(see w4 post prior, this is the continuation)
Garry phoned Joy, his wife and then told me to come over. Their home which they built and have lived in for the past 11 years is a delicious country house with lots of care in the design, cosyness and Garry has built a deck “with over 4000 screws” he says, that is full of charm and very useful. Unhappily they have to sell to move ‘in town’, the next village for health & work reasons. Joy is going to work again and re-launch a lumber mill in the area. As I entered the house Joy, a cheerful intelligent and acute woman greated me and set me up on her internet connection.
I had a lot of picture posting to catch up as you know and spent the next 8 hours on the computer. At one point, I hear Garry discussing inviting the team for diner. I warned him that we had 2 vegetarians and big appetites, indeed! So he went to the Inn and invited the team who accepted. Hugo anticipated and ate a full diner right before coming, then still ate the whole meal.
Dana brought the vegetables that needed to be eaten and was happy as a clam cooking in the kitchen with Joy. Delicious smells of sausages, seasonned vegetables and gratin from the oven soon invaded the house. Garry brought out the rhum and I confess I served myself twice both loving rhum and this was a good one. Wonderful end of day and I did catch up and get all
items posted! Leaving Garry & Joy was a touching moment of a meeting that would have wished it had not been just a crossing.
We camped on the wharf near the canoe expecting to wake at 3:30 the next morning. We did and left without anything to drink or eat. But the night’s rain had passed and the lake was calm with little or no wind. We made excellent time and were able to cross the lake in straight lines rather than hug the shores. Had a break at 7am after 3 hrs of paddling and ate some Gorp on a log. Arrived at the dam’s spillway around noon and over the rocks hauled the bags to the road. There we had lunch while Dana having spotted people on the other side of the spillway went to see if we could get the equipment to the power plant 7km further.
The spillway provided good water but our canoe loaded did need enough clearence. The father & son team willingly gave us a hand and took all the material and Hugo. Meanwhile we finished our meal and decided to rest a few minutes when Garry showed up. We had discussed the possibility but seeing him revived the shared feelings.
After discussing towing the canoe on it’s wheels, it became evident that the best solution, especially since the access gates were closed, was to load the canoe on the rack and go to the point where Hugo was. Easily done and executed, we all were overjoyed and Garry had a hard time leaving us to our mid-day nap.
Off down the river, here it’s more than 1400 cubic meters per second, they are releasing water as much as possible since the expectations are that the volumes of water will rise until July. Current again, but the country side is changing again, and we chose the ‘old route’ which due to water levels is very practicable and changes us from a huge river to a more cosy humane twisted corridor. A break again at 5 and we go on to 4 km prior to Cumberland House or should I say Permican Crossing, the bridge from which we get to the historical town. We stop at the first break we see on the bank since we had not seen a suitable place for camping for at least 2 hours. A few minutes later a pickup truck pulled up, two Cree were ‘checking the place out to fish’ greeted us, and upon telling them our story they gave us their catch, a nice Pickerell (walleye) … really nice of them and a good ohmen! Tired, having done over 80km as the crow flies … and happy though we had started over 17hours earlier. We cannot always choose, but for me a couple hours too many … We went to bed running.
Got up at 5 and folded my camp while having coffee, Dana rose at 6 and half an hour later we were walking down the road to visit Cumberland House. The others had prefered sleeping in and were to meet us at the bridge around 10. I really had to insist that “I” wanted to visit, even told them they were missing something important … without my insistance I believe we would have just past by the river.
A crew of workers going into town picked us up after an hour and dropped us at the historical site. Both disapointing and really worth while. This is a town that probably used to live more in the winter than in the summer since that was when goods & things could be moved over the ice & snow. More than 6 months a year the ground is white. With another month in spring and fall for the thaws & Ice … the look of the town can be understood. Nothing open, no breakfast or even coffee. At least Dana did not want to stay until 9 am … so we walked through the town and finaly met three Cree taking coffee in front of a fairground that was set up for a burial and teaching kids about the “old crafts” of the Cree.
Hearing about our trip they proposed to take us to the bridge and we left town arriving at the bridge at 9am. There I discovered that the hat of one of the guys had fallen out so I went back to town. On the way I was picked up by a canoer who told be we had 12hrs of paddling to The PAS. On the way back I stopped at the cemetary and spent a good 10 minutes reading the names on the old stalls. French, scottish, english names … and some Cree. Then I met (is his name Sam?) who has lived here for 20 years and says the issues, despite RCMP appointments with good intentions, are still the same. However he feels usefull as a construction manager and enjoys living here. He invited us to camp and take showers … but I told him we were “on the river” and had to go on.
After another 20 miles, the guys having showed up at 11am, we stopped in an impossible place (pascal’s idea!) to discover that only 200 meters further there was a landing. There we decided to make diner and then go on a ‘late night paddle’ … we’ll see how it goes.
Arrived near the PAS at 4 am, with smooth water and only 2hrs of real night. The northern
lights kept us company and we were motivated by pieces of a chocolate bar every hour or so. The last 2 hours of these night paddlings are grueling, however it is better than fighting the wind and it allows us to get into the PAS at noon. The guys want to get out fast and only allowing 3 hrs for the stop. Partially the angst about Winipeg lake which is reputed to be quite difficult and partly wanting to reach the meeting spot on the 5th of July with the girl friends. I would rather take another 10 days and meet local people, understand the regions we are crossing … like the restaurant I ate in at noon in the PAS.
All is well and the sun is with us. Pray for North western winds for us next week and we’ll possibly be in touch in Grand Rapids prior to engaging in Winipeg after Njal leaves us.