While we drove the canoe through the chain of lakes, rivers and rapids I though about the number of meetings we held the winter of 1967-68, to work out the details of the trip to Rowdy lake.. One of the earliest decisions agreed upon was that we would go in early spring of 1968. We had to wait until all the lakes and rivers were free of ice but soon enough to take advantage of the spring run off, which would improved passage through any rapids.
The most up to date map of our route showed we could make the trip in one day, but we would have to travel lite and keep moving as fast as possible. We would start out early and carry sandwiches for one meal only. The major portages between the rivers and lakes were obvious, but very few of the rapids and falls were shown. Because our equipment was very limited we could move fairly quickly on a portage. We carried no tent nor sleeping bags. Any unforeseen delays meant sleeping on the ground around a fire and going hungry till we reached our destination or back tracked to our starting point.
If we failed to show up at the rendezvous the plane could be used the next day to find us and it could land on the closest lake to provide food or assistance.
Our route was easy to determine because there was only one chain of lakes and river available to us. It should not be difficult to find us if anything went wrong.
Many discussion evolved around how long it would take to make the journey and how many gallons of gasoline would be required. Rather than carry and portage all our gas we solved that problem by filling a number of plastic gallon containers with gas then used the plane to drop them off in three places along the route. I flew with Dave a week prior to the trip and we hid one or two gallons on prominent island locations, on lakes that were large enough for us to fly into. This way we never had more than a couple of gallons to carry at any one time in the canoe or on a portage.
All the many discussions as to the length of time the trip was going to take were interesting and highly varied. We never came to a common decision. Because of my canoeing experience I argued that it would be a race to get to the rendezvous before dark while William insisted we would be there by supper time. The winner would receive a bottle of scotch from the loser.
Another bet involved the amount of gas that we would use during the trip. David bet me an hour on the camp woodpile splitting wood that we would use all the gas we cached on the route while I was of the opinion that we would use a couple of gallons less.
As the miles and hours dragged on we all started to get hungry and at the same time watched the sun racing across the sky. We ate the sandwiches at noon and picked up a couple of milk jugs of gas. It did not appear gas was going to be a problem but the diminishing hours were making William feel the bottle of scotch slipping from his grasp.
When I finished my turn at the helm I moved to the bow of the boat which allowed a person to lean back on a life jacket and have a nap. David was again running the motor. Before and during the trip I had spent considerable time examining the map and the route.
When I wok up I felt refreshed. I looked around me at the shore lines. I did not recognize anything. As I looked at the shore that lay ahead I could not see any opening. Half in jest, and half seriously I said, “How long have we been going the wrong way?” William laughed heartily while David’s eyes darted around the shoreline and his heart sank.
We stopped the motor and closely examined the map. It was obvious there was no opening on the north side of the lake. About a mile back, David had failed to notice the river entered from his right. The lake we were on was called Wrong Lake. The hidden lake to our right was called Right Lake. Since the lakes were labeled this way on the map it was obvious prior travelers had had the same problem. David had obviously not been reading and following the map.
I was sorry for what I had said initially in jest. There was no point in saying more. David was mortified, his face was beet red and looked like he might die of a heart attack.
We soon were back on the right route and other than the hum of the motor there was deathly silence.