Friday, September 15, 2006

The Third Day

On every trip there seems to be one day that does not go quite as well as you hoped. Day #3 was our day for this to happen. The day started out nicely. We portaged from Dorie Lake into Twin Lakes via the 144 rod Deux Riveries Portage. A short paddle across Twin Lakes brought us to the Deux Rivieres which is shown as a small winding river of about 2-3 miles on our map.

Only a few minutes into the river we came to a beaver dam across the entire river. We were canoeing downstream at this time and the dam was easy to cross. In very short order we came to a second beaver dam. After crossing that dam, the river was shallower that we would have liked. The third dam was not far from the two previous ones. At the bottom of this dam, the river was only 2-3 inches deep. We had no real idea of how far the river continued before reaching Sturgeon Lake.

Melissa and I were sent to walk in the tall grasses along the side of the river. Tom and Bruce had to get the canoes down. Alongside the trickle of water was wet, muddy muck. The men tried sitting in their canoe and using their paddles as poles to push along but it was exhausting work. Finally they took their boots off, rolled up their pant legs, got out of the canoe and dragged the canoes forward. Each step left them between ankle and knee deep in wet mud. This last for at least a mile and probably more. By the time the canoes were on Sturgeon, both guys were beat.

Naturally, we encountered a strong head wind on Sturgeon Lake. It was our first really strong wind and not much fun especially after dealing with the mud and low water in the Deux Rivieres. In high winds like this Bruce prefers to paddle close to shore where there is a little protection.

As we paddled along, a dead tree stuck out from shore over the lake. I went around it with no trouble. Just as the middle of our canoe passed the tree, a strong gust of wind drove the entire canoe into shore. The tree overturned the canoe and put both Bruce and I in the water before we even knew what was going on. It all happened very fast.

For years we have both been telling people what to do if you dump in the lake. All of this repetition kicked into action. All four of us (Tom and Melissa from their upright canoe plus Bruce and I) started counting heads. Once there were two on the surface, Bruce and I grabbed onto our canoe. Luckily we were only 15 feet from shore. With Tom and Melissa's help, we were able to retrieve all our gear except one cup. Both of us were soaked but the temperature was warm. We paddled on.

We stopped for the night at a nearby campsite. Slowly all our gear was taken out of the pack to dry. It was surprising how little of it was wet. So everything got set up or put on the line to dry. Everyone was unhurt and no gear was lost. The sun was shining and things were drying.

Just as most stuff was dry, we noticed black clouds coming in. Rain had not been on the schedule for today on top of everything else! But, of course, there was nothing we could do about it. Tom and Bruce rigged a tarp up over our campfire and eating area. As thunder and lightening crashed around us, we stood eating our dinner under the tarp.

That night both Bruce and I had damp corners to our sleeping bags. Since the temperature stayed warm, we were able to ignore the wetness. Besides, we were both so tired from the activities of the day that sleep was no problem.

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