WIFI, or Not

The previous blog entry (re: the new boardwalk) was first written the end of June when camp was in full session.  But our WIFI was so spotty that the effort (and three subsequent ones) was lost when the service failed.  Throughout the season, our connection to the big world was off and on – mostly off. Very frustrating, to say the least. (Oh! the words that were hurled at the big dish that is mounted on the west side of the dining lodge.)

Of course we called the service provider and from that first moment, their staff put us on the wrong track.  They ‘pinged’ our dish on three occasions and said that it was properly positioned – almost 100% reception.  So we looked for errors in all the other possible equipment components and connections. We ordered and bought two new transponders, a new modem, checked all the wiring, rigged and re-rigged the gear, and still, the service was mostly off. Yes, we had it occasionally, especially early mornings. But when it was needed, gone.

Towards the end of the season (and the end of our patience), we said ‘screw it, let’s move the dish.’  So we loosened the bolts and pushed upwards.  Perfect reception. For the last week of the season!

As mentioned earlier, I had lost so many blog posts to vapors that I gave up trying from camp. Home now, settled, and off to Idaho to visit my new granddaughter, Piper Graham. So let the posts resume.  I’ll get a good report out on the 2014 season very soon.

Appreciate your patience.

 

 

 

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Anatomy of a Boardwalk

As it has for the past fifteen years, a new season begins at TRL when a DCH3 Turbine Otter delivers Kev, Frances and a small crew onto the old dock, just hours after the Spring sun and warming winds have taken the ice off the lake.

Plymouth Dock

Plymouth Dock

Winter has retreated to the north of the Labrador for now, leaving only a few drifts as evidence of the vast coldness that, for eight months, covered our corner of the boreal forest. The willows and alders have yet to bud and tamarack trees have just begin to push out new needles.

Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw

Within 24 hours, Kev and the crew have the generator up and running, the water lines re-attached, and the boarding removed from the camps’ doors and windows. A tidy path is cleared through the snow drifts so supplies can be carted from the dock to the cook lodge.  Frances and Judy stock the pantry shelves and clean the kitchen areas top to bottom.

The cold winter winds have done their usual damage – rocked the cabins off their proper footings and this year, even removed a window from the four man camp.  (Better wind than bears!)

Wind and a Window

Wind and a Window

When the rest of the crew arrives a few days later, chores turn into projects. Our 2014 primary task is replacing the aging, rotting main boardwalk that connects the guest camps to the cook lodge. To its credit, it has endured fifteen years of weather extremes, thousands of foot poundings and the endless munching of the few bacteria we have up this far north.  Gone, it is, and dangerous to boot.  And so begins the task.

The Dismantling Begins

The Dismantling Begins

Dave gets it all started with the removal of the four-man connecter. Guides Anthony, Byron and Ron take to the woods in search of suitable saw logs.  They scour the far shorelines for stands of larger tamarack, fell the victims and drag them to the water’s edge. When a boat load is cut and limbed, they tether them together behind the Lund and haul them slowly up the lake and into the cove nearest the sawmill.

Ron, Byron and Anthony Drag Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Loggers Drag Butt Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Out behind the camps, the sawyers begin to move timber from the lake’s edge to the sawmill where they will be sliced into two inch slabs.

Michel and Kev Heave To

Michel and Kev Heave To

Up onto the Sawmill

Up onto the Sawmill

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

The new treads are cut at 2 inches thick to withstand the weather and traffic that they will endure for the next fifteen years. We have used thinner cuts in years past. Though we get more slabs per butt log, the thinner boards tend to weather and break more quickly.

Simon and John - Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

Simon and John – Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

A crew of eight men make tireless daily progress.  Rails are laid and leveled and the tamarack treads fitted and nailed fast. Foot by foot, the new boardwalk takes its place as the main artery of camp traffic.

Camp Dog Bear Inspects Completed Work

Bear, senior camp dog, inspects completed work

2014 is a fine year for TRL.  All the weeks are booked full and the many guests will be walking the new surfaces, stopping often to photograph sunsets, visit with one another, and take in the surrounding wildness.

Rounding the Bend

Rounding the Bend

Chalk lines are snapped along the edges of the newly laid lumber, cut-lines for the chain saw that will trim the walkway into a uniform width.  Scrap ends are collected and saved for firewood that will fuel the many wood stoves that warm the cabins.

Snow-Cooled

Snow-Cooled

Lingering snow banks chill the end-of-the-day rewards. Calloused hands grip cold cans to whet well-earned thirsts. Then dinner! And perhaps a card game if the muscles are still up to it.

