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 Trip Stories - Pushing to Blackstone, Pierre Girard 


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We paddle into Cache Bay and down the narrows. We are at first amused, then genuinely concerned, by the antics of three canoes ahead of us. It is obvious they have no clue as to what they are doing. Navigating by the billiard-ball method, they go from side to side of the narrows. Every time they bang off one of the rock walls, they do an angle toward the opposite rock wall. We finally pull up beside one such canoe, which has an absolutely crunched bow. They have no English, and none of us speak Chinese. We are unable to help them and, taking the name of the outfitter off the side of their canoe, we resolve to give the outfitter a piece of our mind when we return. Seems a bit dangerous to let such folks out into wild country with so little knowledge of what they are about.

We reach the Silver Falls. Jarhead takes two Duluth Packs and his 20 foot canoe (about 250 pounds) and jogs off down the portage. Forgetful since last year, I take a Duluth pack and my canoe (125 pounds) and follow. Soon my lungs and shoulders are aching, and I wish I could use the tump - which is impossible with the canoe. After what seems like miles - I come to a portage rest (a wide spot in the trail). Shocked, I remember this as the 1/3 point. I dump the canoe, retrieve my tump, and continue on with the pack. Guess I'm just not as tough as I used to be. The woods, so cool before dawn, are hot and humid, and the bugs, which shouldn't be around yet at this time of year, are letting me know they are here. The portage is filled with up and down, high rock shelfs with old growth pine, and low clay muddy between ancient cedars. The best parts are close to the rapids which gives a breath of air and slight cooling.

Eventually we get everything across, including Jarhead's coffin, and we set out for the Saganagons. We spend several days fishing there before heading for our true destination.

We camp one night on an island below falls. It is an incredible place. As soon as we set up the tents we are out in the canoes pulling in walleyes below the falls. Eagles soar high above - hoping to steal our catch. I get several smaller walleyes plus a four pounder and a five pounder along with a 3 1/2 pound bass. The bass, inedible in southern lakes are delectable out of these cold rock bottom waters. We roast them in the ashes and eat like kings.

I've found a perfect bed, thick with moss. No need to dig a hip hole tonight. I fall asleep with the call of loons in my ears punctuated by the far off cry of timber wolves to the north and west.



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