Little Sag East Loop from Sawbill
"How much duct tape do you have with you?"
Woke up to rain. Had breakfast and broke camp a little later than we'd hoped. The goal today was Tuscarora.
A little side note is in order here. We decided to do this loop based on the route guide that Sawbill Outfitters has published. It's marked as a 6 day trip with a layover day on Little Sag that lets you explore and fish. Sounded great. Little did we know that the 6 day trip was calibrated for 20 year old triathletes who single portage in ideal weather.
Quick paddle up to the 5 rod portage into Gordon. Boom, whiz, bang and we're paddling through Gordon in the steady rain. 28 rods into the Long island river. Portage path is slick, like every other one. We load the canoe and because of the way we've positioned it to take advantage of some rocks to stand on, I get into the bow first. Everything starts moving really fast at this point and get's kind of fuzzy. My right arm was still dry as I climbed out onto the bank and started pulling packs out of the water before bailing out the canoe. We took some time to drain our boots, wring out our clothes and generally get our wits about us. It's mid 40's out and still drizzling rain.
We get back in the canoe and paddle on to the end of Long Island River and the 5 rod portage into Long Island Lake. I was worried about being cold, but the slow burn I had from dumping the canoe kept me warm. So warm in fact, that without thinking, I jumped out of the canoe and gave it a tug to beach it. Scraaaaaaape...Poke. Awesome, I've just put a long gouge and a baseball sized hole in the boat...below the water line. Tough way to learn a lesson that I already knew. Don't lose your cool, take things in stride and keep a level head.
So here we are, a day and a half into the trip with 5 more days to go, 13 hours away from the outfitter, with a nice hole below our water line. At this point, I cooled off very quickly and actually started having lucid thoughts. I carry between 2 and 5 yards of good ole duct tape. My partner does the same. We unloaded the boat and rolled it onto it's side. I unzipped my rain jacket and leaned over the boat while my partner dried it around the "wound site" inside and out. We taped it up, keeping track of how much we used. Satisfied that we'd patched it up, we figured out how much tape was left and how many more times we could fix it. We figured we had enough tape to do the same repair 2 more times with a little left over. We wouldn't turn back, we'd keep going. The good news out of all this was that it was still raining, so we had consistency on our side.
We paddled and portage with a purpose now. We knew there was no way we'd make Tuscarora. Looking back, there's no way we would have made it without the 2 mishaps. See the side note above. Finally made Cross Bay Lake and debated about trying to push onto Snipe. Decided to take the first campsite that was open, since Cross Bay is an entry point. We ended up staying at the first campsite we came to, the southernmost site on Cross Bay (559?). We had a break in the rain and the sun came out. We took the opportunity to set a clothesline and start drying some things out. Unbeknownst to me, the little spill we had taken earlier had gotten my partner's down jacket and sleeping bag wet. The jacket wouldn't dry out the rest of the trip. The bag wasn't as bad and was usable after an hour or so in the sun and the stiff breeze that came up and lasted for most of the night.
Some photos from our site on Cross Bay.
~Cherokee Lake, Gordon Lake, Long Island Lake, Rib Lake, Karl Lake, Lower George Lake, Long Island Lake