Day 1 of 5
Sunday, June 21, 2009 Having taken a slow 3 day trip up from Indiana we would enter Lake One from the Kawishiwi Lodge early Sunday morning. Waking up at 4:45 we took our time eating breakfast and getting ready to hit the lake. However as we speed the process along we would forget small but important things that it would not take us long to realize had been forgotten once we hit the water, I will save the big one as a “surprise” for the end.
[paragraph break] Once the canoe was loaded we set off a little after 6 in the morning, the mosquitoes were already terrible and we were killing them constantly while paddling Lake One. The morning is picture perfect however with water as calm as glass, and no one else on the water. We make good time to the first of the portages, but not before I remember that I forgot my sunglasses in the car, and the bright morning sun will not let me forget it. When we land on the portage we are instantly greeted by a swarm of mosquitoes like I have never seen before, this pushes us over the portage quickly, but the swarm follows us to the second portage, and I give in and use bug spray which I hardly ever do. Once we hit Lake Two we see the first group of the day going the other way, we were impressed at how quickly these people must have broken camp that morning as it was still hardly 7:00. The rest of the number chain is easy sailing and we only see a few groups in the other direction. The day begins to get warmer by the time we hit the series of portages from Lake 4 to Hudson, and while I want to take my long sleeve shirt off I don’t, but the mosquitoes aren’t as bad on these portages.
As we leave Hudson we hope that it will be the last time that we see anyone else for the next 5 days, until we return to Hudson. We have paddled the Wilder creek before, but not in this direction, that fact makes it tough when we come upon what seems to be a fork in the creek that is not on the map (in fact on other maps the creek is displayed but on our newer map it is only marked as a swamp, this creek goes to Zitka Lake) We make the right choice and follow the larger creek which is the real creek. After a few more twists we get lead to a new beaver dam which had not been there two years before, however it is mostly under water and is not too hard to push over. The portage to North Wilder is again a mass of mosquitoes which seems large enough to suck every drop of blood out of us if we were to give them a chance. The portage is the toughest one of the trip, 45 rods, a little overgrown, and a few patches of swamp. This time the rush to escape the swarm will be to our disadvantage as I attempt to push the canoe further into the water it looses balance and one of our packs is dumped, we quickly recover it, and after an exchange of pleasantries we are on our way. We eat a much needed lunch on North Wilder, and continue on our way to South Wilder. The creek to South Wilder is even narrower than the previous creek, and the twists and turns are tighter, making for a slow paddle. We reach the first beaver dam on this creek, and it is about 1.5 feet high, pulling over is easier than expected, but still a bit difficult as the water and muck is very deep on either side of the dam. The sun comes out again while we paddle down the creek and this keeps the mosquitoes to a minimum on the portage into South Wilder. The portage is flat and pretty easy except for the creek crossing, and the rocky path between the Pow Wow and South Wilder. Once on South Wilder we paddle along to the first of the two sites, this site is dark, overgrown, with no good tent pad, and broken down benches, hopefully we don’t have to camp here. The other site on the lake is much nicer, with a rocky peninsula, the largest benches I have ever seen, decent tent pads, and lots of wood in the site; it seems as if maybe 1 or 2 groups had been here before us this year.
We make camp and get all the needed chores done, the wind has picked up, and we don’t think tomorrow morning will work out for fishing. Besides it might be hard to wake up as one of the only items badly damaged when the pack slid into the water was the alarm clock used to wake up for fishing. Dinner is steak, peas, and potatoes, it goes off without a hitch, and we button down expecting a storm to hit overnight.
Day 2 of 5
Monday, June 22, 2009 Phil and I both wake up at about 8:00 with the sound of nearby thunder, and lots of rain, it is an easy choice to stay in the tent, and wait it out. At about 10 we get up, with a clearing in the storm, and debate weather we should try and start a fire to do bacon and hash browns as planned, or to do oatmeal and save the bacon for tomorrow, before we get anything started the wind shifts and it begins pouring again, and we hurry up to get everything under the tarp, and get ourselves back in the tent. Finally at nearly 3 in the afternoon the storm clears, and the sun comes out, and this time it is for good, we get out of the tent and begin to dry things off in the sun, and since we are both very hungry by now we quickly start a fire up for bacon and hash browns. The weather gets better the whole time, and after eating at 4 we decide to fish. On one of the very first casts a fish chases the lure to the surface only to dive once it saw us. While out fishing the clouds disappear and the wind dies off we come back in at 7:30 and only make the main dish to eat since we had just eaten “breakfast”. Freeze dried Chili Mac takes very little time to prepare and clean up from and by the time we are done eating and cleaning up the mosquitoes are out in full force so we retreat again to the tent. We come out of the tent at about 10 and it takes time to get a fire going with a lot of the wood still being damp, however once going we are happy to have it. While looking at the stars we discover our sites other inhabitant a painted turtle. At about 11 we can see flashes off to the South, and while we hope it is just our campfire flaring up we know it is really lightning. When the lightning gets close enough to be heard we go into the tent and try to sleep which it tough after sleeping on and off in the tent all morning.
