Boundary Rock Expedition – Day 3

May 7, 2009

Day 3

Monday April 13th, 2009: Sisketch Lake


Allow me to just show again what the campsite looked like when we arrived, just to make very clear the contrast to what we saw when we awoke the next day.

Sisketch Camp at arrival

Sisketch Camp at arrival

Sisketch Camp an hour later

Sisketch Camp an hour later

Sisketch Camp the next day

Sisketch Camp this morning

So that’s what I saw when I woke up the next day. A far cry from the starry night we saw last night. I eventually won the long battle with the wetness and got a fire going (as I was the first one up again) and looked around at the snow covered world that awaited us. What would this mean for our search for the rock? What about canoeing? I’ve never been canoeing anytime other than the summer. At one point the clouds were thinning and I did get a glimpse of the sun trying to beat it’s way through the clouds.

Is it the sun?

Is it the sun?

When I saw this, I ran for my camera first to get some photos of the glorious light.

Morning on Sisketch

They call my home the land of snow

Canadian Cold Front

Canadian Cold Front

Then I decided it was time to wake up the Whynots. I told them that I had the fire going and (foolishly) that I could see the sun!! Of course, by the time they had made their way down the hill, any sign of there being a sun in the sky had long since vanished and it had returned to being a bleak, wintery cold day in the woods.

hammock city

hammock city

The snow had cooled the air down considerably, and I was thankful for my paddling gloves, hat, and Blundstones. And for the fire too, for that matter. There’s no life out here for humans without fire.

Getting breakfast going

Getting breakfast going

The weather once again buys us a little more time to have breakfast, and Cody’s up and we’re having scrambled eggs and sausage.

Scrambled Eggs and Sausage

Scrambled Eggs and Sausage

So this was it. This was the day we would reach Junction Lake. I thought the day would never come, though I had my doubts that at this point we’d have any time at all to search for the rock. We were originally supposed to be waking up already at camp on Junction Lake to spend all of today searching. This obviously was not happening and the morning was fading away rather quickly.

Setting Off (for Junction Lake)

Setting Off (for Junction Lake)

It was 12 noon by the time we set out onto the lake. It was still snowing, but we didn’t have far to go.

Leaving Sisketch Lake

Leaving Sisketch Lake

I don’t think we knew just what was in store for us today. I thought yestereday was the turning point for the trip, waking up and seeing the windy lake, the whitecaps and the flurries. Today would prove to be the biggest test of patience, strength and determination yet.

Carry into House Lake

Carry into House Lake

House Lake Stream

House Lake Stream


House Lake Stream

House Lake Stream

Out of Sisketch Lake we had a 300m carry into House Lake Stream (upstream) and then to another 250m carry which started in the middle of a marsh, was unmarked and near impossible to find in the snow-covered brush that covered the entire area. It took some jumping from grass patch to slippery grass patch over knee deep water to get onto the trail which proceeded to wind through snowy fields and marsh before heading up a steep slope into the woods, pictured above. The trail then dropped down another steep hill into another marshy area where the debris and fallen trees on the ground would have made passage hard enough without the snow and the water everywhere.

Carry into House Lake

Carry into House Lake

The snow made this much more difficult than it needed to be.

Put in at House Lake

Put in at House Lake

The beginning of a long list

The beginning of a long list

This is where we put in to House Lake.  This is also where we begin a list that over the next few days will continue to grow.  The list starts with an axe.  Although we don’t realize for some time, Cody’s axe, which had the rope for my hammock tied around it, tragically gets left behind here.  It’s probably still there, sitting right where it is in this photo.  If you look closely (click on the photo for a larger version) you can see it between the two blue food barrels.  If anyone is passing through this area and finds it, I’m sure Cody would love to be reunited with it.

House Lake stillwater

House Lake stillwater

House Lake

House Lake

House Lake

House Lake

It was a quick kilometer across House Lake to our next, and final portage of the day. It was here that the shit finally hit the fan.

Carry out of House Lake

Carry out of House Lake

We did the first part of the portage the same as we had become accustomed to.  We all loaded up with as much of the gear as we could and muscled our way through wet branches, waist-high bushes, snow-covered rocks and moss.  This 800m carry which led us to the centre of our journey seemed like the longest one.  We did all of this without talking.  We dropped our things at the other end, and turned around to come back.  Back at the beginning of the carry we stopped to assess the situation.  This is when Cody realized his axe was missing.

I must admit that I was quite impressed at how this situation was handled.  Indeed tempers flared, but no fingers were pointed.  Cody wanted to go back for it, but it was unclear at the time how far back it was left. Was it the last portage, or the one before that?  I was wondering where I would sleep without rope for my hammock, but the loss of the axe was the more devastating at the time.  It was a thing of beauty.  Cody was in his canoe ready to go back for the axe by himself when we talked him out of it.  There was no telling how far back it was and splitting up the group at this point could prove fatal in the case of an accident.

