For breakfast, at the top of our cliff, we had oatmeal piled with fat blueberries. Then we began looking for the trail. We did not find it at the top of the cliff. We double backed on foot toward the beach where we’d almost lost our boats, and didn’t find it there either.
We found the trail at the bottom of the cliff, just upstream of where we took out. The shelf at the top of the cliff descended gradually. A clear trail cut around, over, and under the dead trees and through the blueberry bushes at the bottom of the hill we’d camped atop.
Trees had overgrown part of the trail, so we broke branches off. A tree with all its branches, in the unburnt forest at the put-in, lay across the path near the end. We broke it, cut it, and cleared the way.
The six back and forths, ups, downs, and overs, made the portage exhausting work that took half the day and all of our energy.
Once finished, we rested for about 15 minutes, and then launched, pushing our weariness away.
Before long, we were at another portage. As we unpacked our boats on the beach, a couple of young French-speaking guys paddled around the corner in their canoe. They’d paddled down from the Goin Reservoir, one of our way points, and were as excited to exchange pleasantries as we were, though they spoke almost no English.
The river fell over a shelf in a spectacular display of hydrotechnics. From the bottom to the top of the shelf, we portaged a short 100 meters, and then got back on the water.
We ended our day at the bottom of a dam, Chute Allard. A kilometer portage waited for us the next morning, but at least it was on a flat gravel road. We’d be able to use our cart.
And we found one of Richard’s stripped birch trees, beside a campsite and teepee under construction.
The exhausting first portage of the day, followed as it was by paddling and another portage, left me nauseous throughout the evening. That night, though Erin insists it wasn’t that cold out, I shivered and froze like I’d never been colder.