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Old 09-26-2013, 01:12 PM   #481
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Algonquin Park Canoe Trip

Dr. Beard and myself planned a canoe trip in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park for mid September knowing full well the weather could be iffy/cold. We rode our GS's up there and had a blast. This is the ride/paddle report.

Route: 420mi

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All loaded and ready to leave. The packing setup was very strange for us both requiring camping/backpacking gear, a PFD and the usualy motorcycle camping gear too. Good thing we have the mighty BMW GS


My starting mileage:


Cruising along the Potomac River on Columbia Island.


Toothpick


We slabbed it up 270 to 15N and into PA farm country. The weather was great this morning and temps were in the low 60's.


From Harrisburg we set North on the less travelled eastern side of the river along Hwy 478(?) where the farm fields dominated our view and the river was never too far away.


I'm sure this BBQ would be great in a few hours. Onward!


This view never gets old. I just love these 80-100 year old Sycamores.




Fueled up and ready to roll again. Beard takes the lead.


Coming in to Danville on the Susquehana from the back way.


We continued N on 642 to 42 to 220 and stopped at a roadisde grill/bar/inn/diner for a bite to eat. I had the breakfast special for $3.99 and Beard had a big ol sandwich. The warm coffee hit the spot as the temps dipped into the low 50's outside with a bit of fog.




This unique custom sat outside.



From here we cruised north through Sayre and Oswego on up. The afternoon carried on and the wind picked up from the west. We took a break to make some coffee in the windbreak of a highschool. Always the trojans as a mascot for local highschools...certainly not a subtle hint.


Cruising through NY up toward Syracuse.


SUNY


YAY! Tacos!


We pulled in to a grocery store an hour north of Syracuse and picked up a sausage, some bread and veggies for dinner then hightailed it to the State Forest.


The sun was sinking lower but we had an hour of light left.


Matt went to set up camp while I decided to explore the Salmon River Falls not far away. I had seen their headwaters a month before in the Great Whetstone area and thought it'd be neat to connect the two.




Down these colorful and steep stairs.
v



And a bit closer with some yahoo blocking the shot!




I return to camp from the other direction to find that we chose the wrong spot...clearly.


So I go exploring for another spot and find this beautiful bridge.


We transition our camp down the roads to where we won't get busted. Few cars travel by through the night anyway.


We make a small pie on the fire then share the gooey and sweet mess over whisky and brews.
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #482
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Day 2: Chateaugay State Forest > Brent, ON

Route: 315mi

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The night was cool but not uncomfortable. I knocked my head on the sidecase a few times to a good chuckle. We were up around 7 and on the road by 7:30 to get coffee and donuts at the first gas station we came across.

Beard checks the weather front moving our direction. "If we slab it and don't waste our time, we may get to Brent and the lake before the storm does...maybe even find a hotel" < something he can laugh at now (maybe)




The sun rose higher to our right as we carried north toward the border.


Bridges by the 1000 islands area. Getting closer




Nope...No alcohol, tobacco or firearms. Don't look in this case for the flask of whisky, pipe tobacco and pepperspray. Uhhhh THANKS! moving right along.




Nice to be back. Think I'll return again in the future


A silly sky tower to look out over the border region along the river.


Beard really wanted to ride a Harley so he made his bike feel like one.


OH YEAHHHH


I wonder if a cross Canadian bicycle trip is in my future someday? Perhaps.


We cruise up Hwy 17 and turn onto the Brent Rd. Stops at Tim Hortons for coffee , donuts and wifi show the storm front moving in. It doesn't look good for a dry night in the sticks. We pause at the ranger station for our permits and the dude tells us there are free sites at Wendigo Lake 18km down the dirt road. Off we go!

It starts to sprinkle. I can almost hear Beard grumbling in his helmet ahead of me.




Just after a kickin' water crossing (sorry I was too busy riding and splashing around)


We make it to "camp" and survey the water. It is raining now and the nearest hotel is $100 and about an hour and half away.


Beard is not impressed by my hammock/poncho shelter but we make the best of a Jamaican Jerk Chicken meal as the rain falls.


60 and raining is my favorite weather. Beard...not so much.


But this warms our bellies and the mood turns as the sky darkens. I owe him one for making him sleep in the wet and pack up wet gear in the morning.


Give and Take.