And it was getting dark.

As soon as we decided not to go back for it, the sky darkened and a snow squall screamed up the lake from the other end and we found ourselves once again in the middle of blizzard conditions.  I guess we made the right decision.

Now, when you’re out here you don’t take chances.  Even when you leave behind something that has become very important to you, and it may not be far behind, help is two days away in any direction.  This was also the most dangerous point because we weren’t expected out of the woods for another two days, so no help would be sent for at least three, but probably four days.  Things can be replaced- and believe me, it was a hard call to make- but safety it of the utmost importance in situations like the one we had found ourselves in.

Carry to Junction Lake

Carry to Junction Lake

By the time we had returned to the Junction Lake side of the carry two things had happened.  The gear we had left there had become covered in snow, and the sun had come out!  It was indeed the right decision.  It was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… except a lot colder, wetter, and without the gold.  But it was nice.

Junction Lake

Junction Lake

Blue Skies

Blue Skies

This was our first glimpse of blue skies in days and it felt marvelous!

Junction Lake

Junction Lake

Junction Lake

Junction Lake

We Stopped in a little cove on the right to take a bearing and look at the maps.  It’s often hard to see a cove from across the lake and there were many similar coves on the opposite shore.  We ducked into this cove to get a good idea of where we were going.  It had turned into a beautiful day, though I’m sure we were all happy to be nearing the end of it.

Taking a Bearing

Taking a Bearing

Camp at Junction Lake

Camp at Junction Lake

Finally!  We have reached camp for the day and the sun is out.  Alhough today was the day we were supposed to look for the rock, all we have time for right now is setting up camp.  There is a great campsite at the end of this cove where we were planning on looking for the rock, so we landed and got a fire going for some well deserved supper.  We had planned meals for breakfast, lunch and supper, but hadn’t counted on it being so wet.  Our lunches required cooking, which was a small oversight on our parts.  This would mean stopping every day for lunch and getting water boiling which would have taken hours out of our already tight schedule.  So, we had more food at this point than we were going to be able to eat.  We planned on having a great feast of two meals for supper tonight!

Setting up Junction Lake Camp

Setting up Junction Lake Camp

Rob and Cody are getting a fire going against a rock.  This acts as protection from wind and also projects the heat back at us under the tarp.  Also, lifejackets aren’t just for paddling.  We left the lifejackets on pretty much all the time as they are great for maintaining body temperature.  Even when wet, the jackets will keep your core warm by slowing down heat release through your back and chest.  Once the fire is going though, it’s time to get out of our wet stuf and hunker down for some supper.

Junction Lake Camp

Junction Lake Camp

Life just seemed wonderful when you’ve got fire and sun.  Two sources of heat and light, and life.  Here we are in the middle of the woods, literally in the middle of Nova Scotia and the middle of the great Tobeatic wilderness.  What could be better?

Fire and Sun

Fire and Sun

Of course, food could make this better.  I prepare the chicken soup, using the original broth.  It ended up being worth all the trouble.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Stew

supper

supper

Chicken stew with leftover patacones.

Fire

Fire

And again we sit around the fire until it’s time for bed.  Since I no longer had my long rope, I used the canoe rope and some from the main camp tarp to tie up my hammock and tarp.  It wasn’t the same, but it certainly did the trick for now.

bed

Bed

Go to Day 4

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4 Responses to “Boundary Rock Expedition – Day 3”

  1. sherman gosson said

    we have been there twice looking for the rock. plan to try again in spring.any suggestions?

    • gypsyproductions said

      Hello Sherman,

      Great! you’re going back in the spring? When are you heading in? Are you approaching from Upset, or coming down the Roseway? I’ll probably be back there a few times this year, but likely not as early in the year as last spring. The water was a bit too high for my liking. What’s your interest in finding this rock? For me it’s the historical significance, and just the adventure of exploring more of that area. The only suggestion I would give would be to give yourself lots of time in there. And if you find it, let me know!!

      Cheers!
      Paul

  2. I’m gradually reading through your trip account on my lunch breaks. Thanks for taking the time to log this trip. I enjoy the detailed account of each day.

    Having canoed in northern Saskatchewan, it’s an interesting concept to me to enter the *interior* of Nova Scotia to reach the wilderness (rather than “the north” out west). I hope this area stays wild indefinitely into the future.

    Cheers,
    Prairie Voyageur

    • gypsyproductions said

      Hello Prairie Voyager,
      Thanks for your comments! It’s always nice to hear what people think when they read this account, especially from different parts of Canada and the world. I think this is one way we realize the similarities and differences between different parts of this great country and are better able to appreciate what makes it unique. Thanks for sharing! It is important to protect these places for the next generations and the more people who experience these places (first or second hand), the more likely that is to continue to happen.

      Cheers!
      Paul

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