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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ILLUSTRATIONS

CHAPTER I:
A JOURNEY OF SENTIMENT


CHAPTER II:
THE FATAL ERROR


CHAPTER III:
DUTY FIRST


CHAPTER IV:
A MAN'S GAME


CHAPTER V:
A PERMANENT MEMORIAL


CHAPTER VI:
WILL THE ICE TURN US BACK?


CHAPTER VII:
STORMY VOYAGE


CHAPTER VIII:
RETURN TO NORTHWEST RIVER


CHAPTER IX:
A CHIEF VOYAGEUR


CHAPTER X:
THE BEAVER IS A BAD RIVER


CHAPTER XI:
SOUNDING THE BIG LAKE


CHAPTER XII:
BREAD WITHOUT BAKING POWDER MAKES ME SICK


CHAPTER XIII:
I NEVER TRAVELS ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XIV:
VIRGIN AS GOD MADE IT


CHAPTER XV:
FIRST PORTAGE


CHAPTER XVI:
TRAIL COMPANIONS


CHAPTER XVII:
MURDOCK'S RAPID


CHAPTER XVIII:
TRACKING THROUGH BOULDERS


CHAPTER XIX:
MARCH TO YOUR FRONT LIKE A SOLDIER


CHAPTER XX:
IT'S ALWAYS BAD LUCK TO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY


CHAPTER XXI:
WORST COUNTRY FOR GAME I EVER SAW


CHAPTER XXII:
BACK TO GET THE BAKING POWDER


CHAPTER XXIII:
DISASTER IN THE RAPIDS


CHAPTER XXIV:
TAKING STOCK


CHAPTER XXV:
GRAPPLING


CHAPTER XXVI:
INDIANS HAVE PLENTY OF HARD TIMES


CHAPTER XXVII:
THIS RIVER IS LIKE A BAD WOMAN


CHAPTER XXVIII:
NO RELIEF FROM WADING


CHAPTER XXIX:
HELL AND TWENTY


CHAPTER XXX:
BACKPACKING TO THE SUSAN


CHAPTER XXXI:
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


CHAPTER XXXII:
THE MIND WORKS CURIOUSLY


CHAPTER XXXIII:
RELIVING THE PARTING


CHAPTER XXXIV:
MARKING HUBBARD'S BOULDER


CHAPTER XXXV:
A NEW DISASTER


CHAPTER XXXVI:
THE HARDEST BIT OF TRAVELING I EVER DONE


CHAPTER XXXVII:
SOMETHING WORTHWHILE UP THERE IN THE HILLS


NOTES

PHOTO GALLERY

COLOUR SLIDE GALLERY

ADDENDUM TO
THIRD EDITION

COMMENTS ON THE
NAMING COMPULSION


BACK TO THE LABRADOR WILDS

 XI

SOUNDING THE BIG LAKE

Grand Lake I had long known to be an exceedingly deep lake, and perhaps the deepest lake known on the Labrador Peninsula.  It had never been sounded below sixty fathoms, and the bottom had never been found.  We were provided with one thousand feet of copper wire, in two reels of five hundred feet each, to be used as a sounding line.

While the others were breaking camp in the morning, Malone and I, with one of the boys to assist us, rowed the boat a half-mile off shore, and attaching a weight to our line attempted a sounding. A five hundred foot reel was quickly run out, and the other reel spliced to it.  There was a tremendous strain on the line at this great depth, for which we had not made proper calculations, and when ninety-two fathoms had been payed out the line parted midway of the first five hundred foot reel.

Bottom was not found, and, unfortunately, we had not sufficient line remaining to complete the sounding.   The experiment, however, demonstrated the vast depth of the water, and the fact that Grand Lake is, indeed, the deepest known lake in Labrador.

Rain had continued all night and all day fell in a drizzle.  Fog was not so dense as the previous day, but sufficiently so to shut out a view of the lake.  There was no wind, and hardly a ripple disturbed the surface of Grand Lake until mid-afternoon.  Then a breeze sprang up and the wind changed its direction from northeast to north, and when we were opposite the Nascaupee River a stiff blow out of the Nascaupee valley raised a disagreeable, choppy sea.

