Solo Rejuvenation
by bumabu

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/03/2008
Entry & Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 1
Day 3 of 8
Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sawbill Lake, 13 rods, Kelso River and Lake, Lujenda Lake, 460 rods, Zenith Lake, 90 Rods, Duck Lake, 3Rods, Hug Lake, 80 Rods, Mesaba Lake, 20 Rods, Chaser Lake, 7 Rods, Pond, 130 Rods, Dent Lake.

I awake on the fifth day of June, 2008 at 07:00 on the dot. I need to pee, my bald head is cold, and many miles of wilderness are waiting to be explored. I hastily break my wet camp and get over to the office to check my gear out and pick up last minute items. The forecast is rain everyday so I pick up 250 feet of light rope in hopes of fashioning a makeshift cot on Malberg to sleep on for a few days as I have chosen not to bring a tent. I always try to leave an item behind just to test my ability to do without. This trip it is the tent. I am traveling with two tarps, a tent footprint from my 3 man tent, and a bug net. I also pick up a compass, as I forgot mine at home, and a light stocking cap and light pair of gloves to make sure my head and hands stay warm in the cool and wet days to come.

By 09:00 I am coasting north on Sawbill lake enjoying my first experience in a true solo canoe. It feels weird only having one seat. I guess when you solo in a tandem canoe you can at least pretend someone else is with you and talk to the other seat! The Wenonah Prism I rented from Sawbill Outfitters has a modified setup. They move the seat back twenty two inches and permanently mount the portage yoke in the center of the canoe so as to make portage transitions easier. I had heard about this before and was a little worried about achieving optimal trim in the canoe while traveling open water. I spoke with Bill Hansen and he assured me that it would be fine and that they have very few complaints. My pack is smaller than the usual so I manage to cram it all the way to the front of the boat while in the water and it seems to be trimmed pretty well from what I can tell so far. The main difference I notice is that it seems as if it has more drag than with two people loaded down in a tandem. Note to self: eat less cheeseburgers this year!

Kelso river and Lujenda lake are beautiful and I am sensing that I am in for one incredible voyage. By 11:20 I am coasting into the landing at the south end of the Zenith portage; 460 rods of canoe country bliss. I entered in Angleworm last year so this portage doesn’t worry me; nothing could be as bad as Angleworm was, I am lucky to be alive to tell you about Angleworm. I manage to single portage the first quarter of this 460 rod monster and then I revert to the leap frog method the rest of the way. The southern half of this portage is not too bad: it’s no picnic but it is very manageable. The northern half on the other hand is one heck of a stair machine! Up, down, up, down, uuuuuuuuuuup, dooooooown to Zenith. Two hours flat and I have made it to Zenith lake unscathed and ready for more after a snack break. I take the route up to Mesaba lake and then west to Dent lake and grab the east shore campsite at about 17:30 because I’m beat, rain is coming, and I’m hungry again.

This campsite is nothing special but it is home for now. I am amazed at the incredible amount of moose sign right in camp; a good indicator that it is early in the season and that this is not an extremely popular route. I setup my tarp on a piece of high ground where there will be no water flowing over me but I notice that the ground here is really just thick moss and loam on top of bedrock and is soaked like a huge sponge. Good thing I threw in the footprint at the last minute last night as it will serve as a moisture barrier between my sleeping pad and the sponge tonight. I get a good fire going and enjoy grilled brats by the fire. I would have had steak as usual, but I built my solo menu around a kitchen with no plate; it is all finger food or out of the pot on this trip. The brats are great and I find myself enjoying the comfort of the warm and dry fire under my Mountain Hardwear Stingray14 kitchen tarp which is no longer in production. At 23:00 I finally turn in after waking up next to a dying fire.

****photo of shelter this night would not load, but is in portfolio****