Light rapids brought us to a lake which in turn led us to more river, then another lake.
Larger rapids lay below us, on both sides of an island. Our map said the rapids to the left of the island were more navigable, or that maybe there was a portage there. The directions were in French and unclear to us.
We couldn’t find the portage, so we paddled down. I tried to read the water. I needed to find the rocks underneath based on what the surface did. I went over the first drop, and steered around a rock over the second.
I paddled backwards and turned hard to avoid being pinned, and took the third drop and then the fourth. I came out the bottom with a few more scrapes on my hull, but still in one piece. If I kept scraping the bottom of my boat, I’d lose it.
A few fishermen in small boats floated around the bottom of the rapids. Erin and I were running low on toilet paper, but nobody had any for us. We’d make due without if we had to, but it didn’t hurt to ask. Of course, it didn’t help that we didn’t know how to say toilet paper in French.
The river curved left and right. A small house, without road access or electricity, sat at the intersection of our river and another.
I caught a fish, yay. Before I could get the hook out, it flopped in my boat, hooked my thigh, and then tore at my leg with such force that the barb in my leg broke free of the hook. One of the hook’s three barbs stuck firmly embedded in my thigh.
A motor boat came up the river, and we waved to them for help. Erin got the first aid kit and our rescuers, impressed by my wound, handed me pliers. With only one barb, I didn’t need to cut anything. I coated the barb and the anticipated exit wound with antibacterial goo, then firmly gripped the hook with the plier, and pushed it out of my leg from underneath.
I felt the point digging up as I manipulated the pliers. Once out, I remembered to take a picture. I then pulled it out from the tip through the tunnel I’d burrowed. Thinking about it, about six months later, makes my leg hurt.
The fishermen told us that if it got infected, we could come shelter with them at the house we had just passed, since there was nothing else out here.
We continued on our way. The west wind slowed our otherwise downhill progress.
As the sun began to set, tired and weary, we found a small beach with barely enough room for the tent. Hopefully the water would not rise.