14, Wednesday July 21, 2004
Well the best laid
plans of mice and men. We were up at 7:30-ish and generally took it easy.
We decided to pack up and head up to the Tyrell cairn where I could do
a radio interview with CBC at 9:30. The mosquitoes and black flies were
from outer space. Clouds of them swarmed us but the wind was still from
the west and held them at bay. The day promised clear skies and a tailing
wind so, after the interview, we headed the 2 1/2 miles to the first portage.
Lynda suggested I would be too warm as I had my NRS fleece pullover out.
Was she WRONG.
We got to the portage and made our first trip across. It was your standard
tundra portage. Wide open peat fields and hummocky as all get out. Hard
walking but it was short, at 15 minutes for a bit over 1/2 km. On the
trip back for the next load we were amazed to see how the sky had darkened.
It was as black as the ace of spades and rain clouds were fast approaching.
We were barely into our gortex when the full force of the wind and rain
hit us. 20 to 25 mph wind and almost horizontal sheets of rain assaulted
us as we hauled load 2 of 3 across. Somehow the gentle west wind had been
stopped dead by a northern force to be reckoned with.
Ever been in a bar when the toughest guy in town shows up and cleans house?
Well it was like that. One minute the west wind was pretending to be tough
... then this braggart showed up and took his woman, hit him over the
head with a pool cue, drank all his beer and laughed all the while. One
look at the 3-mile-long north-facing lake and we knew there was no way
we would be going anywhere for awhile. Lines of whitecaps charged down
the lake in precisely the direction we would be forced to paddle. We were
forced to put the tarp up in a shoreline willow bog, the only place that
afforded a bit of a break from the wind. We crawled under and what wasn't
soaked from the outside rain was soon saturated from the soggy ground
Hot tea, bannock and soup helped warm us from the inside. And I got to
try my new high-tech Montbell down jacket. In its stuff sack, it's the
size of a potato and weighs about as much as a chocolate bar. Put it on
and instant heat. That piece of gear is going onto "my-always-take-along"
list . Now if the dolts at USPS hadn't lost all the other stuff, I would
be in heaven.
Anyway, as fast as the bully hit town he was gone with his torrential
rain clouds in tow - about an hour. We both looked at each other and I
quizzed, "What was that all about?" It ended so quickly. But
he left his brother behind -the damn wind. It won't quit and is steady
at 12 mph gusting to 25. Remember my wind meter? No way we can paddle
in this so we are now in the tent on a piece of tundra bog. A little soft
and lumpy - like me really - but so comfortable - like me really. The
Marmot Fortress is laughing at the wind and just begging for more so she
can show her stuff.
It is very unlikely that we will get anywhere else today, so score 3 hours,
2 1/2 miles and a 1/2 kilometer portage for "Baunl-eye Teak-ah-zay"
- bald white guy - as my pal George St. Pierre from Wollaston has taken
to calling me.
Did I mention how much I love to portage my new Novacraft Bluesteel Prospector?
It only weighs 55 pounds and is a delight to carry - well, as much of
a delight as any boat is to carry in a 20 mph cross wind across a hummock
peat field. If you haven't seen these boats give them a call at 519-455-6252
and get a catalogue. Tim and his crew make fantastic boats. Tell him I