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 Trip Stories - Pushing to Blackstone, Pierre Girard


Blackstone Lake is named for an Ojibwe Chief of that name, famous in our area for his last heroic trek, during the 1918 flu epidemic, in which he endeavoured to save his people, the Kawnipi Band. He was unsuccessful - the whites had no medicine - and he died of flu before reaching home. Most of the band died as well, and the few band members remaining removed to lac la Croix.

We reach trailhead in the dark, offload canoes and packs, and park our pickups down the road. As we hike back to Sag, false dawn shows on the horizon. We've brought small motors for the trip across Sag and dawn finds us a quarter way to Cache Bay.

Sag, or Saganaga, is one of the most beautiful lakes on the border. Rock rimmed islands support tall Norway pines each with their half foot thick bed of duff consisting of generations of pine needles. We see a bear swimming but with the motors we can easily outrun him. Paddling, we'd be more concerned as they sometimes attempt climbing into the canoe. An attempt is as bad as success for the canoe does not remain upright.

At American Point we cache the motors and head into Canadian waters with our paddles. My avant is an avid fisherman. He catches a nice trout and we have words before he puts his rod away and reluctantly attempts a feeble stroke to every five of mine. He is a good friend and a lazy suck. He soon earns the Ojibwe name of "Dog Who Drags Butt On Grass," or "Animosh" for short.

Jahr, a large man of Irish extraction, commonly known as "Jarhead," leads the way. In his 20 foot canoe, with his young daughter as swamper, and Trapper Bill as avant, he makes good time. Always helpful, with a big smile, Jar's a joy to be around, except when portaging. Every year his packs multiply and each one gets larger. This year he's found a new cooler to pack out fish. It could easily double as a coffin in size and we swear solemn oaths that we will leave him buried in it rather than pack it out. The only way to get it across a portage is to cut a pole and suspend the cooler between two men carrying the pole on their shoulders.

Pa and Daniel are in another canoe, and Rudolf and his two daughters make up the fourth.

We stop at customs. As usual, there is no one around. When the customs man finally does appear he is much more intent on selling us one of his high bucks home made paddles than he is in getting our paper work settled. We leave as soon as possible.



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