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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

 XXXV

A NEW DISASTER

Our route back was more direct than the one taken on our outward journey, and eliminated the necessity of crossing two of the ridges.  Once we started some wild geese, several times Poppy flushed grouse, among them young broods now large enough to fly into the trees.  Fresh caribou tracks were seen, and I suggested to the Judge that he could probably shoot a caribou with little difficulty.

“ I wouldn’t shoot an animal unless we needed its meat,” said he, “and if I were to kill a caribou now we could only use a little of the meat and the balance would be wasted,”

And my already high respect and affection for the Judge was enhanced, for if there is any man who deserves the contempt of the true sportsman it is the man who kills only for the sake of killing, or to secure a trophy in order that he may boast of his prowess as a hunter—which he usually is not.

Fast traveling carried us to our cache the following day, and an hour later we were on our way down the river making vastly better progress than in the ascent.

Two days later, after making the portage around Roger Newell falls a new disaster befell us.  We were lowering the loaded canoe, attached to the tracking line, through the swift rapids directly below the Charles Riley River when the line parted.  Instantly the canoe was running wild in the rapids, and beyond all hope of rescue.  A moment later it crashed into a boulder and doubled up.

Fortunately the rock upon which the canoe fastened was close inshore, and our outfit was securely lashed.  Nevertheless many things were lost before we could salvage them, and the canoe was a total wreck.  Indeed it had broken completely in two, and presently the forward end was swept away in the rapid.

We spread our wet things upon the rocks to dry, pitched our tent, built a campfire and resolved ourselves into council.  We suddenly found ourselves in a most uncomfortable situation, but indulgence in vain regrets could avail nothing.  “It’s the fortune of war,” said the Judge with his usual good-natured acceptance of the disastrous happenings that had accompanied us.

The wreck had occurred fifty miles from Grand Lake, as the river runs, but in the overland march now necessitated it was possible to cut off the wide bends of the lower river, and thus eliminate several miles of the distance.  This would involve, however, two crossings of the river before reaching Grand Lake.

“There’s a little old abandoned boat at the head of the lake,” said Gilbert.  “I don’t know if she’ll float, but maybe we can patch her up good enough to take us down to the Nascaupee River, about twelve miles.  I have a canoe cached there.  If the boat has gone to pieces, we’ll have to get across the little lake somehow, and when we gets down to the Nascaupee cross that too.  The canoe’s on the other side.  When we gets to the canoe, we’ll be all right.”

The night was frosty, as nearly every night had been during the stay in the interior—frosty enough to freeze our tea pail—and morning came clear and beautiful.  We were astir early.  Packs were made up including tent, ax, blankets and provisions for the journey, a cache was made of our remaining outfit, covered with a tarpaulin, and we were ready for our start.

In order to cut off the bends below, it was necessary that we cross from the south side to the north side of the river at the first opportunity, and in order to do this we turned back to a point a little way below the Charles Riley River, where the Beaver widened and was shallower, and for a short distance ran with a comparatively steady current.  Here we removed our trousers that the water might have less surface to act upon, and therefore exert less force upon our legs.  Utilizing our tracking line as a lifeline, with the Judge ahead, Gilbert in the center and myself in the rear, we began at once what proved a really perilous fording.  The current, which had appeared insignificant from the shore, developed great strength as we advanced, and we quickly learned that if we would retain our balance we must not lift our feet or lose constant contact with the bottom, but slide them forward, a few inches at a time, first one and then the other, among the smooth boulders of the river bed.  The line, by keeping it taut, served to steady us, but had a man  fallen it could not have saved him from being swept into the heavy white rapids directly below, where the river narrowed and the water was deep, we knew, for even here it reached our waists and at times came nearly to our armpits.  Thirty minutes were consumed in the passage from bank to bank, and when it was finally accomplished in safety we felt that one of the chief obstacles to our journey was behind us.

Then began the hardest drill of our lives, over ridges, across swamps, through thick tangles of underbrush and wide areas of fallen trees.  Once the Judge narrowly escaped fracturing his leg, which he caught between two fallen trees.  He made no complaint, but I observed him rubbing it when we halted to boil the kettle, and upon examination discovered that a lump as large as a goose egg had formed upon his shin.  I bandaged it, and though it must have caused him much pain, the Judge would consent to no delay on his account, and we pushed on immediately, traveling, when conditions would permit, at a half trot.

The flies were awful.  They hung about our heads in clouds—every species of poisonous fly that the country produces.  There were midgets, black flies, mosquito stouts, and other varieties too numerous to mention; and they succeeded, somehow, in penetrating our nets and crawling beneath our clothes to deal out torture.  Our faces and necks suffered chiefly, but my chest was also covered with a mass of body welts as a result of the attacks of flies during this march.

But everything has an end, and at noon on the day following our departure from the scene of the wreck we emerged from the forest below Porcupine Hill, and again the Beaver River, where it runs broad and beautiful, lay before us.


Possibly the canoe wrecked on the return journey.  Gilbert Blake (L), Judge Malone.
Severed gunwale visible at Gilbert’s right shoulder
(
©Canadian Heritage Information Network).

 

Next: Chapter XXXVI: The Hardest Bit Of Traveling I Ever Done