Some of you may recall some of our previous adventures in Gatineau Park:Breakfast in GatineauSummit Hike
This time I was finally able to bring our kayaks, and so we headed for one of the three lakes in the park- Meech. We'd driven by Meech Lake in the past but until now we'd never seen the boat launch. Plus, this being a less popular season (technically it's fall here now) there was no charge for parking, which we also appreciated. Still, we wasted absolutely no time getting the boats in the water and got on with our adventure.
Meech Lake is highly protected, so other than a couple of boat launches and a beach, there are really no access points to it. However, once you are in it, you can only get out at one of the mentioned locations- no getting out to pee in the woods or anything like that, so we had to be very careful what we did. Even so, there appears to be good fishing in there, although as we aren't licensed to fish in Quebec (we live on the other side of the river in Ontario, and are licensed there) we hadn't brought our fishing gear.
There are a few deep spots in Meech Lake, but for the most part it is relatively shallow, especially by the banks where the water is almost crystal clear. It was a joy to paddle here, as shallow water is where a kayak really excels.
One of the neat things about Gatineau Park is that it is a protected area and a Provincial Park, but there are houses within it- usually you don't get houses in a Provincial Park, but as the park grew and the government purchased more and more land for the park, some of it encompassed land that people were living in. To me, this is something of a dream, and one day I hope to have amassed the millions of dollars necessary to live here. Since it is a Provincial Park, nothing else will ever be built there, which means no one will ever open up a TGIFridays around the corner and ruin the tranquility- and, you are a ten minute drive from downtown Gatineau and fifteen minutes from downtown Ottawa, so you won't ever have any problems obtaining things, traveling etc. But, you will live in the woods, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of protected woodland!
Other than the odd boat house, we got to enjoy the woods and the lake just as it would have been a hundred years ago.... or three hundred years ago. I have often thought that it would be amazing to be able to go back in time and see what the places I have been to would have looked like every 50 years or so throughout history. But, when I was kid I tried to invent time travel only to be disillusioned to find out that someone had beaten me to it a century from now.
Even so, spending time in a place like this makes you feel like you have gone back in time, as the trees and the rocks have been standing in the same places since my grandfather was in diapers, and that is a very humbling thought. This is a truly beautiful area, and even though we have walked through it, driven through it and cooked breakfast in it, kayaking always brings a different perspective, as you get to get off the roads that someone else has made or step off the paths that others have cleared, and really appreciate the woods and the lake for what they are.
I realize that sounds a bit philosophical, but there isn't a trail in the woods that you get to see this woodpecker apartment building. Maybe there are others, but as there are no people around this one there are likely to be more bugs and more birds, and so it has been shaped differently than one on the trail- of course, you'd probably need to be an ornithologist to spot those differences, but I can appreciate the differences without understanding them.
The above plaques were at an old dam that we found that possibly used to be a mill of some sort, as this whole area had been used as a transitway for logs many years ago. In fact, the city of Gatineau was originally named Wrightstown after it's founder Philemon Wright, who had established the community on the Gatineau River for agriculture but he soon decided to get into logging instead because of the sheer amount of it in the area.
Seeing the Majestic Canadian smurfhawk landing under the Pride of Canada, our flag, the Maple Leaf amused me to no end, so I had to take a picture of it too. Don't tell me you thought my intellectual, historical and philosophical nonsense was going to continue, did you? This is MTO, and you should have known better.
With a few more pictures taken we decided to start heading back- after all, the forecast was for rain and we really didn't want to get caught in it. As it happened, we turned out to be very lucky and we not only had the boats loaded on the trailer, but we'd also made it home before the rain started! I don't usually have good luck like that, so I can only assume that the Fates have something horrible building for me- but I'm happy to face it, knowing we had such a great morning paddling on Meech Lake.