Small Island in Diefenbaker Bay - Nistowiak Portage on Iskwatikan Lake
Distance 15 km [65km]
Rained hard all night, we were awake before 7am but we were in a state of indecision, should we set off or wait out the weather – strong headwind, rain and generally miserable. Our major concern was the possibility of a strong headwind on Iskwatikan Lake as we had had a very bad experience on this lake 2 years ago. Eventually we had breakfast and decided to give it a go, we were on the water about 10.15am heading into the wind and rain.
Our first portage from the top of Diefenbaker Bay into Hale Lake, [about 600 metres], was along an old marine railway. It was very steep in sections, had a heavy trolley and the rails were damaged in parts so we elected to walk it – at least the walking was good.
The tramway ran alongside the Rapid River with lots of specky falls. Once back on the water we saw our first flock of pelicans fishing in the fast water. In Hale Lake we also saw our first Bald Eagle with chicks.
We made excellent progress along Hale Lake as we had a strong tail wind and some current assistance, at times you could have described our progress as surfing. We paddled into Iskwatikan Lake via a small rapid [our first for this trip] however as we progressed up Stewart Bay on Iskwatikan Lake we had high waves and a strong cross wind which made it hard going. We arrived at the Nistowiak portage about 4pm, I was already not feeling great being very cold with wet feet and then had to stand in rough water up to my waist holding the the canoe for unloading so I pressed to camp at the end of the portage and whilst we had a break in the rain to put up the tent etc. This portage is about 1km long and if travelling through it two years before was any guide it is very wet in parts so John did not require any persuading. Glad we did as the rain continued on and off and we ended up having to cook in the annex.
The canoe cover is great in the rain but it does make loading and unloading more difficult however I am sure it will get easier because at present all bags etc are very heavy but it won’t be long before we eat our way into the load. In bed by 8.15, still bright daylight outside. I should also note that I earned my first points towards the wooden spoon today when I dropped my maps overboard – fortunately John managed to retrieve them.