Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 31: Who calls?

The Qu'Appelle changes her face every day. Although she is often channelized and weired, or tyrannically windy through the pastures, she can charm you when she wants.

Most of the day was spent going through beautiful forested banks, where there was an inundation of birds I did not have the right names for. So I have been forced to invent temporary names for them until I once again have a bird book available. My journal records sightings of such as the "bowtie", "fearless", "red-eye duck", "non-Canadian goose", "big owl", the "fearlesser" aka "kentucky fearless", and "yellow-bellied grayback". These owls have enormous wingspans and are active in the evening well before sundown. I have seen them going after mallard ducklings, and being driven from trees by very little brown birds.

Part of the day was spent in a puzzle over a bridge. The river here is very small, and it seems that every creek that joins it must nearly double its flow. So most of the bridges are just small arches. Some are too low to go under sitting up. I remember from Eddy Harris's book "Mississippi Solo" how at the beginning of his journey he had to lean way back and let the current take him under a bridge on the baby Mississippi, so I Eddy Harrised these small bridges in his honor.

But this bridge was too low to Eddy Harris. I thought maybe I can get out of the boat and let it go under alone, but the bridge was too low for the canoe to easily slide under. It seemed like a real puzzle to figure out. I was only missing about an inch and a half of clearance, though, so I hoped I would be able to take it under rather than portage.

My first thought was to get out and swim alongside the canoe, pulling it along under the bridge. But the water was cold enough that it took away my breath when I jumped in, and I realized that in the water I was too bouyant to be able to pull the canoe down much, anyway.

The second plan was to tie my new polyethylene rope to the boat. This floats, so I could let the current carry the rope under the bridge, ram the front of the canoe under the bridge, and then pull the boat through. This was also a failure, of course, I could not exertenough force on the rope to pull it under.

I considered taking some boulders from the bank to weigh down the canoe, but decided not to mess with the landscaping. Then I considered intentionally swamping the boat to get it under, but that seemed too risky, and mostly, too messy.

So in the end I put the thing up on its wheels and hauled it around.

Day 31 ended: 50*52.897N, 106*04.024W

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