Day 8 – From Red Granite Point to Crooked Lake Island Campsite
- distance: 15 km
- time: 11:30 a.m.; finish 4:00 p.m..
- portages/rapids: 1
- P17 – 350m into Crooked Lake
- weather: sunny/cloudy periods;
- campsite: island – room for multiple tents.
Days 5, 6, and 7 had seen more than their share of rain; we took advantage of a sunny morning on Red Granite Point to dry everything before setting off, knowing full well that by the end of the day some of it would likely be wet again. Tarp, fly, the inner tent itself, bags, socks … all on the rocks sucking up the rays. We lounged in our camp chairs and sipped on second cups of coffee and occasionally flipped stuff over. Across the bay, the Fairy Point rock face was looking pretty dark in the shade.
Shortly before noon we finally set off. Just to the north of the camp area we rounded the point and were reminded yet again why it has the name Red Granite Point! There is a stretch of horizontal rock face with a reddish colour to it. We wondered if the Indigenous inhabitants of the area had ascribed any special meaning to the spot.
As we paddled by I thought back to a similar but much more dramatic red-stained rock face on Lake Titicaca at the other end of the Americas. We had approached the island after spending a day on the nearby Isla del Sol, the Ground Zero of the Incan mythical universe. Given its association with menstrual blood in the Quechua and Inca traditions, the red-stained Isla de la Luna came to be a woman’s island and was the site of a nunnery of sacred virgins. The ruins are still there. (See here for more.)
Lago Titicaca – approaching Isla de la Luna’s reddish northwestern tip
In Norval Morrisseau’s Legends of My People, The Great Ojibwe there is one Anishinaabe explanation of the red-stained rock. Morrisseau connects it to the slaying of the Giant Beaver by Nanabush, with drops of his blood sprayed all across the Canadian Shield. The “blood” is said to appear as pictographs on hundreds of vertical rock faces and on the bodies of Anishinaabeg shamans and warriors. The iron oxide powder was an essential item in the shaman’s otter skin medicine bag. It may also be how “red” came to be associated with the Indigenous people – almost certainly Anishinaabeg – the first Europeans met. (See this article The Beothuk Indians – “Newfoundland’s Red Ochre People.)
Then it was around the corner into the bay on image left below – we were paddling up to our only portage of the day, the 350-meter carry into (not so) Crooked Lake. Would the register stand with the sign-in book still be there? We remembered signing in on our early 1980’s trips. (There was another canoe trippers’ book in Mattice; writing your name in it was a part of the “end of” or “half-way down” ritual in those days. Let me know if you remember the name of the Mattice restaurant that was the keeper of the Book!)
And there it was! The stand with the name register in the box. We lifted up the lid and found – garbage! Candy wrappers and other litter. However, on the placard below the box, various tripping parties have recently written their particulars.
The well-used trail led us to the Crooked Lake side and a bit of a wade out to the put-in.
We headed up Crooked Lake and after a couple of hours of paddling decided that we had earned a lunch break. Shade was at a premium, but when we saw the open field in the photo below, we figured we could make it work. There I am sitting in the shade of the tall pine on the left, partially hidden by the tall grass.
The clearing had us wondering what had been there before and why it remained so free of tree growth. Some research when we got home revealed an interesting story about a now-defunct gold mining community of Renabie which shut down in 1991 after forty-some years of operation. We were sitting at the start of a road from Crooked Lake that went up to the community!
We kept going until about 4 p.m. when we passed an island with a campsite clearing. As well as a fish-cleaning table and a fire pit with a grill (not always positives given the mess that fishing parties can leave behind), there was ample room for our tent in a well-sheltered area to the side and yet more space overlooking the lake for our bug shelter.
A second easy day in a row! The challenges we dealt with on the first four days down the Little Missinaibi seemed like another canoe trip! Just a few more kilometers and the trip would be over.