Wow – strong past few days. The boys are pretty tired and are scattered throughout our campsite in shady places. Many of them are rubbing their eyes. We left our special sand esker and paddled to the town of La Loche this morning. We unloaded all of the packs and rearranged all of the gear in preparation for the Methye. While executing these tasks, locals pulled up to us and inquired about our trip. One man by the name of John was so thrilled by the adventure and our route, he left us and returned with 3 hot bannocks his wife had made so that we could get a taste of the food his people have eaten for years. It was delicious and warm. We got all of the gear into granite bags so that we can try to complete the trail in one stretch. A few of the trip members are skeptical of this plan due to the heavy weight each individual will carry and the risk of injury. I’m eager to hit the trail in the morning so I can see what the jazz is all about. Not too many bugs at this spot, just a few enthusiastic horse flies.
We awoke at 3:30 AM – gobbled down some granola, told some funny jokes, and WAZZAM! A fully-grown black bear in our campsite 75 yards away. She moseyed on down the shore without a care in the world, in the opposite direction of our breakfast circle. We talked some bear theory afterwards and discussed our plans to defend ourselves. We got into the boats, paddled up the river a ways and did some longer stretches till our morning nut break.
By 10 AM, we had reached a beaver stream that cut through a peninsula we believed we needed to go around. We were unsure, however, that the stream would be wide enough all the way through to the lake. We sent up the drone on a little scouting mission where we discerned the feasibility of canoeing through it. The area where we launched the drone from was located right next to an expansive marsh that contained several vociferous birds – many of which I had heard for the first time this trip! One of them sounds like C3PO.
The current through the stream was strong and was very windy. We completed the shortcut in an hour. Lunch was held on a beaver lodge next to moose tracks. Paul vouched for postponing lunch for 30 minutes because he wanted to get to the area where “the topo meets the river.” It would be there that the group would find some flat rocks to stand on, he said.
We saw some bald eagles, and I counted 40 pelicans on the water in a group.
Dinner was prepared by Bram, mash and pemmican gravy with a dash of chili powder, oil is added for flavor.
Currently hyper windy. White stallions across the lake.
Started the day off by cleaning up the remnants of last night’s peanut butter devastation. The time was 4:00 AM. We pranced into our boats and set off toward Twin Falls. The falls are sizeable and spill out aggressively into a small channel. Our plan was to attain the bottom of the falls into a bay portage named Stoney Mountain Portage. After gaining a visual of the twisted mess the sister currents make, we opted for the longer portage on the left. The decision was fortuitous because the trail is maintained and settled by a fishing outpost. The employees were friendly and invited us into their lodge for coffee. The place smelled amazing. That is safe to say. We swapped stories with Randy and Lorrene, laughed heartily and enjoyed a few candy sweets. (I love candy – Not that meh, I prefer fresh fruit.) I was excited to hop back in the boats after leaving. We portaged another portage with grass on it. and arrived at Missinipe shortly after lunch.
We all (except Paul) entered the corner store and purchased soft serve ice cream. I was floating on a cloud of deliciousness; we all were. Quinn, Axel and I walked to Churchill River Outfitters and met Rick (not Ricky) and looked at his highly detailed maps of the Churchill. He has marked several camping sites, rapid classes and pictographs. We had plans of going to a nearby campground, but ended up finding a campground on Missinipe. Quinn prepared a delicious pesto dish. I enjoyed a shower. We all met for space camp tonight. Space is so fascinating, right? I love space camp. We live on the spaceship Earth.
Paul awoke to the sound of his alarm at 4:00 AM this morning. He made his way over to the kitchen, ignited the burner, and prepared oatmeal for the group. At 4:30 AM he called the trip to breakfast. Many crows called our campsite home and delighted our group with their cawing.
Our first river stretch consisted of a long western stretch with very few rocks to be pulled over. The first stretch totaled 2 hours. We made another stretch, attaining a rapid set and treated ourselves to a longer-than-normal nut break. The pemmican batch was delectable. After another stretch, we found ourselves up a long, fast-flowing rapid set. We pulled up the right side, captured some drone footage and eventually found ourselves in a tricky predicament. A snapped, overhanging tree obstructed our way forward. Bram and Paul were the first boat, and they gingerly maneuvered the boat around the tree. However, after seeing their struggle, Quinn, Axel, James and I rerouted and ferried across the rapids into the left eddy. Examining all the ways to pull up river is a fun activity.
We continued up to the mouth of Amisk Lake and pulled over at a campground. There was a wooden pavilion and picnic table and a scrupulously maintained crapper. Although we arrived at this site at noon, we decided to camp and knockout trip upkeep – tuning boats, charging A/V equipment and drying out gear.
Axel invited me to try his portable shower. It was a wonderful experience until a car rolled onto the site. Since I was nude, I hid behind a tree while Axel chatted with some curious locals. Unfortunately, I was devastated by mosquitos until the conversation ended 15 minutes later.
The talk of the town tonight is the classic olive oil/hand sanitizer mix-up. Quinn had prepared dinner tonight, and in his effort to lubricate our meal with olive oil, he grabbed the hand sanitizer and squeezed it into the cooked spaghetti. James realized the error, but too late. The problem is in the identical containers – powerade bottle, cherry flavor.
We had an early morning – 2:00 a.m. so that we could beat the winds, on the water by 4:00 a.m. It was a surreal paddle. The moon was nearly full and shone brightly on the water, by the end of our second morning stretch the sun was rising and it looked like candy. Bram made the comment on the first stretch that it felt like we were doing something illegal.
It must have been the gravity of the situation and our determination. By snack time there was a mutual feeling in all of us that we could get used to this. By lunch-time we had paddled over seven hours and were effectively wind-bound on a rock point before a large and exposed bay. We all ate our PB&J’s and took some rest on the sandy beach. We slept damn near four and a half hours before we cooked a delicious spaghetti Alfredo dinner. Best meal of the trip so far.
Around 7:00 p.m. we looked across the lake and realized that, although windy and wavy, we could paddle. So we did. The stretch took us about 1.5 hours. We ended up camping on a sandy peninsula where we were approached by the friendly couple that owned the land. They were generous and offered us their land to stay on and their cabin if we needed anything. Another 2:00 a.m. wake up tomorrow.