Day 3 of 5
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 The Storm never hit us as hard as we expected, and we wake up at 4:00 without an alarm, at the very first crack of light, and head out fishing. It is so early even the mosquitoes aren’t so bad. On the lake the fog gets thicker the entire time until you can barely see 10ft in any direction, before it gets too bad we see a beaver going across the lake and slap its tail before diving. Eventually after 4 hours and combing almost the entire lake without as much as a nibble we head back into camp. We make our breakfast of oatmeal, and after everything is set we finish drying everything out.
At about 11 we decide to try our planned day hike to Pose Lake. We start at the eastern end of the lake looking for any landing with access to the trail however after finding no easy entries to the trail we settle on a rock ledge we had noticed fishing that morning that was directly across from our campsite. This part of the trail is very rough, we struggle over the terrain and when it takes us 20 min just to cover the half mile to the end of South Wilder we realize that the 5 mile round trip to Pose will simply take too long, and we head back to camp. Today is another very hot day, and I finally take my long sleeve shirt off, which would later lead to a nice sunburn. For the rest of the afternoon we fish and explore the lake more. I try to climb to the top of a large rock by the portage which I had seen on the way in, the rock got the better of me and I only made it about halfway up. We also look at the small creek into Pioneer lake, and decide not to try a bushwhack. When we come back to camp we discover another turtle, this time a large snapper. Just like yesterday the wind has calmed and after we eat tonight’s dinner of Beef stew, and corn we head back out fishing determined to catch something. After several more hours of disappointment we head back to camp at about 9:30 and start tonight’s fire. We watch the skittish painted turtle, and the large snapper both dig holes in the dirt while it gets dark out. Once it is dark we can clearly see a nasty storm off to the East and while there is not a cloud in the sky where we are there is near constant lightning off to the east. Throughout the night we watch this storm move from south to north in the eastern sky. At about 12:30 we start to see flashes to the south, and at 1 we call it a night, and head into the tent, there will be no fishing at 4:00 tomorrow.
Day 4 of 5
Day 5 of 5
Thursday, June 25, 2009 On the last day the alarm doesn’t go off, but we still wake up at about 5:30. Breakfast is quick this morning, oatmeal again, we take down everything in camp quickly, making good time. It will be hard to say goodbye to what for the last 5 days has been our own site on our own little lake. The turtles aren’t really out this morning which is nice since they we always near our canoe landing. By 8:00 we have everything packed and the canoe loaded, we are now on the water. The bugs on the first portage out are horrible, taking the portage this early in the morning is tough however we take it quickly and make it to the creek. The creek is nice and peaceful early in the morning, and when we hit the beaver dam it was a little annoying that it was just as hard to go down it as it was to go over it. Once on North Wilder the wind begins to pick up some more, and we see two seagulls on the lake possibly descendants of the one we had seen nesting on the lake two years earlier. The sun makes the portage from North Wilder much easier by keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Paddling the combined 5-6 miles up the two creeks takes longer than expected however the serenity of the creek makes up for that. When we hit the mouth of the creek at Hudson Lake we instantly see the first group of people for 5 days. While on these portages we see several interesting groups pass us, including two that were two person carrying their canoes over the portages. Once we finished the last portage and were on the shores of Lake Four we eat a quick lunch. We are headed directly into the wind for the entire trip across Lakes 4,3,and 2. The portages into Lake One are much nicer without the mosquitoes, and once on Lake One we make good time arriving at the landing at the lodge at about 2. Once back at the lodge we unload the canoe and waste no time checking our car and then asking the lodge about the most important of the items we had left in the bunkhouse before leaving: my fathers’ wedding ring. While they found the blanket we had left they did not find the ring, and it is no where in our car either. The only conclusion could be that some scumbag who used the bunkhouse after us took it for keeps. After our investigation into the whereabouts of the ring we load the car up, and take a shower at the lodge. We hit Ely a little before 5 and eat at the boathouse, and then leave town for my uncles and then the next day for home.