Lake Kawnipi in Quetico Provincial Park is one of my favorite places in the world to adventure travel, and has an honored spot on my bucket list killers. Kawnipi is a giant lake with many bays and places to explore. It is probably over ten miles long. There are two distinct parts to the lake. This is because a forest fire ravaged the southern portion in 1995.
The northern portion retains its forested beauty, but the southern half looks less pristine. This does not mean the southern half is not worth visiting. I still find it beautiful despite the still burned out aura. There is something very eerie about this area with trees only half grown and a few full grown trees awkwardly sticking out above the others as if suffering from survivor’s guilt. It almost gives this section a Tim Burton movie feel to it.
The day my Dad and I paddled on this section was completely overcast, so the cloudy sky gave it even more of haunted look. I think it was a little foggy as well.
Usually this stretch of lake is really windy with large stretches of open water prone to fierce wind and large waves. On this day it was completely peaceful and the lake was like glass. This is very rare in Quetico.
We saw a group of three canoes with three people in each boat as we entered the southern portion of the lake after the last portage at Kennebis Falls. These would be the last people we would talk to for four days. We did see a few canoes out on Kawnipi, but they were a mile or two away.
The loudest object we saw on this day besides ourselves was a chattering river otter. We came upon mom and pa river otter at the edge of an island. We soon discovered they had a little junior river otter with them. They sent the pup ahead and then the two of them tried to divert our attention from their offspring. Each otter rose from the lake like a periscope and chattered at us trying to subvert our attention from the baby.
With no wind we made it in incredible time to the lush pine trees in the northern section. My dad remarked how glad he was to see the trees again. Trees are beautiful, but there is something about the stunted section of lake on the southern portion that yearns to me.
Perhaps it is the thought of the regeneration of the forest after catastrophe. It is soothing to know the Earth heals just like the human soul does with time after trauma and tragedy. The lake becomes a metaphor for the human condition. No matter how bad life can be at certain times, there is hope and regrowth.
The rebirth of a forest is also enlightening in of itself. We can do all sorts of messed up things to this Earth of ours, and if we leave it alone like Quetico, we can drink the water right from the lake, fish for trophy fish, and enjoy watching a family of river otter in their natural environment.
I might also enjoy this section despite its meager scenic appeal because it is a great memory of time spent with my Dad. We had a tough trip up to this point, but his day was magical as we flew up the lake leaving the hordes of mosquitoes behind in the Falls Chain.
This post was supposed to be a submission to my photo of the day category. In order to inspire travel, I have been including a picture a couple of times a week to augment my regular posts. I was just going to write a paragraph about the top photo, but I just kept going. Quetico does that to me.
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