Quotes of the day

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
- Helen Keller

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hay Lake camp, NWT

I finally arrived at a little campground that I had read about in the MilePost.

Hay Lake:

Just outside the village of Ft. Liard, NWT, this is a jewel.

The camping is free, and there are picnic tables, BBQ grills, pit toilets, a playground, water, firewood, and a log shelter with a woodstove.
Even though the skies were clear, I decided to make camp under the shelter and avoid packing up a dew soaked tent in the morning.

I just stood and soaked it all in, watching the ducks and beavers swimming across the lake, unzipping the glassy surface.
Life was good.
Then it got better.

A truck drove up, and I thought it might be a superintendent collecting camping fees. It turned out to be Frankie, another friend I've never met before.


Frankie is a local native man who works on road maintenance, and he's lived here all his life. He asked where I was from, and then asked where North Carolina was. I tried describing it to him, but he wasn't familiar with things like "Florida" or "Washington DC". He said he would have to go brush up on his history. :-)

He spent about an hour with me, telling stories of growing up around the lake long before it was a park;

of transporting and selling firewood by dogsled, of the old trapper ("a white guy") who used to live on the lakeshore;

of his father who was a forest fire fighter and survived 3 helicopter crashes and 2 airplane crashes;

of his brother in his younger days who was bringing horses from another town, and took a shortcut trail on a map written down by an elder, but got lost and spent 11 days in the wilderness, finally deciding to let the horse walk and find its own way back. 

I was absorbing the local history of a lonely outpost that will never make it to print, and few outsiders will ever know of the events that formed the lives of these natives and pioneers.
It was almost as if the evening was scripted for my benefit.
Then it got better.

I heard a strange sound like somebody throwing bowling balls in the lake.

It turned out to be two beavers competing in the tail-slap olympics. They didn't seem to be concerned about me, swimming close to shore, then farther out, as if enjoying the noise they were making.

This wasn't the campground of previous nights.
There were no RV's parked in the next campsite, running their generators until 1:30am...
There were no drinking buddies loudly ranting to each other of various injustices they suffered on the job, only rarely using words exceeding four letters...
There were no pickup-driving rednecks who had to spin their tires in the dust every time they left.

Being the only camper here, I drifted off to sleep listening only to the sounds that have gone unchanged since before man walked on this continent.
I had come very close to calling off my little excursion into NWT for several legitimate reasons:
  • It was off the highway by 2-3 hours each way.
  • I didn't know if there would be a campground available in Ft. Liard when I would arrive at 10:30pm.
  • I had to pass up the road into the NWT by 18 miles to buy gas, then turn around and go back.
  • Although the skies were clear in Ft. Nelson, the road to Ft. Liard was shrouded by dark clouds, looking more like entering Mordor than NWT.
What a shame it would have been to miss this one night that may stand out as the perfect memory of the entire trip.

Oh, yes.
Life IS good.

So now I am sitting in the Fort Nelson, BC Visitor Center with its free WiFi, sharing my life with you good people. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

I'll be heading south now, toward Prince George and Calgary.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome job at depicting the true essence of the wilderness! As John Muir said, “Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Safe Travels.
    Jay Liston