Canadian Canoe Routes

Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)
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Author:  martin2007 [ October 2nd, 2017, 10:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)

I've been busy tripping and messing with boats. Time to get to that confession I promised here a while back:

I was a fool.

I packed 11-12 days of food for an 18-day August Bloodvein trip. That's 11-12 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. That's with my son, Damien, a ravenous 16-year-old boy-man. The folly of my actions gradually dawned on me somewhere between Obukuwin Lake and Carroll Lake in WCPP.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the reasons behind my blunder:

1) Over-focussing on the potential agonies of the "3 Mothers" portages and compensating by making draconian cuts in food supplies, cuts reminiscent of the Mike Harris and Stephen Harper years...
2) Resisting the time-tested and annoying pattern of completing trips with 10-15 lbs. of food, i.e. several days of meals still remaining in the barrel and which have apparently been lugged around for nothing.
3) Tripping style: lots of time fishing, catching lots of fish, and always eating fresh fish before breaking out the "other food", i.e. dehydrated meals, which tend to take on a "Plan B" kind of role, i.e. eaten when the fish are elusive.
4) Forgetting that my son was no longer a wee toddler whose hunger was quickly satisfied by a few spoonfuls of pablum and a cup of hot chocolate
5) Fuzzy thinking exacerbated by bouts of wishful thinking.
6) Hubris.

I've beaten myself up sufficiently, I believe, starting with some serious self-flagellation on Carroll Lake. If, however, anyone would care to throw more fat on the fire, please do. I'm feeling a little masochistic tonight. And speaking of fat, my son, several days later down the river, noted a troubling contradiction. While "fat", i.e. cooking oil with which to fry up crispy battered fish, was in dangerously short supply, the same could not be said for my supplies of whiskey...

Anyway, we were soon paddling adjacent to a burn after entering WCPP. After doing several mental inventories of meals packed, I realized that yes indeed I'd fooked up rather badly. That was why I was loathe to continue paddling on Carroll beyond the turnoff to the Gammon. We stopped on an island campsite to discuss the alternatives. One option was to go hat-in-hand begging to buy food supplies at one of the two fishing lodges en route, one a few kms. east on Carroll Lake and one at the western outlet of Artery Lake. We would gratefully accept whatever they could offer us. I tried to imagine the encounter and its possible outcomes. Please, sir,... could you find it in your heart to spare some humble viddles for a poor starving man and his dangerously thin son? Oh, anything you can spare! I could picture the hasty consultation of bearded lumber-jacketed camp boss with diminutive and sneering camp cook, and of the host of assembled bystanders: fishermen, hunters, trappers, their friends, relatives, colleagues, and assorted hangers-on, many relishing the moment more than I'd like them to. Of fleeing the kitchen shame-facedly with a whole fresh chicken in a plastic bag, a slab of frozen moose steak, Snickers bars, cans of brown beans. The beans made the decision easy. And me who hadn't even packed a working can opener! Why would we pack a can opener, anyway? We weren't packing any cans! Too damned heavy! Nope. That option risked either humiliation or rejection, or worse: both. Scratch that option.

Option #2: alter our route by going down the Gammon River and thereby cutting two days' travel off our trip.

Yes, this was the one we chose. And, goddammit, we missed the Artery Lake pictographs and the first 60 kms. of the beautiful Bloodvein River below Artery.

Outcome: I felt much better after we made the decision to take the Gammon River route to the Bloodvein. And of course, as luck would have it, as soon as the decision was made the fish started biting. We caught more than enough fish to fill the gaps in our menu, and returned to the water many pickerel, pike, channel cats, and even a few bass (surprised to find them there!). And, of course, in spite of all the worrying over inadequate food supplies, we ended our trip with a couple of days' worth of meals remaining in the barrel. And we still managed two of the much-hoped-for lazy 2-nighter campsites en route.

The Gammon was a lovely river, as was the Bloodvein from Red Rock Café down. Most important, Damien really enjoyed the trip.

And the Artery Lake pictographs will still be there when we make our next trip up to the Ontario/Manitoba border country.

Author: [ October 3rd, 2017, 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)

Generational thing. To you it was a fook up but to others it merely made it an appealing extreme and exciting adventure. If only you could have live streamed it to a satellite and built a base of pay per viewers... 'will they make it' :)

There is something to be said for leaving something unseen for nextime. Meanwhile I'm reminded to error on the fed side not the starving side. Cheers

Author:  martin2007 [ October 3rd, 2017, 4:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)

Yes, Steve, I've already swung back to the practice of packing redundant extra meals just in case. There is nothing that provokes hunger pangs quite like knowing that food is in short supply. There will be no more running out of cookies and sweet dessert goodies, either!

Author:  segosih [ October 3rd, 2017, 9:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)

We never plan for fish meals any more, we only have them as opportunity presents itself. Then we save the dehydrated backup meals for next trip. In fact, we sport fish a lot after supper and toss them back.

As for Obukowin, it can be nasty but you got a nice dry year. We have done it a couple of times and it was just work. So is the Aikens port. I go as far now as to repackage the KD into ziplocks and eliminate as much packaging as I can.

I can do a three day trip with just beans, eggs, toast and coffee. Any pickerel are a bonus.

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ October 4th, 2017, 9:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Confessions of a Canoe-Tripper (conclusion)

Man oh man I loved reading your report. I'll have to bring you along on my next trip just to write the report!

I'm planning meals though.

Did you touch base with Charles on your way back? I'm sure he would've loved hearing your meal predicament.

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