Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Buffalo River Canoe Journals - 3: Oh No, I've Sprang a Leak!

It warmed up during the night so that it was more pleasant of a morning than I had anticipated. Never the less, everything left outside was frozen stiff. The camp dishtowel was propped against a tree to thaw while breakfast was being made and camp was being struck.

It was a beautiful day on the water still among the bluffs of the upper Buffalo River where icicles clung in abundance and bald eagles soared lazily around the sky. Despite the beauty around us, lady luck was still not smiling on us and my boat sprang a leak. The canoe was an old canoe and an old patch covering a wound suffered years ago was scrapped off on an unseen rock in a riffle, leaving the cracked hull exposed. Too far to go back and because the leak was still slow, we pushed on with me bailing out water every couple of minutes. We came to one of the few established campsites along the river and there was a lady there admiring the river, having driven down the long steep access road. We stopped to ask if she had any duct tape (we hadn't thought to bring any) so that we could temporarily patch the boat until we reached camp for the evening and could apply a more permanent one. She didn't have any but volunteered to drive to her house "just down" the road and get some. Forgetting about the shape of the roads and what locals consider "just down" we accepted her offer and an hour later she returned. Feeling bad that she went to all that effort and only have a twenty-dollar bill, I gave it to her for her troubles despite her protests. It turns out that twenty dollars was money well spent for my temporary patch on the boat lasted for the remainder of the trip.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully and we camped on a nice gravel bar at rivers edge. We are now twenty-four miles into the trip and we should have nice gravel bars to camp on for the remainder of the trip. It was my parent's turn to cook and with their careful planning and lightweight cooking gear, it was ready in no time. With full bellies and because it was a warmer evening, we stoked the fire and sat around watching darkness come to the river valley. There is something about spending an entire winter day outside that wears a person down to where they can think of nothing but the how cozy that pitched tent must be or how warm the sleeping bag feels. It was all too soon that we gave up on the mental battle to stay out by the fire just a little bit longer knowing full well that there was still eleven or twelve hours until sunrise. Winter is like that but hey.... why fight it.

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