A Chilling Tale from A '93

Following Heb's book we took out at the first of the Fours on the Rupert on river-left to walk a 1000 meter portage.  The approach was into a blind eddy at the very lip of the first falls.  In very high water, we had trouble here as Drew Macdonald and Chad Nelson flipped, sending their canoe and gear over the precipice. 

Drew swam to safety from the stern, but Chad was 17 feet further downstream and very green (he had never been on a wilderness canoe trip before that summer).  He swam out for his backpack, which he did not retrieve as it was clipped to the bow, and had to be rescued on a throw rope.  It was quite chilling. 

After the rescue, he and I jogged the portage with old # 60 (then brand new) and someone else's wannigan for ballast when we got on the water.  Steve and Drew were already across, having run ahead in the same fashion.  The end of that portage, like the true #1 on the right shore, drops straight down a 150+ foot hill.  I did most of it James Brown style, sliding on my knees -- and not on purpose. 

We paddled up into the eddy between the two islands. We saw green bobbing in the surge and hoped it was a wannigan. What we found was the bow still held together by the stem.  Following Heb's lead, the numbers were cut from the canvas to give to the boss upon return to camp.  I believe the word is "retired."

Chad's backpack was still attached and so was saved after all.  I gave the lads my Hudson's Bay blanket (only three points Danny), and it acted as their sleeping bag for the rest of the trip, which was only four days.  Everything was lost except for the two backpacks, a throw rope and their spare life jacket (the latter two which Chad and I found at the far end of the flat in the willows (the flat is twice as long as it is wide and rushing like the bulls at Toledo).  I told the lads that if they left word at Waskaginish I was sure that their double packs would float into town and make it home for Christmas.  And they did!

Bill Seeley, 10/26/99

 

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