Monday, October 30, 2006

Been there done that

Wherein big deal, it isn't even raining

Below is nice video of a short portage. Very peaceful place, the Boundary Waters. That is, when the mosquitos and ticks aren't trying to kill you. Then there are the wolves, though the moose and bear are probably more dangerous.

Many years ago I did a couple of trail clearing expeditions in the BWCA. Day one we canoed and portaged 20 miles to the middle of the trail. Each day we'd hike and clear about 4-5 miles of trails with hand tools. We'd get back to camp about 9 hours after we left. Longest portage was, I think, around 3/4 of a mile. My canoe partner carried the canoe, since he was more experienced at it. I carried the bags. Our canoe had the food -- two Duluth bags of 40-50 lbs each. Two ways to carry them, each about as equally as painful:
  1. Wear the first like a backpack, then wear the second on your chest, like a forward backpack.
  2. Again first one like a back pack, then throw the second bag on top and hold it steady with upraised arms. After about 10 minutes, stepping carefully so the almost 100 pounds doesn't snap an ankle, and with the straps digging through your shoulders and the poorly distributed weight killing your back, you realized you can't breath and your arms are dying. This must be what it feels like to be crucified without using nails.

The portage in this video is 20 rods; 320 rods equals a mile.

It was during a lunch break during one of our shorter portages that I realized -- while sitting in the rain -- that a fat slice of chedder cheese on a bagel with a lot of crunchy peanut butter is food of the gods brilliant.


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