There is about 1.5 miles of land between the water at Oliver’s Inlet and Seymour Canal. A tram is provided to cover most of the distance – there are two carts that run on tracks similar to train tracks.
Happily, both carts happened to be at the end we started from.
We had odd bits of information going into our portage. One member of our group had done the portage decades ago and she was nearly run over by the cart while pushing it uphill; but the system had been updated and she was no longer worried.
What’s more, a friend of hers had recently done it and they had no trouble on their passage.
There are signs near the start of the tram that provide strict rules, some include: do not ride the carts, never let go, and it says that the path is mostly flat, but to watch out on hills and one sharp turn in particular.
Tired and eagerly awaiting rest at the cabin, we discussed how to divide our gear and ultimately decided to fit 3 kayaks and all of our gear for 9 days onto the two carts to take one trip.
One person took the first cart and set off. We decided that the two of us with the second cart would stick back to ensure that we didn’t run into eachother.
On the first hill, we could see the uphill after the down and we let go of our cart. Success.
We retrieved it, pushed it up the next hill and were on our way. Next downhill, same thing.
Except, this time, the uphill that we saw wasn’t enough to stop the cart. It kept rolling. And rolling.
Once we realized that it was not going to stop on its own, I took off running (cautiously given the slick boards underfoot) lamely attempting to catch it, and if that didn’t work, hopefully yelling loud enough to warn our companion out front.
I grabbed a water bladder that fell of the cart. I assumed it was from our cart, though I would later learn it was from the first cart.
Then I saw the sign for the steep curve.
I kept running.
Eventually, I found our cart. Off the track. With other gear – and the kayak that was on the first cart – strewn around that sharp turn.
I would later learn that the carts did in fact survive, but that our traveling companion had heard our run away cart and was able to get out of the way. We attempted to dislodge the off-the-rails cart, but it wouldn’t budge.
At this point, we were tired, wet, distraught, and worried (one kayak lost some fiberglass in the impact with the cart). Eventually we decided to move the rest of our stuff to the cabin using the functioning cart and to try to fix the other one in the morning.
It was now time to figure out sleeping arrangements (given that the cabin was small and it was in the era of COVID), and to figure out what was for dinner!
We had each brought three meals to cook for the group. One of mine was falafel with cucumber and carrots, and we decided to make that first to use the fresh vegetables while they were still fresh. (Plus, I was low on space in my bear canisters – bear proof plastic containers that we all brought to protect our food – and this was a nice bulky meal to use up).
As the others unpacked while I cooked, they began to discover missing items. Essential items at that. Did they forget them at home? (They easily convinced themselves they had). Or did they fly off the carts and we hadn’t seen them? They quickly grabbed food and went back along the trail, all the way to Oliver’s Inlet, to see if they could find the missing items. Meanwhile, they began to discuss what to do. Would someone have to go home? Could they call a boat to deliver the item?
Nothing was found along the path, and the worry increased as it neared 8pm.
Then one person found her missing bag among her stuff in the cabin. Yes!
The other checked one last place before using the satellite phone we brought for emergencies – her boat. And there it was, the missing essential bag – pushed to the mall area up in the bow of her kayak!!
A water bag remained missing the entire trip, which seems very bizarre. We know we had it because it was used before the portage, so perhaps in the spring someone will find a red water bag hidden under the path or foliage. But that was non essential and we finally settled into a nice, long sleep with little urgency because we wouldn’t be able to leave the cabin until about 2pm on the next day….