The sound of the loons and the rain on the hammock fly whisk me to sleep. Tomorrow we paddle!
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:47 PM   #483
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Day 3: Brent, ON to Nipissing River Portage at Nadine Lake

The rain stopped around midnight and the night was wet and cool. I woke early, began packing the wet gear and ambled down to Windigo Lake for a picture of the sunrise.




Matt packed up too and we were shortly on the Brent Road headed south.


Our first stop was at the viewing station for the Brent Crater






The road was a bit sloppy in spots with the sand and mud but nobody fell over.


We made it to brent around 9:00 and began unloading gear and stowing motorcycle related gear. Jake, the crusty old sage who runs the Brent Store and Algonquin Outfitters post there had two lively boxers who were interested in our gear. While inside checking on things, I look out the window to see one of them taking a big yellow piss all over my backpack and PFD! I run out yelling but the dog doesn't stop. It just shakes it off and ambles away. I have a big laugh and Beard agrees this is a sign of good luck!


Loading the canoe took some time (1hr) as we made coffee and oatmeal. As we set off, a couple came down to the dock to survey the choppy water. We shoved off across the lake with a tail wind strong enough to push us around. We got a bit lost in the weeds in Marshy Bay and had our first 1M portage as the sky decided to spit on us. Our first real portage of the day was 1km, mostly uphill past the rapids where Matt carried the canoe.



I had a snack.


We returned down the trail to take some pictures of the rapids and in doing so, Matt lost the lens cap to his camera. He looked for it but wrote it off as lost.







We paddled a ways to the next portage where, for the first time, I carried a canoe on my shoulders over land.



The yoke dug into my thin shoulders and I lost traction toward the end and fell on a muddy bank. My right hand dropped to brace my fall and the canoe fell directly on top it, sandwiching it between the gunwale and the only rock in immediate vicinity. I had a nice cut, sore and swelling hand. Tough shit. Don’t be stupid.





From here the remainder of the day was spent meandering up the Nipissing River approximately 20 km with some short portages thrown in for variety. WE observed beavers, otters, wood ducks, many fish, frogs and a curious and poor planning Great Blue Heron we dubbed “George” that preceded our canoe by 20 m for a half hour or so.




The evidence of moose entry, prints and cracked vegetation suggests we were very near or being watched as we labored upstream. A number of large beaver dams could be heard in the distance and grew louder with the rushing water and tell tale foam as we approached.



Some of the smaller ones across the river involved getting out and carrying the canoe over if unable to paddle through. The sun sank lower and we took bets on how much light would be left when we reached camp. Fortunately we arrived around 6:15 with an hour of light to spare.



The “Spring” at camp was a shallow tepid basin at a tree which did not look safe so we boiled river water on the smoky fire. This, we later discovered, was our meal ticket to retirement as we plan to sell “Beard’s Artisanal Smoke on the Water” to hipsters nationwide. They’ll buy anything rustic, original and seemingly useless. On the search for the spring, Matt discovered a large moose leg bone and then, under a fallen trunk, the bleached remains of the young moose calf.




The night descended on our river bluff camp and a fog fell over the valley just in time for a moonrise. We cooked a well deserved dinner of Jamaican Jerk chicken w/ BBQ sauce (mine fortified with Tuna), washed down with our final two Old Chubb beers and too much whisky from our ration.




The mood was jovial as usual and we retired early around 9:30. I slept on the ground as it was very cold and no chance of rain. My poncho covered me from the dew.


The night was very cold and at the comfort limit for Matt and my own gear. Little did we know that temperatures dipped below 30 F and a heavy frost would blanket the valley as if deposited by moonlight.
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Old 09-26-2013, 02:12 PM   #484
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Nice. You always have such great pictures. What camera do you have?
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:10 PM   #485
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Great photos ...So what kind of pelvis was that....
Elk ??
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:37 AM   #486
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Looked like a great time! Hope to see you guys soon.
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:49 AM   #487
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pelvis has left the building.

Great job young man.
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Dang ..That thing is huge!!! Jax
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:59 AM   #488
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most excellent!
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:04 AM   #489
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Nice. You always have such great pictures. What camera do you have?
Thanks! I'm shooting mostly with a Panisonic Lumix TS-3 but hope to hone my skill on the D200 this fall. Ohh if I only had the time


The pelvis was from a moose, it looked young.
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:16 AM   #490
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Very nice trip report!!
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:18 AM   #491
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Thanks! The best is yet to come...7 more days
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:53 AM   #492
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Looking good M & M. Looking forward to reading the rest of the report.

