pages 10-13 of 21
As I related in the last chapter we were paddling down a river when we saw a large wolf pack gorging themselves on a fresh deer kill, there were several pups getting in on the action which meant that the den was surely close-by. In my reasoning it followed that since the wolves were able to hunt so close to their den there must be an abundance of game in the area.
I noticed all manner of other animals waiting in the wings for the wolves to leave scraps behind, there were foxes and hawks waiting and of course the crows always waiting for their share. The wolf meal meant good eating for the scavengers as well. As we paddled along the river we saw other wolf packs ranging along the calmer pools obviously waiting for some unlucky animal to pause and have a drink.
I turned to Bob and asked him if he’d ever seen as many wolves in the forest. Bob replied that he surely hadn’t and the abundance of wolves probably meant that the hunting wasn’t going to be very good for the first nations people as there also a great many reservations in the area. We decided to report the over abundance of wolves to the ranger station at the end of our journey. Although sometimes scary the sight of wolves seemed to excite a primal part of the human subconscious mind and was very thrilling.
Much to my relief the wolves seemed uninterested in us as they had plenty of deer and moose to hunt. We continued on the river, the current making so we hardly had to paddle. I took the time to make myself a neck rest out of my paddle and lazily enjoy the view as I was in the front of the canoe with Bob navigating from the rear, every so often he would turn us to follow the winding of the river.
I even fell asleep once. I woke to the sound of Bob yelling at me. He told me to not be so lazy and fall asleep as we never knew what would be around the next bend there may be a wolf ready to pounce or some unexpected rapids. I undid my neck rest and had hardly gotten my paddle back into the water when we hit some rapids that were unmarked on Bob’s map.
The rapids stretched for a half mile and might have been easy for accomplished canoe paddlers, which is why they were probably unmarked on the map as avoiding them would make for a rather long portage over land to the next lake. For Bob and I it was a serious trial to keep from capsizing our canoe and we barely escaped with our lives. Our canoe was almost filled to the brim with water as we re-entered calmer waters we had to disembark and guide the canoe along the shore line until we found a suitable place to land it and tip the water out.
We continued on the river until Bob saw a notation for a series of larger rapids. We could hear the roar of the white water already so we pulled the canoe over to the bank and decided to portage around these rapids. It was later in the afternoon and we desired a change of scenery anyways. We pulled the canoe over our heads and started walking. The area was more marshy and we passed a few ponds where moose and deer were partially submerged sometimes with only their antlers sticking out of the water as they duncked their heads in search of lake weed the freshwater equivalent of seaweed to eat. They were not particularly interested in a canoe with four legs so we continued on until Bob steered us to a rise of dry land and directed us to lower the canoe.
I din’t understand at first why Bob had us stop as it was only late afternoon and we could have gone on much longer without having to set up camp. I saw Bob pick up a number of baseball sized rocks and head towards a pond as I followed him it became apparent why he had stopped us. He must have heard the chorus of frogs croaking as we got to a pond where a number of the largest bullfrogs I had ever seen were hanging out on lily pads. Bob threw the rocks and expertly hit a frog with each one. When Bob fished the frogs out of the water I swear they were each about the size of a small cat. Bob cut off the giant legs with parts of the sides and cooked them up. An old french recipe passed down from his mother, needless to say they were delicious.
This was a relief to me as for a moment I thought he was going to tell me to go shoot one of the moose or deer we had seen in the marsh. Which would have been a waste as we wouldn’t be able to eat much of the meat before it would spoil as we had no way to smoke the meat to preserve it. The legs were most delectable and Bob promised to recover several more in the morning for our noon hour treat.
True to his promise the next morning he prepared his arsenal to stone a few more bullfrogs. My paddle was lying flat on the ground close to our canoe, ironically one of the frogs jumped and landed directly across my paddle and in his frog killing frenzy Bob let fly his rock and managed a direct hit on the frog and my paddle beneath it. The sound of the wood snapping was obvious to us both. Bob had cracked the paddle in half down the middle. If you can imagine what the use of a canoe is without a paddle than you can imagine a grown man crying and that would have been me.
What will happen now will we be able to complete the trip with one paddle between two men? Tune in next time for the Fifth Chapter of Rapid Inn.