There was no confusion as to where I was when I awoke around five a.m on day three. The sound of the Nipissing rushing past my bivy , over rocks and under logs and spilling into a dark inky pool just feet from where I lay, was unmistakable. I had mixed emotions as I packed up camp and started to boil water for breakfast. I was leaving the river and would spend the next few days portaging through a series of lakes. On one hand I was happy that I wouldn’t have to contend with water levels anymore ( or so I thought). On the other hand though I was really enjoying my time on the river. I still hadn’t seen a soul , it felt like my own private Algonquin.
So I sat in silent contemplation eating instant porridge. My thoughts soon changed from the river to my breakfast. Have they changed the recipe for porridge? I feel as if I loved it as a child. I can’t stand it anymore, honestly typing this is giving my the shivers. Written in my notebook here is “has porridge changed or have I” . I think that will help you understand a little more just what kind of mind set you can get into on a solo trip. But it has to be the porridge…Quaker is messing with me.
Bags packed and canoe on the shore I paddled out into the river. I had five portages on the docket for today starting and ending with the largest. Making quick work of the first 2 km portage which runs along Allens Rapids . Then paddling and winding along the river to pass Graham’s dam and spring camp. Along the spring camp portage a black bear spooked me . Now in reality the way he/she took off running I think I did the actual spooking. It was easy to see why he’d been here though blueberries and raspberries everywhere, I grabbed a few handfuls and left him to get back to his feast. Eventually I ended up at a 1300m portage that runs around High Falls. I stopped to filter water and have a snack. The sun was still beaming down, it hadn’t gone away in three days and with the lack of clouds in the sky it didn’t look like that would be changing anytime soon.
The portage is fairly straight forward and if you are ever in the area make sure to take the side trail and check out High Falls. Even with the low water the waterfall is a sight to behold. As you crest the top of a hill the sound of the water crashing hits your ears, the temperature changes and you can feel the power of the falls. I decided to have lunch here. I can only imagine what the falls are like when the water is up in the spring. As even now they turn that quiet lazy slinking river into a raging , frothing beast. I stayed longer than I should along the waterfall, eating cured meat and baked cheese. I could tell I was dragging my day out, I didn’t want to leave the river. I didn’t want to run into anyone. With these thoughts in my head I paddled away from the portage. A short while later the big bend in the river where it heads north towards Gauthier’s dam, and then east again to Cedar lake came into view. Along with that the yellow sign showing me the way to Remona lake. This was it, I would leave the river behind and trudge just under two kilometres to my camp for the night.
I’m not sure if it was the heat, my frame of mind , or just the rocks and hills, but this portage challenged me. I’d been fine all trip never stopping once. This time though I slowly leap frogged my gear along this quiet never ending trail, stopping and resting fairly frequently. I gave myself a small pep talk while sitting on a downed pine tree. Some of it was in my head but I vividly remember saying a few lines out loud which startled me as it was the first time I’d heard a human voice in a few days. With a smirk on my face I soldiered on down the portage. At the crest of a hill I saw the calm waters of Remona Lake. I made my way to the shore and looked around, I was still alone. Both campsites sat vacant. I loaded my gear , gathered some water from the centre of the lake and proceeded to my camp.
These three days I definitely did not feel like I had been missing out on anything. That changed instantly as I settled into bed. The haunting call of a pair of loons came drifting through the forest. They weren’t on my lake , but they were close. Such a staple sound on most camp trips I had not heard it along the river. So maybe leaving the river wasn’t as bad as I had made it out to be. I went over tomorrow’s paddle in my head as I lay in my bivy. It was a day of rest with very little travel. I closed my eyes and listened to the loons, hopefully I’d see them tomorrow so I could thank them for reminding me of the little things that make trips so good.