The way the crow flies, there’s only 1-kilometer of portaging and little paddling needed to access the Kesagami River from Road 2. The thing is though, there is absolutely no portage trail. This means that with outfit in tow, I had to weave through dense bush, wade across creeks, struggle through muddy bogs, and deal with countless downed trees to reach the river. And that’s not even taking the black flies into account. Making matters worse, I had to do this with one hand while holding my throbbing, burnt hand over my head to reduce the nauseating pain and swelling. As might be expected, it wasn’t long into the carry when I questioned my choice to start the trip from Road 2.
I didn’t begin portaging until the afternoon, which meant I was forced to spend my first night camped in a wet, black fly infested bog, half way through the carry. Needless to say, it felt great to finally paddle out onto the river in the afternoon of Day 2. My toils shaved 50-kilometers of river paddling off the trip, but even still, my synopsis is…..putting in at Road 2 was a bad idea.
Here are some pointers on getting through a bushwhack portage and loading up your canoe when you’re finally done.
Loading Your Canoe
You want to load your canoe so that once you get in, it’s trimmed evenly, or slightly bow heavy. When it’s bow-heavy, you’ll point straight in a headwind. Plus, it allows you to back ferry more easily. Here’s how to load your canoe for solo paddling in three easy steps.
• Tightly pack your gear into the canoe so that it doesn’t shift, which could cause the canoe to dump in rapids. Tucking your gun case and an extra paddle down the side can help secure your bags.
• Place your heavier gear closer to the front of the boat to compensate for your weight.
• Keep your day bag in an accessible location.
Bushwhack Navigation Aids
• Forces you to walk in a straighter line.
• Batteries are not needed.
• A straight line may not be the fastest way to reach your target.
• When bushwhacking, a GPS will let you more freely follow the path of least resistance through rough terrain.
• When leap-frogging your gear on a trail-less portage, it’s best to use a GPS to mark the location you leave your gear. This will prevent the possibility of having to search for it.
• GPS devices run on batteries.
Note: The hand-held device I used on this trip was the Garmin GPSmap 78s.