Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Solo Trek into Quetico - No Country for Old Men
by Beemer01

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/16/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
Every step needs to be measured. Every step needs to be tested. A single misstep, a twisted ankle and broken limb and it would likely be days, perhaps longer before I would be able to get help. A more serious compound fracture and I'm probably dead. I tested my traction on the wet slippery granite and like the rock climber I once was, advanced slowly up the massive dome of Canadian Shield leaving Isabella Lake with the canoe on my shoulders. Still, I reflected in the drizzling rain, this was easier than a day earlier with 55 MPH driving wind on the big waters of North Bay…..
Day 1 of 7
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day One. Prairie Portage to Burke Lake. Easy day, a morning tow up to Prairie Portage - a nice conversation with the lone lass completing forms and collecting fees and I paddled my wooden solo across Basswood on the calm waters of Bayley Bay. Over the years I've developed a system of GPS, Fischer Maps and a canoe mounted compass to compensate for my dismal navigation skills - the sandy beach showed up precisely where it was supposed to be.

I paddled in turned parallel to the shore and got out - a quick double pass over the Yellow Brick Road Portage and I was at Burke Lake. I grabbed a Five Star campsite on Burke as I sensed that the forecasted afternoon thunder storms might be arriving a bit early. In setting up camp I opened my campstool and found it still covered with the dust of Alaska and Canada's roads from a trip a year earlier. I washed the dust of the Dempster and Dalton off in the clear waters of Burke Lake.

The air grew hot, heavy and still as I fixed my first evening Steak and Hashbrowns over the fire. The birds - earlier singing and flitting about - grew silent as the clouds darkened and the weather closed in. No chance I was going to miss this blow.

I walked down to the lake and pulled my little solo canoe up on shore, flipped it and tied the bow painter off to a handy branch… testing the knot with a tug. The wind started to quicken as I dropped the sides of my tarp, and buttoned up the packs. I walked over to my Hennessey Hammock and double checked the tarp and anchor pegs. The first drops pelted me as I walked over to my waiting campstool under the tarp.

I have never - in nearly 40 years of camping in the Canadian Boreal Forest - seen a rainstorm like this one. Based on nothing but a guess, I'll wager over 4" of rain fell in a six hour period. Wave after wave of rain drenched my little island and whipped my campsite, fortunately the wind wasn't too bad - but that would change. And soon.

Everything got damp as I read my book, smoked my cigar and sipped my Sour Mash. I eventually decided that the rain, rolling thunder and cracking lightning were going to continue all night so I retired to my hammock.