Part Three: That Which Made It All Worthwhile
Back when I was first deciding on where to go camping, I knew I wanted someplace with boats— preferably those of the small, rentable variety. Also, I knew it needed to have someplace upon which to float these boats— like a lake, perhaps. It didn't take much research before I came across the perfect candidate: Chain 'O Lakes State Park. As the name suggests, this park has not just one lake, but a series of lakes each connected to one another by narrow channels.
"Eureka!" I said to myself, "Surely this park will quench my canoeing desire."
However as it turns out, the trip accomplished just the opposite. I enjoyed canoeing on the chain o' lakes so much that I now want to go canoeing again for an even longer time. As it was, the four of us only spent about four hours out on the water. I'm sure that we could have spent at least a day or two paddling from one end of the chain to the other.
We began our four hours not long after the morning's pancake fiasco. Fearing the small breakfast would catch up to us in the middle of the lake, we brought along a gigantic bag of trail mix and some granola bars. Renting two canoes proved surprisingly easy, and we shoved off right around 11. I immediately forgot about all the trouble with missing people and uncooperative cooking equipment. Surrounded by thick forest and lined with lush water plants, all the lakes we managed to visit seemed plucked from the untamed Northwest Territory. Leaving the canoe landing, we headed west toward where we expected to find an entrance into one of the connecting channels. We discovered the inlet hidden among the water plants and entered an amazing tree-lined tunnel straight out of Tolkein. It was as if the Anduin was a fifteen-foot-wide channel flowing through northeastern Indiana.
We had been paddling for maybe five minutes down this waterway when we came across a young, wet boy dressed in swim trunks shivering on the bank.
"Have you seen a canoe with two fat guys in it? One of them's wearing a black shirt?" he asked as we passed.
"Sorry. I'm afraid we haven't," I replied.
"Well if you do, tell them I'm sorry."
We chuckled a bit at the poor boy's plight and continued on our way.
Several minutes later, the channel opened up into the second link in the chain o' lakes. Here, thick water plants and duckweed lined the banks, almost choking the waterway at one point. We continued paddling, admiring the beauty to either side of us, and crossed over into the third lake on our expedition. By then, our small breakfast had caught up to us, so we drifted for a time while we ate our provisions. Satiated for the moment, we continued on to the end of the lake, passed through another small channel (this one was completely choked in duckweed), and arrived at a canoe landing near the end of the western branch of the chain that we had been following. There we rested for a time before turning around and returning to the lake where we had first set off.
None of us was ready to quit yet, so we continued on the eastern branch of the chain through another beautiful, long channel. We only went one lake deep on this branch, and decided to just drift around before heading back once again. We returned to the boat launch just over four hours after we had first set off.
On the drive back to the campsite, I would imagine all of us were thinking the same thing: that made the entire trip worth taking.
To be continued sometime this weekend with Part Four: Do You Feel Moist?