Sunday, June 26, 2011

9 DAYS OF WILDERNESS

  When I talk about the Montreal River I'm talking about the whole area north of the dam at mile 93 on the ACR (Algoma Central RR).(It also used to be affectionately known as the "Agony Central RR")
 We had a very large map of the area that went clear up to Hudson Bay. If you were voyeur (Like the French Canadians of olde) enough, you could put in at Hudson Bay and end up on the Montreal River. I imagine it would take most of the summer BUT it would sure be a trip to remember. When looking at the map there were hundreds if not thousands of lakes and stream.
The canoe we used was much like this one. Canvas covered wood
A lot lighter than aluminum

  I experienced one of those trips with a friend for almost 10 days out in the "BUSH". We were young inexperienced and it was an adventure to end all adventures. His name was Art and we put in just north of the lodge at mile marker 114, the place was called Frater about 21 miles north of the lodge. We'd been studying that big map for a couple of years it looked like, and according to it, you could follow some rivers and streams and end up back on the Montreal River via coming down Indian river. Which entered the Montreal south of the Cow River, about 23 miles  up the Montreal River. To make a rather long story shorter we took the train up to Frater with our canoe, fishing poles, a little food, axes and my dog Cookie.
We didn't have a tent but we did have some plastic, just in case. Mother was adamantly against us going , even for a day, but how could two healthy teenagers have any problems, ha,ha (18-19 yrs old).
 We didn't have back packs like they have now days but Bill and Johnny had shown us how to rig up  homemade ones. The only difference was the Indians put a strap around their foreheads and used their neck muscles to carry some of the load. We used rope and put it on our backs and shoulders. We made 2 backpacks one smaller than the other. We figured whoever was carrying the canoe should have the smaller pack. That was about the smartest thing we planned for the whole trip.

