Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Day 50

Morning came, and we packed as quickly as we could in the mosquito feeding frenzy. I found an outhouse to do my duty, and mosquitoes feasted on my tush.

We launched.

We had filled 20 liters of water back in Montreal while we waited for the train. Our supply was running low. So when we passed a small stream feeding the river, we turned our boats to paddle up it. Silt clouded the nearly stagnant water. Our boats followed the zigzagging path through a swamp until we could go no further. We got out and tried to hike up to where the water flowed. Our feet sank deep in the mud.

We reentered out boats, and returned to the river without any drinking water.

Around the next bend, we found another hunting cabin; this one even had a dock. The mosquitoes didn’t seem to bother us while we paddled, but as soon as we landed they came. We applied bug repellent. The cabin had a screened in porch where we stretched, and a rainwater basin in back from which we filled our water bags and nalgenes, totalling 34 liters.

Back in front we watched a groundhog waddle through the grass and eat flowers.

In order to fit all the water in our boats, we clipped the ten liter bags into our cockpits, to occupy the space between our legs. On the water, I practiced some rolls with the bags, and everything worked fine, though I worried the bags would get tangled during a wet exit or reentry and roll.

The cabins along the river seemed to increase in frequency as we approached Senneterre. But none were nearby when we arrived at our first major series of rapids. A railroad bridge crossed the river, a continuation of the line we’d taken a couple days earlier. The water moved fast and we paddled as many sections as we dared, our boats scraping against rocks we couldn’t dodge quickly enough with the heavy loads.

The river grew too wild to paddle. We parked our boats and scoured the sides for a portage trail, and found none. We hauled our boat over 20 feet of rocks and boulders to walk them through a stagnant pond. Tall bushes separated us from the roaring rapids beyond. Deeper than it looked, I fell, banged my shin on a rock, and found myself floating with the buoyancy of my life jacket. The dark water took us back to the rapids a bit lower down, where we began walking the kayaks down the edge of wild river.

The current rushed around our legs as we tried to walk the boats from one shallow area to the next. Sometimes we’d find ourselves waist or chest deep, clutching the boats for safety as the other one of us held the far end of the boat from more secure ground.

Soaking wet, feeling invigorated yet exhausted from lining the boats, we made camp on a flat boulder archipelago in the middle of the river. Water rushed around on all sides. The sun set gloriously over the woods.

See some pictures here!

GPS coordinates (maybe) 48.338082, -77.087147

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