There weren’t enough hours in the day to explore Barron River Canyon, so we explored it by night as well.
Night cruising is a regular part of our yearly Algonquin canoe trips. In previous years, we camped on lakes and paddled out at night — listening to the owls and loons, rousting beavers from their lodges and stargazing.
Barron River was not amenable to that. The wide open section downstream of our campsite was fraught with boulders and sunken logs, so night cruising there would have been treacherous. However, upstream, in the two-mile canyon, there were fewer semi-submerged obstacles and most of them were near the banks.
So we’d paddle up the canyon as darkness settled in, watching the granite walls fade from orange to black. Even without the color, the canyon walls were incredibly beautiful with their stark jagged shapes.
It had been hot that week and, in the coolness of the evening, you could feel the heat from the sun coming off the rocks. Stars and planets became visible in the darkening sky and — from our perspective — shifted with the movement of the boat. I was mesmerized by the silhouettes of trees along the canyon rim, which also seemed to shift as we drifted along.
Most nights we had the canyon to ourselves. One night, four young men in two canoes came out, too.
After we returned to camp, we built a small stick fire and sat out for about a half-hour before dowsing it and turning in.
As I settled into my sleeping bag, savoring another fulfilling day in Barron Canyon, I heard the four young men go by. They were boisterous, clearly enjoying themselves, but not being rude or rowdy. Their tone or what words I could make out conveyed no negativity. I thought how wonderful it must be to have this experience so early in life, with so many years ahead of you and the promise of endless adventures.