After landing at East Mossy Portage, I briefly consider camping in the best spot I’ve seen for weeks. It’s a sand beach surrounded by limestone gravel with large patches of flat, low grass. Surely the exit on Winnipegosis will be something similar. I mean, how much can change in a few kilometres?
I slap Karta together, drink a liter of water, a liter of mixed Gatorade, eat the rest of my lunch, and lean into the towing harness.
I figure to do the 6km in 90 minutes. The road is marginal but passable. Large stones, some ruts and potholes, but hoardes of mosquitoes. I’m sweating buckets, dressed head-to-toe, complete with bug hat, bug shirt, and bug gloves. I’m getting bit at the ends of my fingers.
I brought a liter of water to drink on he portage, but lifting the mesh on my bug hat to drink or eat results in a swarm of bugs inside the hat. The hat stays on and the liter of water is now dead weight.
It’s 6km uphill. Sitting in the canoe for two months hasn’t made my legs any stronger and I wonder how I ever did the climb out of Hope on the Crowsnest. Manitoba’s Highway 60 can’t come fast enough.
I gasp and wheeze my way over the summit and the highway is just a few hundred meters ahead. Mercifully downhill.
Ever so proud of myself, I look for the continuance of the portage trail on the other side of the highway.
I don’t see it.
It’s not there.
It can’t be. There’s no [email protected];*£¥\# way it can’t be there.
I check my maps and see the trail leading to Winnipegosis clearly marked. I pull Karta 300 meters west, looking for the trail. Nada.
I pull Karta the same 300 meters east. Still nothing. I’m at a loss to understand what, where, why, and how so I hide Kai Nani in the bush and start bush-whacking every conceivable nuance of a trail. After half an hour, I’m covered in ticks and trailing a cloud of bugs. But there is no trail leading to the lake. East Mossy Portage dead-ends at the highway.
My very good day is now bordering on my worst. I have just given back all the time and distance I made up today as now I either pull Karta back to Cedar Lake and try ti find High or West Mossy Portages, hack my own trail to the lake from here or haul the canoe 15km down the highway and try to pick up the first lake access I have on my maps.
I figure no matter what I do, I’ll end up pulling Karta at least 15km. That means that not only will I have me to walk the 15km, but I’ll have to paddle back the 15km I just paddled. It’s 45km kick in the a** that just killed the day I made up.
Looking up and down the highway, I realize the best place to camp is right here. As in the ditch right here. I kick aside a dozen Budlite cans, some old beer bottles, and too many plastic water bottles to count and set up my tent in a
cloud of mosquitoes.
I have less than a liter of water for what’s left of the evening and all day tomorrow. I can’t cook dinner or breakfast and I’m already famished and way low on energy. My luck needs to change and change fast.
Dinner is cold sausage, a two sips of water, some granola mix, and a bite of chocolate. I set a record for mosquitoes in the tent and marvel that that the ditch I found a flat spot to sleep on. Could be worse I say out loud to no one. Tomorrow
will be better I say to myself.