Boundary Rock Expedition – Day 5

May 7, 2009

Day 5

April 15, 2009: Somewhere above Roseway Lake, on the Roseway River

This morning, there is no excuse for sleeping in, but still I get up early and start the fire.  Then I realize that today, even I need a few more minutes.  I get back in my hammock and close my eyes for another fifteen minutes while the fire gets going.  I get up again and look out at the river, though I still am not quite ready to look at the canoe.

Sunrise

Sunrise

The sun is just coming up, and I’m including this photo because, like the photo of the sun setting last night, this one holds a lot of meaning for me.  After the day we had yesterday, the sun still rises this morning, and since I see no chance of snow this morning, I’m pretty confident in saying that today is turning out to be a beautiful day.

Frozen Clothes

Frozen Clothes

All of my clothes which I had hung on the trees to dry, had frozen solid overnight.  I think they may need a bit more time to dry…

Once everyone’s up we get breakfast going.  We’ll need our strength if we’re going to be able to get the canoe off the rock.

Breakfast

Breakfast of Champions

We eat bacon and bean burritos and, of course, some Just Us Ethiopian coffee and Rob’s oatmeal cookies.  What a feast!

Breakfast

Breakfast

Camp at Morning

Camp in the Morning

Now the task before us is the only thing left to do before we can get out of the depths of the wilderness to safety.  We know that we need rope to pull the canoe off the rock, but we’ve lost all of my climbing rope, and the canoe rope is in the river somewhere.  We tied six or seven lengths of tarp rope together and managed to come up with 40 or so feet of rope.  Now we all went together to the scene of the accident to see what we can do.

We walked about 100m upstream and this is what we found.  The canoe was still there, but it had bent around the rock.  The good news was that the gunwales were still (miraculously) intact, but I didn’t know if the bend would come out of the canoe, or whether the rock had bore a hole through the bottom overnight.

Old Town

Old Town - Lucy's Rip

Rob went back out to the rock with the rope and tied one end on the wooden thwart.

Rob ties on the Rope

Rob ties on the Rope

Water Demands Respect

Water Demands Respect

Rob then tied the other end of the rope to a water bottle, filled it with water and sent it across the river with a perfect straight shot into Cody’s hands.  Then Rob and Rhynot came back around to the shore where we had cleared a ‘working area’ where we could (hopefully) pull the canoe free.

Straight Shot

Straight Shot

We all got in a row and tied knots for each of us on the rope.  We pulled as hard as we could.  Nothing.  We changed our angle and tried again, putting everything we had into the tug of war, but the canoe didn’t even budge; it didn’t even seem to think about moving.  We had to rethink this.

Rob and the Old Town

Rob and the Old Town

Cody remembered a pulley system from one of Bill Mason’s books so we gave it a try.  This was made much more difficult by the rope we had constructed this morning.  It wasn’t the strongest of rope, and it had knots all the way along it.

So here’s what we did:

Mason's Pulley fig.1

Mason's Pulley fig.1

Rob tied the rope to the gunwales and threw the other end to shore:

Mason's Pulley fig.2

Mason's Pulley fig.2

On one tree, we wrapped a loop of rope around it:

Mason's Pulley fig.3

Mason's Pulley fig.3

Attached a carabiner:

Mason's Pulley fig.4

Mason's Pulley fig.4

Looped the rope through it:

Mason's Pulley fig.5

Mason's Pulley fig.5

Attached another carabiner to a loop on the rope and looped the robe back through again:

Mason's Pulley fig.6

Mason's Pulley fig.6

Now, we pulled again on the rope, which tripled our strength.  We got the rope tight and came up against a problem.  The knots.  We got so far through the pulley system until a knot got caught in the carabiner and we couldn’t go any further.  So we stopped and I suggested we untie a piece of the rope and turn it around in case the knots might be in different places.  It was the only option left, so we tried it.  We came again to a knot, but I was able to slip it through the carabiner while the others kept the tension.  Once past the knot, we were able to get much more tension on the rope.  But the canoe still didn’t budge.

