Part 1 of 6
I got to Ely about 2-2:30 and went to Cliff Wolds to check in. Got the bunkhouse key from Ryan, and talked to him for awhile. He graciously offered to drop the canoe at the EP that night so I could just head there right away and not wait for him to open. Then I went down to Spirit of the North to see if they had the map I wanted, and they did. Drove down and scouted the EP and then went back to town and checked out Zups new location. Love the bigger parking lot. Finally, I went to the bunkhouse, ate, and re-checked my pack, then went to sleep.
Part 2 of 6
I arrived at the EP around 6:30. The weather was cloudy, and very muggy, with an off and on sprinkle. I think I knew before I left home that there was no way I was going to single portage anything, despite my overconfident feeling in a post about that in June, I believe. Remembering my adventure last year with dehydration, I had plenty of fresh water in squeeze bottles. I grabbed the canoe that Ryan had left, hoisted it up and started down the trail. Not a bad one, though the long bridge was interesting. About 6 or 7 muddy spots that were easily avoided. I encountered a grouse, who thought it was funny to launch about 10 feet from me and darn near made me drop the canoe. After about 15 or 20 minutes I made it to the lake. When I got back to the parking lot (I should add that the parking lot had about 7 vehicles in it, along with 2 that had trailers on them) I unloaded some stuff from the pack that I thought I could do without, strapped it on, and took off. This was different than the canoe, which was very easy. Now, I had been training for this, 2 months of hiking with the pack with about 30 or so pounds of gear in it. This portage kicked my butt. Every time I would stop to rest, my glasses fogged up, sometimes even on the trail they would fog up. By the time I got to the canoe I was drenched. The landing was muddy, not too bad, and I loaded up and headed out through the marsh. I saw a beaver poke up ahead of me, and then parallel me for a bit underwater. He popped up again, then did a dive with a healthy slap of its tail, giving me a bit of a splash. It started to sprinkle a bit when I got out to the main lake. I passed the first 2 campsites, the one on the right being occupied. I continued up to the narrows, passed another site which looked occupied, and headed towards the Hula portage. I never got there, since the rain picked up a bit. By now, I was in no mood for rain, so I turned around and headed to site opposite of the one I passed earlier. It has a nice little landing on the side of the point. Got the pack out, and hauled it up to a dry patch until the rain stopped. It was about 10:30 when I was able to set the tent up. I didn't like the look of the sky, so I figured on staying the night. Between breaks in the weather I made some lunch and explored the area. Did a little fishing from shore, caught a couple of hammer handles, ate some dinner, and decided to call it a day.
Part 3 of 6
It rained overnight, pretty hard at times since it woke me up. Made some breakfast, and after that I had a cup of tea and did some thinking. I could push on, hoping that the rain would hold off until I got to Good and found a site. The crowded parking lot was on my mind, since most of the vehicles were there the night before I went in, and Wood didn't look all that populated. Or I could stay here, which I really did not want to do, but I don't like paddling and portaging in the rain. I should say that the entire trip there was little to no wind, so the lake was very calm, easy paddling. In the end, the weather decided for me. It started to sprinkle a bit, so I stashed my food vault and my garbage vault in their places, gathered up my stove, and headed for the tent. As soon as it let up a bit, I grabbed my tarp and my paracord and went to set that up. I figured that if I was going to stay, I would need a place to cook out of the elements. There was a good spot a little ways back that had a stump with a flat rock on it to sit. So I got to work. I have never set a tarp up before, and since I never even mastered a square knot in scouts, I had practiced on learning two knots--the bowline and the taut line hitch. Surprisingly, it went very well. Got the line up, put the tarp up by running a loop of the rope through the grommets, and securing it with small pieces of wood. Just a simple lean-to set up. It wasn't quite high enough to keep the tarp off of my head, so I rigged up another line, raised the first one up higher, and attached the tarp to the second line. Staked the bottom so I had a nice angle for the rain to run off of. I had to fine tune it when it rained again, since it was catching water between the two lines, but after that I had no problems. By the time I finished that, the sky didn't look too bad, so I went fishing/touring. I caught a nice 2 or 3 pound northern right off my site, continued into the west bay where there some people at that site. I just continued on, following the shore, sometimes fishing, sometimes not. I got up into the narrows, and caught two eater-size walleyes. I had to decide if I was going to eat them or return them. I knew that there was very little wood that wasn't wet or rotted at the site, and given the unpredictability of the weather, my odds of cooking were rather slim. So I tossed them back. On cue, it started to sprinkle again. Put on my rain jacket, and went on back. I figured it was going to a rainy trip, so I had brought a book with, and spent most of the day reading, and when I could going out fishing.
