Riverton (MB) to Matheson Island (MB) / April 12 to 21, 2016
Tuesday, April 12 to April 21, 2016
The morning of April 12, we were finally back on the road again after several resting and waiting days. My achilles tendon is still painful, but there has been improvement. Before leaving Riverton to continue our journey toward Matheson Island, we stopped to meet with WarrenTrent Toderan. Pierre had met him the day before and thanks to him, we received from the Department of Conservation and Water Stewardship of Manitoba, a subsistence fishing permit. He also gave us two small rods and hooks. That morning our license was plasticized.
The road out of Riverton was straight, as were the # 8 and # 234 roads, except the # 8 road is paved. Along the way everyone waved at us. A couple took the time to stop and talk to us. They were Tim and Nicole (who live in Pine Dock). They gave us money to buy something warm to drink and invited us to their home when we get to Pine Dock. After they left, we wondered why so many people have been so kind and generous to us. Since our arrival in Manitoba, we have been blessed by people’s generosity. People are really nice and welcoming. On their license plate, it says: "Friendly Manitoba". Well, it's true!
At Washow Creek we set up our camp for the first night, 21km after leaving Riverton. In the evening, two fishermen came to talk to us. They told us about their reality, what fishing means to them and shared with us their assessment of the economic reality of the fishing industry in Manitoba. They also informed us that wolves in the region are big….very big! Several people confirmed this. The wolves weigh between 160 and 185 pounds. The two fishermen showed us a photo, taken a few days ago on the frozen lake, of a wolf who had approached them. The wolf had mange. He was sick and did not seem to be afraid of humans. We have to be aware of these sick animals because they can attack humans. It made us think about whether we would need our rifle earlier ... just in case of a bad encounter.
The next morning Pierre was a little tired. He did not get much sleep. Coyotes came very close to our camp several times during the night. I had not heard anything. I slept soundly. After a good breakfast under the warming sun, we began our walk towards Beaver Creek, located 25 km further north. My achilles tendon gave me some trouble during the day, but it did not stop me from continuing on. In the morning we met Evan. He was returning from an interview for a foreman position at one of the peat moss plants. Interestingly enough we met his father in the afternoon (Mr. Brad Kornelsen). We quickly made the connection and thought it was a big coincidence to have met both father and son on the same day. Later, we met the grandfather of a student we had met in Riverton (Ken Mowatt, Abby’s grandfather). The world is really very small.
Jasmine has done well, but being a princess, she decided during the day to jump onto the canoe to have a nap. She wanted to rest while we pulled the canoe! We should have renamed her “Cleopatra”. Like us, she has to do her part and walk. The canoe is full and we knew she was faking. At the slightest movement in the grasses or trees, she was ready to go hunting.
We also met Sonja and Denis. They are one of two families that stay year round in Beaver Creek. They live close to the Beaver Creek Provincial Park Campground. When they arrived home, they visited us and offered their help. Because of the weather forecast, we agreed that it would be wiser to stay a few days in Beaver Creek, until the rain passes. We could install our tent under the roof of a small shelter. This is the best place to be to get through the depression. Close to 60mm of rain was expected.
The next day, Sonja and Denis came to pick me up to drive back to Riverton. They were going to vote in the provincial election. They offered to take me to the Co-op (the grocery store) and also to the post office. Thanks to them, I was able to make purchases that allowed us to avoid taking our lyophilized food in our barrel. We know it is going to take longer than expected to get to Grand Rapids (where we were expecting a resupply). We wanted to stretch our reserves, and with all of the wolf stories, we wanted to get our rifle earlier. By taking the information to Riverton Post Office, we managed to communicate with the Matheson Island Post Office. Although it is only open two days a week, we will be able to receive more Happy Yak lyophilized food and our rifle. We would like to thank our friends David and Karine for their help in sending our precious cargo. Dave and Mireille, thank you for your support in this process (and a special thought for Lucien and Florent).
