JOURNEY THROUGH LABRADOR by Bernie Howgate

( Chapter 8 )

 

 

APRIL 11th

I was told that once I had reached Rigolet, the hard parts were behind me. "Lake Melville's a piece of cake. You'll see snowmobiles all the time."

It sounded like Toronto in rush-hour. A place where dodging snowmobiles would be more a problem than boredom. Well, there's a fine line between fact and fiction and I was soon to find which side of that saying I'd be travelling on. For starters, I was trapped in Rigolet for two days in a rain storm. Then, when that freak break in the winter cycle cleared, I headed down Double Mer en route to Mulligan's - only to find that the brooks had broken and I had to turn back.

One day later, I was on the trail again this time heading up the Narrows in a snow storm.. One week before, I'd travelled down them on a cloudless day. Not since Red Bay had I been that close to moving water. Then, it had been a sight for sore eyes, this time around it looked a little frightening. All day I had one eye glued to its bellicaters, while the other watched huge ice pans tear, swirl and crash into each other under twelve knot currents.That day it took me ten hours to cover eight miles, but night fall found me curled up warm and cosy on the floor of Doug Adam's cabin.

For the next three days it snowed. Every day I had to break trail. Gone was the six-lane freeway I'd been promised and my progress was painfully slow. Snowmobiles are never around when you need them and when a helicopter (air sea rescue) dropped in for a chat, I knew I owned the lake.

I was now walking point to point. Blimps on a flat horizon never seemed to get closer. It was a case of one step forward and two steps back. The whole experience was soul destroying. I when I reached the never ending curve past Julia's Point, I was ready to pack it in. Then, for the first time in days, I made contact."Seen any seals mate?' It was your typical lone ranger out from Rigolet en route to Goose Bay on a beer run. "Good day for walking m'boy."

Meeting up with snowmobiles was always a good excuse for a cigarette and a drink. I'd learned from past encounters with snowmobiles that whenever their owners gave information relevant to time and distance, it should be first tripled, divided by two, then added to the original number. I'd derived this formula through trial and error, as every on on the coast travels by snowmobile and speed and distance is calculated accordingly.

I was now nearing North West River and for the first time,the end of my walk was in sight. But far from cheering me up, it depressed me. Goose Bay was only the half-way point. I would have to find a place to stay for two months until ice break-up, then it was my plan to continue north by sea kayak to Nain. Hotels were out of the question. I was on a limited budget. Until now I had been little more than a passing road show. The 'Walking Man' cometh. Families adopted me, I was a commodity, instant celebrity who breezed in and out of their lives. In the last three months, it had been an endless succession of hellos and goodbyes. I was little more than a hiccup in community life, like a B movie that only stayed long enough to be enjoyed. This time it would be different. I now wanted a roof over my head for two months. A place where I could retreat to and call home. But where?

The question, believe it or not, was answered for me twelve months before on the streets of Toronto and a chance meeting with a friend, and a scribbled name on a piece of paper. ' If you get to the Goose give Joe a ring'. I still had that piece of paper and the name was Joe Goudie. With Joe's help I would cross the Churchill River to Mud Lake and here, in a one room cabin located on the back channel, I would find my home.

 


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14