11 July 2009

BW Trip Day 6 - Insula Lake to Lake Four

The alarm had been set for 4am so Kara and Storm could see the sunrise. It went off (wonder of wonders!). After the midnight adventures last night, I just shut it off and went back to sleep.
Closer to 5, Mark asked Kara for her camera. She sleepily handed it to him through a gap in the tent door, peeked out and said, "Ok, I saw it." then burrowed down in her bag to go back to sleep. (pic left is sunrise over the islands to the east of camp)

I put on my rain gear for warmth and went out to take a look. There's an island right where the sun was coming up so I couldn't actually see the sun. I took a few pictures and went back to bed.

I woke again around 6:30 (59 degrees), changed clothes and got up. It's mostly cloudy, chilly and only slightly breezy.

Somehow, in the midnight scramble last night, I seem to have sprained an ankle. I can walk on it but it's swollen and feels like I did something to it. Mark also had some injuries. In rushing around camp in the dark and barefoot (we both were) he managed to take a couple chunks out of the sole of a foot and is quite tender-footed today. The two should make portages interesting...

On the upside, my back feels much better. If the wind stays more or less calm, hopefuly we won't have to paddle like we did yesterday.

I wanted to start hot water for tea and breakfast but the storm last night blew our water bucket over. We'll have to paddle out and get water first.

It doesn't sound like anyone else is stirring. the smapsite across the way is inactive. I hear lots of loon calls. There's another bird that sounds for all the world like a toy train but I think maybe it's some sort of jay. 3 or 4 crows are harrassing some bigger bird over the island to the east but I don't recognize it's call. There are lots of chirpy little birds and some seagulls. The wind is whispering in the tree tops. The occasional wave laps gently at the base of the rock I'm sitting on. That's it for sounds. Morning on the Boundary Waters!

We got on the water around 9:30 and that whispering wind had turned into a howling banshee. We fought headwinds, whitecaps and 2-foot swells across Insula Lake. At the beginning of the portage to Hudson Lake, we met a family that had 3 home-made wooden canoes. Talk about works of art! At the end of the portage into Hudson Lake, there an eagle was fishing the little bay. We stopped at a campsite to have lunch of PB&J, mac & cheese, trail mix and whatever else we felt like eating.

With a "once more into the breech, dear friends" we headed out north to Fire Lake. We had planned to spend the night there but the latrine inspectors rated the latrines and sites as too uncivilized. We decided to push on to Lake Four and at least get us closer to where we HAVE to be tomorrow.

We passed up several sites on Lake Four then finally landed at one that faces the full force of the wind. It's a nice site except for the constant struggles with the wind.

We had a little pow-wow and decided that in the morning we need to get up early, break camp and get as far as we can before the wind kicks up again after the overnight calm. We'll see how that goes.

Tomorrow is our last real day of paddling. Our pickup is at 8am on Monday so we have to be at a campsite that's very close to the take-out. The problem is, we expect others to be doing the same thing so we have to get there early or we may have to camp far away and get up really early to meet the shuttle. The west winds are supposed to hold. Tomorrow's not going to be fun.

The kids made supper...bits and pieces of whatever we have left. After supper and dishes we were sitting around the fire ring when Storm chame charging breathless and panicked from the latrine trail because there was an animal of some sort on the trail and it came at him. He didn't know what it was...he thought maybe a badger...he didn't hang around to see.

He was freaked and Kara swore there was no way she'd use that latrine again.She's been worried about bears the whole trip and seeing the bear poop (see pic at left...this bear has been eating LOTS of berries) on the one portage didn't help any. He kept trying to get Kara to go check it out with him but she wouldn't so I told him I'd go with him.

We head down the trail (with him at a safe distance behind me) and when we get to the latrine, he points to where he saw it. We walked a little past the latrine and there was a frenzied rustling in the brush and Storm said, "There it is! That's it!"

I burst out laughing. It was a grouse. We walked back to the group and I was laughing so hard I was crying. Kara and Storm headed back to check it out and were already talking about the story they could tell about it.

After that little interlude, Luis taught me some tai chi. I got a bit of it but being exhausted leaves me a little fuzzy-headed. I figure after several days of me telling him what to do paddling, it's good for him to tell me what to do for a while.

The wind finally died and it's calm at the campsite. Hallelujah! I'm so sick of wind.

It's 9:00 and 66 degrees. We're planning to bug out early tomorrow morning to paddle some before the wind kicks up again.

I think we're all ready to be back. Mark talked about gulping a 20oz soda as soon as we get to Ely. I'll probably go for a shower first but a soda is definitely in my future, too...something cold and carbonated and with caffiene. Storm talked about flushing a toilet, just because he could...going into a restroom, like at a rest area on the interstate, and just flushing all the stalls. Kara wants real shampoo and a hot shower.

We were talking after supper about the little things we'd figured out this week. We were comparing pillow woes and strategies. Kara and I both have inflatable travel pillows which are great for travel but not so good for actual pillows because they're horseshoe shaped. Storm rigged up this conglomeration of shoes, PFD and clothes but said it falls apart at night. Others just use wadded up clothes but they don't hang together either. I said that just last night I'd finally hit on the perfect pillow. I solved the fall-apart problem by putting the stuff inside my polar fleece top and then tying the sleeves and putting the knot on the bottom.

Paddle gloves have been a godsend...both Luis and I have used them this trip.

The water treatment pills are a miracle and peace of mind...the guides at the outfitter said they never bother to treat the water with pills or filter. They just go out to the middle of the lake and dip it up. But I'd rather not take a chance... The real danger is giardia, which is a parasite that you can get where there are beavers in the water. Generally, you can avoid picking it up by not collecting water close to shore where the wave action churns up the cysts off the bottom. If you ingest the cysts, the parasite life cycle will take about 6 weeks for you to show symptoms. That's well after a return home but apparently it's NOT something you ever want to get. That's why we go out to the middle of the lakes to get water. The pills are for killing the bacteria. We're using 2-stage treatment...the first pill is iodine, which takes care of the bacteria; the second pill is something to neutralize the iodine and make the water more palatable. The other alternative is boiling for 20 minutes, which takes a lot of fuel. Or using a water filter that takes out the cysts and bacteria. I brought a filter from home but the group decided to use the pills instead so I left it in the car when we hit the water.

I've used every article of clothing I brought except the long underwear and extra pair of wool socks. I've also not needed anything other article of clothing that I didn't bring so that's just about perfect.

9:15 and 64 degrees, Luis is playing Taps.