During the weekend, we had the opportunity to talk more with Sonja and Denis. What a wonderful and generous couple. They gave us enough pickerel for two meals, pirogies, bannock and homemade jams and bannock ready mix for when we are on the road. They watched over us like friends and relatives. We are fortunate to have met them and we know that we will remain in contact despite the distance that separates us.
We also had a visit from Kyle and Duckster (both from Pine Dock). For a business card we traded a prairie chicken. It was delicious! They also invited us to stop in Pine Dock. They know Tim and Nicole (the couple we met on the # 8 road) also Abby and her grandparents (the young student from Riverton).
It turned out to be a wise choice to stay put in Beaver Creek. Besides having a prime rain protection, we had an unforgettable and valuable experience. We will miss you and Sonja, Denis!
On April 18, after saying goodbye to Sonja and Denis (thank you again to the both of you), we were back on the road. It was a beautiful day and we had the chance to speak with many people. Among them, we again met Franklin, the snow plow operator that we first met on our way toward Riverton. This time he was in the truck. We also met Gordy, Tim’s brother, and saw Tim and Nicole.
We covered 24 km before stopping for the night in a clearing along the side of the road (3 km south of Calders Dock). We pulled the canoe through small trees and set up the tent. After a good meal, courtesy of Happy Yak, we went to bed. During the evening and night, we repeatedly
heard car and truck horns. These were all people we had crossed during that day or before that who were greeting us. Although we were alone in this place, we didn't feel alone. People were watching over us. The next day, everything was "crispy crunchy", due to frost on the ground. The sun's rays quickly warmed us and we were treated to the hottest day since the beginning of our adventure. We even put on short sleeved shirts. Once in Pine Dock, we met several people. Gordy (Tim's brother), lives here and told us about the village. The next day, he took Pierre to visit the fish processing plant. Then we met Kyle who brought us "hard fish" (dried pickerel) and freshly caught pickerel for supper. We met with Abby’s grandfather, Ken Mowatt. He gave us a beautiful stone that comes from McBeth Point. It is a fossil that has been polished over time, by nature. Beautiful! We also met with many other people and talked with them until the sun went down.
The next day, April 20th, it was gray and everything was wet. The weather was heavy. Gordy came and brought coffee for Pierre, making him very happy! Gordy said it was supposed to rain, so we decided to stay put for the day. We are not in a big hurry. We knew we might have to wait at Matheson Island for our package to arrive. During the day, we met with more people. We met Les Mowatt, Ken’s brother, who took us to show us the village, and gave us hard fish and oranges. Ken and Les’s mother, and Kyle’s grandmother, gave us two freshly baked bannock. Then Lorri Monkman, Gordy’s sister in law, gave us smoked pickerel. We have been spoiled!
Apart from Gordy, who is manager of the fish processing and water plant, everyone has a commercial fishing license. We learned that each fisherman is entitled to a fishing quota up to a maximum number per person and per family. Quotas are transferable from one season to the next one as long as it's in the same year. The life of a fisherman is very hard, both in summer and winter.
Thursday, April 21, we left Pine Dock after saying goodbye. The road was beautiful and we finally got to the end of the # 234 road. The day was colder and very windy. Before arriving at the ferry for Matheson Island, we saw a wolf crossing the road. It was far away and we did not see him afterwards. We took the cable ferry and walked towards the middle of the island. There, we first met with Dennis, then Hazel Bird. Hazel invited us to set up our camp next to her building to seek shelter from the cold wind. We had dinner with her, then spent the evening with her sister Beverly and brother in law Dennis. It was a beautiful evening. Hazel, thank you very much for the nice evening, the delicious supper and for allowing us to camp on your property. :)
Note: We will probably not be able to update the blog until we get to Grand Rapids. We haven’t had cellular connection (so no Internet) since Riverton. You can follow our progress and read our messages through our inReach page (on the main page of our website, click on "follow us"). Hazel, thank you very much for allowing us to use your Wifi.