We crossed here to the north shore of the lake.  The head wind gave us some good work at the paddles, and the man in the boat a good pull on the oars; but once across, we had the advantage of a lee shore, and in early evening saw the opening of the little lake, which forms the mouth of the Susan and Beaver Rivers.

Three or four hundred yards to the south of the entrance to the little lake stands Donald Blake’s old cabin, and just south of that another cabin.  Blake’s cabin was built in the summer of 1903, after the Hubbard expedition passed into the country.  It was here that Elson found Donald and Gilbert Blake, when he came out of the Susan River valley in October in search of assistance. The other cabin had, even then, been standing for several years.  On the night that Elson found them, Donald and Gilbert rowed a boat twelve miles to another cabin a little way up the Nascaupee River, where Allen Goudie and Duncan McLean had established themselves for the winter trapping season, and enlisted Allen and Duncan in the rescue party.  These cabins were occupied only during the trapping season—from October until June—and are used by the trappers as winter headquarters and supply bases for the trails.

A sandy flat, a hundred yards wide, thick-strewn with logs and trees, debris from the freshets of many springs, lies between the river and the spruce forest.  In small clearings in the edge of the forest, and two or three hundred yards apart, are the two cabins.  Blake’s cabin is the nearer one to the little lake, and it was to this cabin that my rescuers took me on a November evening in 1903.

Blake’s cabin was to be our shelter for the night.  We were chilled and wet, and though the cabin was deserted now, it looked very hospitable and inviting to us, nestling in its little clearing in the edge of the forest.

We landed on the beach, and as I walked up the path leading through the tangled debris to the cabin, it was natural that I should recall my sensations on that other occasion, when, fresh from the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I first trod the same path ten years before—my fervent thanks to God for returning me again to the world and to the comforts of civilization—the thrill of joy that came with the realization that, after all, I was to be reunited with the friends at home whom so recently I had resigned hope of ever seeing again.

And I recalled how, ever present, and overshadowing these pleasurable sensations with sadness and heartache, was a picture of Hubbard as I had seen him last, on the morning of our parting.  No pleasure could blot from my thoughts and vision his lonely death on the bed of boughs, before the big rock, in the snow-covered wilderness of the Susan River valley.  Ah, how many times since have I seen that picture in my sleeping and waking dreams!

The cabin and its surroundings had undergone no change in outward appearance in all these years.  We took possession for the night.  Next the window, on the lake side, was a rough, homemade table.  It had stood there for ten years.  I remembered sitting beside it, with a lamp at my elbow, and reading aloud from the scriptures, and when I had finished, kneeling with the family, and the trappers who had rescued me, while Donald offered a prayer of thanks to God for His mercy.  Family worship was an institution in Donald Blake’s home.

The same box stove stood in the middle of the room, beside which, sick and weary, I rested on a bed of skins, spread upon the floor, the night they brought me here.  How luxurious the warm cabin and its furnishings seemed to me then!  And so it was, in contrast to the unsheltered months of privation in the open wilderness from which I had just returned.  Luxury and contentment are relative terms, measured always by contrast.

The cabin now, in its deserted state, presented anything but a cheerful atmosphere.  The table and stove, three chairs, a roughly made bedstead, a few dishes on some shelves, and an empty kerosene lamp completed the furnishings.  We lighted a fire in the stove, and spread out our things to dry.  Gilbert turned his attention to supper, and presently, as the warmth asserted itself, accompanied by the odor of frying bacon, the room assumed a more cheerful face.

While we awaited supper, Judge Malone stood at one of the windows, contemplating, through gathering twilight, the dreary aspect of dripping fir trees, tangled debris, and mist-covered lake, when suddenly he turned, reached for a shotgun, then disappeared through the door with the exclamation:

“Rabbits!”

A moment later we heard a shot, and presently the Judge returned with a fine, big snowshoe rabbit—the first game of our trip—now wearing its summer coat.

 

Next: Chapter XII: Bread Without Baking Powder Makes Me Sick