August 13, 2006

Camping at Birkenhead Lake

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:05 pm by changisme

I think this entry will be one of the very few that actually talk about what the title suggests.



I’m a water lover. I feel that it gives the surrounding a breath of life. I’m not saying this just in a scientific sense (well.. partly), but also just the presence of water, its trickling sound and its moisture makes a flower blush, makes a rock smooth and make a mountain awake.


Birkenhead Lake is a rather big lake. It has a shape of a long elipse. We hiked around the lake a little bit, and saw the entire lake was just as green as jade. It’s also very clear that one can probably see many feet deep.


My first seeing it was under the night clouds when we first arrived. It took us some time to convince Monique to go. It was dark and we had a tiring session of putting up out tent in the darkness. Nonetheless, she was very easy to manoeuvre .when the possibilities of bears coming were mentioned. When we walked along the gravel roads in the campsite. We didn’t even need flashlights. Even though the moon was not exactly out, the light of nature seems to have provided us with enough sensory stimulants. The lake was just a massive blackness when we arrived, and there was a wisp of mist tangling over. It was just raining not long ago, so everything was moist and as the rain stopped, the peacefulness seemed sleepy.


The mountains were almost entirely in the clouds. We couldn’t see it. I could make out the size of the mountain a little bit by looking through a very small hole in the cloud where a piece of the spine of a mountain peaked through. It was quite a funny feeling, I felt the mountains, in the aftermath of the struggling of all this rain, was taking on a fluffy comforter and had gone to sleep. (well… we were the ones who were struggling hehe).



I’m an early riser, the next morning I got up and went to the lake again. She became an entirely different girl. Nothing was sleeping anymore. A thin strand of mist was lifting up above the water, but not yet quite up. It made the face of the lake look cold and elegant. The towering mountains were no longer covered by clouds. The greens and rocks were row by row receiving the blessing of the rising sun. In fact, I got quite captivated by the scene that I went back the next morning just to see it being very different once again. It was still beauty, but my words fall short on the description. I cannot to it justice.

On the same day, we went swimming in the afternoon. The water was clear and cold. Some of us jumped in. I guess that’s why I love being young, so I don’t need to worry about having a heart attack, but still, having my head under the cold water really made my whole scalp tighten up.


I have to say though, if last night when we drove into the mountain, I felt like an intruder, when I jumped into the water, I felt quite welcomed. Maybe it’s the sense of livelihood waters provide that invite me.


Monique was quite a swimmer. Since it was cold, all of us sort of jumped in and out, but she just spent five times as much time in there than any of us. She’s a fish woman!! Her plan of dragging Curtis down to the water fell through, though she did get him wet.. a little bit.



On our way back, we also went to Mosquito Lake. It was an interesting body of water as well. It was not as clear, but has a lot of life in it. There were fish and plants, and more swimmers too. We hiked around and saw this swinging rope. It looked so much fun. Some teenagers were swinging themselves into the water. Our mouth watered so much that we almost abandoned the hike.


We didn’t just stick to lakes. We also went to Nairn Fall. The glacier river takes on a shade of whitish green. I don’t quite know how to describe that colour. You should tell me if you know.


I don’t exactly know what makes the water the colour it is. Curtis said it’s the wash off from the white rocks, and it could be that the colour of the bottom of the river bed is like that because of those wash offs.


I was looking at the water running so fast, and I felt like a drop of water in there. It’s quite sad seeing the history just runs so fast like this, no one really quite matters. On the other hand, I thought that if I were a drop of water inside that river, I would be running along and seeing different things along the riverbanks. I would live a long long time and have buddies around me. It’s quite silly to sit on the side to watch life runs by, better to jump in, isn’t it?


The fall was not terribly big, but was very powerful indeed. Water just tumbled and rolled down from where the cliff meets the sky. I think the mountains were jealous of the sky, so they stole the clouds from it. Little do they know, clouds actually take a lot of strength to hold up. Being so inexperienced and maybe nervous from the crime, the clouds felt out of their hands and sing their way to the ocean in the west.

Okay, enough about water, although there is still one more thing about water: the rain and dew, which made our lighting the campfire a lot harder.



