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boya lake

I wake at my mosquito ridden wild campsite just past the Junction 37 turn off. Breakfast is porridge sameness. I pack and get on my way by 9AM.

I am very pleased to finally be off the Alaska-Canada Highway. The Cassiar Highway, more commonly referred to as Highway 37, is narrow, without a shoulder, but the traffic is light. I soon pass a tent with a loaded touring cycle next to it and stop to say hi. However, the occupant is clearly not an early riser and there is no response.

Before long I pass another cyclist; Danny, a 70 year old from Israel, with an orange safety vest and a bob trailer. We greet each other. I overtake him but he is making excellent time, zig-zagging determinedly up hills. I stop for a morning snack and he passes me, shouting and waving. I overtake him again but later while I am picking berries by the side of the road he come up again and stops. We talk for a while but fall out over the origins of my name. He would claim it Hebrew while I feel it is more universal: Anna, like mama, is a combination of sounds that just happens, in my opinion. He leaves, offended, and I keep picking raspberries.

The berries are abundant, growing in cracks in the tarmac on the edge of the road. I feel that eating fruit growing so close to the road is not ideal but I can’t make myself pass by the glowing red fruits. I lose time to my fruit picking and only cycle 80 kilometres, or so, to Boya Lake, a provincial campground.

The access road is steep, dropping down to the lake, and I am in two minds but I speed down the hill. It turns out expensive but the guy who does the rounds to collect the $15 fee lets me know that cyclists receive a free breakfast up at his dad’s house and this softens the blow. I have fantasies of eggs and bacon.

When I’ve done the housekeeping – set up tent, cooked, collected water, washed the dishes – bikers converge on my campsite. The young couple in the adjoining site are travelling in a car, with their toddler, but they have bikes on the roof and a trailer and do short trips along their route. The guy has toured extensively in Africa, the Middle East and South America in the past. An awkward guy approaches my camp and passes comment on various aspects of my bike and gear. He confesses to riding a recumbent and tries to insist that I don’t need to wild camp between here and Vancouver. I told him three times that I like wild camping but he didn’t hear me. The sleepyhead from the roadside camp I passed in the morning visits and then goes on his way to find a free campsite.

Socialising done, I set out for a walk around the shores of the lake. Over the first hill in the next cove the water is bright aqua, crystal clear, fish suspended in the limpid liquid. Dusk falls as I walk in the forest. I am still having to get re-accustomed to the idea that it gets dark; I miss the endless light of the Arctic summer. The water of the lake is absolutely still and sounds ring across it. The hiss of a cast by someone fishing on the other side of the lake arrives clearly, after a slight delay.

In the morning I swim in the aqua lake, the water fresh and clear. I emerge feeling clean in a very thorough way, body and soul. I pack up and say my good-byes to the neighbours and make my way to the camp supervisor’s house.

Kids and dogs tumble chaotically about, a large gangly puppy and a dark-haired, dark-eyed boy of about five or six. I sit at the table and the child sits next to me, peering into my ears when I can’t understand his whispers and repeating his urgent incomprehensible message. Next, he tells me my eyes are cracked. I like the boy; his efforts at communication both fail and succeed. I don’t understand his words but his intentions are clearly good.

Two men sit at the table talking, a First Nations man and an older white man. A woman stands at the stove. She asks me what I want to eat. Porridge is fine, that’s what she is cooking – my dreams of eggs and bacon can wait for another time. They are nice people.

They ask me about my trip. The questions are invariably the same but the responses to the information I provide varies enough that, mostly, I don’t mind repeating. I leave with the addresses of the woman’s mother and uncle (the older white man at the breakfast man) on Vancouver Island and warm invitations to stay if I happen to need to.

After breakfast I return to the lake. I have lost my watch somewhere so I go to the shore where I swam but it isn’t anywhere to be seen. It’s a shame – Zanny, my sister gave it to me.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Melda | September 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with you on the origin of your name – about 3 or 4 things in my nephew’s limited world are known as ‘anan’ or some variation on that – including the family friend Anne. It seems to be one of the first few ‘words’ he could confidently say. (He’s now added ‘mer’ (=Melda) to his repertoire!)

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