After some tough paddling and canoe dragging up the Missiquoi, the gang made it to Canada. Seeing the flood damage and effects on Champlain was only matched upon the river, and small “nests” of flotsam hung from tree branches, at times over eight feet over our head. Our environment is in constant flux, from floods to heat, and we were happy to realize our layover on Lake Champlain prevented us from contacting the worst of the flood levels on the river.
Our last night in the US, we were told that we couldn’t cross the boarder after five, and so we fought against the current to a spot just a mile or two from it. We were struggling to keep walking (dragging the canoes over shallow swift water) when we encountered the Coons family, who graciously put us up in their back yard for the night.
There is something about being on an adventure, where meeting nice souls at the end of the day can turn a hard struggle into a rewarding challenge. We fought on, into Canada and 89-degree temperatures the next day, and prepared for the Grand portage. It was one of those days when one Budweiser knocks you out like a Southpaw with a mean hook.
We took our rest day by paddling two miles and then walking about 18 more with canoes and gear on our backs. The mild 97 degree heat left us dazed and confused, and some guy named Paul, living at 148 Peabody road, gave us a ride in his tractor bucket to his house and a cold spicket. Paul certainly earned himself a page in the “International Friend of Gypsies Everywhere” book, and we hope his first son gets into law-school, and his second finds happiness as an actuary. Nevertheless, we finished the day and learned to bring more water with us next time.
A cool Liter finished the afternoon off right, and some Wes cooked pizza helped put the portage behind us. Seeing the side of Canada that sits just atop Vermont was an experience of great difference and similarity. Farms were abandoned as tourism was picking up in the area, and a certain sense of community seemed lost to the man who went for a swim as we ate. It’s easy to feel distance from the Quebequois in all of the ways they live a different life, but much harder to talk of lost livelihood and socio-economic struggles that are a part of day-to-day life in all the communities we have passed.
Today brought us back into America, and after a quick Skype chat with boarder-patrol (they have telephone boxes with camera’s and screens), we met Evan’s dad Byron and had some phenomenal BBQ. Canada is finished, and at 16 or 17 days the trip feels like it’s just beginning. The trip continues, and we have now reached the 1/3 mark. With the struggles of the Saranac and Champlain behind us – the places most groups are forced to give-up – and the uphill battle of the Missiquoi finished, we look onwards to New Hampshire and Maine with increased ferocity and hunger.