We set out in the morning from the last hospitality we’d see for a hundred miles.
Before long, we were at the beaver dam. We found the portage trail to the right, between the dams. We got out, climbed over the first, passed the kayaks over, and then made trips through the short portage. Our boats were a lot lighter than they‘d been a month earlier.
I’m a little worried I broke the dam some climbing over it. It seemed like the trickle of water flowing though had grown. Hopefully it wouldn't be too hard for the beaver to fix.
We took a raspberry break, then continued. The shallow muddy river turned to the left, where we caught a fish! The water seemed to grow shallower as we progressed.
We arrived at a fork in the river. Our map showed the path to the right to be larger, so we went that way.
The river narrowed to a trickle, and a beaver dam. We got out and climbed over. On the other side of the beaver dam we found a pool, with another beaver dam at the end.
After the second beaver dam, we found an even shallower pool with an old road at the end. The water trickled into some bushes where we found and followed a short portage trail to the next section.
Leeches glumped around Erin’s boat! We tried to get them out without touching them, using sticks. But the squirmy little bastards refused to cooperate, so eventually I used my hands.
We paddled 500 feet before the river became a tiny stream that again disappeared beneath brush. We looked for a portage trail, and did not find one. I tried following the stream. I used the saw on my knife to cut through the near impenetrable growth. Erin followed a lead in another direction.
After hacking, bending and breaking branches, I found a trail that crossed the river. I called to Erin, and we explored it. In one direction, after losing and refinding the the obscure path, we arrived at the next section of pseudo-river. We followed the trail in the other direction from the stream to a swampy area about 30 feet back from where I started following the water on foot.
The portage was not short, and involved climbing over fallen trees, and rotating the boats around tight turns. For one short section, we pulled the boats through marsh, but before long, we were back to lugging them over dry land. Each of the five sections — trail, first marsh, trail, second marsh, last section of trail – we were able to do in three trips, about half the time it would have taken us a month earlier laden with more supplies.
The rain came down hard, and by the time we completed the portage, our exhausting day had come to an end. Eventually, this stream and collection of swamps and lakes that we followed would become the Megiscane. We hoped that would be tomorrow.
As the rain poured around us the water in the swamps rose and a discernable, if shallow current began to flow. We found ground that we hoped was high enough to pitch our tent on without getting whisked away, and walked across the river to prepare dinner so that bears wouldn’t be attracted to our camp.
We found moose tracks.