Wednesday, April 3, 2013

October 5, 2008: Upstream

After the Ste Agathe bridge was a rapid.  It was by no means huge or powerful -- on any other river I would have been through without thinking about it.  But the Red River was different for me, because for the first time on my trip I was working my way upstream.

It wasn't so bad.  The current, in most places, was slow enough I didn't have to put all my strength into every stroke.  But I did have to paddle all day -- gone were the times I could sit in my canoe reading a book and offer a correcting steering stroke from time to time.  This was work.

I had nearly forced my boat through the water when a gust of wind stopped my forward progress in an instant and pushed me straight backwards.  I laughed as I tried again and again until the wind pinned me to a rock, and I had to get out and wade.  This started a pattern.  On most rivers, one side or the other will be so slow that going upstream is little harder than lake paddling.  But in a sharp S-bend, the slow section crosses from one side to the other, and I had to face that strong cross-current, resorting to wading through the narrows pulling my canoe -- it was a rare fast section I could just power through.

In the end that wasn't what did me in for the day.  The river straightened out towards the source of the wind, blowing so furiously that every foot of progress was a major victory.  Clouds were beginning to roll in, and although there were more houses around than I had liked, I had no choice but to find a place to camp for the night, utterly exhausted.

Day 106 ended: 49*30.677N, 097*13.478W

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