We pulled harder and harder and eventually, we came upon another knot.  But by this point there was so much tension on the rope that there was no way past this second knot.  We just held the tension there and pulled as hard as we could.  Nothing seemed to be happening when all of a sudden Rob yelled, “IT MOVED!  KEEP PULLING!”  I was in the front and could see that we couldn’t get any more tension on the rope so I pulled sideways on the whole rope for the extra push.  It moved.  Now the canoe moved down around the rock and we hollared!  But we got careless and Cody yelled from the back, “Get away!  GET THE ___ AWAY FROM THE ROPE!”  Good thing too, because the canoe could easily have pulled us in as it swept down the river, pulling the rope taut against the tree.

Mason's Pulley System

Mason's Pulley System

Here’s the photo of the pulley system.  You can see in this photo how the knots became a problem.  And below is a photo of the canoe once we got it off the rock, and it sat here, upside down, apparently stuck on another rock underwater.  No time for celebration yet.

Off the Rock, onto another one

Off one Rock, onto another one

No Time For Celebration Yet

No Time For Celebration Yet

Against All Odds

Against All Odds

Dent

Dent

Here’s the first look at the damage to the underside of the canoe.  The good news: there’s no hole, but it’s still not looking like it’s going to be in great shape.  At least it’ll float.

Dent Removal

Dent Removal

It Floats!

It Floats!

From here we did the last 100m run before Roseway Lake.  I was terrified.  I don’t think I was ready to get back on the horse, but it was relatively easy (compared to the upper portion) and then we were back out on the lakes.  I thought this would never happen.  I had prepared myself for the long hike home, so this…  this was nice.

Open Water

Open Water - Roseway Lake

Roseway Lake

Roseway Lake

At the bottom of Roseway Lake there is a beautiful camp set up with three buildings, and several rowboats were docked on the landing as well.  What a beautiful spot.  I would have loved to have taken a closer look, but we had a long day ahead of us if we were going to get out of here today.

Roseway Lake Camp

Roseway Lake Camp

We made good time from here into Mink Lake.  We had always been fast on the water, but now with the clock ticking we became quite fast ove land as well.  Once we got to Mink Lake, there was a small island separating the Eastern and Western portions of the lake.  At least on the maps it was an island.  It turned out to be a peninsula so we had an unexpected 30m carry through a thicket to the Western part of Mink Lake.

Carry into Mink Lake

Mink Lake Carry

Then we had a quick shot across Mink Lake to a 300m carry into Moose Lake.  This one, however was straight up, and straight down again.  As short as it was (300m) it was certainly a good workout.  Here Rob carries the Red Old Town up the hill.

Carry to Moose Lake

Carry to Moose Lake

Into Moose Lake

Into Moose Lake

Moose Lake Carry

Moose Lake Carry

We had to stop for a snack at the end of this carry.  We had saved the leftover burritos from breakfast and so we pulled them out now for lunch.  Then washed it down with some GORP and (filtered) lake water.

Snack Time

Snack Time - Moose Lake

I was looking at my map and saw a way to cut off some time on Moose Lake.  there was a peninsula that was very narrow and there was a narrow section where I thought we could carry over to cut out a long paddle around the point.  So we took a bearing and headed for this unmarked carry.  It ended up being short, but very steep like the one into Moose Lake.

Unmarked Carry

Unmarked Carry

You can see here the extent of the scraping on the underside of the Old Town, but you can also notice that it’s beginnig to heal itself.  The wonders of Crosslink are on display here, by the end of the day, you could hardly notice that this canoe spent a night being ravaged by the relentless pounding water against a sharp rock.

The Old Town is Healing

The Old Town is Healing

Up to our Necks in Brush

Up to our Necks in Brush

You can hardly see Cody carrying the canoe here because of the brush that plagued us the whole way (on many of these carries).  It would grab at your ankles and knees and made passage very difficult in places.  Here we enter the South Western arm of Moose Lake.  About 300m away is the entrance to another 300m carry.

