Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting there is most the battle.

This is an example of how things sometimes go when you make a concerted effort to make your life a bit different than the norm.
To get you up to speed quickly, I was to take a charter boat to my landing for the last freight run of the season. My typical proceedure is to then stay at the homestead for as long as possible. I was to be going up, with a few other guy's who are putting in homesteads in the same general area.
This however did not go as planned. The charter boat outfit kept putting off the trip until it was to late. The morning of the scheduled run, I arrived at the dock, to see impressive chunks of slushy ice in the river.
This basically shuts down the season, as no boat will go out in these conditions. The slush will clog the impeller and you are in a dangerous position.
Plan "B", was called for.. Unfortunately there was no plan B.... So one had to be made.
What came together was this. A variety of ATV's and trailers where assembled to haul all of our supplies up a series of trails to a lake further up into the hills. From a pre determined point, we would then have to pack the gear on our backs through the thich brush and woods to a point on the river near our landing. We would then figure out how to get our gear across as efficiently as possible.
With the day's getting shorter and the temps getting colder I didn't want to dally...
The adjusted day of departure came and we made our way up the trails on the first leg of the trip. It was uneventful but long, and I walked the trail in. I had already downsized my load as much as I could afford, but it still made a good load on the racks and filled the trailer, of the ATV I had hired to haul me up.
We reached the drop area and made a cache (cash) for the supplies. From there we packed down as much as we could carry, and dragging two canoes, we crossed three channels of the river. The amount of ice in the river made the crossings fairly hazardous. The fact that we had five dogs amoung us made it more so. However we made the one trip that afternoon, and by the time we crossed it was to late to do anymore for the day.
We agreed to start again the following day.
So we split up and each went to their prospective cabins.
The following day we formulated what would be a pretty good plan. The canoes are not very stable in these conditions and the loss of our supplies was not an option. I suggested that we use my zodiac to transport the freight. It has a huge payload and is very stable. Everyone agreed we should try it.
We had to cross the three channels again, and it was here that we worked on our crossing technique. It went something like this.
Two guy's would cross first in a canoe towing a rope. When they landed (not an easy thing to do with a climbing rope trying to pull you back into the current), they would then anchor the rope and the remaining two would push the zodiac into the current and swing across. It workd quite well.
After we had made it to the south side of the river we began the brutal task of packing all our freight down closer to the river. This was a distance of probably 1/4 mile or so. Not exactly far, but the terrain was rough.
This took many hours and we would only have enough time for one trip. I was a bit concerned for the supplies, as we crossed some very large bear tracks along a small creek between our cache and the river. I wasn't thrilled about a bear getting my food and fuel.
Regardless we could only do so much. Once back at the river we sorted our gear and took what we thought was most important.
The process worked well, but it was still hard work. once the canoe was safely across, the rope had to be kept from dragging us down steam. Imagine mending your flyline in 12-14mph water, but your line is 1/2" diameter..
Once the rope was anchored we pushed the heavy zodiac off the ice shelf and into the channel. The crossing was quick and effortless.
Once again on a gravel bar, we portaged the gear, canoe and zodiac across the bar and repeated the process until the third channel had been crossed and we were once again on our side of the river. Each time we crossed we lined the raft and canoe upstream away's to give up a cushion in case we got swept down stream accidentally.
The next day would be easier as the remaining gear was much closer to the river..
In all it required three day's work to transport our supplies in what could normally be done fairly easily in one..
But there was no choice. We had to do it this way in order to get home...

Prepping the zodiac for the task of hauling freight across the river

Crossing the middle channel

In this shot you get a better view of the ice in the river and the ice shelf along the bank.