Temperature dropped last night-10. I slept on the shore of the Maligne River. It is a wide section of the river here and the entire river is frozen except for the usual holes and thin places and dangerous shore ice. All night the river snapped and boomed as the temperature dropped. It was really peaceful to sleep to the sudden rumbling noises. I got up at five, did the usual routine. Oatmeal, wrote in the journal, etc. Out and packed and underway at 6:30. The surfaces were firm and not that bad hauling at first. I hauled the wide sections of the river and then crossed Tanner Lake. I could hear the Tanner Rapids shortly after I left camp. The roar got louder as I crossed the lake. The sounds of the rapids were amplified by the cold calm air. Hauling was harder on the lake, the soft powder drift gave a lot of resistance to the canoe.

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Woke up at 6. It was not too cold last night, around 0 degrees. I slept warm. There was 4 inches of new snow overnight. The morning was heavy grey overcast with a blustery NE wind blowing down the river. I did the usual morning routine. Write in the journal and broke camp. I waterproofed everything and securely tied down every piece of gear. I had my hydroseal outfit on, neoprene socks, gloves and helmet. Shoved off at the bottom of the rapids and off I went. There was blowing snow, the water was very black, contrasting the snowy landscape and the snow covered shore ice that crept out into the river on both sides. It was a treacherous surroundings, stark and extremely beautiful. The danger was the black water because it covered up rocks and if I hit a rock midstream it could take my life.

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Got up at 2AM for the planned night travel across sturgeon lake. I would navigating by the stars. Within an hour I had breakfast done, all 3 thermoses filled for the day, tent and all packed and loaded and heading on a S., SW bearing. Using the blue white star Spica in the consolation Virgo as my bearing. Pulling was moderate, but I was making time. On one of my few breaks I heard an almost inaudible roar in the direction of the Maligne River. I listened attentively and recognized it as the sound of rapids or falls. On each break the sound in the darkness of the night got louder.

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Slept the coldest so far last night. My dreams when I did fall into deep sleep were wild and crazy in an adventurous way. I was always with someone. The cast of characters varied, sometimes, old friends, sometimes I was flying, lots of lovable cats. Fun times but in the back of everything I knew I was alone on this solo. And then the long hours of cold half sleep. I thought a lot about warm blankets. Sleeping cold is a tough tour. It was -25 the little hollow that I made camp in the night of the blizzard. I switched stoves from the two burner Coleman into the light weight 1 pound Optimus stove, which is a climbing stove, and I like it a lot.

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It was an old-fashioned blizzard last night. The temperature dropped straight down with 18 inches of snow drifting in the overturned canoe and the tent. It was arctic style. I tried to sleep as long as I could. I must have gotten out of the sleeping bag around nine. I haven’t been paying attention to the time and I think it’s April 1 instead of the second. That was a good experience I had on the stream yesterday. It really got me thinking about waterproofing everything. I spent all morning going over every piece of gear and getting it all into a waterproof-able system. It takes about a week before you know where everything is at, how much fuel and every ounce of food. I have no spares except matches. Everything I have I use and depend on and if I take a dump in the river, just surviving that is going to take a lot of skills. If I lose gear in a spill I might be in for some hard times. Winter is holding on, it is seriously cold today. If I tipped my canoe in these winter conditions it would be serious.

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Woke up at 3 AM expecting to travel, but the thaw continued all night. So there was no freezing, only more thawing. So I went back to the sleeping bag and slept another three hours. On the second round I efficiently packed while I ate my oatmeal, broke camp and off I went across Jean Lake. It was a mile to the portage. I had a full load that hauled okay in the wet snow on the lake. I made three trips of the portage, deep wet snow that I sometimes sunk to high-thigh with my snowshoes on. There was a strong north east wind that strengthened all day as the temperature began to drop. I planned a long day to take advantage of the better conditions and particularly I wanted to get past Jean Creek, a two mile winding stream that at first, opened into good travel and then turned into dangerous hellish travel. I crossed the 2 mile long Burnside Lake without much problem, just a lot of work. The snow was thawed right to the ice now on the lakes and if it froze without snow I would have the perfect travel conditions I have been waiting for. This snow also thawed it to considerable depth in the forest and a freeze without snow would make the portages relatively easy.

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Got up in the dark at 3 AM. It was warm all night, lows around 20. I slept about seven hours, not enough for my tired body, but I slept warm and snug. I made a quick exit. I had thermoses filled the night before. I broke camp by headlight. With in a half an hour after awaking I was hauling. It didn’t really thaw much the day before and what thawed didn’t freeze up all the way. It wasn’t easy going, but at least I was hauling with one load. At first I navigated by the stars. I drank a glass of limewater on breaks every 200 yards. Shortly after I had a quick breakfast of granola and hot milky tea. Venus rose in the twilight, there were some clouds. When the sun rose the conditions got worse. I hauled 100 yards, stopping before I got too wet. It was tiring work this early in the morning without a good breakfast. The conditions got worse and worse. Snow clumped to my skis and at what must have been around 10 o’clock the canoe was impossible to haul. I skied a half a mile with a 60 pound pack and went back to try the canoe again and I couldn’t budge it. So I took out my foam pad and sleeping bag, stretching it out on the shadow side of the canoe. I rested and slept for three hours.

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It remained clear last night, no wind, about -20. I slept cold again due to my moist clothing. Slept until the sun hit the tent and then slept off and on in the warmer situation. I figured it was going to thaw today and that this would make for a bad day of hauling. The top layer of the snow thaws, and when skis or canoe slide over this it breaks through to the powder snow under the micro crust and the powder then freezes or clumps up on skis, snowshoes, and canoe. Since the first day is usually not a good travel day and I figured that into the daily activity, which was mostly drudgery.

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It cleared off in the middle of the night and the temperature dropped. I slept warm and cozy at first and then the last half of the night I slept cold again. I have a double big system that is supposed to be good down to -30, but despite the overinflated rating I have been sleeping cold overnight and this is unusual. I usually sleep warm. I think the dampness of my clothing has a lot to do with it. I never overheat to a sweat while dogsledding but the exhaustion of this trip has been the hallmark of the days. {audio}podcasts/2014_Solo_Canoe_Haul/20140328_WillStegerDispatch.mp3{/audio}

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It cleared off in the middle of the night and the temperature dropped. I slept warm and cozy at first and then the last half of the night I slept cold again. I have a double big system that is supposed to be good down to -30, but despite the overinflated rating I have been sleeping cold overnight and this is unusual. I usually sleep warm. I think the dampness of my clothing has a lot to do with it. I never overheat to a sweat while dogsledding but the exhaustion of this trip has been the hallmark of the days.

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