Silk tent, 8 feet x 10 feet, which packs into very small bulk, and weighs but a few pounds.
Grub for two men for two weeks (allowing that we kill fresh fish and meat en route):
Flour, 28 lbs. Bacon, green, 20 lbs. Baking-powder, 2 lbs. Beans, 12 lbs. Peas, split, 4 lbs. Prunes, 2 lbs.
Sugar, loaf, 2 lbs. Tea, green, 2 lbs. Salt, 2 lbs. Butter, in tins, 4 lbs. Pepper, ˝ lb. Cornmeal. 2 lbs.
Total weight, 78˝ lbs.
Excepting the guns, rifle and rod, which were kept separate, the whole of this kit packed into five loads :
Food (two loads), 78˝lbs.
Box specimen case fitted with trays, 2 ft. x 1 ft. 3 in. x 1 ft. 3 in., and which carried some of the small bags in the top tray, 25 lbs.
One large brown canvas padlocked kit-bag, 58 lbs. One smaller ditto, 53 lbs.
By the method of packing certain articles in small bags and cases, as I have shown above, and attaching outside a label stating contents, one avoids confusion when any particular article is wanted.
The outfit above-noted was, perhaps, not perfect, but it contained most of the essential things and served me very well throughout my journey. In fact I would to-day make little change were I again setting forth on a like undertaking.
The question of weight is of course the great consideration that must modify your choice when you have but the limited space of a single canoe to accommodate stores, as well as its two occupants.
It was an hour after dawn-the breathless air had lost but part of the wistfulness of night, the clouds hung grey and heavy with rain. Spring with a soft persistent hand was at last breaking down the iron grip of winter.
It was May 12, and, having roped the canoe and kit in a wagon hired from the lumber mill, we were setting off on the long trail and were making our way through spruce forest down the logging trail that terminated at the landing on the south-east shore of Crooked Lake. The trail to the Lake was very wet and heavy owing to the spring thaw, and the teamster, as he set out, was very doubtful of making the journey over the soft, frost-ruptured, slush-lain ground. However, spring was in our blood and difficulties looked small, and we started off in high spirits, accompanied by the parting good wishes of a small group of trappers and lumbermen who had, out of curiosity, collected to see the expedition setting out on its long adventure.
After a good deal of effort-indeed, after having twice completely stuck deep in the mire of the trail-the steaming, blown team drew up at the tiny landing, and our treasured possessions were deposited on the Lake shore.
The morning was now advanced.
Had we been about to enter the Garden of Paradise the day could not have been more perfect. The bright sun overhead shone in a cloudless, soft-blue sky, the air was vibrant with eager vigour and full of the promise of spring; and in our minds' eye, before us, in the path of our canoe, waiting our coming, was a great fair summer-garden of limitless range and promise. Small wonder if the pulse quickened joyfully and one inhaled with keen appreciation deep breaths of the fragrant, stirring, pine-perfumed air.
We slid the frail, new, spotless canoe into the water alongside the small rough-timbered landing, and praised her every line as children would a new toy, while over a " drop " from the flask she was christened The Otter and we drank to " success."
Then we bid farewell to the teamster, and turned our attention to the lake, and to embarking on our journey.
Though the day was fine the aspect of the lake was not reassuring : it was on the eve of rupture and change, but, contrary to expectation, the ice had not yet broken up in any ex-tensiveness. We viewed the scene ; Joe with a practised eye, I with half his intentness, and listening more, it must be confessed, to the tumult of the lake surface; for on the air, from the distance and near at hand, in haunting restlessness rose the persistent modulating sound of grinding, groaning ice-blocks agitated by the underflowing flood-water. It seemed to me as if the very soul of the ice-field was pleading to be set free, knowing in some mute sense that the holding grasp of winter weakened, and that the hour was at hand when its substance would cease to be.
I turned from those fancies, and conjectured with Joe the chance of finding a clear passage out. Around the landing, and across the head of the lake, there was open water-clear ex:cept for occasional detached lumps of floating ice- but away down the lake, as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but a great sheet of dull, water-soaked, rotting ice, broken in places, and piled up where pressure had forced it to bulge and overlap on to a resisting surface.
" What do you make of it, Joe ? " I asked.
"Not much," answered Joe; "We may or may not get through-better if we had delayed a week longer. The ice is fast on this shore a long way down, but as pressure is heavy and the freshet flood is rising, it has probably drawn off the shore on the far side, and an open channel may be over there. If it remains calm the ice will hold as it is, tut wind from a contrary quarter would move the whole ice surface and send the pressure in whatever direction it pleased to blow. But here we are, we'll try her anyhow."
So we pushed off into the icy water and headed for the opposite shore across the head of the lake. Reaching there we found an open channel along shore, as Joe had surmised, and turned the canoe's head northward along it. All went well until we reached the cut across the lake which the incoming police party in their large canoe had opened up the day before. We had not long entered this narrow channel when a soft north-east wind began to rise and drift over the ice, and anxiously we saw the pressure begin to close the channel before us, and the ice rasped against the windward side of our light canoe. Briefly Joe uttered a word of warning- for we were in imminent danger-bid me seize an axe and break the pressure off the bows as far as I could, while he worked madly with his paddle in the stern. For an hour we laboured, more like madmen than sane men, while we could feel the canoe at times creaking and almost giving way to the weight of ice against her sides that threatened to break her into matchwood. Luckily the ice, in most places, was water-soaked and rotted, and by labouring incessantly with axe and paddle we were able to move on slowly, spasmodically, and change and relieve the pressure on the canoe when it threatened to sink us. We escaped through in the end, exhausted and wet, yet very glad to have escaped disaster to ourselves and to the irreplaceable outfit.