raft was made at once by lashing logs together with our
tumplines. Brush was piled upon this to elevate our packs
above danger of wetting, and with Poppy perched upon the packs, and
ourselves clinging to the sides of the raft, we propelled it to the
miles below us lay the cabin, but in our exhausted condition it proved
the longest and hardest two miles of the journey; and when at last
Grand Lake, shimmering in the sunlight and reaching far away to the
eastward, spread out before us we experienced inexpressible relief.
the hardest bit of traveling I ever done. I’m most scrammed,”
declared Gilbert as we dropped our packs upon the cabin floor, and
stretched ourselves beside them for a half-hour’s rest free from the
flies before preparing dinner.
we had eaten, Gilbert and I went out to examine the boat. It
proved to be a curious affair, a cross in design between a canoe and a
rowboat, the handiwork of an old trapper who had long before passed
from the scene of his activities. Outwardly it seemed in fair
condition, but when we launched it we found that it leaked
badly. Nevertheless we determined to trust ourselves to it.
ancient paddles were found, and the Judge armed with one took his place
in the bow, Gilbert with the other two fitted in oarlocks seated
himself amidships, and I with an old tin can with which to bail placed
myself aft. Our small outfit was distributed wherever it
could be stowed. It was a small boat intended originally as
hunting boat for one man, and we weighted it down until the water was
within an inch of the gunwales—so low in fact that Gilbert declared he
dared but turn one eye at a time when he looked around, for fear of
swamping it. Fortunately there was not a ripple on the lake,
and with no cessation from bailing on my part we kept afloat.
little way up the Nascaupee River we went ashore and unloaded our
outfit, and while Gilbert went on in the boat with poppy to fetch his
canoe, the Judge and I pitched our tent on the site of an old Indian
night was much warmer than any we had experienced in the farther
interior, and the flies, some of which found their way into the tent in
spite of its cheesecloth front, instead of climbing to the ridge at
once and remaining there, as had previously been their custom, settled
down to annoy us until darkness quieted their activities.
Then we discovered to our discomfort that we had placed the tent
directly over a nest of black ants, and the little pests at once took
up with zest the quarrel of the flies. However, we really
were out of the wilderness now, and in a mood to make merry over the
following day was one of intermittent showers and sunshine.
“Just like life,” said the judge. “If it were all sunshine we
would find it monotonous, and so the showers come occasionally that we
may learn to appreciate the sunshine when we have it.” It was
Sunday, and we dallied down the lake in Gilbert’s canoe, enjoying the
fragrant, forest scented and the rugged scenery, and running ashore now
and again for a comfortable smoke, for we were in no haste.
Crossing the Beaver by raft on the
Wallace (L), Judge Malone. Gilbert Blake’s dog, “Poppy” riding shotgun.
Chapter XXXVII: Something Worthwhile Up There In The Hills