firs is backlit by a light blue horizon and reflected perfectly in the smooth lake. Suddenly the loons begin calling. One vociferous one with a complicated fluting and two others at different spots returning a muted call. The echoes die before the next round begins. And so on in the still moonlit night. That is the wilderness I seek.

I stayed up late this night, reveling in the peace and beauty. I'm beginning to realize that lakeside campsites are generally superior to riverside campsites. The view is better. The water is nicer both for drinking and swimming.