Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 20: Saturday, 09-05-09

Lakes / Rivers Traveled:

Cliff Lake

Bad Medicine Lake

Ratte Lake

Pikitigushi River

Gort Lake

Wash Lake

Derraugh Lake

Travel Time: 8:49

Distance: 12.8 miles / 20.6 km

I was inside my tent last night before 09:30 pm. It was plenty warm inside it. I was sweating inside my sleeping bag. The moon was still shining brightly through the tent .

I woke up at 05:00 am so I knew I had another hour before I needed to get up. I woke up again at 05:45 am. When I got outside of the tent 16 minutes later the moon was almost full. It was shining and reflecting off the water. I got a fire going for coffee.

A light breeze began to blow. It looked like a SW wind, but later it was coming mostly out of the south.

After we packed our gear we left the campsite at 08:35 am taking our time looking for more pictographs. We found the best ones on the south facing rock face walls in the south part of the lake. There was also a plastic bag with some braided straw or similar grass. There appeared to be a portion of a map with the braided object. It appeared some mice have been chewing on the bag. We didn’t touch or move it, but I took a couple photos. Was this some sort of offering?

Across from these pictographs was our first portage. (UTM # 84). We got there at 09:48 am after spending time looking for and taking photos of the pictographs. There’s an old blaze on a black spruce that was broken off. There is a newer blaze below on the same tree. This portage was wet and soggy. You can and I did sink up to my knees in a couple spots. The put-in was at the end of a steep decline.(UTM # 85). The length was 65 meters. There were some other blazes along the portage, but the trail is well defined.

We paddled across to the take-out to Bad Medicine Portage at 1020 am. (UTM # 86)

Dave took the canoe and off he went. I usually hang back a couple minutes since he usually takes a little more time to maneuver the canoe around the different obstacles. Dave carried the canoe the entire length without having to put it down. It took him 29 minutes to accomplish that feat. Those who have travelled this portage know what it takes to do it. The put-in (UTM # 87) is down a steep and rocky decline.

It took me 26 minutes. I caught up with Dave, but there wasn’t anyway I could get around him. The length was about 419 meters. The second carry took me only 14 minutes.

The deciduous trees and shrubs are beginning to turn yellow. The blueberry leaves are turning red and yellow brown color. The boreal forest is taking on some more color now that the leaves are turning. The Northern White Cedars have been renewing their leaves and the older leaves were dropping.

By 11:58 am I was done with my three carries. When Dave shows up we’ll have to get all the gear down a steep 5 meter drop to the water.

The rock surfaces on this portage would be treacherous if wet. At one point we walked on a narrow trail above a steep drop way down to the river below. There was also a steep ravine that we needed to cross. I was behind Dave watching him negotiate this area while balancing the canoe. All I can say is if I had to carry the canoe across I would probably have just left it.

Dave was finished with his carries at 12:20 pm. At 12:37 pm we were at the take-out on Bad Medicine Lake. (UTM #88). The take-out was nice and sandy. We had lunch at the take-out once we unloaded the canoe. It was 12:43 pm when we started lunch. When we were done with lunch at 01:06 pm we started our carries. The portage appears to have been a well used portage in the past. There was another steep decline to the put-in. (UTM # 88). This portage was only 203 meters long that took me 6 minutes to cross with one carry. I forgot to write the time when we finished it.

The next portage take-out was (UTM # 90) and the put-in was (UTM #91). I read in another trip report that those paddlers didn’t see this portage. There are actually two portages on river right. The first one closer to the rapids has been used in the past, but it’s not completely cleared as it’s not being used anymore. When I got out to scout the rapids I walked this trail. If we would have taken it we would have needed to do some cutting. We would be able to get around the first set, but then we would have to paddle over the next shallow area scraping the canoe, then get out and line the canoe.

I had seen another possible take-out area that was further to the right of this one. We paddled over to it and saw that it had recently had cleared. There was another steep decline to the water at the put-in.

Someone had left a small chainsaw bar with some chainsaw tools on a stump. Also, leaning up against another tree stump was a Rapala X Strato fishing pole with a bronze Rapala fishing reel.

The second portage after Ratte Lake. Take-out (UTM # 92) and the put-in (UTM # 93) We arrived at 04:28 pm and were done with it at 05:03 pm. The length was 113 meters long.

We arrived at a campsite on Derraugh Lake at 05:24 pm. (UTM # 94).

There was a strong southerly wind that we paddled into on the larger bodies of water today.

We set up camp then we both looked at our maps. Dave updated his maps as I read to him my notes from my field notebook. We looked at what was possibly in store for us tomorrow.There was one long portage. It was marked as being close to a mile long. Could we paddle the river or would we need to walk it? As usual we wouldn’t know until we got there.

There were some clouds moving in from the SW tonight. Hopefully the rain would hold off for another day.

I was in my tent around 08:50 pm trying to finish up my journal entry for the day.

Today was Dave’s pick for the best tent spot, so tonight I have the less desirable spot. Yesterday was my pick on Cliff Lake. We have been alternating on who gets the first pick.

I thought I made a good decision until I laid down. I needed to put my PFD under the sleeping pad from about my butt down in attempt to make it level. Once I did it everything was ok. The only complaint was I was too warm in my sleeping bag.

This trip has been an experience. I’ve never done a trip of this length. It was a challenging route to begin with before adding in the extremely high water. This high, fast moving water caused the rapids and standing waves to be much bigger than normal. This in turn caused us to portage where we might normally line or track with the canoe. We needed to cut our way across land when we couldn’t paddle, line or track.

Dave is a real go getter. His paddling skills have greatly improved over this trip. Due to the weight difference this cause us some problems earlier on, especially combined with the five heavy packs.

It’s 09:12 pm and I’m going to get some rest. I’ll need it if we have to triple portage the 1450 meter portage tomorrow.

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