One finger was numb and the growing pain in my ribs said I best have Allan load me. Carrying a pack and a couple of paddles was no problem. Besides, the rain had stopped, life was more or less good, and an hour's worth of portaging found us by the pair of upturned lodge boats on Wedge Lake's shore. And, almost forgot, the rain had started again, this time with mayhem on its mind. As it turned out Siberia had caged up a half dozen storm fronts and over the next two weeks turned them loose, one at a time. Never did temperatures top sixty-five, we had a summer's worth of wind and rain, and one hour-long snow squall. Yeah, she was some kind of fun all right.
At the access we waited it out. Rain poured straight down in billions of nickel-sized drops. A half hour on the lake would've flooded the boat so we cozied down on a moss-covered log beneath a towering spruce, pulled a pair of smokes from the only dry spot within fifteen miles, that being our rain jackets, fired up, and waited it out. We were almost giddy happy being where we'd wanted to be and had dreamt of for nearly a year. Yeah it was raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock but we both knew Mother Nature would have to take a break sooner or later and when she did, we'd launch, find our campsite, and have things up and running within an hour. We had food, books, and two weeks to fish the heck out of Grass River Park. As for my ribs, one way or the other I could work my way around them. Forty-five minutes of deluge found us pushing out from shore. Oddly enough, sitting in a canoe and paddling was not painful in the least. Maybe it was psychological, maybe a gift from the fishing gods, more likely a fluke.
The next dozen days found us camping on Wedge Lake. That sure wasn't the plan but my ribs called the shots. Nighttime's were a minor misery but it sure felt good in the sleeping bag. Cold? You bet it was cold. Not like winter but night found the air playing footsie with the freezing mark. Our bags were designed for thirty degrees but weren't up to the task. We slept in long johns, shirts, and stocking caps. Changing positions in the night called for me to fully wake, prop myself on my elbows and ease my body around. But by the fifth day the ribs were improving noticeably. We began to make plans to head elsewhere.
Our bathroom was off in the small wooded area on the south side of our tiny forty foot wide and one hundred, fifty foot long, island. Like all small, northwest Manitoba islands it was an irregular rock slab with dabs of soil in the lowest pockets, a dozen or more bushes in the open areas, and possibly fifty spruce and jack pines. Our bathroom was in the duff-floored cluster of evergreens on the south third of the island. The cat holes for our business were nothing but lifted clots of duff.
Anyhow, on that fifth day I wandered into the woods, trowel and paper in hand. While squatting a pair of ribs finished the job I'd started back on the portage. Their snapping was so loud I figured Allan must have heard them go. The intense pain struck me funny and I started to laugh; not something I wanted to do when perched over what had moments before been inside me. At least now the real healing process could start.