Baker Lake Loop - First Solo
by Camp Cook
It’s Amy’s birthday and I feel like a complete horse’s ass for leaving on a selfish BWCA trip first thing in the morning on what should be her day.
Hit the road a little before 7am; at the Tofte ranger station by noon. Had to watch the BWCA video for the first time in a long time. Tried to call Amy as I was leaving town but the signal failed (tried a couple more times before I put in with no luck). At Sawbill Outfitters 30 minutes later; picked up a Wenonah Prisim then off to Baker Lake. There were a couple guys taking out as I unloaded my gear at the waters edge. Before leaving home, I packed a left-over cheese burger and A few beers for lunch. I was eager to push off and only wanted one of the beers for myself so I gave both of the fellas, who were taking out, an ice cold beer… I overheard one of the two call me his hero; nice guys.
Starting to rain as I write this, we will see if the “Convert Mountain 2” is still sound.
I put in and took off across Baker; a Hooded Merganser stood sentry before the 10 rod to Peterson. He gave me the quack, I gave him the up-nod; my official welcome to the ‘dub. Met a stiff head wind on Kelly and found out the hard way that I did not have the boat trimmed properly. After being blown in to the eastern shore (a light bow caused me to weathervane to the point where I had zero control, no amount of frantic paddling would correct my course), I shifted the load and set sail to the north with much more favorable results. An easy 65 rods into Jack. Just before the portage to Weird I see a cow moose. She’s at a narrowing of the river grazing on aquatic vegetation and seems to care less that I am trying to pass. I approached slowly, as far to the opposite shore as I could get which wasn’t too far, probably 25 yards. She finally, reluctantly, sauntered back in to the bush and left me to my travels.
The fellas whom I met at Baker said that the site on Weird wasn’t bad. I stopped for lunch and thought that I might make camp but the sun was simply too high in the sky to stop now so I pushed off for South Temperance. This is when it hit me that I was finally soloing; I didn’t have to try to convince my trip mates to move on, there was no guilt for pushing people harder than they wanted to be pushed, I simply made the decision to keep trucking and did it… it was a truly liberating feeling.
80 rods from Weird to “Unnamed Widening of the River” were no sweat. Pulled over the biggest beaver dam that I have seen up here, probably 2.5 – 3 foot drop.
Hit the 240 to S. Temperance in no time and met a father heading south with his 3 sons. They had been fishing on the north side of Brule in a rented Bell Northshore; Pops said that the boat was very hard to control when lightly loaded but quite responsive carrying 4 grown men and 600 pounds of gear. I learned that fishing was slow and that these guys were headed to the site on weird for the night… I am so glad that I decided to move on; now they would have the site that they were hoping for.
The 240 was flat and easy but long and I’m double portaging so it’s long x 3. Met a father son tandem on the trail on my last trip over; the father gave me crap for not waiting for them to land on the north end to help carry their gear over, we shared a laugh.
Grabbed the south site and it’s a gem! The main camp/fire grate is elevated, aprox 20 feet up from the lake… A good breeze, a great view.
Set up the tent; physically not feeling too hot. I know that I need to eat, my body needs fuel but the thought of food makes my stomach turn. I choke down a couple handfuls of peanuts and a liter of water. Body feeling better, mind still not right. I’m thinking about my bride and feeling like a Richard for leaving her on her birthday. I know that she is excited for me, she fully supported my taking this trip, but I still feel like a donkey.
I broke out the Makers Mark and poured myself an attitude adjuster. Found moose plums in the middle of camp… big spruce down across the latrine trail, had to bushwack to the thunder box.
The wind picked up and blew in a front… looks like they are really getting nailed to the south but I’m thinking that it will just glance us. Then:
-A few sprinkles
-A break in the clouds along the western horizon; yielding to the rays of the setting sun.
-A light show the likes of which I have never seen
-A truly remarkable sunset
-A Cliff Bar dinner
-A camp fire
-A red sky tonight; sailors delight
Baker, Peterson, Kelly, Jack, Weird, Temperance River, S. Temperance