Our plan was to put in on Manicouagan Reservoir, cross the lake and work our way up to Labrador City, in Labrador, via the Thémines River and a few other lakes. From Lab City we would be near the headwaters of the Moisie River (pronounced moy-zee).

We put in on Manicouagan as planned. But we were surprised to learn that the ice had only gone out two weeks earlier. The water was 36 F. The lake is so large that when we had been on it for two days, we couldn't see the horizon looking north or south. When we were only two kilometers from the Thémines, we got caught in snow flurries and driving rain, and wind so fierce it broke aluminum tent poles. We were wind-bound for two days, unable to get to the river. Little did we know then, this was just a taste of the rest of the trip, because for the rest of the trip we would get rain every single day. Fortunately, we had brought cold-weather clothes.

When we finally got on the Thémines, we found the current impossible to fight. Just four miles upstream we camped. After scouting, Joe and Steve made the decision to go back to our put-in on Manicouagan and get a ride to Lab City. That night on the river we must have inhaled five pounds of blackflies each. The next day, back on Manicouagan we got wind-bound again, this time on a barren island for half a day.

Back at the road, there was, fortunately, a remote gas station. Every time a truck pulled in, Steve would approach, explain our situation and ask for a ride to Labrador City. The first success was with an 18-wheel flatbed. It took all the canoes, Joe and a camper. By nightfall, the rest of us were still there.

In the morning, Steve began his routine again. Early on an 18-wheeler took the wannigans, putting most in space in its van with the rest lashed outside behind the cab. One camper rode shotgun. Later in the day, some Australians offered to take the rest of us and our gear. We put our double-packs and tents in their red truck and we rode in their van, which was loaded with hockey bags. Someone asked what they were doing with so many hockey bags in the summer. The Aussies told us they held detonators for the explosives in the red truck. These guys removed overhangs in open-pit mines by lowering themselves over the sides, placing the explosives, and blowing them. Never a dull moment for Section B.

Moisie Gorge

Photo: Dylan Schoelzel

We got to Lab City early, before the re-outfit had arrived by mail. So we planned on a short excursion on neighboring lakes. 

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