Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Now & Then # 7

One of these mornings, it will be warmer. Not today!


1981 Churchill River Trip Cont.

On day 5 we had our first major problem.

(You were waiting for this, weren't you. Didn't I say it was a real adventure?)

At this point in the trip we were about 120 miles from the beginning and only had about 60 miles to go. (I am pulling numbers off of another internet Churchill River adventure since I still cannot find my numbers or write up.) Anyway, we've come to one of two major rapids on the Churchill River. It is a class 3 rapid for those of you who know the class system and a rapid for experts only for those of you who don't know the system. It is recommended that everyone line this set of rapids for at least the beginning as it is at this point in the river that it makes a 90 degree turn and another river, the Minipi, joins the Churchill to add a huge volume of water. There are records of people drowning at this spot in the river and none of us wanted to add to that record. Before we even lined the rapids, we tied our canoes to some trees at the edge of the river and went to look at what was ahead.

Here you can see the river for miles ahead. There were miles of continuous rapids. Make a mistake here and you may be wet for a long time, if you get out. As I remember, the rapids were about 5 miles long after you made the 90-degree turn and met the swirling waters of the Minipi.

Have I dragged this out long enough yet?

Here is one of the last photos of the day. You can see the lead canoe, on ropes, being floated down the river and a bit away from the shore. The second canoe is hugging the shore tightly. My camera and I are at the stern rope on the third canoe and the canoe is pulling hard. I pulled the canoe back in to the shore and put my camera into it's two waterproof bags, one inside the other. My partner and I then gently started to let the canoe out again to make the corner. In the photo, you can see the water in the distance splashing against rocks and putting waves into the air. We moved as carefully as we could but, nevertheless, the canoe suddenly pulled out to a position where it was crosswise to the rapids. It was like trying to hold a locomotive back and my hands were not up to the challenge. My partner, a young woman, was in danger of being pulled into the river and I shouted, "Let go!" She did and we watched as our canoe rapidly went tumbling downstream leaving us 60 miles from the nearest road without our food, without our tents, without our extra clothing, without our shoes, without everything except the clothes on our bodies, our lives, and our friends with two other full canoes. What to do?

(To be continued....)


Crowe said...

Ditto wot DPR said.

I wonder if when we undertake great wild journeys, a small part of us actually wants to get lost or stranded somehow so that we can enter that survival imperative zone and discover things we don't know about ourselves (hopefully good things!).

Rachel said...

I was on the edge of my chair! I thought you all were going with the canoe!

robin andrea said...

This is quite an adventure. What happened to you is one of things we all fear. You did it, and lived to tell the tale. And a good tale it is!

Lené Gary said...

Yeah, edge of the chair, OW. Holy Moly! I really like the pictures of the rapids and the spray coming off of them. I could see the "white horses" Olson talks about. Wow!

Ontario Wanderer said...

DPR, Have you heard of ghostwriters?

SGJ, It certainly was not my conscious wish.

R, Yes, that's what I thought too.

RD, It's always nice to live to tell tales.

L, Yes and Peter Jackson, in Lord of the Rings, did even better. I just remembered them when I read your note. I will be glad to finish this little adventure and get back to Olson.