08/09/18 Lund Lake to Knox Lake
Portaging was the main discussion over a hot breakfast which involved Coffee on the fire. We were pretty confident we could see our first portage which was a 900m right off the bat. We packed up camp and loaded boats and made the short paddle to the other side of the lake to begin the portage, and we soon realized that the portage was not where we thought it was. Forty minutes later we made a judgement that was luckily the right one. At times like this I felt glad that I was not doing the trip solo, it is always good to have another person to thrash thoughts around with and in this scenario, it meant we made the right one! Our system for map reading and navigating was one we had discussed, and as I had printed, cut up, laminated and personalized all the relevant pages from the hap Wilson guide book, I used these and JC would use the topo maps we bought and we would cross reference accordingly. This system worked great for us as we could both keep a general track of where we were, and when we needed it, different information could be sought from either the guide book or the maps.
The 900m portage was tough going and we went through all the normal portage thoughts again on how much stuff we were carrying, the psychological games that you play with yourself always me make me chuckle:
• It's ok, once I have carried the canoe I can go back for the bags and they are much easier to carry!!
• I will carry on with my bags like this for another ten steps and then when I change the straps it gets much more comfortable.
I couldn't help but to think about the 1600m portage that we would be doing that afternoon!
Over lunch with very sore shoulders and necks we even had a discussion about ditching some food, we obviously didn't gladly, but it was a discussion we laughed about in the latter part of the trip. Our next decision was whether to make camp a little early and start the 1600 first thing in the morning. I don't think either of us was ever going to do that, but having the discussion especially when you are travelling with someone Is important. At the beginning of a long trip I would always try and bank up some miles and I was pleased that JC also thought the same. The 1600m started boggy and didn't get a massive amount better, it is amazing how many times you can think that you are definitely half way now, or that I will definitely see the water after the next turn. On the long portages it was get your head down and make way for anyone carrying. Other than the obligatory banter when passing each other about how tired they looked, we just got it done and waited at the end.
When I had all my kit at the end, I had a little breather and then made good use of my time chopping firewood for that evening. I knew we would be camping at the next available spot which was hopefully an island about 1km away. When JC arrived, I made my way to the island to recce the camp site and start to set up camp, as the rain was coming in. The campsite was good so I put my tarp up first to keep my gear dry in the rain and then got my tent up. Cooking on an open fire when you are physically exhausted, wet and tired is when all those times doing it for fun really count, it means that when you really need to you can do it with a little more success. We ate a lot, talked a bit and hung a bear bag from a fallen tree which if I am honest, was more of a token effort before we collapsed in to tent and hammock respectively for a long sleep. That day we had portaged over 3km, because we were double carrying (canoe and bags separately) we had carried for 6km plus the 3km in between the carries going back for the canoe or the bags.
09/09/18 Knox lake to Murdoch
I was up first and after the previous days efforts did not feel like we needed to rush off, so built a fire and started boiling water whilst JC woke up. A short discussion over breakfast over our plan for the day and a little bit of smiling at not starting with a portage and we slowly packed up camp. It was windy at our backs, but it began to pick up a lot after the first ten minutes of paddling, it was blowing a minimum force 4 with big waves and lots of white peaks. I looked behind and was glad that I was not leading a group, but paddling with a friend who I had confidence in. A wind that strong on a lake that size can cause big problems. We used the islands for shelter and managed to work our way to the end of the lake, where according to the guide book we had a short stretch of river with class 2,3 and 5 rapids. After a little drag over a marshy bay and retrieving my shoe (which appeared to be holding up amazingly well thanks to JC and his grip seal) from a very large swampy hole, we could see the start of the river and our paddling became a bit faster, only to paddle around the first corner of the river and be met by a boulder field! We knew the river was running low but the prospect of carrying, dragging and lifting this stretch did not fill us with joy. The realities of what this low water might mean to the rest of the trip was not something either of us was comfortable verbalizing. So, after two hours of dragging, carrying, lining and a bit of paddling we made it to Murdoch lake. JC took a fall whilst carrying his canoe which hit home the realities of a trip this remote, and how we both needed to recognize when we needed a break. I had also had a sense of humour failure when my canoe had become stuck on a low branch whilst portaging! I do remember that for brief moments of paddling that short stretch of river, that the high banks provided some shelter from the wind.