The only fixed date we have on our annual cruise to the Canadian north shore is the Red Rock Folk Festival, usually the first weekend in August (second weekend next year).
This year we arrived early, the Tuesday before the festival. We wanted time to install the new regulator that Tyler was bringing and we wanted to do some serious hiking, as in the trail from RR to Nipigon.
The trail is about 5 miles and starts with a serious uphill climb to some spectacular panoramas overlooking Nipigon Bay, Red Rock and the Nipigon River.
The trail gets quite steep in some places, but there is help in the form of sets of wooden stairs that have been
constructed some of the steepest places. The northern part of the trail levels out considerable as it follows the river into Nipigon.
There is a nice view of the marina from the overlook as well.
We arrived at the end of the trail at the Nipigon marina quite tired and not inclined to reverse the trip and hike back. We ended taking a taxi back to Red Rock.
Meanwhile, the festival site was being prepared for the weekend festival. The main stage tent was erected and the stage platforms put in place like a jig saw puzzle.
The other tents were laid out to be raised then hoisted up and secured for the weekend.
While talking to Gloria, one of the festival organizers, I asked if I could get my glasses fixed in Nipigon. She said no, but another organizer, Robin, would be passing through RR on the way to Thunder Bay. She took my glasses to TBay and had them back the next day good as new (at least as good as they were before I broke them). Many thanks to Gloria and Robin!!
On Thursday, Tyler arrived with the new regulator that had been shipped overnight to Grand Marais. We spent a couple of hours installing it and testing showed that it worked. So off to the festival activities.
Thursday is the day of arrival for most of the campers. Over the years we have made many wonderful friends among the regular attendees and it was like a gathering of family as they arrived and set up their campsites for the weekend. Most of the early arrivals gather for the opening campfire on Thursday evening, the start of the great weekend of music.
Each year a voyager canoe departs from Rossport and spends several days paddling to Red Rock for the festival. It is billed as a “Voyager Canoe Musical Tour” and each year features a musician that will be performing at the RR Folk Festival. This year, the musician was David Borins. After the canoe arrived on Friday, Parks Canada kept the canoe in the marina and provided free guided paddles to the mouth of the Nipigon River to view the native American pictographs that have been visible for centuries.
Judy and I were invited to bring our life vests and paddles and join one of the trips.
It was as fun trip with a Parks Canada representative helping find the pictographs and describing the content as currently understood.
Later that day, the music got started in earnest with a main stage and three smaller stages providing a rich choice of music.
There was a campfire each evening starting before the main stage concluded. Many of the featured musicians attended, but the soul of the festival is the music played by anyone that wants to play. One rule around the campfire is that anyone can take a turn singing and it is amazing how many musicians turn out.
These campfires can last into the not so early morning hours.
I have rolled into bed around 0530 on occasion then get up for another round the next day. One of our friends never fails to bring tears to our eyes when she sings the song she wrote for Judy after her heart incident at the festival in 2009.
Finally on Sunday evening after most of the campers and day visitors have left, there is a gathering and one final campfire for the remaining campers. It is usually a pot luck and the campfire becomes more than music. Each person gets a chance to either sing, tell a story or relate a personal experience or reflection. It is a nice low key end to a wonderful weekend.
We look forward to next year’s tenth anniversary event which should be even better.