“Did you hear that snuffling?” asked Allison the next morning. To be honest, I hadn’t. Furious storms lashed our tent with rain all night, so that we woke numerous times to check whether we had started taking on water, but I hadn’t checked for any large animals. I wouldn’t have been surprised, given the dinner plate sized hoofprints that paced the shore. While I made breakfast, Matt and Jeff examined the water pump again. By now we’d pumped a few gallons of water through the pump and scrutinized each batch via the time tested method of holding it to the light and squinting. Jeff, in his thoughtful and deliberate way, professed confidence in the quality of the water coming from the pump, so we began to pack for the portage.
Enter the rain from the previous night. After strapping our packs securely to our backs, we carefully picked our way over the wet trail. About halfway through it became apparent that this endeavor was not going to be the simple walk through the woods we had envisioned. Parts of the trail were treacherously muddy and slippery, and some sections were completely under water. My slow progress was marked by a series of splashes and exclamations, accompanied by furious swatting of mosquitoes.
We reconvened to discuss. After hemming and hawing and looking at our toes for a bit, Matt & I admitted we’d rather stay on the lake than continue the portage. To our absolute surprise, Jeff & Allison agreed to the change. There was a moment of elation among the guys when they realized this meant we could drive back to town and pick up some beer! Removing weight limitations from your canoe puts almost no end to the fun you can have.
We packed the canoes, put them out to water, and munched on trail mix while we floated across the lake. 2 hours and 4 cases of sunburn later, we had progressed about half a mile.
With visions of civilization dancing through our head (beer! firewood! ice cream!) we put our paddles to the water and progressed back to the landing where we had started the previous day. Sometime during the crossing, it became apparent that no one had yet sampled the questionable filtered water, and we were all sparingly rationing the water brought from home. It was no wonder that by the time we made it back to the car we were hot, burned, and thirsty.
Calling the general store a supermarket would be a stretch, but potato chips and spaghetti-o’s seem like real luxuries after a couple days of camp food. We stocked up on Poland Spring, Sam Adams, and plenty of firewood before heading back to the lake. Eager to make camp as soon as possible, we stopped at one of the closest campsites to the launch site for dinner. I silently prayed for a couple days of leisurely paddling and lying in the sun. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans!