Day 87

August 3rd, 2019

Today we woke up at 5:00 am. We had decided the day before that we should utilize the abundance of light that lasts long into the evening; also more importantly, the boys were very tired. Todays was going to be a hard day. We had 9 lakes to get through, connected by a series of portages.

Everyone was in good spirits at breakfast. Paul made oatmeal and coffee, per usual, the mood was goofy, the sun was shining and laughter filled the air. In times of suffering and hardship or when anticipating a challenge, humor is the most powerful remedy known to man.

We set out around 6:30am, paddling for five or ten minutes up to the start of Icy Portage. We had scouted it the day before ad wasted no time upon arrival. Packs we loaded and the boats thrown up quickly, all of us eager to get the first and longest portage out of the way. We started along the edge of the ice and boulder field, stomping our way in, just below a ridge, then went back for the second load of gear. The bugs were plentiful, yet so were the blueberries. Some opted to take the more direct route over the boulder field on their second trip. Upon regrouping we all loaded up again and went over the ridge on a route Paul and Zach discovered the day before, ending in a long open swamp. Here we stopped again, roughly halfway through the portage. Zach pressed on with a pack to solidify the route while the rest of us went back for our second loads. From there things turned into somewhat of a shit-show. Boats were paddled through a small stretch of foot deep water in the swamp. Bram and I struggled to pick up the trail we had just made. Zach found fresh bear scat, which spooked him a little being by himself. The trail around the swamp was uneven but open. Dudes were kind of all over the place. Once out of the open swamp we re-calibrated on some bedrock; there Zach took a few of us through the thicker swampy bog to the pothole at the end. Gear was all over the place because not everyone took the same route. Tempers started to flare a bit, boys were dehydrated, stuff was scattered, but the blueberries were quite delicious. We eventually made it to the end with all of our gear nonetheless. It was the hardest portage of the trip aside from the Methye.

Icy Portage face

During that whole episode the sun disappeared behind some clouds and the wind picked up. We stopped for nuts/pemmican, all of us laughing about what had just transpired. All of us quite relieved as well.

The rest of the day we paddled through small unnamed lakes and crushed portages. Some wee short, some were long, somer were uphill, some were flat, some had boulder fields, some had spongey moss. The efficiency with which we moved would likely impress any military commander. We are a well-oiled machine. Everyone helps, no one complains. The mission is simple and each man knows what must be done. I am tremendously proud to be a part of such a great group of people. We have come so far together, spent so much time together, and been through so much together. There was a moment when I nearly cried just thinking about how well we were doing and all that we had already accomplished and where we were going. It was a profound feeling of joy, gratitude, love, determination, praise, and pride. I will never travel with a greater group or a greater purpose as long as I live. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind about that.

Around 3:30pm the winds picked up and storm clouds appeared on the horizon. We had two portages left, but most people were pretty pooped, and we felt good about where we stood. As far as this leg goes we are moving much faster than anticipated and for the trip as a whole we are way ahead of schedule. Utilizing daylight doesn’t mean a thing when the boys are tired. We been putting in work. Tomorrow is another day and we all look forward to crushing it just like the last one, and the one before that.

Found an amazing campsite on a beautiful unnamed lake in the middle of nowhere. Absolutely gorgeous. Ax made his specialty dinner of chili mac with hard salami… it was delectable. Everyone did some much needed bathing, then we hit the bag. It was a great night for the bag at the tail end of an excellent day.

I am beginning to encounter daily feelings of anxiety and fear regarding the end of the trip. I am excited yet also sad. I miss my girlfriend more than anything and want to see here, however, if not for her I would not at all wish to return home. It is hard to break a habit, and we are most certainly stuck in a way. I know I’ll be alright and the trip must end. Winter is coming, the real world is waiting, yet I cannot not quell these feelings of remorse. Out here, right now, I am living. I do not ever want to stop living like this… it is pure, free, and true.


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