After the project is complete, we stroll the new walk and take inventory.  Total of 385 boards cut from from 130 trees.  2310 nails driven. Eight men, six days – three of rain, three of sun. Project Complete! – just in time, a day before the first guests arrive.

Next years projects will include building a new dock and replacing the ‘back’ boardwalk that connects the dock with the dining lodge. How we look forward to another beginning! One board at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rolling Through the 2014 Season

Yet another angling season in Labrador, our seventeenth, is well under way. After the past several summers with unusual weather (last year being our most trying), things are pretty normal here in Labrador west. Wind, of course, but no “three-day blows”.  Rain in just the right amounts to keep the river levels up and the water temps in the mid-fifties. And the dancing between angler and brook trout has been more than merry with many new beautiful partners. Kev, Frances, Judy and the boys are all back for another season with one new guide, Ron, hanging out down in the Guides’ Camp.  Pilot Gilles Morin is again in the Beaver’s left seat dropping small groups of adventurers into all our fun little pockets of streams and glides.

Life at Three Rivers is sweet!

 

Gone North for Char

Gone North for Char

Kev and I guided an author, a filmmaker and a West Virginia chemist up to the splendor of northern Labrador for a day’s char fishing.  Perhaps the most beautiful spot ‘on the Labrador’.

Tony's 1st Char

Tony’s 1st Char

Cowboy Coffee Against an Ancient Tamarack

Cowboy Coffee Against an Ancient Tamarack

Char Wins Grinning Contest

Char Wins Grinning Contest

Back on the Woods River, Kev and I stand at the ready while the Sage covers rises.

Casting Stimmies to Risers

Casting Stimmies to Squaretails

Author's Speck to Hand

Author’s Speck to Hand

Most importantly, our first four weeks of guests have enjoyed this lively and warm-hearted enclave we call our summer home, miles out here in a wilderness of an uninhabited northland. Songs and joking. Tempting foods and favorite beverages. Long evening discourses where we share our values and learn about one another’s dreams. Such are are the underpinnings for memorable days on the water – slow-motion dances with mermaids.

Once again, wringing the most (and the best) out of each beautiful Labrador day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Some Mid-Polar Vortex News

Spring is on the way!

OK, maybe not next weekend.  But my hunch is that it will get here and bring with it mud,  black flies,  fiscal cliff row, green grass, open water, the Masters and escapes to pastoral places.

Apple Blossoms

Apple Blossoms, Dandelions

Two Wild Anglers

Two Wild Anglers

All of us at Three Rivers are excited for the coming year. As noted earlier, this will be Kev and Frances’s last summer with us and we intend to make it our best year ever. We’ll celebrate in all sorts of fashions:  old friends returning, a passel of new guests, major improvements to the camps, and mostly, a harmonious group effort to fully dissolve ourselves into the wilderness setting and relish all the ‘fruits’ therein.

Cloudberry (aka Bake Apple)

Cloudberry (aka Bake Apple)

Brook Trout (Labrador Red)

Brook Trout (aka Labrador Red)

So we’re calling out to friends both near and far, that the torch is being passed to a new generation and we want you to drop your routines and become a participant in our history.

We are booking more heavily now than in any year passed.  We have a few choice openings so check them out and see if one or more fit your schedule:

June 20 – 27, 2014 – four rods;  June 27 – July 4 – full; July 4 – 11 – full; July 11 – 18 – full; July 18 – 25 – full; July 25 – August 1 – four rods; August 1 – 8 – four rods; August 8 – 15 – full; August 15 – 22 – two rods; August 22 – 29 – two rods; August 29 – September 6 – four rods.

As my friend Bill S. remarked, for most of us, “. . . the train has long left the station.  It’s not too late to jump on board.”

We’d love to have you up to share the best take on Labrador fly fishing.

Think it over. No regrets.

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Groovy Solstice

Christmas is a-coming. The reindeer are headed north to the pole.

 

“Christmas is a-coming and the geese are getting fat.”  And the reindeer are headed north – to the pole, I presume. For duty.

Elf Leadership Team

Elf Leadership Team

The elves are harried, up against an almost impossible deadline.  But their immediate supervisors have a plan, AND determination.

Nights are amazing, but very, very long.

Nights are amazing, but very, very long.

The long nights will afford Santa that extra time he requires to get his work properly accomplished.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

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Want the Good News First? Or the Bad?