                Somewhere along the Montreal.
Now Cookie (dog) was Brittany and Springer and a great pheasant dog, but that was in Michigan down in the pheasant area. She was also a great bear dog. If there was a bear around she would follow on your heels until all was well. The first thing she did was find a flock of grouse. They were not afraid of us but did not trust the dog, at all. Art made a nice throw with the axe and we had grouse for dinner (I never did hit one). That was even before we got the canoe wet, things were looking good. We put in at the first lake paddled across and portaged to the next one. It was a small lake and we went on to the next. There we saw a island and decided to go out and see if there was a camping spot on it. There was, and we set up our first camp (we ended up staying on several islands during our trip). It was a small island maybe a couple of acres in size and we even found a few huckleberry's there, also bear sign. We would sleep under the canoe using it to keep the dew off of us and if it should look like rain we'd spread out the plastic using the canoe for a ridge pole and have us a palace. A roaring fire soon burned down to just coals and we fixed some grouse and a couple of trout, a king's banquet. We did try to steam some of the fiddle heads on the ferns but they were very bitter, they were to old but we did have some wild water cress. Our first night out under a starry, clear sky and 2 teens, what else could you ask for. We fell asleep while talking and soon daylight woke us up. For breakfast we ate the last of the fish and grouse, with some coffee, packed up and were soon off on another days adventure. Now remember we were kids (18-19), indestructable and we were having a great time and fishing a lot. There were lots of little streams and we debated on some and made some mistakes. We could tell when the stream became a creek and the canoe would hit bottom. A lot of the times our compasses were for nought as the mineral deposits just messed us and compasses up. If the sun was shining we could pretty much tell which way were were going, also the current in the streams. Sometimes there would be 2 streams exiting the lk and both the same size.  We did see a float plane the second or third day and it passed over and then came back, we waved and it wiggled its wings and flew out of sight. (Later on we learned that a couple of the bush pilots were watching over us). After the fifth or sixth day we were ready for a good meal, (our oatmeal was gone) a hot shower and a soft bed. We ate fish all the time, watercress and berries when we could find them.
We'd run out of grease and flour so now we just had cooked,steamed, baked, boiled fish. What is really good about trout is you do not have to scale them just clean and prepare. One day we spotted some berries on shore and went closer to see what they were. They were like a high-bush huckleberry, maybe even a blueberry. There was moose and bear sign all over the place but we made a lot of noise and ate some of their food. We ate those berries until the dog got very nervous and we left. All three of us had eaten many pounds of berries, dog included. A funny fact here is that the three of us ate so  many berries we had to stop several times at the local rest Areas", LOL
  Weather wise we had pretty good weather, a couple of good cold showers, hours of wet clothes until we stopped to build a fire. We got to laughing about fire wood. Once we got the fire going we didn't need anymore wood you could almost hear the bodies of the mosquitoes as they fried in the fire. We did have plenty of Cutter's repellent with us which we used almost like a bath gel and we did go through 1 1/2 large bottles of the stuff.
A nice rack on this moose I took this picture in Idaho
 A lot of our navigating was done by dead reckoning which means we used common sense, didn't panic and laughed at the silliest things, like we found out moss does grow all around the tree, not just on the north side.  Wildlife, we saw moose, beaver, grouse, mink and once we thought we saw a wolf BUT it might have been a wolverine, We did hear wolves one night and they must've been hunting as there was a lot of yipping and howling, but we never did see a bear. Art nor I never did connect with another grouse so we ate fish, lots of fish. (To this day I still love fish).
 We almost did a homecoming dance when we thought we'd finally found Indian River and which it was. Only a couple of hours and it came down to the Montreal and one of the cabins. There were some guests there and we stopped and talked to them and they sort of knew all about our trip. And what was best, they fed us some soup and bread. (By the way, it was some of the best soup and bread we'd ever eaten, wolfed down).While we were talking to them another float plane flew overhead, we waved it wiggled its wings and we just knew that my folks back at the lodge knew we were OK.
We've got company! Another borrowed picture
  We thanked the men there and decided we'd stop at another cabin for the night and sleep on a bed. Also I knew where there was a  little bit of food stashed there (crackers in a steel tin and a lg jar of peanut butter). That night 2 bear came in checking out things. They were looking for food and we decided that since we didn't have any  they were looking for us, LOL.
I had 3 firecrackers hidden up on one of the rafters (I'd found them after somebody had checked out).  The bears would come to within 10 or 15  feet of the cabin. We'd light a firecracker  throw it out and the noise would not scare them. They'd go up and smell the smoke and run away, then come back. After our noisemakers were done we decided to grab some pots and pans and rushed outside banging and shouting and scaring them away for the evening. We had a fire going in the cabin trying to dry out some clothes but it got so hot that we let the fire go out so we could sleep.
 As we were packing up in the morning an outboard approached and it was dad "just checking the cabins", he said. He offered us a couple of bologna sandwiches and we scarfed them down. He said relax I'll come back to get you in an hour or so and gave us a list of chores to do around the cabin. So we happily did them and relaxed and played with the dog and bathed in the river. After checking out what day it was we found out we'd been out 9 1/2 days.
  I never did it again (for such a long period) and I only saw Art a few more times after that as he'd gotten married, but we both laughed as we reminisced about our adventure of a lifetime.
  If you should happen to want to try something like this trip, make sure you are compatible with the person whom you are going with, neither one of you have allergies and all of that stuff. We found out you could argue about the most mundane things or you could shrug them off  change the subject and continue on.
 I honestly do not know if you could do it with a woman. Some might do with out clean clothes each day, showers, hair dryers and a lot of that STUFF but, I believe she would be a rare one.
Darrell, still remembering.

2 comments:

john said...

Sounds like a great experience and started feeling a little sick, almost wondered while reading, if this was turning out to be a "broke back mountain" trip!!!! Happy it wasn't!

Canada WAS a great time and wouldn't trade it for anything. I remember.....Grandma and Grandpa got a new intercom at the boat dock giving them a heads up when any boats were comming in. It worked super.
Kitt, Kris and I came up with a great idea. We started throwing rocks in the water and they crashed, splashed as we were screaming like drowning kids in the water. It sure gave Grandma a heads up. The Intercom really worked. Grandma was all over us like white on rice and not very happy. We only saw the humor, until she was at the top of the hill yelling at us. (Your daughters begged this angel to be included..lol) I think grandma got over it because we went up for years to come.
Have a great 4th and we'll talk soon.
John

Darrell said...

John, funny you should mention that as Kitt or Kris was talking about that not too long ago.