Saturday, July 15, 2006 (Day 2):
I started the morning by getting everything sorted out. I soon had my canoe packed and was ready to leave. I decided to put on my front and back spray decks but leave the centre one unattached in order to be able to get in and out of the canoe quickly, as I expected to do a lot of lining.
I did the short portages over the height of land separating Labrador from Quebec and which lead to Lake Hubbard. It was here that I saw my one and only caribou. Sadly, my cameras were with the packs still to be carried over the portage.
This was followed by a long paddle to the west and then lining down a stream running into the western arm of Lake Elson.
Below is a picture taken just after crossing the stream into Lake Elson. There were several rapids to be crossed in coming back east down the arm, the rapids at the just the size and depth where they could not be run because of boulders but taking a long time to be lined down.
There is a 4 kilometre run from the rapids at the end of the western arm of Elson to the rapids leading to Lake Cabot. The wind was coming up and in attempting to seek protection from the waves behind an island about 2 kilometres from the western arm, I became disoriented and started down an arm running to the southeast. I finally found a sheltered area where I could pull out my GPS and figure out exactly where I was.
I extracted myself from the wrong arm and started on the heading which I knew would take me to the rapids exiting Lake Elson. The waves were still within feasible limits, although I was glad I had the front and back sections of my spray deck installed. Ahead in the distance I could see a rocky wall with an opening in the middle which I assumed must be the entrance to the rapids leading to Lake Cabot. As I got closer I could see that it was more than a kilometre from the end of the lake, although forming a rocky barrier nearly a kilometre in length. I realized that it was sheltering me from the much bigger waves which I would encounter on either side of it, so decided to try and go through the apparently open passage in front of me.
It had clouded over and the water looked as black as ink. Then, as I neared the passage, my canoe suddenly rode up on a submerged boulder, swung broadside, rolled sharply as it was hit by a wave and I found myself in the water. Fortunately, I found that I could touch bottom and pulled my upside down canoe to the edge of the passage, where I righted it and bailed it out.
I finally made it to the edge of the lake and calm water, after another kilometre. I thought I could see the passage to the other lake straight ahead, but another GPS reading revealed that it was still nearly a kilometre further east. I knew from Wayne’s notes that the passage consisted of a fairly nasty rapid with a ledge which had filled Wayne and Carl’s canoe. It was a long painful process in lining down it to the entrance to Lake Cabot. Finally, after paddling a kilometre or so out into Lake Cabot, I could see the beach that Wayne’s notes had told me would be there. It was the first campsite that I had seen since morning, as the edges of the lakes had been low and swampy up to that point.
I was very exposed on the beach and I hauled the largest boulders I could find to help hold down my tent, after setting it up adjacent to a boulder which would break waves rolling in of f the lake.
Location: N54º52.384’ W064º26.84’ Straight-line distance covered: 13.1 kilometres