August 11th, 2019
Up at 4:20 – beautiful sunrise against a thick gray sky. We paddled a short stretch to the Winter River and portaged on the right side. Put in was adequate and the trail was fair – a blend of tundra and taiga. In ½ mile we made another short paddle to the next set and portaged on the left. The put in was thick shrubs and we loaded our boats on the shore and shoved them into the water fully loaded. We had nuts in the pothole and enjoyed a welcomed flash of sunlight. After nuts, we portaged the next set on the right side, roughly 1/3 of a mile into the pothole adjacent to Dorgib Rock. Aside from James, the group hiked to the top and soaked in sweeping panoramic views of the area – my legs were burning on the ascent. We continued north taking another portage, a tricky put in resulted in Axel describing it as the worst portage yet. From his account, there were tightly packed scrubs and hard-to-see boulders lasting 30 yards. We made it into the next pothole and had lunch. Lunch was the most abbreviated one yet, lasting maybe 20 minutes. We pulled up the next set on the left and lined up a few more unmarked bars into Little Marten Lake.
The landscape is almost entirely tundra now and explains the moniker “barren-lands.” Boulders abound and scattered rocks dot verdant hills. We are currently camped on the interior of a crescent-shaped sand esker in full exposure of the strong winds, which for us means no bugs. Chicken dumplings for dinner failed to sate the group, so a couple rounds of extra nuts were gobbled down. The group quickly disbanded to their tents this evening after chores were completed, mostly the result of extreme fatigue. The level of difficulty of these past few weeks has caught me by surprise and I find myself daydreaming of home more than ever. I deeply appreciate the moments when I remember how special our trip is and how mystical the land we are traveling through can be.