After heading through the Gullet, we spent one day windbound and then pushed a big day to our first portage bringing us up-river and away from the coast. We landed in the cold, pouring rain, and realized that the water was too high to camp right on the shore. Instead, we had to hump all our gear up a short but STEEP hill, where we crashed out a respectable tent site.
This is where this portage started to go wrong. See, we have these goretex wading pants with attached goretex feet, which are beautiful things for keeping our feet dry in the icy Hudson Bay water. However, the feet on mine are huge so there is all sorts of extra material flapping around. I know (from painful experience) that I can’t walk any distance in these pants and my main tripping shoes without getting terrible blisters.
But we had to carry multiple loads up this hill. And my feet were freezing cold and totally numb. So I did not feel the onset of these blisters until partway through the portage the next day.
The 4km portage that took us 1.5 days.
And involved walking through an ice-water swamp. 3 times, because with 7+ weeks of food we were carrying 3 heavy loads on every portage.
So anyways, I don’t have any pictures from this icy, blistered, multi-day portage. But eventually we finished it, and I spent every evening for the next 2 weeks re-bandaging a loonie-sized blister on my heel. Yay!
A few portages in we had to find a portage heading to a different waterbody, not simply going around a rapid. We had a heckuva finding the landing – alders can be a terrible thing.
Eventually we got through the alders, through the woods, up the hill, and arrived on quite a scenic ridge.
The next section of the trip involved a lot of portages, some easier than others. The best ones followed nice open ridges the whole way, like this one:
But, we also ate lots of good food along the way, which had the dual bonus of being delicious and slowly lightening our packs.
Some people are skeptical about powered eggs. Some people are wrong!
Supplemented now and again with some fish.
We saw quite a bit of wildlife inland as well, including freshwater seals (they really are a thing), otters (my faaaaavourite), bears (we were so over bears), a couple of wolves (neat to see, but one was a little too curious so we encouraged him to leave with a flare), and 1 caribou (cool!).
This bear was an interesting one. We paddled around a corner, and caught a distinct aroma of stinky fish. And then saw this bear having a snooze on the rock offshore! When he saw us, he immediately hopped into the water and swam to the main island. However, he kept his eye on us, walking behind the shoreline bushes and poking his head up now and then. We had our paddles down, casually taking pictures, when he suddenly crashed out through the bushes and started swimming! Towards us! We wasted no time getting our paddles back in the water, but as we sprinted away we realized he was not swimming towards us – rather, I guess upon further assessment he decided that we weren’t a threat after all, and was heading back to his rock where he had abandoned a big fish.
Although we saw only 1 caribou, we saw lots of caribou sign, mostly discarded antlers, plus a couple of skulls.
No pictures of the wolves, but we did come across this wolf den on a portage (not in use at that time of year). It was neat to see all the different exit and entrance tunnels.
There was also the odd bug.
But, more importantly, there were so, so many beautiful spots to stop for lunch or to pitch a tent.
This trip can really be divided into pretty distinct parts. We had the coastal section, this inland section, and then the final section. This section was good going. We had a mixed bag of weather, moved steadily every day for about 3 weeks, getting ourselves into a really good rhythm.
This changed dramatically in the final stretch, when we were faced with winds like we had never seen before – which will be described in the (eventually) upcoming part 4, the final installment!