|Nanook's Campfire Tales|
|Precipice on the Keswick River Road|
Sometimes the most memorable moments of a canoe trip don't happen on the water. Like the saying goes, getting there can be half the fun .. or more than half the fright.
The first weekend in May can be a risky time for driving on a woods road in New Brunswick. On a recent trip on the Keswick River, a stream in the Burtt's Corner area of central New Brunswick, we followed an abandoned rail road right of way along the rivers' edge to our put-in where the trail crossed the stream above the deserted village of Barton.
The route was narrow, but thankfully level and gently curving, as befitted a former train track. As the trail curved under a hill so the way was in shadow, snow drifts began to appear, with deep ruts caused by the passage of thousands of ATVs over the past winter.
Our four-wheel-drive trucks, laden with boats, bodies and gear, fish-tailed sideways and bucked up and down as our drivers strove to maintain momentum in the corn-snow drifts lined with ice and mud. My friend Donna was enjoying her first canoe trip, and was seated beside me in the back seat of the second pickup truck.
She began to wonder whether it was wise to risk getting stuck deep in the boonies, and asked me if I did this on a regular basis. Actually, she used words like « crazy, » « foolish, » and other spicy modifiers to impart flavour to her remarks.
As we came to a particularly snow-choked dip in the trail, conversation ceased, and the truck slowed to a crawl. I looked out my window to the left, and spied a gaping drop-off, twenty feet or more, ending in a jumbled pile of stumps, spiked tree branches, ice and rocks. There was no more than an inch's wiggle room beside the tires before eternity gaped with open jaws.
Donna could not see the pit from her seat on the right-hand side of the truck's cab, and asked me anxiously why everyone was so quiet. I smiled at her, reached over and touched her shoulder in an attempt to calm her fears, as our driver concentrated on easing our vehicle past the precipice. Shhhh, said my gesture.
As we gained solid ground once more, Donna looked out the rear window and glimpsed the drop-off. I won't forget the look of astonishment on her face as she realized the cause of our concern. Her gasp of amazement was greeted with hilarity by the other occupants of our truck, as we shared our relief at bridging the gap.
I'm sure her earlier suspicions about our sanity were confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt. Welcome to the club, Donna!!
You meet all kinds of folks on theriver. Here's a tale of a typical day of adventure at Little Falls, St. Croix River.
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