With the tracker down, communication with the outside was limited to those places in the wild with cell coverage. As may be obvious, wilderness and cell coverage are generally mutually exclusive.
Taking advantage of a rare pass near a highway, I let my sister (the shoreteam whip) know where I was and that I was making good time to Thunder Bay. Checking my route downstream, she advised that there were some ‘rapidy bits ahead’.
‘No worries’ I naively replied. ‘I did the portage over Crooked Rapids. The fastest water is already behind me.’
Ah, the Mayor of Wrongsville rides again.
Here’s what some rapidy bits on the Kaministiquia upstream of Kakabeka Falls looks like:
Getting down this section of the Kam was one of my hardest days. In places, there were 20 meters between portages. To add insult to injury, the final 2km to the planned take out above Kakabeka Falls required busting into a 25km/hr headwind served up with a very steep wind-over-current chop. I had neither strength nor will equal to the task and ended up exhausted at the Kakabeka Falls Flying Club seaplane dock.
On shore and save even from myself, I looked back upstream at the final horse-shoe shaped falls I had portaged. My mind slipped back 150 years, trying to imagine what an NWC Voyageur headed upstream might have thought looking at those falls and knowing that the hardest part of the entire trip to Rocky Mountain House, some 4000km away to the north and west, was right here between Kakabeka Falls and Dog Lake less than 50km away.
Perhaps some old grizzled vet, busy with the final details of a hand-carved paddle, somehow senses the youth’s apprehensions, looks up from his work and mutters between pipe draughts ‘Don’t worry pup. There’s just a few rapidy bits.’