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Bob had succeeded in breaking my paddle in his enthusiasm for catching frogs. The crack of the handle breaking almost in half had been loud and obvious to us both. We inspected the damage and sat down for a long time I thought everything was lost there was no way to paddle a two man canoe with only one paddle and we were barely past the halfway mark on our map. I cursed myself for travelling so lightly, why hadn’t one of us thought to bring an extra paddle in case of emergency?
Suddenly Bob got up and headed into the forest with his hatchet, I heard chopping and assumed he was blowing off steam. Bob returned with a short round tree limb and proceeded to split it down the middle using one of our kitchen knives and the hatchet. He then attached the split ends over the fractured handle of the paddle creating a splint, he then wrapped the whole handle of the paddle tightly with thick electrician’s tape (which Bob always carried) and then covered it in wrapped copper wire. The result was a paddle that was even stronger than before it was broken. Remember folks you can fix anything with a little tape and a lot of ingenuity.
As we packed up our canoe before setting out again another problem presented itself, we were running low on supplies. Although there was plenty of game along the river I was reluctant to shoot a moose or deer as we would never be able to eat all that meat before it spoiled, the amount of waste would be nothing short of criminal. The only other alternative to three square meals of fish a day was to set up snares for smaller animals. This made sense as we wouldn’t be wasting any meat.
Bob set up camp on a flat stretch of shoreline that was criss crossed with many small animal tracks including rabbit. walking a little inland through heavy shrubs and new growths of narrow trees we decided which type of snare to set up. We would take a tree that was close to the animal trails and strip the top of leaves, we would bury the top half of the tree securely then loop some wire through an arch and place the wire directly in the animal’s path putting obstacles to either side so the animal would have to step in the snare at which point the tree would dislodge and hang the animal as it snapped back to its upright position.
It works almost every time! Provided an animal steps in the snare it’s struggle to get free will dislodge the tree and activate the trap. That night we enjoyed a roast rabbit each. One gets bored of fish every meal quite easily especially if one is cleaver enough to think up an alternative. Our bellies full we collected from the other traps in the morning and quickly cooked the animals collected for our lunch and dinner saving time as we had many more portages and adventures to come.
We entered a very mountainous region of our voyage. The river was sided by large steep cliffs on both sides. We then spotted a herd of mountain goats, previously I hadn’t thought we had mountain goats in Ontario, but I was clearly proven wrong. They appeared to be almost vertical to us on the sheer cliffs just white dots expertly navigating the mountain side. I remember thinking that if I had my rifle with me I could shoot one and it would roll straight down to us. Of course I’d have to hit it first at a thousand yards straight up.
At our next campsite we set up next to a beaver dam in a marshy area. There were no trees to set up snares but a a beaver made the mistake of swimming by us carrying a large tree limb and needless to say we made a beaver stew that night. After a long boil the meat was edible but still a little tough, we had picked up a large cooking pot at one of our campsites that must have been left behind recently by another camper. We were only able to cook up the beaver because of that find as it was quite large.
There was even some left over for the morning. After we checked our traps we found a rabbit and a fox. I don’t know of anyone else ever eating a fox but we made a stew of it with the leftover beaver and the rabbit, we threw in our last potato, a carrot and an onion and we had ourselves a delicious stew. We put in in a large bottle we had with a sealed top and dragged it behind the canoe attached with wire so the water would keep it cold. It fed us for two portages. Next we came to an abandoned mining camp where we encountered two things we’d never before seen, but that’s a story for another day.