Day 4: Survival

in july of 2004 i went on a month-long canoe trip with seven other guys. it was a hell of a time and we saw some crazy shit. in fact, on day seven one of the guys, jerry, actually went crazy. but that's not the point. our trip was cut short a few days by an unfortunate incident.

on day 14 we came to a fairly easy set of rapids which ended in a ten foot drop which we had no desire to go over. this drop was followed by a frothy set with lots of standing waves. myself and pope (my sternsman) went first and portaged around the drop i then went back to tell everyone else to go and make sure they were ok. the first boat came down easily but then i saw an overturned boat come around the corner. i remember remarking to the guys in the other boat how funny it was that those idiots dumped on such a joke of a set. i remeber then realizing that the boat and all the shit that was in it was about to go over the drop. i ran like a motherfucker down that trail and pope and i paddled out to try and catch all the shit. but we were too late and the stuff was lost. luckily there was a campsite at the end of the portage and we were able to asses what we had lost. here's a list of what we were missing:

pack 1:
2 people's dry sacks (all their shit)
2 days worth of meals

pack 2:
full of food

pack 3:
all three tents
both tarps
both cooking grills

and the boat of course.

that night two guys went down the river to find the shit and the rest of us built a shelter with a small tarp that we had and canoes. this was the worst sleep of my life. the bugs were rampant (northern quebec in july=balls), it was very hot and we were sleeping on rock that was covered in ash because it had just been the site of a most vicious forest fire. the next day the two guys came back and said they had found the boat. we went to that site and also found packs one and two. when we were searching for pack 3 we realized that none of the items in the pack would float and it became evident that the pack had sunk to the bottom of the river somewhere. the 15th night i slept by myself under a canoe and had a great sleep. the next night we camped beside a huge waterfall (shown below) and i built a shelter (shown below that). i slept under a canoe twice more and on the last day it started to rain. there were no campsites to be found anywhere and it was about 5 degrees C and very wet. we were all cold as fuck and had no tents or campsites to build shelters. luckily, blake, a man i am forever indebted to, saw a small cabin in the woods where we could stay. it was a plywood box about eight feet square. it had a cot, a counter, and a dismanteled wood stove. we tried to get the stove working but let me just say that duct tape does not go well with heat and smells fucking aweful when it burns. the next day we arrived at james bay and the town of waskaganish (the chlamydia capital of north america).
the lesson here is never put all your tents in one pack. which is not to be confused with "never put all your eggs in one basket". seriously though, it's a totally different concept.

and remember not to ever burn duct tape,


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