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Beard really wanted to ride a Harley so he made his bike feel like one.
You know you all want to!



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The sound of the loons and the rain on the hammock fly whiskey me to sleep. Tomorrow we paddle!
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:50 AM   #493
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Day 4: Nipissing River @ Nadine Lake Portage to first island in Red Pine Bay

The sun brightened the atmosphere enough to waken me from my soft frozen slumber. I opened the bag up to discover I was up before the sun. I stretched, yawned and crawled out of the warm shelter to put on cold pants and amble over to the bear bag hung a hundred meters from camp near the poor spring.




Dropping the food bag in camp, I looked up to see the Nipissing River Valley encased in a hearty thick frost, an uncanny white, my first frost this year.


I hastily made a fire and began to pack as unzipping and synthetic stuffing noises emitted from Mat’s frost-encrusted tent. My gear was dry but it took me awhile to stuff it all away on Day 1.


I was still getting accustomed to packing for this trip in two bags which was a bit different than my normal hiking. One pack had to be much heavier with a combination of both our gear while the lighter pack (mine) was carried by whoever was portaging the canoe at the time. We’d switch off packs to facilitate the single portage method which seemed to work well for us both. We made coffee by the ashy fire while blowing on the wet wood.

Beard attempted to stretch out his legs and back
Step1:

Step 2:


The sun rose and slowly backed off the frost in a colorful golden line arcing eastward to the river.

We packed, loaded the now familiar kevlar canoe, and eased into the tea colored river. The fog and mist of cool air over warmer water made visibility poor when pointing into the sun and beautiful when the sun was to our backs. Fortunately few boulders or sunken logs, remains from the logging past of the park, posed hazards in this section of river that morning.


Spirits were high as the cloudless sky grew to a beautiful azure blue lighting the smooth portions of water in the same color. Wood ducks scattered away as we meandered around curves in the Nipissing shifting from soul warming sunshine to frigid blue hues of the shaded down where temps were easily 20 F cooler and frost still hanging on. After 5k of paddling upstream, we came to the first of a series of portages for the morning. At 980m, I carried the canoe and now lightened pack up a mountain and back down.






The verdant trail dripped with morning dew and wet my pant legs. I found the canoe yolk quite uncomfortable digging into my meatless shoulders.



Matt later gave me some good advice on a more comfortable technique. After another short paddle we came to a 1900m portage which Matt carried canoe and I, the pack. It was nearly uphill the whole way which dragged on and offset the serene beauty and natural pace with grit teeth grunts, sweat and cursing.





After a much needed snack at Re-Mo-Na Lake, we quickly passed to Whisky Jack Lake and some short portage to Robinson Lake, the approach to which led us into a shallow and clear nirvana of an inlet.





The clear water gave a wonderful view of the waves on the sandy bottom, many aquatic plants, tadpoles and frogs swimming past.







The 1200m ortage to Burntroot Lake was an okay carry for me with mostly downhill slopes and passing a pretty marsh on the right. The trail through the marsh was raised on a wooden decked boardwalk almost a foot wide. At one place the slippery and algae covered surface banked at an offset angle leading Matt to slip and literally “Take a knee” with the heavy pack for 15 seconds until he recovered balance and the strength to stand back up. No whisky was spilled in this journey.





At Burnt Root Lake, I snacked and we promptly paddled to a nearby inlet out of the wind to bathe.


My first cleaning since home on Saturday morning. It felt refreshing...especially when the wind blew over the water! I still smell a little. Matt had a lunch of Edam cheese and pepperoni while I sat shirtless on a rock drying in the sun while making a cup of coffee. It was the best of times. Our next few hours were spent paddling into a 15 mph heading down Burntroot Lake. The white capped waves kept mostly to our bow.


The most memorable sight was a moose cow and calf appear on the shoreline of distant “Anchor Island” (as marked on the map) and slip into the lake. Their trajectory was to cross ours but their pace was much swifter than our own and they swiftly swam nearly 1 km to the eastern shore of Burntroot Lake.


They climbed out of the chilly water, the spray visible as they shook off in the sun, then disappeared into the campsite on that point. It would have been an interesting day in camp watching a moose swim directly at you!



We rounded the bend in the lake and came across our first encounter with a canoe. The two middle aged fisherman were heavily loaded but had caught an impressive 2+ ft fish they called “Little”. We told them of our loop, to which they remarked “Oh the big tour, eh?”. Paddling into Red Pine Bay, the medium sized island appeared into view and we beached on the rocky shore around 4:45. WE explored the small trails and corners of the island before making camp.








I took the canoe back to land and broke down some dead 20 ft pine trees, loaded them into the canoe and brought home the bounty.


With an hour of light left, we made curried cashew chicken (mine fortified with tuna) then crawled up to the lookout rock for sunset.







A canoe, perhaps the same fisherman we saw earlier, floated past lazily trolling a line out the back. We were quiet as they passed, through assuredly they knew we were sitting up there. You just develop that “feeling” out there when you are getting to be one with the landscape.


The sun sank below the distant trees so we repositioned and took pictures at another corner of the island rewarded with two or three separate sunsets depending on where we stood. The canoe came back into view and made for some nice shots of the sunset with the canoe in the water.


Darkness encroached and the fire and impressive windbreak rock made for a warm backdrop to stories, map examination and panning.


The whole day passed without a cloud in the sky, not a sad moment. Nobody died. Life is great here. Tomorrow we paddle!

Darn food bag ate my glove!


A nice pipe before bed.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:58 AM   #494
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Day 5: Red Pine Bay to Hogan’s Lake

Quote of the day: “Iodine, bivalves and coffee. No one has pooped this much...EVER!”

Our camp last night was the tits! Once again, I slept on the ground but the high temps and low wind after sunset made for a very pleasant snooze. I woke and packed just as the sun kissed the western tree tops and burned the swirling fog from the warmer water.


We had coffee and breakfast then packed the canoe for a short 3km paddle to our first portage.


On the way we passed near a campsite with two canoes and a few folks joking about a botched group photo attempt in process.


I carried the mostly uphill but only 800m portage to Lake La Muir following a fairytale mossy and lush trail with sturdy bridges along the route. I snapped a few pics and ended it with a big smile and much earned protein bar while matt loaded the canoe.





The warm sun led us both to remove and stow a couple unnecessary layers before our long paddle through La Muir. The wind was in our favor as we paddled NE and made our first stop to search for ruins marked on our map. Fruitless but careless, we pushed on down to the end of La Muir seeing only one other motor boat a few km across the water. We spotted our first cloud in the sky for two days, a sign that rain would be here in approx 2-3 days time. Le Muir continued to narrow until we had 1 ft depth and constantly stirred up odorous silt with each stroke.


Matt repositioned and sat low on the floor of the canoe to raise his paddle strokes.


A heavy dock appeared beside a large beaver dam.


We unloaded the boat and easily loaded the gear on our backs.






The “semi-buggy” portage beside a cascade was a piece of cake and ended in a sunny marsh with many frogs and fish.





ABout half way through the marsh, we encountered two Algonquin Outfitter canoes headed the opposite direction. We exchanged pleasantries and passed on.






As Hogan’s Lake opened up ahead of us, we made for the first island campsite and ate lunch of sausage and cheese, tuna wraps, peanut butter and trail mix.



The Island had been burned by fire a year or two ago evidenced by the many charred trees and open lower vegetation.


Matt threw rocks as he is apt to do.


Full and packed, we set off about 5k down to our camp for the night 1 km from Thursday’s portage. The wind was somewhat to our side and we remembered to fill up water in the deeper part of the lake.


Unfortunately, Matt dropped one of the bottles in just as he was screwing on the cap so we had to reverse course to find it. It was quite funny as we both paddled to turn us around and go back to the bobbing bottle all while the wind blew small swells at us from all angles. It would have been easy to accidentally take on water or worse. Somehow after running over it twice and trying to bat it closer, Matt retrieved the off-white nalgene and secured it with carabiner. WE arrived around 3:15 and took it easy relaxing on the beach.




I spent about 5 minutes on the hunt...


I went for a refreshing swim in the cold lapping water and dried naked in the sun on the rocky beach. This is vacation.



We lazed away the PM resting our sore muscles and exploring options for tomorrow’s route.


Still relaxing.


Still chucking rocks.


The planned paddle and portages to Radiant Lake looked like a hell of a lot to handle for only two days so we consider aiming for Catfish Lake then the Petawawa River back to Cedar Lake.


This has somewhat of a risk considering we layed out our route with Parks Canada as well as Jake back at the Brent Store.