Moose Lake

Moose Lake

Here we are once again entering the River.  At this put in site, we found three iron rings which obviously came from a wooden barrel at some point.  There was no sign of the barrel, probably long gone down the river, or rotted into the ground.  It brings be back to the though that not much has changed here since explorers were blazing these trails for the first time a hundred years ago, and the Mi’kmaq people using these routes for hundreds of years before that.

Entering The River

Entering The River

The Roseway River

The Roseway River

Crain Lake

Crain Lake

Life's Good

Life's Good

We started talking awe put incredible distance behind us.  Cody said to me just what I was feeling at the time, which is that I didn’t want to leave yet.  I wanted three more days out here.  As the end of this journey drew nearer and nearer, I knew that I wasn’t ready to leave just yet.

Crain Lake Riffle

Crain Lake Riffle

This one was an easy straight shot, but again, seeing the water stir like that stirred something inside me and I could feel my heart pounding in my throat.  I tried not to let on, but I could hear it in my voice.  I’m sure Cody could hear it too.

Out the Other End

Out the Other End

There were a few more like this between Crain Lake and DeMoliter Lake, but none of them were any problem.  Here we are entering Jones’ Hole, and ahead is DeMoliter Lake.  There were discrepancies here between Cody’s map and mine about the names of the Lake.  Mine showed DeMoliter Lake starting at the other end of Jones’ Hole then McGill Lake quite a bit further South, and Cody’s showed that we were about to enter McGill Lake and we were now leaving DeMoliter Lake.  Whatever the names were, we agreed on where we actually were.  Jones’ Hole is a neat little spot.

Jones' Hole

Jones' Hole

DeMoliter Lake

DeMoliter Lake

DeMoliter Lake

Whetstone Lake

After Whetstone Lake the river narrowed and all of the water running through every lake between here and Junction Lake rushed into the rapids at the bottom.  Here were long, technical class I-IV rapids that ran almost the entire way from Whetstone Lake to Upset Falls.  Some people refer to this section at the Horseshoe Falls.

The Heart of The Roseway

The Heart of The Roseway

There was no way I was going to run it.  We stopped on the shore and I grabbed some gear and started walking.  On my second trip I took my camera and walked back up along the shore.  I ran back upstream to where we saw an old Scout canoe…  well, half of it anyway.  That was all I needed to see to convince me that I’d much prefer walking this one.  We were almost home, there was no need to risk it at this point.  We’re too close to have something like what happened yesterday happen again.  Also, this is why fiberglass canoes are intended for flatwater ONLY.

No Thanks

No Thanks

When I return to the canoes, the guys are getting in and it appears they are going to run the rapids.  I tell them to hold on while I get some photos.  This is the best case scenario for me.  I get to watch from the safety of shore, and they get to have a little more fun before the trip is over.  I enjoyed this much more from the shore.

Rob Runs It

Rob Runs It

Cody and Rhynot Run It

Cody and Rhynot Run It

We meet at the shore and load up the canoes for the last time.  We knew we were getting close, but we had no idea how close we were.  This was the longest day of paddling yet, with the best weather.  All in all, we had a great day with a good mix of lakes and rivers.  When I took this photo below I knew it was getting close, but I had no idea that right around that point was our destination.  This is the last photo of pure, undisturbed wilderness.  This is where the Search For Boundary Rock comes to an end.  Yesterday all we wanted was to be able to make it to safety, but the end of a trip always comes with great sadness.  For five days we had become explorers, going places we had never been before, leaving tracks few others had left behind.  For five days we relied on each other for our safety, comfort and our very existence depended on the coherence of that unit.  Our separation from the outside world brought us together, and we are forever tied to this experience, and forever tied to the search for Boundary Rock.

