Angle to Key West: The Great Dog Portage (9/23)


End of Great Dog Portage, Dog Lake – September 23, 2013

Rolling, dragging, pressing into the forest. Over fallen trees. Through branches. Under trunks. Cutting away. Flashing steel teeth. Moving forward. Moving up. Breathing heavy into the night. A headlamp glowing. Clouds of breath like steam pouring from a train engine, curling in the air, swirling in the darkness. Stopping seven hundred feet short of the road. Staring at a massive blowdown. Out of water. Exhausted. Too tired to go on.

I slept there last night, right on the portage in the shadow a fallen tree, its branches tangled across the trail. Two bags of frozen chili Rose had given me were the only water I had left. I ate them slow and dreamed of Dog Lake waiting so close ahead.

I sawed through the tree in the morning light, cutting away branches, hauling them to the side, cutting away more, digging a tunnel through the deadfall. I reached the road a few minutes later. An easy half-mile down a well worn path took me the rest of the way. The trees broke apart and I stared out at all that beautiful, flat water, miles of it, stretching into the distance.

I drank and drank and drank until my stomach hurt. I didn’t think to move. I just let the afternoon slip away and lay on the cobblestones in the sun until the colored sky nudged me up to collect stacks of driftwood, to light a fire, to sleep under a big starry sky on a beach that has been camped on for a thousand years.

4 thoughts on “Angle to Key West: The Great Dog Portage (9/23)

  1. I am exhausted just reading and thinking about it! Bless your tired body. You have been through the worst of it. Power on and may much of the water be flowing with you and sometimes gently.

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