10 July 2009

BW Trip Day 5 - Picture Rock & back to Insula

Halfway day...

Not a good night's sleep last night. Apparently, there was a big hump of sand I didn't notice when we set up the tents. It ended up being right under my upper back/torso. Lying on my back, it was a good chest opener, like lying over a bolster in yoga class. Trying to sleep with my head tilted back is not good though.

Trying to sleep on my side isn't much better. I tried scooting down so that my head was on the mound but that required too muchb bunching up. It was just a rest-less night.

The wind kicked up again in the nite. I could hear waves hitting the shore and tent parts flapping.

Early...5am or so...Reggie (it had to be Reggie, the little imp) sat on a log outside the tent and chattered/swore something awful. It woke me up and I laid there for a while but didn't go back to sleep.

I got up at 5:30 (64 degrees). Mark was already up, making a fire and had water on the boil. I made a cup of cocoa and watched the moon over the far side of the lake. It's just past full by a day or two.

You have to get up really early in the morning to see a sunrise here... I haven't exactly been viewing a lot of stars at night either. The mosquitos generally drive us to tents before dark and I try really hard to not have to leave again before morning.

We had planned to leave camp after breakfast, go to picture rock without gear then back to camp for lunch, load up and head back to Insula Lake.

However, there is such a wicked wind on the lake and small whitecaps that the thought of fighting that twice did not appeal. We decided to break camp, load the boats, battle the wind, dump the gear at a camp on the other side of the lake, go to picture rock then back to where we dumped the gear for lunch before heading on to Insula. It's less paddling since we would cross the lake 2 times fewer and only have to fight the wind once.

I'm SO glad we did it that way. It was a wicked, wicked wind. I told Luis that now was the time for his power stroke. He supplied it but it was still a struggle. When we got to the point where we needed to turn, we were paddling like mad and standing still. I told Luis we needed more power and he dug in more. We made it! I told him he did a great job. He really did.

We dropped the gear, made the 2 portages (20 and 70 rods) to Fishdance Lake and the picture rock cliff.

(example of one of the petroglyphs on Picture Rock...the reddish vertical marks near center...no idea what it means) I'm kind of dubious about the "ancient Indian petroglyph" thing. Yes, they look Indian-y and they're faded but I have a hard time believing that any sort of pigment could survive the elements on an exposed rock face like this for any length of time.

On the second (shorter) portage back to Alice, Mark decided to run the rapids. He made it...almost. He got hung up on a rock at the very bottom. He carried the boat back over the portage and ran it again. This time he walked back without the boat and ran the other canoe through.

We got back in the boats and headed to our lunch spot, fighting headwind the whole way. Luckily, it wasn't far but it doesn't bode well for the rest of the day.

So far today, we've seen only 2 other people...a guy on a rock on the point as we paddled across the lake this morning and a guy in a solo canoe at the picture rock portage. On Insula, we saw tons of people. We're headed back there now.

For lunch, we had beef jerky, trail mix, and granola bars. The French toast bread's gone moldy.

As we paddle along, Luis sings songs in Spanish (and English). Conversation bounces around between Eastern/Western philosophy, "Avatar" plots and outdoorsy questions. He's never without a load of ideas. He was brainstorming ideas for a modern remake of "The Odyssey" on the Boundary Waters with high schoolers. Between the wind noise and the level of concentration it took to keep the boat on course in the wind, I only heard about a quarter of what he was saying so I didn't contribute much to the brainstorming. Paddling with him is an eclectic experience.

On the water after lunch, I swear no matter which direction we turn, it's into the wind. Padding was brutal all afternoon.

We stopped at a campsite on Insula Lake. I would have liked to get farther but both Mark and I were wiped and it was just as far as we were going to get. It had been a real struggle to get there.

We set up camp. I washed my hair and face. I found that my travel clock had blown it's programming again...I think maybe the battery's dying.

I found a tick on me...dog tick, not deer tick. I wrapped it in a piece of toilet paper and threw it in the fire...blood sucking little critter.

This campsite is the most civilized of the ones we've had. Someone left a stack of cut firewood...real firewood, not just twigs and rotten pieces. They left it covered with plastic and several sheet of newspaper from Duluth dated around mid-June. There are 'amenities' like a nice flat table rock, pretty level well-groomed tent spots and not too many mosquitos. Kara and Storm pronounced the latrine acceptable...pretty full but a not-scary trail and a decent location.

We have a pair of seagulls that perch on a rock off shore and fish in the shallow water near camp. We named them 'Charles' (as in Lindburgh) and 'Amelia' (as in Earhart) (pic left is Mark coming back to camp with a fish and Amelia...or maybe it's Charles...perched on the rock)

Supper was 'chicken goop' and grilled cheese sandwiches. We tend to call the one-pot stew/casserole things "goop" because they have that texture. The sandwiches were supposed to be a lunch thing but we haven't exactly stuck to the menus.

Mark went fishing after supper and caught a pike almost immediately. We didn't measure it but it was bigger around than he could grasp with one hand and certainly longer than a foot...maybe 18 inches.

My back is really bothering me. Paddling in the wind is a killer. I took ibuprofen earlier but it's not helping yet. Luis wanted to trade lessons in tai chi for yoga but I'm just not up to it right now.

We stood out on the rocks around the point to watch the sunset. It wasn't spectacular but it was serene. (top left pic is sunset through the trees, bottom left is sunset over the islands to the west)

Kara and Storm want to set an alarm to see the sunrise. This has been our only east-facing campsite so far. I set my travel alarm for them but who knows if it will work. It keeps blowing its brain.

9:30 to bed (70 degrees).

At 11:47 (64 degrees) I woke up and heard it blowing a gale outside. Then I heard what sounded like our canoes blowing away. Then I realized it was Mark moving them and battening things down as it started to sprinkle. I threw on my rain gear and went out to help. We drug all the small stuff from up front by the fire grate back to a more secure location. It wasn't raining much, just sprinkling yet, but the way it was blowing, I was expecting a downpour at any moment.

We got back into tents and I lay there trying to remember what the trees we'd set up under were like...if there were any big dead limbs above us. I hadn't paid any attention, just set up in the spot where a tent goes. So I just hoped for the best.

In all the excitement and coming fully awake, I realized I had to make a trip up the trail and wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep until I did. I put on my rain jacket (it wasn't raining, just cold) and took care of that. By 12:20 it was all over. No more rain, the wind calmed to a gentle breeze whispering in the pine tops and I went back to sleep.