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The next day, the drive on the dirt road to Lac Antiquois took 4.5 hours, at an average speed of about 20 m.p.h. This road, maintained by the E.B. Eddy Paper co., proved to be surprisingly good, quite wide, not too rough, although it did contain some stony sections and a few treacherous cave-ins. These were plainly marked by some thoughtful drivers, who planted trees in them!

We set out at 12:45, travelling north for 3 miles on finger-like Lac Antiauois, at the end of which we did a short Portage around a bridge and entered a four-mile ten-foot wide section of the Dumoine that went meandering and zig-zagging endlessly through dense vegetation.  It was necessary to perform dozens of carry-overs to negotiate beaver dams and pass over fallen trees. All of a sudden, Jean and I heard a chilling scream. Gerry and Ihor had come nose to nose with a large bull-moose. Fearing that the animal would charge the canoe, Ihor quickly thought of intimidating the "orignal" by uttering his now famous mating call!

The brook continued a few miles past Lac Olymoe, with a new series of beaver dams (dam those beavers!) and small rapids that we had to line, emerging (by 9 p.m.) at Lac Sheni. We decided to camp without further delay in a fairly flat expanse of land, where Ihor immediately proceeded to light a fire so as to avoid succumbing to hypothermia.

The next day, we spent a couple of hours, searching for the portage trail leading to Lac Machin, only to find it traverses a 3/4 mile section of muskeg. Exploring a little further north, we came to a brook that was flowing in our direction but seemed to be choked with obstacles; that was considered Preferable. At a carry-over, Ihor slipped and got his leg caught between tow logs, almost breaking it.

By late morning, we reached Lac Machin (translation: Thingamajig Lake), a large and beautiful body of water, where we stopped for a leisurely lunch on a beach that was reportedly the location of our portage. But here again, locating the d...: portage required quite a bit of exploring; about 24 hours in fact, for it was necessary to follow all possible paths to the end to make sure they were not just moose trails.

Indeed, even the real portage kept petering out, so that we had to blaze and clear a way to our destination, Lac Padoue. That afternoon will live long in our memory as the greatest ordeal we all had experienced: 1 1/3 mile of bogs, mud, mud, mud and more "boue", so much at times that it was necessary to pull the canoes for hundreds of feet with a rope. While blazing a Path through this Canadian Venice, we proceeded to build some bridges (pontages, in French) but quickly gave up in sheer desperation, not wanting to spend the next few days at it.

We made it to Lac Padoue (by 10 p.m.), the only decent camping site in the whole trip. Late at night, we had a delicious spaghetti to cheer us up and, this being Canada Day (not Dominion Day, Jean'.) Ihor proceeded to light up the fireworks he had bought for the occasion. But the dampness had got to it and...and after a short burst of light, it all fizzled and died out. R.I.P. (Rest in Padoue Lake).

On the third day, we searched for the portage at Lac Grailly, to discover that it started just behind a hunter's cabin to the left of the swamp. It began raining again, and the cabin was a logical place to have lunch. Ihor and Gerry found time to cast a critical look at some pornographic magazines left there by the Devil.

During the rest of the afternoon and early evening, we covered a mere four miles of ponds, brooks and overgrown nortages. On paper, it all looked rather nice and easy: four plainly shown portages marked right, right, left, right. The only problem was in finding WHERE on the right or the left: Locating and clearing each one took much time and sweat. The last section ended in a three hundred foot stretch of shallow mud, just "undeep" enough to force us to propel ourselves by using our paddles like poles on both sides of the canoes. The last portage of the day turned out to be one of the most troublesome: fairly dry, but strewn with many fallen trees that had to be lifted or moved and/or cut, in addition to blazing the trail with the axe for the last few hundred yards, as the path simply vanished. That brought us to a lake of great beauty, Lac Pickerel, where we searched a long time for a camping site.

The weather had improved considerably but had also turned very cold. We huddled around our small campfire, wearing sweaters and, in my case, ski gloves, to keep warm. The night was bright, there were no pesky insects and we felt at peace with the world, but too tired to attempt a few campfire songs. Gerry chose that moment of supreme contentment to ask where the dickens was the toilet paper. It was located, in the garbage bag, among the remains of our previous feasts: Ihor confessed that he had decided to hide it there to protect it from the rain: How resourceful can one be?

At the end of Pickerel Lake, we encountered a pile of logs blocking the access to the first brook. We delegated Ihor and Jean to do a reconnaissance of the brook. They were gone 1.5 hours, returning with the news that it would take days to negotiate.

While our two scouts were gone, I took a close look at what seemed to be some sort of a trail going in the direction of Lac Liotot, where we now hoped to link up with a road connected with the upper reaches of Lac Antiquois, our departure point. After lunch, we set out to try and blaze a way out to Liotot Lake by compass. This turned out to be a major undertaking that required 1 1/2 days of hacking, pulling, lifting, cutting, dragging, blazing. We even had to clear a camping site in the middle of the woods.

Getting up at 5 a.m., we were back at work on our portage trail. About 9, Jean reported discovering an old trail going in the "right" direction, and we followed it with great anticipation. And at 10 a.m., behold! we were in sight of the lake. Overcome with emotion and excitement, Ihor hugged me (I still have the bruises to prove it)

We discovered there were two (logging?) roads circling the lake. By what seemed some miracle, we discovered a short road (500 feet) linked with the major road we knew of. All that remained for us to do at this late stage, was a long 4.5 miles portage under the cloudless sky (now that we wished for a bit of shade). That was a painful forced march, as the four of us had spent three days with wet boots or shoes, and our feet had become quite sensitive. We managed to cover the whole distance in a little over 3.5 hours.

And that was the end of an unforgettable trio that we all treasure and feel, without exaggeration, was most rewarding in all respects. Each of us learned to cope with stress and with one another; we saw quite a bit of wild life (two moose, two bears, one dear, one raccoon, one weasel... and no one else!) On a few occasions, we came near giving up all hope of ever being able to push through, and dreaded the thought of having to retrace our steps, because of the hardships we knew we would have to face all over again, and especially, because of our insufficient food supplies for the return journey. But St. Jude (Patron Saint of desperate causes!) came to our rescue. We got back to the cars at 4 p.m. and made it home by 1 a.m. Anyone interested in retracing our steps...some day?