We had a beautiful and easy paddles the next couple of days. The fishing was great, lots of wildlife and fantastic scenery. Serenity is a rare commodity for many of us. We had found it in the Canadian wilderness. Mostly just by gliding along, not a care in the world. We did not see a single person the entire trip.
The river was bigger now and running smooth and strong as by mid-afternoon we approached our moment of truth. Its name was Rainbow Falls. More a cascade than a falls, it had about a 80 foot drop, we could hear a low rumble as we rounded a bend for our approach.
While the map we were given had its blank spots and inaccuracies, the falls was clearly marked, as well as the portage. We had to run a "ferry" to approach the portage but fortunately there were no mishaps. To the non-initiated a "ferry" is what you do when something dangerous is downstream from you and its necessary to cross a river to a safe landing on the other side. If you go straight across the river, the current may drag you downstream and sweep you over the falls. The trick is to angle your canoe about 45 degrees upstream and then paddle like crazy. The result is to cross the stream without going downstream any further. As I’m writing this post it obviously worked!
This is the view from a rock overlooking the falls.
The portage itself was steep in spots but relatively easy going downhill. We stood below looking back at the falls. The power and roar of tons of water rushing over the precipice almost shook the mind.
We found a nice pool below the second set of rapids and called it a day. By this time we were not even concerned about catching our supper. The dehydrated food wasn't bad. We boiled our water and added Kool Aid for drinking. We hadn't gone hungry yet.
The walleye fishing had been good throughout the trip and we usually fished from shore during our breaks and when camped for the night. The walleye had come as a big surprise to us, in the Steel River.... THEY WERE BLUE.
In Minnesota walleye come with yellow or white bellies. We were not aware that a rare blue bellied type existed. The next morning we entered the lower section of the river as the current slowed , the bottom and banks became sandy and the landscape had a boggy look to it.
We paddled on leisurely until we came to the outlet delta into our old friend Santoy lake. There we camped near a sandy beach knowing tomorrow we would cross the lake and return to civilization. The next morning found us up early and after breakfast we headed south into a dense cold fog.
My brother Greg leading the way across Santoy Lake and end of the loop.
Knowing it was a long paddle we followed the western shoreline not trusting our navigation abilities in the fog. There was somewhat of a headwind with whitecaps but we were well conditioned to hard paddling by this time. We arrived back at the Santoy landing landing about 10 a.m. and had a long drive ahead of us to return to the Twin Cities. Arriving back in "Civilization" the two survivors (especially Troutbirder) look rather bedraggled....
It had been a great adventure. I hope you enjoyed coming along.....:)
Next: Our Steel River Adventure in Retrospect.