I really do think this section should be the first, because I loved campfire so much that I spent most of my time (less that at the lake) around the fire. I used to love it, but probably only someone who’s as trusting as Curtis could allow me to take on such a task.


When we arrived on Friday night, we didn’t light a campfire, mostly because it was raining and we didn’t have firewood, plus it was late and we were heading to bed anyway. Curtis did light a lantern though. It was the most curious thing! It has a little mat-like bulb, which get lit first. At the same time, there is gas pumping into the soft bulb and slowly get lit. After the fire is totally transformed from the outside to the inside, the bulb looked like when the sun is masked by a thin cloud. The second time when Curtis lit it on Saturday, I got to play a little bit with the amazing instrument, I wondered if the story about the poor student who had to catch a lot of fireflies and put in a bag as lantern was referring to something like this.


On Saturday morning, we found tha tit was raining the night before. The wood on the ground was wet and the place that sold firewood ran out. We collected a little bit of branches, which unfortunately was mostly wet and got some newspaper to light the fire. Because of the wetness, the smoke was roaring up like crazy. I think I got really dark afterwards. At first, I tried to help blowing from a 45 degree angle, which didn’t quite work. Then I went flat to the ground and blew pretty much horizontally into the fire. That worked a bit. For the whole morning, the fire was struggling to survive. Eventually, I think the newspaper and the semidry wood roasted the wet wood dry. We got a fire going!!


Later in the evening, the firewood came, but the newspaper got kind of dewy. That wasn’t too bad though. I started to light a fire, but for some reason I still don’t know, my fire didn’t quite survive, although it didn’t die completely. Curtis came to my rescue and somehow he fiddled around with it a little and it just cracked the big logs open. LOL I’m not sure what he did, I think he just moved the branches a little and optimized the spacing a little bit. I wish I were  a better learner.


Even though I wasn’t the creator of that fire, I took over the guardianship. I really do love it. Looking at the tongues of fire dancing was really mesmerizing and made me think of many things. I could see how Lucy from Narnia could be put to sleep by Tomnas’ fireplace trick!


After dark, we went to see the meteorites. We were quite fortunate for the fact that this weekend had meteor showers. We went lying at the beach in a row on Dustin’s sleeping mats. We saw quite a few falling stars and at the same time the sheet of starry night sky was rolling like a film in front of us. Some stars gradually rolled behind the mountains, while the glowing of the moon became more and more hopeful.


It was funny to see the heavenly fire after playing with our campfire for the whole day. The “falling fires” were so bright but for such a long time. I remembered my elderlies used to tell me that a day on earth is a year in heaven.


Do you think God saw my campfire? Do you think God liked it? I liked it… and I liked God’s falling fires too, but I am so dull that I can only see things that are in such magnitude. Oh well… in any case, beauty was what it was.



The next morning, I woke up early as usual, and lit my own fire. I dissembled the juice box because we ran out of newspaper, and I found some relatively dry branches. My first attempt apparently failed, and the bad thing was that the juice box bits didn’t last very long. I borrowed some paper from our neighbour and gave it a second try. It worked beautifully! The condition was quite perfect, since it didn’t rain lass night, the only wetness came from the dew. That was alright. I’m still quite proud that I lit a campfire.. Curtis woke up and said I was quite noisy (blush blush), then Konrad and Dustin woke up as well. The fire was up, everyone was happy and we cooked bacon over it. (*mmmmm*)


I was appreciating the warmth and I also felt the burn on my leg. On the one hand, we are so dependent on nature, and to be honest, I really love the nature. I want to be one with it. However, I just feel there is distance between us. We cannot be one with the water and the fire, they are harsh things. It’s probably not very nice to say they are hostile, but they are when we get too close. As much as we are with the fire and the water, and everything else in this world of nature, we are not in it, we are not it.  Curtis said it’s the question of otherness. What does it mean to be individualized and a particle in a community at the same time? What does it mean to appreciate what differs? Now that I’m back to the city with traffic and neon lights, am I one with or other to what’s around me? Maybe neither? Or maybe both?


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