Sunday, January 6, 2008

Little Sisters part II

Before we get back to the story, I'd like to let readers know this happened twenty years ago. I've been relating this story mostly to good friends while gathering around campfires. People have begged me to take them to this destination over the years but as you'll find out not everybody can go there....... Most men only read or dream about some of the experiences I had, I've actually lived it. There is a difference............. Back to the story..

The following year after discovering the new bog, I decided to really make a go of it there. This would mean setting up camp, staying there Monday through Friday and returning home on the weekends with the berries that were harvested.

A friend of mine and I erected a large tepee, conveniently located at the dug out section of the ridge, this would help break the wind coming from the lake. Enough fire wood was cut for cooking and warmth for about a month. There was no uneasy feeling this time as we sat camp and no "voices" either. After being quite satisfied with the camp and the amount of cranberries in the bog, we left without a hitch.

The following Monday found me paddling the canoe loaded with a week's worth of supplies and my Labrador retriever, that I brought along for company. Upon reaching the other side, the same occurrence happened that had happened the year before, a very upsetting feeling just overcame me. After pulling the canoe up on dry land and sitting on it, I tried to gather my thoughts. What in the hell was I doing out there? Everything in my being told me to go back! Never, in my life had I experienced such feelings! Was I loosing my mind?

After about an hour of just sitting there, trying to pull myself together, I reasoned that it must be the effects of being so isolated. This has happened to me before, especially when going so far back but, never like this! I gathered my supplies, put them in the plastic sled and managed down the trail. The dog on the other hand was just as pleased as she could be, being in the woods.

Some very ugly thoughts entered my mind while making our way to the tepee, I was somewhat relieved having got there. I could tell the dog really wanted to go hunting, prancing about. Thinking better of it though, I didn't want to have a loaded gun in my hands at the moment. That was how poorly I was feeling! We went berry picking instead, hoping this would keep my mind occupied to things at hand.
By the time it was getting dark, a nice fire was going inside the tepee and we had a good meal over it. I began to feel much better, perhaps it was just getting used to the situation there? Having camped like this many times before, the nagging question was, why was I feeling like this here, now? Hopefully, I'd get over it, there was a lot of cranberries to be had and it would be a shame to have set this camp up for nothing!
It was a beautiful sun shining morning and I had slept well. Today was a new day and I was feeling so much better, much more like myself! After breakfast we went eagerly down to the bog. The dog was quite content lying next to me as I gathered, as she's done hundred's of time before. The floating bog was dry now on top as the lake level hadn't risen yet. By about mid afternoon my back was killing me and that dog sure wanted to go hunting!
The day had been a productive one, perhaps five bushels and I was really beginning to settle in. Wanting to get a good look of the lay of the land anyway, a little hunting would be a refreshing break from the work. It didn't take long to check this out as this stretch of land was very small and completely surrounded by water or formidable swamp. We did come by a hugh fallen white pine that was hollowed out over time. At the base it had to been six foot in diameter or better, by far the largest, I'd ever seen. We did manage to get a partridge and cooked it over the fire that night.
The second day was as beautiful as the day before and by mid-afternoon, saw us hunting once again. This time we followed the woods along the edge of the swamp and came across the trail leading to the canoe. Since we were close, I thought we'd go check on it. Along the way, I just about jumped out of my britches when I spotted someone walking down the trail! It was the old Frenchman!
After exchanging pleasantries, I asked him what the hell was he doing here? This man was in his seventies, one tough old bugger, I thought. He said that he heard that I was up here and wanted to come check on me. I thanked him and asked how he got there? "Well, I have a row boat and come here from time to time." I offered to show him the camp but he refused saying he'd better get back.
After we parted company, I thought it strange that he'd come all that way and not see the camp.
These camps I've made draw quite a bit of interest from curious people! Funny it didn't seem to matter to him at all. Heading down the trail, I kept wondering why there was even a trail in this God forsaken place, in the first place?
On the third day while on the bog, I heard the voices again. It was the same singing as before, little chants that young girls have. The dog awaken from her sleep and was as startled as I was! She looked at me as in disbelief before she tore up the ridge and down the trail. I kept picking but soon stopped as the voices did seem just down the trail. Since the dog was still gone, I decided to investigate the matter. As soon as I reached the ridge the singing stopped. Meeting the dog half way down the trail, by her panting I could tell she had gone all the way to the end where the canoe was. After reaching the canoe and finding everything as I left it and finding absolutely no sign of anybody being there, we headed back to camp.
Again I wondered, why was this trail so worn? Surely, one could count on one hand, how many people would dare come here and for what? The hunting here was very poor, the fishing was also said to be very poor in both lakes. The site where my truck was parked. was also very discouraging to people coming here, as a large mound was bulldozed to prevent people from driving to the first little lake. I'd even bet, in the last fifty years not ten different people had ventured down this trail. I only knew of four other people that had been here and I've lived near here all my life. That is how remote and formidable this land was!
The chants were becoming much more frequent and seemed just over the ridge while gathering on the bog. By now, I was getting used to it, so was the dog as she quit high tailing it down the trail only to come up empty each time.
On the day I was due back, the berries were dumped into garbage sacks and loaded onto to the sled. After making a few trips back and forth to the canoe, I was ready to tie all the bags together and float them behind the canoe. Paddling away, I turned to look back almost half expecting to seeing the girls wave us off, but no such luck. The dog looked long and hard too, thinking we were leaving someone behind...
On the way back, I decided to stop to see the old Frenchman and show him the harvest. As he stared at all the bags, he recalled a time during the Great Depression, when a family lived back there and brought cranberries to him to resale in town. A father and two young daughters actually lived there in some sort of shack. He said he could barely remember much of this but could well remember one time, as he brought back shoes for the young girls after selling their berries in town.
After letting him know that the tepee sat in a dug out area on the ridge, he figured this is probably the same place where their shack once stood. I asked him what was a family living so far back for? He didn't seem to know. Then I asked, what did this father do to earn a living besides harvesting cranberries in the fall? Again, the old man couldn't remember. The Frenchman was becoming annoyed at such questioning, so I quickly mentioned the fact that the trail seemed well worn, that there must be a certain amount of traffic on it. He said, the trail always seemed the same to him and doubted very much if anyone besides him and I have been back there in the last thirty years. It had been a good idea to hold back telling anything about the girls to the Frenchman. Something wasn't quite right with his story......

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