Woke up to a thunderstorm and heavy down pours ...just great. NOT going to make miles today.
The rain ended just before noon, so we packed up. We wanted to complete the Long Rapids portage - 2.8 km, by the end of the day. Plus, there were two short portages before Long Rapids - it was going to be a long, hard day.
NOTE: We did each portage five times.
- with your personal gear,
- go back empty,
- with the Group gear,
- go back empty,
- with the canoes
The four young guys next door were on the water before us ...how surprising. Once in the canoes, we headed up stream. Todd wanted to check-out the Thunderhouse canyon from water level. It was awe striking. Normally, there would have been ten to twelve more feet of water in the canyon(and at times thirty or forty more feet of water), but we would have missed all the exposed rock formations. It was beautiful ...and dangerous. We had little or no control in the currents, so after being tossed into a couple of rocks the size of Vanna, Dave and I left. Todd got some pictures, then he and Carl left.
Sunny, bright day with a light breeze from the north. It was a perfect day to be walking the canoes over the rocks in the dry swifts. We got lots of practice.
Since we got such a late start, and we were generally lazy, we decided to skip the first portage and run the rapids. Besides, the "young guys" would have run the rapids. It was a time-saving decision. Due to the low water conditions, the first rapids were reduced to a swift and very manageable.
With this new "Time-Saving procedure" and inspired by the "Young Guy method", we decided to run the Stone Rapids. Just think of all the time we were going to save by not doing the 700-meter portage. The first part of the Stone Rapids was just a dry swift, but we managed to scrape through without leaving the canoes, then ...HOLY SHIT !! The second part was a full fledged, raging rapid !! Todd and Carl disappeared out of sight in seconds. They shot the rapids like a bullet. I figured they must have been half way to Moosonee. Dave did not want to shoot the rapids. I said come on it looked like fun. Dave said no ...he invoked the "Granny Claus". I still wanted to go, but Dave was my partner, so we headed for the left bank ...the River had other ideas. We fought the raging current, bounced off a few rocks, but we finally got the canoe to the left bank facing the wrong way. Out of the canoe, trying to wrestle the canoe out of the grip of the current, so we could go see how many light years Todd and Carl were ahead of us. Just then Todd came running over the rocks "Don't go down the Rapids, don't go down the Rapids !!
Apparently, just out of our sight, was a two-foot waterfall which emptied into a pool of water where Todd and Carl buried their canoe. The pool of water probably saved Todd's and Carl's lives, because beyond the pool was a six or eight-foot waterfall that crashed into three huge boulders. NO soft landing ...just death and injury.
The official Portage was on the right side of the River. We were on the left side and a raging river in between. We were going to have to make our own portage. I WILL NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT A GOVERNMENT BUILT PORTAGE AGAIN IN MY LIFE. Climbing up rock faces with gear strapped to your back, down rock faces, through mini ponds, dropping down into holes just to have crawled up the other side, dropping canoes and gear down a crack just big enough for two canoes so we could get back to the water ...SHIT !! I was exhausted. Plus, this time-saving move cost us about four hours ... DOUBLE SHIT !!
Back on the water. Back into boulder fields. Back looking for water.
Finally at Hell's Gate. Two huge rock pillars where the River runs between, Long Rapids begin, and so did the long, wet, muddy, swampy portage - NOT that I am complaining. 2.5 km to the worst and only Campsite. 2.5 km with my personal gear, then back empty. When I got back to the River, I was done. I had nothing left. Lying on the River bank, I asked Todd and Dave to leave me a box of matches and just leave me there. They laughed and took all the matches.
Thank god Dave took a Gear bag. It was my turn(s) to carry a Gear bag, but I could not do it. I barely made it back with a Food barrel and whatever gear I could hold in my hands. Zero energy. Only will and stubbornness got me back to the Campsite. I died. I was ill with exhaustion. I could not even swallow water. Dave and I had requested potatoes and bacon for supper back on the River, so Todd made potatoes and bacon. I was too ill to eat, but after requesting the meal I decided I should try. I could not chew my instant mashed potatoes. I think I swallowed the bacon strips whole. But after a couple of hours, my energy returned and I was enjoying my night around the camp fire until the mosquitoes chased us into the Tents.</span>
I slept well that night.