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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

 XVIII

TRACKING THROUGH BOULDERS

The river soon became so rough and the water so swift and strong that further poling was out of the question, and we were compelled to resort to tracking—that is, hauling the canoes up the rapid with ropes.

When a river has sufficient water along its shore, and reasonably good banks upon which to walk, tracking is not unduly hard, and good progress can be made.  Under such conditions one man usually remains in the canoe to steer it, while one or more tow, or “track” it with a line.

But the Beaver offered no such conditions.  Its bank was a tumbled mass of smooth boulders, and in walking upon these one was compelled to step from boulder to boulder, and keep a sharp lookout for the footing, for a misstep might mean a broken leg or other painful injury.  Walking upon the boulders, indeed, was hard enough without the weight of a tracking line upon the shoulders.

To make the work of tracking still more arduous and difficult, boulders were scattered so thickly in the water near shore that more often than not it was found necessary for all hands to walk waist-deep in the icy water that the canoe might pass outside the obstructions.

Very often the water of the channel, beyond the line of boulders scattered through the shallower water near shore, was so swift and strong that a canoe could not be hauled through it, or could not live in it.  This compelled the steersman to wade with the canoe, guiding it in and out among the near-shore boulders and lifting it over shallows where necessary.  Even here the water was swift—so swift and deep, indeed, that it was often extremely difficult to keep one’s feet.

During the first mile or so of tracking, Gilbert, who acted as steersman of our canoe, remained in the canoe to guide it while Malone and I tracked it.  But this quickly became impractical.  Gilbert quickly pushed one end of his pole securely to the bow and holding the other end guided the bow of the canoe while Malone and I tracked.  Judge Malone’s long legs carried him over the boulders, particularly where wading was necessary, faster than my shorter legs would carry me, and he good-naturedly insisted upon doing more than his share of the work.

As we advanced the character of the river grew steadily worse.  Presently it became necessary to work constantly in the icy water, which was at times so swift that we could scarcely breast it.  The boulders in the river bottom were often polished to a glassy smoothness and so slippery they caused a great deal of floundering about.

Walking in the water and slipping and sliding over boulders, is exceedingly hard on footwear, and on Monday night the deerskin moccasins worn by the boys were in shreds.  Happily Judge Malone and I had provided ourselves with two pairs each of oil-tanned moccasins, or shoepacs, in addition to those we wore.  I had given Gilbert a pair before leaving the post, and now re-shod Murdock and Henry in like manner.

The smaller canoe, in charge of Murdock and Henry, was not so good a white water canoe as ours, and twice on Tuesday it was swamped in heavy rapids with the loss of an aluminium kettle, a small tea pail, and a frying pan, belonging to the outfit; and a pair sealskin boots and a jacket, belonging to Henry.

Once during the day the tracking line upon which Judge Malone and I were hauling parted, and our larger canoe partly filled with water, and for a moment was in imminent danger of being wrecked.  Gilbert clung to the pole lashed to the bow, by which we were guiding it, however, and drew the canoe against the rocks and to safety, thus preventing loss and serious damage.

As a result of these experiences, I gave strict orders that in future all outfit should be lashed to the canoes.  This is a very simple precaution that one should always take when canoeing in rapids, no matter how unnecessary it may seem.  I was once wrecked in the far interior of Labrador, and, through failure to lash outfit, lost my axes, guns, and other equipment necessary to the safety and comfort of the wilderness traveler, together with nearly all of my provisions.  Snow covered the ground at the time, and ice was forming .  I shall never forget the twenty days of improvising, privation, and needless hardship this carelessness entailed upon me before I finally reached a trading post and shelter, on the coast.  It taught me a very wholesome lesson.  Though lashing the outfit to the canoe does not always prevent loss, as we shall see presently, it generally does.


Lifting the loaded canoe over the shallows

 

Next: Chapter XIX: March To Your Front Like A Soldier