Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 2: Sobering Revelations

Rise and shine. The second day begins.
A small fire was already going by the time I had risen, no one was in sight however. Shortly after putting on some water for tea, Chris made an appearance. He had a small tale to tell of how he was the first person to awake, and decided in his solitude to embrace the wilderness in the brisk, bare arsed, nude. To his surprise Renars was 2nd to rise, and just in time to catch him in the buff. About 10 minutes after hearing this story, the rest of us had risen, and were sitting having out tea, no Renars however. When all of a sudden Renars walks out of the woods as nude as the day he came into the world. Apparently because of his morning eyeful he decided it would be appropriate to spite all of us.
After tea and oatmeal we began to pack up and get ready to move on to our next destination. Today we were to finish the course of North Tea Lake, move on through Biggar Lake, and down the Birchcliffe River and Raven River to Raven Lake which would be our second camp sight.

After sitting a short while saying farewell to North Tea Lake for the better part of the next week, we geared up to hit the water.
Just as we were ready to make trail, the weather took a turn for the worse, and it was time to take the ponchos out.

We put paddle to water, and were off. Although the pace would not last, around the first bend we came near face to face with a large moose grazing in the lake.

Being the first time any of us had seen a moose up close and personal like this in all our years of outdoor adventuring, we took a few moments to savor the moment.
Back on the way, and a few portages, several kilometers of paddling, and another moose sitting, it was time to break. Some dried sausages, fruit, and smokes for lunch.

After maybe a 20 minute rest it was time to tackle lake Biggar. A fairly uneventful, but excruciatingly long paddle, we reached the entrance to Birchcliffe River.

This would be were our very sobering revelation would occur. About 10 minutes up river, we discovered that the path was completely unmaintained (we actually knew this going in, just didnt realize the extent of what it meant).
After approximately 20 minutes of struggling through the push, the next revelation would sink in. It was low tide on the river, and we were paddling in between 1-3 feet of water.
After maybe a half hour of battling our way through the low tide, constantly getting out of the canoe to pull it over obstacles, we decided it would be easier to just pull our canoes. We pulled our canoes for maybe another 30 minutes to an hour.
We finally found a campsite, a campsite we all felt we should have long passed. This was the point of the real revelation. We had trekked hard for nearly 2 hours to only make 1 to 2 km into what must have been a good 10-15 km total trek through the river, not including portages or the final paddle through raven lake. Exhausted, and mentally defeated, we decided to give a look to the campsite, and eventually all concurred it would be best to cut our route short, spend the night here, and back track the next day.

After setting camp I decided to survey the area some. After walking the trail, and encountering everything from moose shit to bear shit, I ended up in a large clearing.
Whilst walking through the clearing I noticed Moose tracks. If it wasn't clear that this was a heavy traffic area for animals before, it was now. As I continued to look around I found many more moose tracks.

I returned to camp after a short time, helped unload some gear, and with the last bit of day light, decided to go and continue my trek a little more. I got back to the clearing and decided to follow the moose track. It let me up a hill into a valley. I marched through the valley for a while, but eventually the eerie silence began to get to me, the thought of comming across an angry moose, or bear in the thick push weighing to heavily on my mind, I decided to return to camp.
I returned to camp as darkness began to settle. We got a roaring fire going, took out the vodka, and a box of wine. We got the grill out, and began to drink and cook. Tonight, the menu featured potato packages, diced potatoes, with onion and garlic, diced dried sausage, seasoned and tossed in olive oil, wrapped in tin foil.

After ravishing our food, we started to lay into the booze a bit more. Before long it was time for a round of drunk toad catching. I won.
And by my expression I not only won at catching the toad, it would seem I also won at getting pretty drunk too.

After a while we let our wee friend disappear into the night. And some short time later it was time for us to do the same. Tonight it was Chris, Matt, and Kel, in the big tent, and myself and Renars in the smaller.

Day 3-5: Drying Off Our Spirits... With Spirits!

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