DAY 4: MISTY LAKE TO CASEY LAKE
Day 4 was our big, long travel day. We had to basically travel back west, all the distance we had covered in the past three days. We headed back through Little Misty Lake, along the Petawawa River, through Daisy Lake with our final destination being Casey Lake. Not only was it our longest travel day but it was also the most challenging – starting off with a 935m portage and ending with an evil 1235m portage with a few small ones in between totaling 2755m. The day started off windy, but with a clear blue sky.
By the time we hit the exit from Misty Lake however, dark clouds loomed in the distance. The rain hit by the time we had reached our first portage, and there was no end to the grey clouds. We put on all our rain gear, tarped our canoe and powered on. The Petawawa river was winding like a labyrinth and we took many wrong turns and had to back track a few times. The highlight being when we had to portage up through a beaver dam! The rain eased up a bit in the afternoon and we relished the break, drying off in the brief rays of sunshine. But when we hit Daisy Lake the rain returned in full force. The wind picked up and blew cold rain in our faces. Daisy Lake seemed to go on forever, and we knew the worst was still to come.
By the last portage my boyfriend and I were soaked to the bone, tired and hungry. We were both delirious by this point, cursing at our packs and laughing in pain. We were supposed to split up the portage, but once I got going, I knew I had to finish it off. Switching over halfway would be more miserable in the rain and the bugs would eat us alive. I yelled all kinds of nonsense to myself to keep me going as I portaged along the hardest trail I had ever done. With the weight of the canoe crushing down on my shoulders, I portaged over roots and fallen trees, uphill through mud and even along a single plank across a stream! “Take that Tough Mudder” I yelled! “Whisky, whisky, whisky!” I chanted. My boyfriend at least found my motivational cursing entertaining. The portage felt like it would never end. When at last I saw the lake, I threw down the canoe and fell into my boyfriend’s arms. He felt so light in comparison! I’ll always remember what he said to me then “you’re my hero” he told me. That portage was one of the hardest things I had ever done, and when we finally reached our campsite, I was exhausted but felt such a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
The rain finally ceased just long enough for us to set up camp. We quickly started up a fire, striped off our clothes and went for a swim in the warm lake water. My poor, aching body was finally rewarded. That night for dinner we had beef brisket, sweet potatoes and bannock bread and it tasted glorious. Beef brisket is perfect for dehydrating because it’s nice and fatty, so it rehydrates beautifully. I slow cooked the brisket with some carrots and onions then shredded the meat before dehydrating. I pureed the sweet potatoes so that I could dehydrate them in a nice thin layer. I also brought a bannock mixture along with some little packets of butter. After a long, day portaging in the rain, food had never tasted so good. While I spent most of the afternoon cursing Algonquin, I thanked the Algonquin gods by the end of the evening. Once again it gave me an amazing adventure, challenged me in new ways, but as always rewarded me with its peace and beauty.