Borealis Paddling Expedition
The Borealis Paddling Expedition is a canoe trip consisting of 5 women who will paddle through the Boreal Forest, Tundra and Arctic wilderness.
The Fond du Lac: Adventures... Expected and Unexpected
06/06/2005, Demicharge Rapids, Fond du Lac River

On day seven... after crashing, dragging, and hauling our way over 60 miles on Wollaston Lake, we finally reached the Fond du Lac River. I can hardly describe our excitement in having some open water to paddle, not to mention a downstream current.

The Fond du Lac flows northwest from Wollaston to Black Lake. In many places it is a broad, shallow river with low banks forested by fir and black spruce. Eskers (deposits of sand left by the glaciers) snake along the river, providing excellent camping. Arctic terns, bald eagles, black-headed scoters and mergansers wheel overhead as we paddle. Emily and I are sure there are walleye, pike and grayling out there just waiting to become dinner, but thus far we have been unsuccessful at catching any.

A couple of days ago we made camp in an area forest that had burned within the last 10 years. I find burn areas to be haunting and calming at the same time. The skeletal trees still standing lean in all different angles, while new growth - fireweed, small saplings, and moss and liken spring up around them. Camping there reinforced the quiet mood I have been in since leaving Wollaston. Now that the big push to get past the ice is over, I have had more time to think about my friends and family and about being 2,000 miles away from Ithaca on the shores of a frozen lake while my classmates graduated from Cornell.

Where the river narrows, we've had our first opportunity to put our whitewater skills to use. The water levels are fairly high this year but we have been able to run almost all of the rapids we've encountered thus far. Our boats are so weighted down they look more like small barges than canoes, but we've been pleasantly surprised by how well they maneuver and handle bigger wave trains. I'm not sure whether I am excited for or terrified of my turn to be the duffer through some of the bigger whitewater. When it comes, I'll have to be sure to suppress my tendency for backseat driving.

Last night while we were eating Karen's cheese-potato soup and fresh baked bread I looked over to find a good-sized black bear, not 10 feet away, wondering why he hadn't been invited to dinner. I'm not sure what my first words were, but they probably weren't nice enough to repeat here! Despite our repeated attempts to scare him off, he would not be dissuaded so we hurriedly packed up our food and retreated to the opposite shore, only to watch helplessly as he rummaged through one tent and began work on the other. Using bear garners we were able to frighten him away long enough to pack up the rest of our stuff and paddle downstream to a different campsite. We spent a very cozy night, all five of us in our 3-person EMS Tundra Dome and have devoted our day to repairing broken poles and sewing up some large claw marks. By tomorrow we should be ready to head down stream again.

If nothing else, the first 10 days of our journey have had their share of adventures, expected and not. We can't wait to see what the next 10 have in store. One aspect of the trip that has surpassed our expectations is the food. Using barley, quinoa and soy flour from Bob's Red Mills we have made cornbread, yeast bread, and a variety of bannocks that taste great and are wheat-free. The dried fruit and veggies from Just Tomatoes are another hit. We regularly re-hydrate mangoes and pineapples with our oatmeal and granola. Just the other night, Emily and Meg made a quiche with sprout-flour crust and peas, carrots and tomatoes mixed in to the egg filling. Thanks again to Bob's Red Mills and Just Tomatoes for making sure we are well-fed!

Support the Borealis Campership Fund at Camp Manito-wish YMCA


Who: Meg, Nina, Beth, Karen and Emily
Where: Camp Manito-wish YMCA
View Complete Profile »

Powered by XJournal