Friday, September 13, 2013

Canoeing and Painting in the Wild - Day Four, August 18

The Island on Mekewap
8" x 10"
oil on board
© Nicki Ault, 2013

Our last morning at the Studer fishing camp was perfectly picturesque. I will never forget the absolute tranquility as I sat on the dock with Olivia, the assistant guide's daughter. Together we filtered the water we would need for the journey back to the "real world". As we performed this task, twice we watched an eagle dive from the sky to catch its breakfast. Randi and Erica joined us and we spent a lovely moment of friendship before getting packed up.

Vern Studer, the owner of the fishing camp built a museum of its history; tools, memorabilia and
equipment from the gold rush days could be found within. My favorite part, however, was what hung outside- a Roughrider/ Pilsner beer flag. You don't get much more Saskatchewan than that!

Lori and Vern
leaving our cabin
back: me, Randi, Erica
front: Olivia, Lori, Jane
(Missing: our guide, Cliff Speer, who was taking the photo)

For the entire four days we had all been looking at what appeared to be a boat right off a nearby point, but we knew logically it had to be a rock. On the last morning the girls had to paddle over for a closer look and Olivia "got onto the boat". It is one of those memories that all we would have to say to each other is "Boat Rock" and we would laugh and completely get it.

This is Cliff, our guide and fearless leader, in his solo canoe. He is a master organizer, excellent cook and fantastic photographer. He also does not like changes to bagel recipes- long story, maybe he will tell you sometime! :)

Leaving Sulphide lake was hard- especially on such a pristine morning and we knew the portages would be difficult with the trees that were down from the earlier storm. Sure enough...

Cliff cleared what he could so we could get our gear and ourselves over or under the trees. The above tree was huge and was broken off right at its base. Again, we were extremely awed by the power of the storm and grateful we lived to tell about it! When we got to the other side of the portage I found a four-leaf clover for Olivia and then everyone began looking. In one small area we had to have found ten of them! We decided that this massive patch of four leaf clovers gave us the good luck we needed when we were stuck in the storm three days earlier.

After we paddled across Duck Lake and completed the second portage we felt ready for lunch so we found a great picnic location on a rocky point.

Jane doing one last sketch

Eventually we had to accept the reality that it was time to move on and complete the last leg of the journey. We launched our canoes one last time and paddled across Lynx Lake back to our starting point, soaking in the beauty every step of the way.

 bringin' it home!

This trip was a high point of my summer. I have much to be grateful for: new experiences, memories that will last a lifetime, new friendships and the strengthening of existing ones, perfect weather (storm aside), an opportunity to do what I love and come home inspired to paint even more, delicious food that I never imagined could be prepared under these circumstances (out of a backpack on a canoe trip) and two guides who worked hard to create a unique, safe adventure for us. I am also grateful for Olivia and the sweetness she brought to each day... catching fuzzy bear caterpillars, picking berries for us, teaching us about plants (ie. I now know Labrador tea grows all over the place in this area!) and creating beautiful paintings with her own innocent style.

Thank you Cliff, CanoeSki Discovery Adventure is top notch!


Barbara Muir said...

How magnificent this whole story is, and your paintings are wonderful.

Thanks so much Nicki for inspiring me again.

XOXO Barbara

Tammy Hext said...

wow , what a trip! Love the paintings!
Looks like you had your own art retreat!

Nicki said...

Barbara, it was a really great trip and fun to tell the story. I'm really glad we all survived that storm intact.

Hope all is well with you.


Nicki said...

Tammy, it was great! I am about to go back to your blog to revisit the paintings you did on your retreat. I really loved them!