The Homestretch

The Home Stretch

As we round the corner I can see the bridge at Upset Falls, and I can see a white blaze at the beginning of the trail, but then all of the sadness fades away when I see the strangest sight.  A truck driving through the woods!  It’s Mr. Whynot backing his truck up to the landing area.  This was it.  The Search was over, and we were going home!

The Search is Over

The Search is Over

Better for Wear

Better for Wear

This was the last look back at the journey we had taken. From the landing area, looking back at the stillwater above Upset Falls.

I take a minute to let it all sink in.

Last Look Back

Last Look Back

It certainly will take more than a minute for the true impact this has had on me to become clear, but I know this will be an experience that will leave a lasting impression on me.  Maybe finding the rock was far less important than searching for it.  If we needed an excuse to get out here, it was a good one, and it remains a good reason to go back.  It was a journey not short on challenges, obstacles and close calls, but it was also one with euphoria, joy and a lasting peace of mind.  The deep wilderness always stirs something within me, and I can say without a doubt that there is no experience that can quite compare to the deep sense of peace and comfort in one’s own skin that comes with stripping ourselves of our daily comforts and venturing into the heart of the great outdoors.

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7 Responses to “Boundary Rock Expedition – Day 5”

  1. Fred Maybee said

    Wow!
    Paul! This is so well documented and the photos are incredible. I’m sure you could publish the adventure in hard copy somewhere, perhaps an outdoor magazine, eh! You should be very proud of your efforts. I am. And bravo to all the Whynot boys as well. Next time, May or October might be better timing. I am reading between the lines in some of your writing and finding that you seem to be in a good place these days. I’m sure that feels good!

  2. Rose said

    What great writing Paul. I do not read adventure or any novels, but I found myself “right with you” wanting to know what happens next, will you be allright, what you did have for supper, were you warm enough, what you thought about, what you talked about and like that….

    I thought in summary,that your writing and photos were stunning, how you wrote in the present tense , involving us the reader as if we were doing it with you, nothing better than that.

    You touched something so deep inside yourself out there, that is there ALL THE TIME, but the wilderness allowed you to be quiet and let it bubble to the surface, you can if you choose to, access this experience whenever you want to.

    Love Rose

  3. Hey Paul,

    My buddy Mike Dowd and I have been paddling the Tobeatic for 23 years now and it truly IS my favourite place in the world! I wanted to say that I absolutely loved the chronicle of your journey and enjoyed all your photos. Most of the areas you took photos of were familiar and they brought back good times — I am already yearning for next year’s trip! I see that you were looking for a certain campsite on Siskech Lake — it wouldn’t be the most excellent campsite on the huge granite erratic on the SE side of the lake would it? If so, it is worth a second look. I have never stayed on it as the timing is never right as we hit it by midday, but someday, I swear, I’m going to stay there as it is sooo beautiful.

    Anyway, hope to meet you and your crew someday in the woods!

    Sincerely,
    Davis Bennett

  4. Bill said

    Wow!! What an adventure. For many years I have been fascinated by this country, yet I had never heard the boundary rock story before. My family has had a backwoods cabin in the Blue Mountains area since circa 1915, and I have spent a lot of time in this back country area with my Brother, including a one-week canoe trip through Silver/Freeman/Rocky/Rushmere Lake and Davis River area. Beautiful country and so nice to see that there are still younger guys than myself who truly appreciate the beauty and history of the Tobeatic and surrounding areas. Thanks so much for one of the best reads I’ve had in years. Cheers.

    • gypsyproductions said

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks! I can’t help but be excited about this piece of land, and of course, the history that shapes it and the mysteries surrounding it. There certainly is something very special about this area, and it’s what keeps drawing me back. I’ve never seen another person in the Tobeatic, but maybe we’ll run into each other some day.

      Cheers!
      Paul

  5. Anonymous said

    Hi Paul

    I heard your piece on CBC last night on “In the Field”. I had to google and landed here on your 09 trip. Photos were amazing. I really enjoyed the read.

    Linda Lee

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