The Pig, the Hump, the Grind, call it what you will, it is a beast. Stretching on for 1320 meters and uphill both ways, this stretch of interior that runs between Artist Lake and Three Narrows in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park is a rock laden ankle-twister. We had the not so pleasurable pleasure of completing this exercise in masochism both coming and going. The first time we hiked it, the ground was fairly dry, the air temperature was comfortable and it was sunny. It still sucked.
You may recall that Fraser and I disagreed as to whether we could claim to have portaged this portage if there was no canoe present. I’m here to tell you that the point is moot. I promised all within earshot that I would carry a boat up and over that monster when pigs could fly… and maybe not even then. Because I will never truly portage the Pig, I don’t have the credentials to weigh in on the matter. I do however want to express my deepest respect for all who have battled the beast for real and won.
As I watched the worst portage ever get smaller in my rear-view, I was sure that would be the last I’d see of it for, well for forever I hoped. I was all too wrong. When we later came to a washed out river crossing and had to make the painful decision to turn around, it didn’t even occur to me that meant having to do battle again. This time however, the portage was running angry. We’d get a second crueller kick at the can.
The first time we climbed its rocky stairs, it was the worst. The second time we climbed it, it was the WORST. After days of rain, the narrowed corridor ran like a river. The ankle deep water poured down the incline and we were herded straight up the middle by its impossibly deep bathtub sides. With no escape to higher ground and unable to avoid a total soaker, we could only give in and trudge along beaten by the Grind…in the rain, in the cold and already defeated from our failed hike. This is however, something that every Ontario tripper must attempt at least once in their career in order to check it off the list. You can’t call yourself serious and avoid this one. At the best of times, this portage was awful. At the worst of times, this was the worst portage EVER.