I've just finished washing the dish, hanging the food, and otherwise putting the camp into lockdown. I have found the last remaining site in Algonquin with mosquitoes. Actually, thus far they're not that bad.
It's been a long day, but I haven't changed my mind about doing this trip.
I got up at 6:30am and pulled together breakfast (coffee and oatmeal with dried cranberries and lots of maple syrup -- hey, eat it or carry it). I had hoped I would wake up earlier (I don't do alarm clocks on these things) but nevertheless I hustled and got on the water by 8:20am. The Boyaner files made this out to be a really long day.
It started out with a 1285m portage from Burntroot into Robinson Lake. I found this one really hard. I couldn't figure out why, but all the pack and all the canoe were on my shoulders. I had stopped using Ché's waist strap because it seemed it was holding the pack up too high, making it impossible to angle the canoe up at the front. From Robinson it's a 25m jaunt into Whiskeyjack Lake. I didn't even bother saddling up for this. I figured the time required to screw on that infernal yoke would overtake any time savings I got from doing it in one pass. So I took Ché and the gear over, walked back, threw Ozzie over my shoulder and walked the portage again.
From Whiskeyjack to Remona is 480m. I tried the waist strap again and moved the yoke a touch forward. Admittedly a shorter portage, but it felt a lot better. This was good news because of course up next was the 1930m from Remona to the Nippissing River.
Remona is a tiny lake. Cute, and probably secluded. Possibly a bug trap.
I made a new rule on Remona: don't undo the yoke if you can see your next 'tage from your current one.
Coming over the portage (which went really well thanks to Ché's waist strap) I met these two guys, one of whom was carring a canoe that looked exactly like the good tripping canoes at Ponacka - Kandalores we called them. He told me who made it but I've already forgotten.
They suggested I go to High Falls, upstream of the put-in. Kevin Callan does too. They said it was only an hour out of the way. "Ya but dudes," I said to myself as I dismissed the suggestion, "you're not talking an hour of bad television. You're talking an hour of paddling." There's probably a way to do this route where it's a fun thing to do, but I think I would have chewed off my arm to avoid an extra hour today.
On I marched. I rested and snacked after the 1930m, because maybe 200m down the river was an 850m bypassing a rapids and some sort of dam. Again, the Remona rule saved me time.
After the 850m I was on the Nippissing for real this time...
There's something big moving back in the woods off to my left. This place is teeming with wildlife. Here's hoping it's a moose.
There is this red squirrel that seems has been trained to chew through rope, presumably those used to tie food in trees. I had thrown my rope over a nearby limb and left it draped over a log. He went right for it and started chewing. I've left the end of it there as a decoy, but the real thing is tied off somewhere else. Then on one of my forays into the woods to see what's making all the racket, I came back to find him climbing the tree that had my real rope tied to it.
Between Sasquatch back there and Einstein the red squirrel, it could be a sparse breakfast.
Sorry - enough about the animals.
After the 850m I paddled for about 40 minutes and at just before 11am, saw my last landmark, the 1410m into Nadine Lake. It wasn't until well after 1pm that I saw another. The Nippissing twists and turns and meanders and wanders and blah de blah. Most of it has a metre or so high bank covered either side in scrub. An that's all you see. Again, lots of wildlife - herons, ducks, even moose. But after a point I started to understand whitewater people who say flatwater is boring.
I had made some sandwiches this morning which I ate while floating. I would need the fuel today.
I wanted to get as far as I could down the river to make Monday as short as possible. And you have to go pretty far anyway. There's a whole lot of river without campsites.
There's a jumble of campsites amid the three portages around Plumb Creek. They all looked pretty ho-hum. I reckoned I would end up at a similarly styled site but I wasn't tired enough to stop.
So I pressed on. I encountered two parties, the first, two middle aged fishers, who were thrilled about the weather but wanted to know if the site by the falls was free. "Of course it's free -- it's a shithole." I thought. Maybe it's a good fishing spot, though.
Then I encountered a guy reading a book by the shore of the site at the end of the 2890m into Luckless Lake (named to describe anyone whose route takes them there?). He said he was pretty sure the other two sites were free.
I started to move. My shoulders were knotting up so I started changing sides more frequently -- every fifteen minutes. I passed the first site. Ick. But it was 3:15. I had told myself I would be off the water by 4pm. Could I get to the next site? It seemed far. But I figured I could put in for a little overtime.
I kept going, desperately afraid that the site would be taken. That meant heading on, doing the last two portages and finding something on Cedar. I was way too tired to contemplate that.
I saw two more moose (cow calf pair) to bring the total to five.
And then I saw it, bathed in the glow of the late afternoon sunlight, my orange square. Vacant. And my foot hit the shore at 4:03.
Dinner was dahl and rice. The dahl (made in Ottawa then dehyrated) was good. The rice a tad crunchy. I had mixed them together to try to make it a one pot meal. It got in one pot, that I can say for certain.
If the bear eats me tell Irene I love her.
Dragonfly: Nippissing River. It just went on and on and on.
Nippissing River: Oh - wouldn't you know it. The river turns again.
At least there were moose: This one was quite the ham. "Get my good side."
Cute catepillar: Okay it's just a bug, but at least it wasn't trying to eat me or my food.