We had dinner then watched as the sun began to set.


And the moon began to rise:






Some rain drops collecting the view.


After drinking more whiskey than we should'a (Beard finished his off) , we attempted to hang our bear bag which led to much laughing and a few close calls with a rock in the dark.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #495
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Day 6: Hogan’s Lake to Catfish Lake

The night was warmer than Tuesday and I slept peacefully in my hammock to the sound of loons and owls calling out over the water. I packed my gear before the sun and made coffee while Matt stowed his.


I spotted a rainbow just south of camp across the water opposite the sunrise. This was my first morning rainbow I’ve seen since Newfoundland last year.


Rain pattered into our camp at 8:20 so we made haste loading the canoe and set off at 8:30 onto the rain speckled water toward our first portage of the day.



The sprinkles subsided as we skidded ashore at the Man-Ta (Meaning “This” in Algonquin) Lake portage.



We expected the mostly uphill portage to be a challenge yet cheerfully completed the 1845 M climb without a rest or complaint.




Moose nearby



Making great time, we pushed through the serene waters of Manta Lake to the Newt Lake portage.


This one also flew by. Perhaps a combination of technique, built muscles and lighter pack weight, but both of us were feeling on top of the world as we arrived at tiny Newt Lake.







We shoved off then had a snack leisurely floating across new lake. I enjoyed peanut butter and trail mix while matt had a protein bad.




The final portage of the day went briskly past as Sunfish Lake;s shimmering water appeared own the steep trail through the trees.


THe reds and yellows of early fall colors littered the forest floor and confirmed the higher elevation. I imagine it is still hot and muggy back home in DC. Sunfish Lake was an easy passage with the wind to our backs. We soon approached a wall of marsh and reeds with a narrow passage and 6” to 2’ depth amongst lily pads, weeds and mud mounds.


The canoe twisted along carefully and the sun emerged to warm our backs. We saw many loons, heron, ducks and what I think may have been a cormorant. After 30 min of close quarters paddling, the passage opened into the wider water around a few bends in the land until dumping us out into Catfish Lake. We pushed on until noon and made lunch on the windy rocky point of Shangri-La Island.


I made some coffee behind a rock out of the wind then ate tuna and trail mix as Matt enjoyed sausage and cheese again. This was becoming an acceptable theme and routine.


The wind picked up, we packed back up and set downwind for tonight’s island campsite.


We drifted past Turtle Rock, a feature used in ceremony and worshiped by the native people, which sat 30 m from an occupied island campsite on the shore.

Other than one beached canoe way off in the distance, the lake was devoid of human activity.


We shot for a narrow channel past some campsites when our island and its rocky point came into view.


We landed, explored, unpacked and established camp.


I built a cairn on the rock outcrop with three fallen pine trees that once clung to the grey boulder. The next hour or so was spent napping and relaxing in the sunshine on this, another “lazy” afternoon in ALgonquin Park.







After an hour or so and one big spoonful of peanut butter, we went for a lazy paddle to the nearest island to survey the remains of an alligator, an amphibious logging device employed in this region around the turn of the 20th century.

The rusted hulk was impressive in size and complexity with huge gears and pulleys, flywheel and boiler scattered about the pine forest. I bet it made a racket back when it was in service.
















All of the old copper was a torquoise green color



We paddled over to a few Inukshuks and explored some islands for a cabin but found none.

We were close and in the right place but I wasn’t wearing shoes. I had filled my clogs with muscles and water for a snack. I later considered the legality of this but assume that if fishing is okay, then so too would be eating bivalves. Matt crushed some limbs while ashore and I loaded them into the canoe, which we fondly referred to as K-16 Destroyer Class for the return upwind to camp.


Drunk off nature, the peace and quiet and radiant afternoon sun, we washed on separate sides of the island before the sun sank below the approaching cloud front.


We ate early at 5:30. I made Chicken Teriyaki, sweet and complemented with the addition of tuna, and Matt had Beef Stroganoff. Full and satisfied, we sat around the sturdy fire ring as two loons languished nearby playing marco-polo across the lake. Matt sure is looney for loons. The sun set through the dark clouds but graced the sky shortly in a sea of warm colors. THe wind died down as expected and we now plan to burn our stash of firewood. Our goal for tomorrow is to go to sleep early tonight, be out on the water before 8:30 first thing to beat the rain. Now to make some muscles


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