Huge day today. We paddled 42.5 miles. We woke up at 3:00 AM and were on the water at 4:30 AM. We had a decently long morning paddle across Amisk Lake, a beautiful body of water featuring red, rocky cliffs and vibrant spruce trees growing above the stone. We saw a fishing boat at the beginning of the second section of the Sturgeon-Weir, and we paddled by to say hello. One man on the boat had a very impressive, gray beard, and he asked up about the trip. He was ebulliently enthusiastic when he heard the route.
“Outstanding, Gentlemen! Simply outstanding! Keep it up.”
It made all of our mornings. It illustrates how important and gratifying enthusiastic individuals are to anyone they meet. We paddled beneath a cloudy sky, rain only falling for a half hour. We had a couple of pullovers and portages, but other than that, it was all paddling. The current was not too fast and we made good time. We were shooting for a marked campsite just beyond a road that went over the river, but found only cottages. Quinn and I spoke to a man mowing his lawn about any public camping in the area. He pointed us in the right direction (we had just passed it), but also invited us over for a beer. He introduced his wife Kareen and told us his name was Dave Knutson. While sipping our beers around their fire pit we ended up cooking dinner. The entire experience left us cheerful and gratified. We gave them our trip info and got their email to add them to the update mailing chain. I look forward to meeting all the wonderful people who will have surely touched our lives through their kindness and graciousness as we complete this journey.
After dinner, we paddled to the campsite and were in the tents by 10:00 PM.
Wow, this trip has flown by. Hard to believe we have been out here for 31 days. Remember how yesterday felt like summer had finally arrived? Today was the opposite of that. It was warmer at 4:30 AM than it would be for the most of our day paddling. The morning started out well, the wind was warm and we had a small tailwind at our back as we moved north. That changed an hour into our paddle. The clouds came in and they never left us. We rounded a big bend, changing our trajectory to more S/SW and the headwinds blew in. It felt like we were walking the wrong way down an airport luggage conveyor belt all day. The air temp was cold and the wind was even colder. We crawled along the muddy banks all morning. There is so much mud. When you want a break, you can only hope to ram your bow into the banks and stick there like a magnet to a refrigerator. It isn’t that easy though. When we broke for lunch, Quinn had to step into the sludge and plant himself on the bow plate to anchor the whole squad. While the river is beautiful, it is only beautiful because it is a river. The campsites are few and far between and a man cannot even get into the woods to answer nature’s call. We pushed against more headwinds after lunch until we saw the first flat grass we had seen since our campsite on a long island in the middle of the river. We voted, and decided to take the sure thing even though we could have kept going. It felt like the right call to me. This day was difficult. A headwind, upstream combo along mud-banks is about as oppressive as it gets. We rolled into camp at 4:15 PM after paddling 5 miles. Hopefully we can get off the Sasketchy tomorrow.
P.S. The boat switch experiment seems to be working. The boats are now: Quinn & Ax, Zach & James, and Bram & Paul. We are in the same tent group as our boat-mate and will switch again after 14 days. We talked about it in The Pas and decided it would be a shame if we all did not paddle together at some point over a 120 day trip. It was not a unanimous decision, but the majority felt it was at least worth trying. The largest concern was in the potential gear loss after switching up the system we had used for so long.
We woke up at 4:50 a.m., having slept in. It was probably a good thing we did though, as we would need the rest on what turned out to be a hard, wet day. We got on the water at 6:15 a.m. and were immediately greeted with a stiff eastern side wind. It was a tough way to start things out, but it would be a harbinger of things to come. It wasn’t all bad, as the wind aided us after we completed that seven mile stretch. We would push hard all morning beneath a cloudy sky that always held the threat of rain, taking reprieve from the biting wind during our short breaks. The winds and waves caused some uneasy paddling during some open water crossings, but nothing beyond our comfort zone.
After lunch the rain finally hit us. It never pelted us, but it was most unwelcome after a cold morning of general wetness due to the waves and side winds. As the afternoon came to its end, we had already paddled over 30 miles. Having set ourselves up in good position to reach the Sask (Saskatchewan) River before lunch, we decided to camp early and start earlier tomorrow.
The Pas, here we come.
P.S. We cannot wait to get off this lake. The gnats fly freely upon this shallow, marshy place. Campsites are difficult to come by and the water tastes as if it sprang from a beaver dam. Not trying to vent here, but I cannot wait to escape this forlorn, shallow, swamp.