Destination: Gordon Island, Thousand Island National Park
I woke up very early on our last full day of the trip. The tent was scorching. Because we’d travelled by canoe, we just had my small tent, and with two people plus the hot sun overhead, the interior was uncomfortably warm. I was a little nervous upon opening the tent because the evening before we’d seen hundreds and hundreds of millipedes all over the island, especially on the ground around our tent. It had been one of those comical moments: we looked at the ground with our flashlight and I saw one, then Christine saw one, then our eyes seemed to adjust and take in the hundreds of squirming, slim black millipedes everywhere we looked.
But the sun must have been too hot for them as well, because I didn’t see any on the tent or indeed for the day as long as the sun was out. That’s why the birds were so happy all night, though – it was a buffet.
I read for a bit waiting for my sister to wake up. We went down to the main dock where our canoe was stationed, bringing our food with us for a picnic. The breakfast fare was cheese and crackers again. We decided to take the canoe out for a spin around the island and possibly check out this other little island that looked rocky and like it may have good places for us to swim from.
As we approached the little island, however, we saw that there was a house on it that looked occupied. We got closer anyway so we could see what it was all about, and we saw hundreds of cormorants, I believe, all over the island and perched on all the rocks. It would have been a real shit-show if we’d decided to try to get onto those rocks!
We floated around in the canoe, enjoying the sun and seeing what everyone on the lake was up to. It was fairly quiet. As we sat there, Christine saw a giant fish leap right out of the water directly in front of her. I didn’t see it but I heard it. We let the gentle currents take us here and there, only occasionally correcting course to stay near Gordon Island.
We docked at a farther pier this time. We probably walked around the island ten times that day. There was a pretty spot out on some rocks where we went swimming. The water was really chilly – it was Lake Ontario, after all – but in the shallows it wasn’t too bad. If you stay close to the island, the current doesn’t move you too much, but when you get deeper in the water, you have to be careful. We spent a lot of time in the water and then on the rocks, drying off.
Christine began to feel very unwell. We were in the sun much too long without sunscreen, and she had heat exhaustion. I made dinner – instant mashed potatoes – and Christine ate a little and then had to go to the tent to lie down. The sun was lower so it began to cool off, but she was in bad shape. I brought her lots of water that I filtered from the lake and tried to keep her hydrated. While she was resting, I cleaned up the dishes and headed back to the swimming spot to do some writing. I write in two journals – the larger one where I describe the details of the day and from where I’m transcribing this travelogue, and a smaller notebook, without lines, that my friend made me. In that second notebook, I keep revelations, notes to myself, and insights that I have about my purpose, my journey, or what the right action is for me to take. I really enjoyed this solo time, though I was a little concerned about my sister. I don’t think I would have liked the entire trip to have been by myself, but I’m very grateful for the times I did get to myself. My notes-to-self were centred on writing that day, and how I could release myself from the fear of writing poorly, or that no one would read or care about what I have to say. I decided that wasn’t relevant, and that I would write for myself and release it regardless of the fear. And if someone liked it, or needed it, then that is why I did it. For that one person. Even if that one person was me.
After a few hours at the rock, with my feet in the water and my hand busy scribbling, I returned to the campsite and checked in on Christine. She woke up and reported feeling a little better, but I gave her lots of water regardless. Once she perked up, we both returned to the swimming spot and were gifted with the most beautiful sunset that we were able to watch from start to finish. We took lots of photos of the transition and talked about what the world had waiting for us when we returned the next day.
I really liked that our last full day on the trip included no cell service, staying in the same spot for two nights, and more complete isolation than we’d had before, even including the interior backpacking we’d done. I also loved that on our trip we’d gone as far as Vancouver Island, all the way across Canada to Newfoundland the island, and spent our last nights on Gordon Island. It felt like a beautiful way to conclude our epic adventure.
It was only about 8pm when we returned to the tent for the night. We left the fly off the tent in hopes that we wouldn’t be awoken so steamily the next day, and we could see the stars through the mesh when they came out eventually. I read and so did my sister. I fell asleep around 10pm and Christine later reported that she was up for another couple hours after me but slept well when she got there.