The River Flows North – Part Two
We sat silently as we listened to the thunder and wind howl outside our tent walls. The whole day we had paddled as fast as we could to try to beat the dark clouds looming close behind.
We had made it just in time to Oak Point and were glad that the storm had not caught up to us. Sitting inside with high spirits, we lounged and ate like kings, resting our sore arms from today’s battle against Mother Nature.
It seemed like we had come out on top for once and our morale was running high as we sheltered among the trees.
That evening, we cautiously popped our heads out of the tent and looked above us at the sky.
There wasn’t a rain cloud to be found.
I stepped out of the tent and made my way out toward the canoes to take a look. The storm had taken a turn to the west – skimming the outskirts of our camp.
We watched in awe as the rain clouds swept over the western end of the lake, showering and howling as they moved. The eastern side, however, was completely still and a rainbow had begun to form.
It was a beautiful sight that reminded us of the two faces of Mother Nature. One that creates and one that destroys – both of which still hold majestic beauty.
That night, we went to sleep full, content, and ready for another push towards the border.
The following morning, we moved at a leisurely pace, eating and packing as the sun came up. It was only a few miles to our next camp and we were confident we’d make it well before dinner time.
The temperature had risen quickly and the sun was already high in the sky as we left Oak Point behind. The canoes glided smoothly as our paddles met the water.
Before we knew it, we were back on Fish River, making our way north again. It wasn’t long until we heard the roaring sounds of Fish River Falls.
We waited until the last-minute to slip into a portage and in doing so…things got a little wet.
Looking back, it was still fun, I guess..
Portaging the canoes a quarter-mile down, we set up camp above the waterfall and spent the remaining hours of daylight gathering fire wood to dry out our clothes.
The guys strung hammocks along the cliff’s edge and I made a makeshift tent with my sleeping bag and decided to sleep on the ground that night. After a hot meal, sleep came fast, and before we knew it – the roar of the waterfall faded away.
Later on that night, I awoke to noises coming from the fire pit. I opened my eyes and listened as I reached for my hatchet. We had strung up our bear bag way downstream from camp, but I was hoping for the best.
The steps thumped towards me and my makeshift tent. I did not dare to turn on my headlamp – the last thing I would want to do is scare whatever was out there. The heavy steps seemed to meander around the camp, sniffing and prodding.
I could hear it move over by the guy’s hammocks, the steps and breathing still heavy. The zippy sound of nylon being touched (You know exactly what sound I’m talking about) sent my hairs straight up. I prayed that none of the guys would wake up and scare it.
A minute had passed and my knuckles were white from clutching the hatchet. I had stiffened up like a plank.
It had gone silent.
The next morning, I wondered to myself if it was just a dream, the guys had slept through the whole thing.
I’d rather not know what was in the camp that night – for my own sake.
It was too early to worry anyway and we had a few miles to cover before we reached Fort Kent for breakfast. It was a foggy morning, but the air was nice and cool as we pulled our heavy canoes into the water.
We looked back at the waterfall, nodded to each other, and silently paddled into the fog.