August 12th, 2019
Up at 4:00 AM to the first frost of the fall! Finally the skies cleared up for the night to allow the temps to plummet. These cold temperatures permitted us to enjoy a bug free morning until about 9:00 AM. We paddled across Little Martin Lake to a gorgeous sunrise and our first look at the barren-lands in the sunlight. It was glorious.
Out of Little Martin we pulled up one set of rapids and portaged around another two short ones into the next pothole. Here we decided to opt for the more risky option to follow the Winter River all the way to the next large pothole in a round about fashion instead of doing ½ mile and a ¾ mile portage straight north into the same pothole. We thought our Winter River option would pay off because although it was more round about, we hoped to avoid portages. We were incorrect. Five hours later three tough boulder portages later, we came it to the next pothole. The first half of this five-hour fiasco was a relaxing one hour paddle up a stream. It looked promising and we were all cautiously optimistic. Then the river widened into boulder fields unnavigable by canoe. So we portaged and pulled up instead.
Once we reached the pothole we still had five portages to get into Big Lake, our goal for the day. However, we only completed four and decided to camp right before the last one. Arguably, the most exhausting day of the trip. Definitely top 3. I’m going to sleep now with mashies & pemmican gravy in my belly