This is a story told by the haunting spirits lost on the Missinaibi River: The group this year is stronger than we expected. They have been able to get past the challenges we have put in front of them. When they first arrived they seemed like the groups we had seen in the past. They were weak in the first portage, struggling to even get a single bag across without gasping for each breath. We thought we would have them beat in no time. If we were not able to make it down the Missinaibi, we definitely weren’t going to let a group of inexperienced students make it through without putting up the fight of their lives. It didn’t take long to realize we were mistaken when thinking this would be easy. The lake caused frustrations yes, but instead of the waves we forced upon them causing screams, we still heard laughter each night. In the past we have found an individual that seems weaker than the rest and used what we had to put the group against them but this year that individual could not be found. As the days quickly went by we realized that they were growing much stronger, and the forests we see as our home were now seen as the same for them. Was it possible that we were being too nice in these previous weeks? The rapids and long days would not be enough to break the spirits like they had in the past? We hear them joking about “a week from hell,” but wait until they see what we have in store. 75 degrees in sunny, you enjoyed that didn’t you? Won’t be having fun in the when its 50 degrees and gloomy. Nine miles a day too easy? How about 18 that should tire them out. 600 meter portage turned into a walk in the park, make it 1500, we’ll see who’s singing then. Our plan might be working, we can see it in their eyes they are longing for their tent each night. How much more can they take before this group actually breaks? No way they can make it to Mattice. The last day is here from this “week of hell” and man do I have to say, through all of the miles and bumps on the path we never thought they’d make it to the end. We’ve seen strong in the past but never like this, they are making our canoe breakers seem like a slide in the park. These final days will work them no doubt about that, but we’re starting to think they may actually have what it takes to beat the river that we could not.