Day Two: Portage
Day two dawned calmer and partly cloudy. The wind which had so plagued us the previous day had returned somewhat, but most of its gusto was gone – perhaps because we had made it into Kokoko Bay and were somewhat protected from the wind. We trailed out of bed slowly, mostly enjoying the morning and relaxing without trying to rush anything along. We knew we had plenty of time to get to the portage that day, and onward to our campsite of choice, so we had no desire to run around madly trying to break camp on some sort of schedule.
Hunger struck early for Adam and I, who were trying to wait for Shawn to make our French toast for breakfast. We waited, and waited, and waited (well, for at least fifteen minutes… or maybe ten…) before we broke down and started cooking. Shawn crawled out of his tent long after we were done, having missed breakfast. I think we gave him some trail mix instead.
Sometime after breakfast we finally broke camp and loaded up the canoes once more. We headed north into the bay, bidding our first campsite farewell. The bay slowly narrowed as we traveled north, with Adam checking the map every once in a while and telling us, “The portage should be just around this point” at nearly every point. I think we stopped listening after a while when the portage kept being a little bit farther. I, at least, was entertained.
The bay kept narrowing and Adam kept referring to it as a River. This brought on the light-hearted arguments from Paul, Jenn and Ian about the nature of a river as compared to a bay. I’d have to say the strongest argument, which I don’t remember hearing, is the labeling on the map itself. I don’t think anyone ever won that argument – not that anyone was trying to, since by the end of it they were all just arguing for the fun of it. Bunch of stubborn-headed folks. It amused me, at least.
Kokoko Bay finally narrowed to an area that in lower waters we may not have been able to canoe through, then opened back up into a wide bay. Somewhere in that bay was the now infamous it’s just around the next point portage. All we had to do was find it. We had been told that there was a spot that looked like a false portage, so in our great wisdom we all tried looking for the portage that wasn’t a real portage. We passed the final campsite in Kokoko Bay and were heading for what we thought might be a false portage when we saw a canoe with a YMCA logo appear from the complete opposite side of the bay. Putting two and two together, we decided that the portage must be in the direction where the canoe had come from. That’s the Bacchanalians – clever to the last.
Heading for the area that the canoe had appeared from, we came around what was finally, actually, the very last point before the portage. That’s when we started seeing the skeletal remains of old fishing boats wrecked against the shoreline.
We came around the last point to see a group of YMCA canoes unloading at the portage. We wondered why a single YMCA Canoe had taken off in the opposite direction of this group, but didn’t bother asking. The portage itself was over an area of rocks that, in spring, one might canoe through if one was willing to experience the joys of whitewater. In late summer, however, it wasn’t nearly deep enough for any such thing, and as such we have the portage.
While we were waiting for the girls in the YMCA canoes to finish unloading I wandered up the rocky connection between lakes Temagami and Kokoko. There I saw more skeletal boat remains, as well as a seemingly endless supply of deadwood blocking up the small channel at the top of the rocks.
The portage would have gone smoothly had we been the only ones there. The YMCA girls, however, after moving all of their gear and their canoes up the portage and dumping it at the other side, decided to go sit at the top of a rock and have lunch. This would have been fine had they left there stuff anywhere other than directly in the path of the portage. We were not particularly impressed with them, but for some reason we were all too polite to actually say anything to them about it. Instead, we moved our gear to the end of the portage and put it on the ground there, and brought the canoes to half-way through the portage where we could put in and pole ourselves over the deadfall blocking the channel. Pushing ourselves over the deadfall we were able to load our canoes up with some difficulty on the other side. As we did this, we heard a voice from the YMCA group float down from their lunching rock, “See? I told you we could have made it through there! I Told You!!” They seemed highly impressed with our incredible portaging skills. As Ian so eloquently put it, Fucking amateurs! As we paddled away into the lake, we saw a Kingfisher diving above the water, looking for fish.
Finally putting out into lake Kokoko, we started for the campsites on the lake itself. This was to be our destination and our home for the next three nights.
The sky started to darken as we traveled up into Kokoko. It seemed, for a time, that rain was sure to start falling on us. It wasn’t until we reached the first large site, however, that it actually started to sprinkle a little. After growing concern about setting up camp in the rain, we decided to take the large site and set up there.
The site we set up at was on the mainland, and it was a good size. Shawn wandered off into the bush and reappeared to report that there were three pseudo-outhouses on the site of varying quality. None of them seemed to be the official potties one finds on many of the major Temagami proper campsites, however… one was a box with a toilet seat attached, labeled the fishing hole and complete with a bailing bucket to hide the toilet paper under. The second was a lawn chair with a seat of some sort and a pile under it. The third was even less reputable, and as such I never visited it.
We had reached the site with lots of daylight left, and after setting up camp and having lunch I think Adam and I took a nap. It was an uneventful afternoon, really. We woke up from our naps feeling a bit muddy-headed, but we felt better once we had dinner.
That evening I tried to set up my camera to take a very long exposure picture of Mars, but it clouded over part-way through the half-hour exposure. The rest of the night was pretty cloudy, although Mars was almost always visible through the clouds. It was new moon on the trip, so the brightest thing in the sky was by far the red planet, which made for interesting stargazing and much discussion (mostly coming from Adam) about Mars. It was nice to settle in and not have to worry about breaking camp the next morning to move on.
Bit by bit, everyone wandered off to bed and the campfire was thoroughly doused to prevent anything catching on fire. After having read about the city of Kelowna being caught in a forest fire on the day we had left on our trip, we didn’t want to see anything similar happen in Temagami, and we certainly didn’t want to be responsible for such a thing happening. All it takes is one ember to take out a forest.