Grinding northward up the slab, one begins to wish for a nice, cushy saddle rather than the narrow plank on the DRZ and DR. All three of us Suzuki riders have Seat Concepts seats, and they make the ride manageable. It's still not cushy by any means, and there's a lot of squirming and peg-standing going on after a few hours. First you sit on one cheek for a while, then the other. Lean forward, lean back, stand up. Adam's doing better. While it's no feather bed, a KLR seat is at least tolerable on the slab, and the rugged New Brunswicker apparently has a posterior made of highly classified Canadian armor plating. From what I see, he regularly pushes long miles on the Kaw.
It's a relief to finally pull off onto gravel again. Just north of Daniels Harbour, we pull of onto a series of roads that parallel the 430. It's good riding, despite pot-holes that would qualify for yachting clubs in lesser country. Some of the pot-holes are easily 20 meters long, and appear to be spring-fed. By the time we locate a camp site, we all have wet feet and pants. Rich is suffering. He's packed jeans and hiking boots, while the rest of us have waterproof pants and high riding boots. His boots are theoretically waterproof, but that doesn't stop the flow in from the top. One puddle shoots water straight into my helmet, and it's dripping down my back. Arrgh! The Scottish mountaineers I know would call this "full conditions."
I've been pissed off at Anton all afternoon because of a comment he didn't intend and I likely took the wrong way. We ride together frequently, and I consider him my closest friend. However, a group ride is a little like marriage -- an enterprise I've failed at twice. We've got to clear the air, or this whole business could go down the pan. We bitch at one another for a few minutes, shake hands, and suddenly everything's better. I'm still not going to bunk with the Russkie sum-bich, however.
Anton and Adam scour the landscape for firewood. Adam has a very cool manual chain-saw from Princess Auto; Anton a good Fiskars hatchet and a Coleman folding saw, which I borrow. Soon we have a large blaze going. Next time, I'm bringing my saw, however. The Coleman product looks good, but the blade is made of old tin cans or freighter hull or something, and cuts like a sofa cushion. It's neither sharp nor properly set.
Rich cooks some truly wretched ramen soup, and offers to share. Sucker that I am, I spoon some noodles into my pot.
It's bad. I choke down three forkfuls, and leave the rest in the middle of the road for the Canada Jays. The "gorbies" are a bold, bright bird. I've often had them land on my hand and snatch a cookie in the woods. Lumberman's legend holds that each jay has the soul of an old lumberjack, and one can't scold them, even if they snatch food from your hand. We amuse ourselves by breaking granola bars into pieces and watching the jays scamper for them.