Day 15

August 1, 2009 at 4:06 am | Posted in NFCT | Leave a comment
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Richford

We slept well in Richford and awoke anxious to get on the river. Alas! it was not to be. The previous days deluge of rain had turned the Missisaquoi into a fast moving, muddy mess of a river for any upstream paddler. A frustrating and round about adventure into the brambles only cause more heart ache as we couldn’t find a way down to the river. So once again we struck out on foot along a narrow highway with no shoulder. Our moods were foul and not helped by only having snickers bars for breakfast.

We walked along Highway 512, which of course had no shoulder for quite some time.  About three miles from the border a women in a pick up truck pulled over and asked if we’d like a ride – we sure did! We tied the Flora Burn on her roof and threw our gear in the back and were off to the border. Flora was not tightly secured to the roof and every time we hit a big bump she’d catch some air! In the truck with us was a little puppy named Bo who tried to eat Mahsa’s hair and glasses strap.
The adventure really began to take a turn for the strange when the woman reached the border and pulled the wrong way in the U.S. Customs (the exit). The customs officers (who must have been 12) were thoroughly confused. After a time it seemed all the customs officers questions were more about of curiosity then anything else. We unloaded our canoe, thanked the lady who gave us a ride and tried to decide what to do. One look at the muddy river told us that we would be hoofing it into Canada.  By this point we’d become used to the inevitability that we’d be walking more then paddling on the Missisaquoi River. Basically Highway 512 and 243 had become part of the trail.

Canadian Customs was a breez. The woman only asked us if we had apples or mace. We had no mace but said we had 4-12 apples. After this brief questioning we struck out afoot across Quebec.

The sun was blazing and our progress slow. After about 2 miles we came to a large field where a lot of cars were parked, including a van with a large canoe trailer on it. Well holy heck we were excited! This meant that somewhere down there was access to the river.

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crossing the border

A short scout later showed us a nice spot to put in. The river was up and moving fast but was smooth and deep rather then churning and riffling. We felt we could do it, especially since our arms were so well rested after many days of not paddling much. We partook in a short nap in the shade of a large tree before setting out. As we were packing up a couple women pulled up in a fancy SUV with two kayaks on the roof. They asked of if we were English. Assuming they meant to ask if we spoke English we said yes. They were also looking for a way to put into the river.
A short time later we found ourselves in the water paddling hard. We mean hard. Presently we encountered the source of the increasing current – a rapid formed likely by high water. Four or Five failed attempts at getting through the main channel of water vexed us. We pulled out and began to scout a way around. A bog, rock and half river wide strainer prevented a straight portage around. So Morrigan got out to bush whack a path to a field.

We lugged, pulled and trudge our gear up a steep embankment, through chest high grass and eventually to a big open field. Getting Flora out of the water and to the field was quite a feat that even attracted a small crowd on the opposite bank.

broken hearted

broken hearted

Heart broken, dejected and yes disgusted we sat on the field amidst our gear feeling pitiful. Doing what we know best, we struck out on foot to walk along a busy road with no shoulder towards a campsite. The campsite is at a local canoe rental spot outside of town. As we were walking – because it is a long, long walk if you are having to get out downstream – a car pulled up behind us. We were feeling a bit lost so we went to ask if they could show us where we were on the map. This is how we met the two greatest folks, Denis and Isabella, two fellow canoeists. They were on vacation and a bit lost themselves. They were really interested in what we were doing and in our canoe cart. As we were talking another car came by and when the guy pulled up along side us he yelled excitedly “Northern Forest Canoe Trail!” It was Francois the owner of the canoe rental shop where we would be camping. He suggested that we leave our canoe on the road and he would come by to get it on his way back. Denis and Isabel said they would be happy to take us and our gear the rest of the way to Francois. Turns out the Denis is also a writer for outdoor magazines! Both were enthusiastic to learn more about our trip. So a mile or two later we were all sitting at Francois chatting and telling stories. Soon though Denis and Isabel had to be on there way. We said our goodbyes and went to set up camp for the night. The weather was fare so we also laid out our gear to dry.

That night we slept well enough. Though no one could deny that our spirits were low. The Missisaquoi River just couldn’t cut us a break.

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