We’ll go with the good first, else you might not read down to it.

Season sixteen came and went, like so many events in our lives that we plan for, dream about, relish in the moment. Then, like a whisper, they’re over and gone. ‘All summer long’ sounds like a good hunk of time, twelve weeks or so, plenty of days to enjoy warm winds, laughter and outdoor pleasures. But every first evening in camp, at least for the past few years, Kev, Frances, Judy, the boys and I sit on the back porch and remind each other that “before you know it, the boats will be hauled a-shore, the windows will be boarded up, and the season gone.” Season sixteen flew by for us, ‘the crew’. But it was sweet as ever.

I truly hope that our guests don’t feel their experience in camp moves at that same quick pace. I wish for them all a drawn-out, lingering string of wilderness days filled with the kinds of adventure and grace that invade all their senses and clear their minds’ clutter;

evenings celebrating with kindred spirits;

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alone times with thoughts and skills.

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warm conversations and catching up;

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and common bonds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

surprise_sm

As noted earlier, 2013’s weather tested us all. Guests hunkered down in warm, water-proof gear, their backs to the bitter winds. It rained an awful lot and the river beds were overflowing. The cabin stoves glowed all summer and Kev burned more firewood than in any three previous seasons combined. Guides’ skills and stamina was consistently tested. (They passed brilliantly). And our pilot, Gilles, performed miracles.

But rare was the day when we didn’t fish, even when temps dropped below freezing the the sky belched snow.

I’ll save the ‘big fish’ glory shots for later, because the adventure they brilliantly represent is truly only a fraction of the TRL experience. I know, I know, with out the fish, no one would come. But there is so much more to be enjoyed in our world, in our secluded corner of Labrador.

*******

And now the bad. Well, sad really. But happy, too.

Kev and Frances Barry announced on the last day of camp that next season, 2014, would be their last year with Three Rivers Lodge. They’re retiring. They have recently moved their home from Wabush back to their childhood community in Newfoundland, back to family and friends.

Frances

Now I could get despondent, slump over in a chair  or kick the dog. Think ‘woe is me’ thoughts, or maybe even doubt the future of TRL.

Then I say to myself, “What would Frances do?”

I have personally witnessed this lady take the full force of adversity on many occasions, and never once has she become unraveled, angry, or even lost her smile and sense of humor. What a rare soul. All that work for all those years. All those decisions, guidance, examples set. Grace under fire.

Kevin

No, I am counting my blessings and those of the hundreds of friends Kev and Frances have made through the years. I’m happy for them and for all of us who love them. They are the spirit of Three Rivers Lodge and

all of us who have enjoyed their company are better folks for having known them.

So 2014 will be a celebration of all that makes us unique and inviting, especially Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

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Woolly Bears

(Yes, woolly bears, not buggers.)

Road Warrior

Road Warrior

A Vermont State trooper pulled me over yesterday on a country road leading from the farm to town. He was professionally cordial when he asked for my license and registration. Compliant and affable, I asked what the problem was. Seems he had observed me ‘weaving’ on the road, even crossing the median strip a couple of times, and suspected that I might be driving ‘under the influence’. As he ran my numbers on his cruiser’s  computer, I sat behind the wheel looking outwardly calm and patient, but inside I was dreading the routine of taking my first field sobriety test.

When he approached my truck to return my paperwork, he said “Before I ask you to step out of the vehicle, could you please explain why you were driving so erratically?”

“Woolly bears,” I answered. “They’re all over the roads and I was doing my best to keep from squishing them.” When he grinned, I thought, “Uh oh!”

But handing over my license and such, he laughed and noted that he had been dodging them as well, never having seen so many of the critters on the byways. “Have a good day, sir,” and he was gone.

He was right!  I have never seen so many of the cinnamon and black caterpillars in all my years. But then this was my first fall driving the back roads of Vermont and I figured that this was just the perfect “bear”environment.

As I continued to town and during my next several drives, I observed the pavement carefully as I dodged hundreds of the furry critters. But I saw no smashed ones.  Not a single one! (My thoughts drifted back to my childhood days in east Tennessee, walking to school with my brothers, and the dozens of flattened frogs we saw on the country roads. If they had dried sufficiently in the southern sun, we sailed them at each other like frisbees!)

Apparently, other Vermont drivers have the same compassion for the woolly bears as I do. Now there’s a breath of optimism for the human spirit.

(I doubt I’ll be so kind next week to the partridge!)

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