Part 4 of 6
Rain overnight, and rain in the morning. Ate breakfast without getting too wet, but I did have to go get the food and garbage containers. I keep all my food in a BV 500, and the garbage goes in a BV 450. I thne stash them in opposite directions, about 100 or so paces from my camp. I can get about 15 or 16 dehydrated food packs in the 500. Couple of things about those. I noticed that most brands serving sizes were for 2 people. If I eat an entire one, it keeps me going until late afternoon, then the dinner keeps me full until I wake up. Another thing is the amount of water to add to these. I usually will put less water in. Two cups of water, for instance, I equals 1 3/4 cups for me. Open up after 4 or 5 minutes, take a look, stir, and if you think it needs more, add more. This reduces the amount of soup you have in the bottom. Also, the Cajun style Jambalaya is fantastic. Some of the curry's are too, some not so much. Anyway, I waited for the rain to leave, then went out to see if I could some pics of the swans. I followed them into the bay on the east by my site, and into the reeds. I didn't get too close, since I didn't want to stress them out (they did have cygnets, after all) but I did manage some pics. Headed back to camp to drop off the camera, looked at the sky, and decided to make a trip to Good Lake. Got to the Hula portage, and of course it was kinda muddy, but pretty easy. Hula was pretty shallow, almost marshy, but easy paddling. I arrived at the Good Lake portage and decided to just hike it. I am glad I didn't come here on Monday, since I don't think I would have tried it. Pretty lake though. I tried to see the campsite opposite the portage, but couldn't tell if it occupied. The portage was muddy and rocky. The Good end was kind a sketchy landing, while the Hula end was good. Got back to camp around 2 or 3, but not before getting caught in another cloudburst. Had the rain jacket with me, so I didn't get soaked, but I was beginning to think that the rain was becoming a bit of an overkill. Made some dinner and sat under the tarp reading and listening for weather updates. Started to get dark, so I decided to call it a day.
Part 5 of 6
My loon alarm clock went off at sunrise, as usual, but instead of going back to sleep, I got myself up. I was glad I did. First off, the skies were pretty clear for a change, and secondly, I got a beautiful sunrise. I really enjoyed that, and the blue skies held hope for a good day. Fixed myself something eat, and while I was waiting for that, I sat down on the rocky area in front of my site, and just looked over the lake, and listened to every thing waking up. I heard the water start to boil, and as I got up I looked to my left, and caught an eagle surveying the lake. Tried to get a better shot, but he took off for greener pastures. I had seen eagles almost every day, but this was the closest I had gotten to one. Must be a sign that it was going to be a good day. And it was-for the most part. Not wanting to waste it, I grabbed my pole and my rain jacket, and went out fishing. I had decided not bring bait in with me, instead relying on artificials, but I caught some grasshoppers and some slugs that liked my bear vaults. Went out in front of the site and tossed a hopper in with no weight, just floating on the surface. Took about ten minutes and a smally came up a took it. Caught another, lost a couple of hoppers, and switched to the slugs. Never used them before, so I put a bobber on, about 5 foot deep, and waited. Got action almost right away, bluegills this time. Eventually, I ran out of bait, and decided to paddle around for a while. It turned out to be a nice morning, actually got hot, hot enough that I went for a swim after I got back to camp. Around 1 or 2, the clouds started to roll in, so I went and grabbed my vaults to put under the tarp. Around dinner time, it really looked bad. Dark clouds, really dark clouds moved in. Soon, I could hear thunder, and the wind picked up fast. I hightailed it to the tent just as lightening started to flash. Didn't really get a lot of rain, but the lightshow was pretty good. During a break, I went back out and stashed my containers in their spots, took a look around and went back to the tent. I read a little bit while listening to the weather reports, and called it a night.
Part 6 of 6
Didn't hear the loons this morning, but got up around sunrise anyway. I had a lot to do, and wanted to get going. Sunrise was pretty, but that wasn't what got my attention. I noticed a disturbance on the water, and after watching for a minute or two, I saw two heads pop up, then a third. Otters ! Even though they were a ways out, I grabbed the camera and tried to get some pictures. They disappeared after a bit, and I went on getting ready to leave. About 8:30 or so I got into the canoe, and headed out. As usual, easy paddling as there was no wind. That was another constant, along with the on and off showers. Got to the portage to the parking lot around 9:15 or so and started to unload. I had been thinking about this for a while, and decided to take some of weightier items out of the pack first. Took my tent, sleeping bag and a couple of other things that I could carry, tied them together, and strung them around the back of neck. Not too uncomfortable, so I hoisted the canoe up, and started out. Not as easy as the first time, but not too bad. Put the canoe in the grass, took off the yoke, and put what I had in the truck. I also took a big gulp of water. Went back down, grabbed the pack and took off. It was lighter, so I didn't have much in the way of problems. Met a party of 4 young ladies on their way down, and during one of my rest stops, 2 guys coming from Basswood on their way out. Got to the top and chatted with them for a bit, stowed my gear in the cab, since what else--it looked like rain ! Went into town, returned the yoke and paddle, talked to Ryan a bit and went next door to the gas station to fuel up and get some food. Got on the road and headed home, with a couple of good storms on the way.
Well, I didn't make it to Hoist Bay. Does this mean this trip was a failure ? I don't think it was. I didn't get to where I wanted, true, but I did have a good time, and I learned some more things about myself and how I do these trips. Definitely going to watch what I pack. I already have pulled out several items that will no longer go with me. I will pack my canoe pack, and a smaller pack, so I can carry the small one with the canoe on portages. So double portaging from now on. I need to work on my tarp set-up more, so I don't have to rely on the lean-to set-up. I guess old age is catching up to me, and I do have a problem with that. I have always been in good shape, and not being able to do the stuff that, in my mind, I should be able to do is frustrating. But I can deal with that. All in all, I did have an enjoyable time. It would have been better without the rain, but that is the chance you take. I had fun, saw some wildlife, caught some fish, and learned some things. Learning never gets old.