two boys, refitted with a makeshift equipment and a tarpaulin to be
used as a lean-to shelter, in lieu of the tent they had lost, made
ready to leave us in their crippled canoe directly after breakfast,
upon their return to Grand Lake to get the baking powder.
you want Poppy?” asked Murdock as they were stepping into the canoe.
can take him,” said Gilbert.
Poppy, who had been watching the preparations with keen interest,
seemed to understand, for without further invitation he sprang aboard,
and as the canoe disappeared down the rapids we saw his head rising in
the bow where he had installed himself as a lookout.
proportion of outfit which had been cached here for Murdock and Henry
to take forward upon their return was much smaller than formerly, for
the carrying powers of their canoe had been considerably reduced by the
accident. The load, therefore, which our much larger canoe
was called upon to transport was proportionately increased.
The bronze tablet, the little flag and pennant wrapped in it, was
placed on top, that there might be no danger of bending or defacing it,
and in this position the load was lashed into position. The
additional outfit made so bulky a cargo that it rose, amidships,
considerably higher than the gunwales, and the canoe naturally sat
deeper in the water than formerly.
began our day’s work in the old way, sometimes wading, sometimes
tracking from the boulders of the shore. Steadily the rise in
the river grew steeper, and steadily the water grew swifter and
Beaver has a bend of about fifty degrees at the place where the Charles
Riley River enters it, swinging in to meet the waters of the latter
river as though to welcome them. Just below the junction of
the two rivers, the southern bank of the Beaver—the side on which we
were tracking—had a steep, crumbling bank rising to a height of about
fifty feet, and almost perpendicularly, from the water. At
the base of the bank, a narrow deposit of boulders which had rolled
down from above and lodged here, offered precarious footing.
The water had a good depth close in by the uncertain pathway, and upon
this we walked, in tracking past the spot.
we approached the Charles Riley River, however, the bank receded and
for a hundred yards or so opposite the mouth of the river the water
steadied to no more than a good strong current. This made it
possible for us to get into the canoe and paddle across the mouth of
the Charles Riley River.
became necessary for us to begin tracking at once, however, and
presently we found ourselves contending with a heavier rapid than any
we had yet encountered. The river became, indeed, an unbroken
caldron of dashing white water with dangerous cross-currents where
rocks occurred below the surface to divert its course.
a half mile there was a very perceptible rise in elevation. Along this
section of river a mass of boulders formed a steep-sloping wall about
eight feet in height. The deep water ran close to the base of
the wall, which retarded somewhat its rushing impetuosity; but directly
outside the slower shore water, white and tumultuous the river roared
past with terrific force.
along the slope of the boulder wall called for great care, and at some
points not a little bit hazardous. The boulders were loose,
and now and again one would turn under our weight with the hint that
very little movement might set some of the rocks rolling down upon us,
not only to our own peril, but with danger of crushing the canoe; for
here the canoe was kept close inshore, as near the rocks as possible,
that the heavier outside water of the rapid might be avoided.
XXIII: Disaster In The Rapids