After about 90 minutes of work, camp was finally set up. We had a fire started and were just waiting for night to fall so we could cook dinner. The forecast told us to expect rain that night as well as into the following day, and while rain isn't ideal, luck was on our side because for some reason when the rain did come it was at the best possible times for us.
That night we must have cooked about four pounds of steak along with our potatoes and greens. Just as dinner was served and we were eating under our tarp and playing cards, the rain started. Eating a hot meal, staying dry, and indulging in the best possible entertainment while out camping and sheltered from the rain was soothing for us.
We woke up to cloudy skies the next morning but again our guardian angel was looking out for us. While we made breakfast, packed up camp and set up our boats, there was no rain at all. Once we got on the water the rain picked up, and although it was a bit annoying and made us somewhat cold, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. We were already getting splashed by the river and our gear was locked in dry bags so it made little difference. It rained all day long, but thankfully paddling was smooth. Some minor rapids and the currents gently pushed us along so it was a fun day of fishing and paddling. For whatever reason we had perfect timing again it stopped raining about an hour or two before we arrived to camp and the sun finally came out. We were amazed to find an even more beautiful campsite than the night before, this one located off a large inlet. There wasn’t much running water by us, instead there was a beautiful view of the still water of the large inlet.
Setting up camp was a breeze. After our first night of camping everything became routine for us: finding and chopping firewood, cooking our meals over open fire, pumping water from the river, all things that felt like chores and extra work the first day were routine now. I felt very relaxed; this specific campsite exuded a calmness that I had never experienced before. Whether it was from the quaint river and environment around us, or from just getting in touch with nature and being one with the land, or even just from being surrounded by my friends, I felt stillness--a type of bliss that is tough to explain. It wasn’t necessarily bliss in the sense that I was filled with joy, but rather a feeling of being complete.
That was until I woke up the next morning freezing cold, and the first thing I saw was my breath. It was totally unexpected and made me want to stay in my sleeping bag. The worst feeling while camping is the cold that is getting out of a sleeping bag to put on fresh clothes and boots, and then the additional five minutes while you're moving around to warm up--a grueling five minutes. The good thing was once again, all our usual chores felt routine. Fire, breakfast, camp breakdown, packing up the boats, doing a quick garbage patrol, and then on the water.
The cold air from the river multiplied the chill we all felt. What started as smooth, easy paddling turned to battling the current and dangerous rapids. On two occasions we had to walk our gear around rapids so we could paddle with empty boats, which served to make the boats lighter and more maneuverable. It also made it safer in case we flipped, so we wouldn't have to worry about losing any gear in the rapids. While it was fun riding down the rapids and quick moving water, it was a hassle unpacking the boats and walking our gear about a half-mile down the bank, only to walk back to the boats to ride down.
I was embarrassed to flip my canoe on the second rapid passing. It was difficult to recover the boat and oars to ensure they didn't get swept away in the currents, and the bottom of the river bed was laced with sharp rock, not only leaving us with a few nasty cuts but making it difficult to regain our footing as we tried to make it back to the river bank.
Thankfully because of our high fitness level, as well as help from the spotters on the bank, we were able to react quickly. We recovered our gear before being swept away, found the bank and bandaged our wounds so that we could get back on the water.
I was glad that was our last portage--I don't think my feet could take more walking with gear. After a somewhat troublesome day on the water, we hit camp. This also brought about some difficulties. This seemed to be a popular campsite, located on a piece of land that was poking out over the river. While it provided great views and an easy spot to pull our boats, firewood was very scarce. It turned collecting firewood back into a chore that evening. And because of the positioning of the campsite, it was extremely windy, which made setting up our tents difficult. Even after pitching them down, we had to throw our gear inside to weigh them down. We weren't even able to set up a tarp this evening, but luckily it was clear skies.
We spent time exploring down the bank of the river and the land surrounding our campsite in search of adventure and suitable firewood. We find a couple of good, dead standing trees to take in a heavily wooded area, which was difficult to get to. It was also difficult to get the cut logs from, but as young, fit men it was still a piece of cake for us. Having a warm dinner fill my belly, we enjoyed our last evening on the water relaxing by the fire and playing spades.