Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Algonquin IV: Practicalities

True to the old adage, 'Getting there is half the fun,' canoe tripping is all about tracing travel to its most basic origins. For a few days, Hassan and I returned to a simple nomadic existence, depending on the canoe and the food and equipment in our pack for everything.

The canoe is great for moving through water, but roles are suddenly reversed when we arrive at a portage (literally, 'carrying'). These are footpaths that link the different rivers and lakes, or simply provide a way around an obstacle like a dam or rapids. Some are a few dozen meters, others a few kilometers. All involve lugging the canoe and two heavy packs through the bush on foot.



Rivers sound easy enough to travel through, but in fact the Nipissing was a treacherous winding strip of water sometimes only a meter or two wide. We spent most of the time dragging the canoe through the water over countless beaver dams and shallow mud. We discovered halfway through the day that the water was teeming with leeches, and Hassan had to burn one off his leg.


We reached a campsite just before nightfall and were too exhausted to do more than cook dinner, pitch the tent and sleep.









In the morning we had the time-honoured breakfast of instant oatmeal, babybel cheese and trail mix. But somehow there is nothing more pleasing than enjoying this fare beside an open campfire in the middle of nowhere!

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