Island SE Selwyn Lake - Southern end of portage between Selwyn and Flett Lakes
Distance 34km [180 km]
Portage 0 [11
Wow, what a hard day, every kilometre was won in a hard battle with the wind.
As planned we were up by 5am and the wind was already blowing from the north east, the direction we needed to paddle. The insects were so intense we were driven to hurry and were on the water by 6.30am. The ice had moved overnight and though we had planned to go in a north east direction cutting a corner on the lake we were blocked by ice and forced to go south then east into a strong headwind. The entire day was one long hard paddle into the wind with rolling waves interspersed by lumpy water. John was further frustrated by the maze of islands not marked on the 1:250,000 map so we mainly went by compass bearing. The shoreline was deeply indented with boulders everywhere. We went ashore for lunch but what an awful place! The final 5-6 kilometres before the portage were agony. We were both tired but needed to keep fighting a strong headwind, high waves and white caps. It seemed for every three strokes at least one was a holding stroke rather than allowing us to make progress.
Finally we reached the portage which had the worst of entrances and following the pattern of the day, I fell into the water trying to lift the canoe. The first 100 metres of the portage was difficult walking on wet spongy muskeg but finally we found a dry open camp site about 300 metres in. The insects were so numerous that we decided to settle for pilot biscuits and hot drinks in the tent rather than battle them by cooking outside. The bugs remind me of those TV programs where you see a researcher put his arm into a container of angry mosquitoes except in our case our whole body is immersed in black flies and mosquitoes and despite bug suits and a liberal application of repellent we are both covered in bites.