Captain Morgan
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/21/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Morgan Lake (EP 45)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2
Day 2 of 9
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We arrived early at the EP. Fortunately one of the 3 parking spaces was available. It was cloudy and the air was still quite crisp as we began our long journey. The trail starts out on a very nice boardwalk. There are several gentle up & downs along the way. The only really challenging climb was at about the 2/3 mark where the trail crosses a small brook running out of a beaver pond. (The climb here is not nearly so bad heading the other way.) Then a long gradual descent to the lakeshore. All in all I'd say a difficulty of about 8?

While coming across, muscles in my lower back began spasming a little. It didn't feel like anything too serious & was not a severe pain, but it did tire me out much quicker. I told Vickie to go on ahead, I'd catch up. So I wound up taking a few "poses" along the way. I finally arrived at the lakeshore perhaps 15 minutes behind her? Vickie was very excited & came running up the trail to meet me. A bull moose had come out maybe 150 yards from the landing on the north shore and proceeded to swim across the lake towards where she presumed the portage into Carl lake was. She couldn't believe how loud it was when the bull shook off the excess water before moving on. I was happy she got to witness this spectacle. I surmised some good came out of my back aching. If I had come down first with the canoe screeching & scratching on all the branches overhanging the trail, perhaps he wouldn't have come out?

Morgan lake is actually quite nice & we contemplated why it did not have at least one campsite. The weather was now becoming more temperate. Coupled with the sweat we worked up on the portage we began to shed a few layers before paddling across Morgan as it looked as if the sun may indeed soon poke its head out. Soon, the Black Pearl set sail towards Jake. With its unknown adventures on these waters about to unfold.

We startled a few ducks as we pulled up. They flew off voicing their displeasure. Do ducks curse.....? The portage into Jake starts out a little muddy. Otherwise this is about as nice a trail as you would hope to find. Almost completely flat with pine duff & leaves covering much of the path. A shallow, mostly sandy landing awaits on the Jake side.

Wind was not a factor on this day & we made quick work of Jake. The next portage was shorter, but had a rather rocky landing. Also some climbing would be involved, though nothing too serious. The landing on the Vista end was very mucky. In fact, there was a small extension to the trail to avoid the worst of it. I didn't see how to walk the canoe across this extension as there were large branches overhanging that were impossible to avoid. So I sludged through calf deep muck along the shoreline. Didn't want to find out how deep it went further out.

We had made pretty good time getting to Vista. I told Vickie to keep an eye out for firewood as we paddled along. Once we got camp set up we could come back & pick it up if there was none in camp. The southern most site was our hopeful home for the day. Way across the lake we could see the northern most site was already occupied. As the Pearl rounded the large peninsula on the NE end of the lake & started veering south our hearts sunk just a bit. It quickly became evident that both of the other 2 sites were occupied as well. Time to put plan B into effect. Flip flopping our itenerary we had no choice but to head for Horseshoe & try to get a site there thus keeping our daytrip plans intact. We surmised we could camp on Vista the last night of our voyage on our way out.

Vista - Horseshoe portage wasn't all that long & the only climbing mandated was that of getting in & out of your vessel. But man for rocks! At both landings & all along the trail. The outlet of the creek on the Horseshoe end was kinda pretty though.
By this time the sun had officially announced its presence and a beautiful fall day was in progress.

As we slowly drifted north around the last bend before the first campsite we noticed something floating in the water.
Appeared to be a northern flicker? It didn't look like it had been there too long. Perhaps a hawk had taken it down? We must have frightened the predator away? As no one was coming forth to claim the fruits of their labor.

The southern most site soon can within eyeshot. 2 fellas were sitting on a log out from the site. They told us they were just eating their lunch & we could have the site. We told them we'd check out some of the other spots first. Much to our chagrin we came back awhile later with hat in hand. All the other sites had been claimed. Not that this site was uninhabitable. Just blew me away. First Vista was full & now Horseshoe had this many people on it this late in the year. I always like coming late in the year to these popular areas as normally there are far fewer people. Not the case here. As even several others paddled by later after we claimed the site. Think Grand Central Station. Ah well? Things could always be worse?

The only real drawback of this site was the fact that there was no really nice flat spot for a tent.
Having gathered up some wood soon we had a fire going. We let 'er burn down a bit as we finished setting up camp. The Horseshoe lake welcoming committee was there to greet us. A triumphverant of whiskey jacks were ready & a waitin' for us to dig out the goodies.
The flames having subsided I set about grilling our chipolte marinated pork chops. I used some tinfoil as the I don't really care for the forest service firegrates. The spacing is too wide (especially on the ends) thus risking a high liklihood that smaller cuts of meat could potentially fall through. No such problems here though.
The chops sure turned out juicy & tasty. There is just something special about eating fresh meat out in the wilderness. Obviously it's much easier to do when it's a bit cooler. After dinner I finished splittin' up some firewood then relaxed with some Jimmy Beam mixed in my camelback. Vickie brought Baileys to mix in with her coffee. We sat & watched the night sky as the clouds began to roll in.
Tomorrow the sea would likely be angry? AARRRRRRRGH! Morgan Lake, Jake Lake, Vista Lake, Horseshoe Lake