|Canada, here we come!|
Finally, news from the traveling semester! As of late, things have been ebb and flow. Life is moving at a swift pace, and despite much needed downtimes we’ve been making out pretty well. We started out on the Clyde River on a cold grey morning with nothing spectacular about it. In fact it seemed like the weather was trying to downplay our grand departure. The Clyde, when we left, was higher than high water average. All along the first half of the river run, the downed trees we had seen earlier during our training runs and had passed under before, now barred our progress downstream. The whole run down the Clyde really sharpened everyone up to white-water paddling. In both our river sections we had only two flipped boats, both of which were on slack water.
|Good bye Northwoods|
The end of the Clyde brought us to Lake Memphremagog and Newport, the last town we saw in the U.S. before crossing the border into Canada. We went up the lake in a strong headwind and had a fine lunch of tuna sandwiches by a cemetery. We crossed the border in warm sunshine and got to the Canadian customs house. There was nobody there at the booth, but there was a telephone we had to use to call the border police. We had a hilarious conversation, telling the border guard that we had twelve people in canoes wanting to come into Canada. He asked us if we had alcohol or tobacco, told us to write down how many we were and that was the end of Canadian customs. We would learn later that American customs was not as funny or easy to pass through.
|The Grand Portage|
When we got to Canada, it just had that feeling of a totally different place. We landed at the town of Vale Perkins, a small niche with a general store. We did the Grand Portage in flawless style. Six miles one way with all our gear to the headwaters of the Mississqoui River, and back the next day to Vale Perkins to collect our boats, which we had stashed at the general store upon our arrival the day before. Three sisters, the Jewetts, run the store. We met the eldest of the three, Sandra, for a story telling. These were not ordinary stories though, but heart felt narratives of treasured memories. She told us stories of real community, now gone in modern Vale Perkins.
After the stories, we met the other two sisters, Caroll and Jane. The Jewetts are all characters in their own right. They’re what I call “the classiest women in the bar.” They were ladies, all three of them, but they were still the farmers’ daughters, who weren’t afraid to say what they wanted to and who’d step with anyone, gal or guy.
|In Vale Perkins with the "Jewetts"|
We moved our boats with haste back to our riverside camp. I will tell you the Mississqoui is not far different from the Clyde. In fact I figure it to be far less grand on account of it going through so many farm fields. At our camp we had visitors, Glen and Jannet. These folks had met us at Northwoods earlier in the month and living in this area they decided they’d stop by and check us out when we crossed paths. That day was my birthday, and they brought us a surprise dinner of salad, lasagna and a birthday cake. What hospitality.
|Zack with our friends and supporters, Glenn and Jannet|
On the Mississqoui we went back down and into the States, which was a bit of a hassle. The customs officers didn’t know what to do with us, and we really made their day, I guess, all twelve of us smelling up their tiny office. We passed through though, and made it safe into the U.S. again.
Later that day we met Kevin from Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, Maine. Kevin is the other half of the business with our friend, Polly, who we met earlier at Northwoods. Kevin is an old school paddler and backwoods river man. He was soft spoken and had good stories to tell us and teach. He only stayed for two days, but he was a good old cat and we had much to learn from him.
We’ve been on a craft kick lately making white pine bark containers. Zack showed us how to peel the bark off, which comes off clean in cut sections when you score it with a knife. After that you bend if to shape, and dig up some yellow birch roots, which you split to sew together the opened sides. Everyone’s been in a frenzy about them, making these containers in force, myself being most guilty of this. We also had a wild edibles class and a fresh feast of cooked greens, straight from the field we were camped in.
Today, we are here on Lake Champlain; we’ve made it, with all members of our crew intact. We switched our boats, sending back the white water canoes to Kroka with Nathan and hopping in our new boats from the Maritime Museum. They’re big, powerful, and cool. We’ve paddled hard into the wind, and have made it to our first camp. We are excited and ramped up to get going in our new pirate ships. All is well and we’ll be reporting in soon, till then hasta la vista.
|Emily, our fearless leader|
|Who is this???|