Updated: May 8, 2020
#32. Not sure where this is. Circa 1968. "...now the walk back for the second load, that's the part I like." Bill Mason on portaging, Waterwalker. That is the overlooked second line to one of my Dad's most cited quotes. As for me, I like portaging. The trail takes me deeper into the wilderness and as I walk it I get a much closer look at the land. The plants, the animals, the trees; these are things I can see and connect with as I plod along with my load. And is there a more beautiful sight in the world than that first sparkle of blue you see through the trees, telling you the end of the trail is near? I have done tough portages, some steep, some long, many buggy and some snowy and slick. But without a doubt they have all been worth it in so many ways. And yes, I can say that I have liked them all, especially because of "the walk back for the second load." This brings to mind a scary but funny portaging story. We were carrying around a decommissioned dam on the Namewaminikan River out near Lake Nipigon. Reid was about 75m ahead of me with the canoe. Beyond him in the distance I was dismayed to see some hunters on ATVs appear out of the bush. Ahh, road access because of the dam I thought. A minute later there was a loud crack and I saw Reid stagger and fall to the ground with the canoe on top of him. What the hell just happened? He wasn't moving! I dropped my pack and paddles and ran to him. There was no blood, no hole, whew, just a ringing in his ears. It turns out that the yoke on the 80lb. canoe had broken with a deafening snap. Once he was on the ground he didn't want to make any sudden moves because of the sharp splintered wood near his neck. I got the canoe off him and when my heart rate finally slowed we had a good laugh. We carried our canoe together to the end, had a nice chat with the super friendly locals and then we were on our way to our next campsite to repair our yoke. I know you have a good story from the portage trail...let's hear it!
About "Today's Paddling Pic": These last few days I've find myself looking back on some wonderful memories and images of where canoeing has taken me, and it's made me smile. I feel so fortunate and grateful for these places, people and experiences, and it's kind of nice to reminisce. And in doing so I can't help but to also look forward to a time when we can all paddle safely again! So for the next while Reid and I are posting a picture a day (with a story) that will brighten our day and hopefully yours too. And maybe you'll share your stories too.