You came back! (If you missed the first installment you can catch up here). Sorry to have left you hanging, but who doesn’t like a little suspense?
So we left off with Cosmo now soaking wet – soon to be freezing – but at least all cargo was safely back in the boat. Travis idled up to the first massive ice chunk so we could assess the situation. In hindsight at this point it would have been best to turn around and save this journey for another day. So, naturally, we decided to use our wooden paddles to “test” the strength of the ice to see if we could just break it up easily. That is the last time I will use the word easy in this story.
No such luck. And now it is snowing, goodie. But, with a little patience and determination, we successfully made it through this first challenge (or second challenge if you are counting Cosmo’s acrobatics). We were able to motor successfully for another mile or so ice free. This became the pattern. Motor a bit, survey best possible route through ice covered section, bust up said ice covered section painfully slowly, and repeat. The painfully slowly part was necessary because I broke paddle #1 in my over zealous and aggressive approach that I started out with. We burned through that paddle in a matter of minutes! Oops.
We had well passed the hour two mark of our journey and were getting a little discouraged. It was taking forever! Travis was really worried that the last open part of the lake (by the little island on the west shore just out from camp) would be big trouble. And by that point the temperature had dropped, we were running out of daylight, and the thought of hacking our way BACK across and admitting defeat was not very enticing. Neither was spending the night in the woods, or completely wrecking our boat and going under. So, you know, that’s about where we were mentally. Picture all this with a constant whine and wail coming from the now very cold and shivering Cosmo. It can rattle you, for sure.
FINALLY, the lodge is in sight! We were going to make it, and before dark! We did run into the thickest ice yet right before that first point out from the lodge. Maddening, I tell you. To see the lodge, hear the falls, and literally not know whether you can make it or not. But we did! All three of us hurdled out of the boat and out of the freezing rain. Travis fumbled frozen fingers to get out the keys to open camp. We quickly settled in for the night, not even attempting to get anything up and running besides the heater in our room. We made the bed, heated up some soup, put on dry clothes, and sat in plastic lawn chairs with our toes up to the propane heater. Happy as clams. Travis might as well have just checked us in to a five star resort. We were dry, soon to be warm, fed, and sheltered. How quickly we re-remember part of the beauty of being in the Canadian wilderness. You take pleasure in the very simplest of things.