Caleb was a true professional; he not only carried my 17’ Souris River Quetico Canoe (44lbs), but also my paddle, my life jacket, and my Crazy Creek Canoe Chair. He passed me on the trail; I had more than an hour head start. Did I mention I am totally out of shape (Hence, the name Corndog)? But never let a little thing like 325lbs ever stop you from chasing your dreams and hiking into the wilderness. Even if your kids would rather not go, strike out on your own like I did, back to the trip report.
The weather was pleasant; the wind had started to pick up on the lake, but was unnoticeable on the trail or at the portage site which is heavily protected by dense cover and a large formidable mosquito army led by the black fly commandos. Deet is your friend, use it liberally, and they won’t bother you much, unless you are like me, sweating profusely, and breathing with my mouth open (my kids call me a mouth-breather). I choked on mosquitoes and large black flies that were sucked in as I wheezed along the trail carrying my pack that must have weighted over 50 lbs.
I had it all, I was ready to be stuck in the woods for a week, I told Caleb my goal was 2 nights, but secretly, one night was a lofty goal for my inexperience. I was scared…….. I had just read “Lost in the Wild,” and kept telling myself don’t get lost!
I paddled to the first canoe campsite that sits below a granite wall and was so nice, and close, and I was tired and didn’t want to get too far away from the portage point.
When I arrived at this wonderful site, I started to unpack my backpack. I had brought along a hammock, a rain fly and mosquito net combo pack from Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (ENO). Eventually it worked like a dream; I was suspended off the ground and slept like a baby free from bugs and unaffected by the light rainfall that came through around 1 AM.
By the way I use large industrial sized straps and a Double Eagle’s Nest Hammock build for two, but it fits me comfortably. The only trouble I had with setting up my campsite was getting the hammock put up. Did I mention the hardest thing about a hammock is getting in and out of it to go pee (three times). My first attempt at mounting the hammock landed me on the ground inside my mosquito net, damn! The next attempt was perfect, but I was too far off the ground and couldn’t get out easily, I twisted, contorted my body and eventually fell to the ground like I did during the mounting session. I repositioned the straps on the tree so that my feet would reach the ground, but so did my butt. After several more attempts I got the height just right, and was now able to get out of the hammock with only minor injuries to my groin (pulled a muscle) and to my right knee (I landed on it). Did I mention I weigh 325lbs? Despite my injuries and the difficulty of getting in and out, a hammock beats lying on the ground; I’ll never go back to a tent.
My evening meal was beef jerky and granola bars, I brought things to cook, but it was really windy and I was being lazy and my groin and knee still hurt. It took me so long to get the hammock up that I decided to just eat my snacks, yummy. Also, the blue berries are in season and I picked several mouthfuls before I realized I had been crushing them in my soft plump hands which were now Smurf colored purple from the berry juice.
There is one more challenge that every XXXL camper needs to know: find the pit latrine before you need it in an emergency. Taking a number two into a cat-hole is easy, the wiping is a challenge. Heck, when I am at home it’s a challenge when I’m sitting on a regulation size toilet, but squatting down and attempting a reach around is damn near impossible. Needless to say, it was not a pretty sight and it required a quick swim to wash off my backside and 3 handfuls of Purell hand sanitizer to finish the job. Next time bring plastic gloves. No wonder plus sizes stay home. Not me, “The bigger the challenge the greater the reward.” Author unknown. That’s how I live my life. Go big or stay home....
Those are the highlights of my trip, I packed up at 5:30AM and paddled back to the portage, fell out of the canoe and soggedly dragged myself back to my car where I stripped in the parking lot and put on dry clothes. Did I mention I really smelled bad, and must have looked like a Jenny Craig escapee, with my naked loose skin flapping in the wind? Did I mention I also walked around my campsite naked, until a mosquito bit me on the butt? I was not trying to recreate a scene from survivor; I was on my way from my cat hole to the lake to correct my earlier wiping fiasco.
Oh yeah, I forgot, to tell you I attempted to fish, caught 2 small minnow looking things and gave up. Opting instead to pick the berries, which lead to the cat-hole that resulted in the naked walking, the washing of my backside in the lake, and culminating in using 3 handfuls of hand sanitizer. That about sums up my trip, I hope you enjoyed reading my report. I highly recommend Angleworm Lake canoe trips, just be careful where you step at the first canoe campground. :)-
This next part was added 10 days after the trip report was first posted.
Every Story has a hero and I am not the guy! The real hero of this story was briefly mentioned the professional guide. His name is Caleb, a young, lean and mean portage machine.
With A 44lb canoe, paddle and chair, Caleb moved like the wind along the portage scaling over trees that blocked the trail and sloshing through the deep mud that sucked at his hiking boots, while battling the skeeters and black flies. Deet sticks to him, he doesn't even sweat. He didn't breath through his mouth! Besides if he did, I bet he swallowed those skeeters and black flies like some sort of BWCA trail mix. But his true act of professionalism was yet to come.
After he passed me on trail, (at what looked like a dead run, (compared to my slothy trail crawl), he dropped his hat at the 3-way intersection of the Angleworm, to blaze a trail for me. Little did he know I had been on this same trail 10 days earlier, scouting the portage and I already knew the way. Yet, his good deeds did not stop there. At the portage site, he sat and visited with me as I caught my breath; I believe he was taking my vital signs.
He then shared with me several guide secrets of the Northland, which I cannot repeat here, and gave me an extra citronella candle, as if to say, "Take this light and go into the wilderness and find your spirit animal, he will give you the answers you are looking for." Those weren't his words, but I could read his mind, I was dizzy, and I can read minds when I am dizzy. (Also when I am drunk).
At the end of my journey, he ventured back into the wilderness and retrieved the gear, and for that I sincerely thank him.
So Ode to Caleb, Guide extraordinaire, for without him I would have never been able to complete my journey. Let us sing his praise around the campfires of the boundary waters and name our future sons in his honor.
Final Note: (really)
There will be some skeptics out there that will want to doubt the legitimacy of this story. Those that doubt that have the voracity, ferreting skills and a good nose, may sniff out the truth. However, I swear on all that is holy that this is a true story. Cross my heart and hope to die. (Well not die, but get sick, not too sick, but just a little woozy that quickly passes).