Newbie No More
by fitgers1

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/12/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Baker Lake (EP 39)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Part 2 of 2
Took some pictures and decided to head back to Kelly Lake. Tom and Julie had a #3 pack and some other items left on Burnt so we picked them up and portaged the items back for them. We met up with them again when we were about 2/3’s of the way back to Kelly. They said thanks for the help and seemed relieved they didn’t have to finish the trip to Burnt and back again. Tom said he’d take the pack but I told him not to worry. I wasn’t carrying anything else that day so I would take it the rest of the way. We had a good 5 minute or so conversation with them as we finished the portage. They told us they loved Jack Lake and stayed there two nights. Sawbill and the lakes in that area were a madhouse of canoes and they were glad to be back on to Kelly. Back at camp we were able to make the dinner we missed out on the night before. Rib eye steaks, fresh ‘shrooms, onions and peppers. We had way too much but ate it all. Delicious! Shortly after dinner there was a light rain for about a half hour. The sky cleared and we were able to watch the sun set over the hills to the west. Kelly retired to the tent and I stayed outside for a bit. I took a swig of peppermint schnapps. I made a toast to AMOK, took another swig and tipped a sip for him. I entered the tent. Some time was then spent in the tent playing rummy and war. I lost. I always lose at war. I have to figure out how to stack the deck in my favor.

Day Three. Time to make like a voyageur and voyage a bit! After another fine breakfast we loaded up and headed north. It was a couple miles to the north end of Kelly Lake. The northern half is narrow and filled with lily pads and weeds. It was here that we encountered our first people of the day. Two separate groups, close together were heading out. In the bow of the first boat was an old gentleman. Looked to be in his late seventies or more and he was paddling with the best of them. We exchanged a few words and bid them a safe trip. He told us they were on North Temperance to see the Laurentian Divide. Nice. Very nice, I thought. He’s been paddling many decades I’m sure. I hope he makes it back. A man in the second boat told us they had stopped on Jack Lake and were catching smallies on the north side of the point with the campsite next to a big downed tree in the water. We thanked him for the info and paddled on. The site at the very north end of Kelly was not very impressive. It is opposite the river from the portage to Jack. We beached, loaded up and headed for Jack Lake. Not a long portage, 60 rods or so I believe but enough to remind me that I want to buy a much lighter boat. The oversized beer can is pretty bomb-proof but getting heavy in my middle-age. A leisurely float to the north end of Jack proved what a pretty lake it is. Some islands, points and little bays. Not a deep lake by the map I had but neither were Peterson and Kelly. As we paddled we looked for any sign of the mine I had heard of. We saw nothing. We fished “the spot” with no luck. We found the portage to Weird Lake and hiked over. The waterway between Jack and Weird is very scenic. I told Kelly it looked as if a Hamm’s Beer commercial could have been filmed there. We fished a while in a couple pools in the river and ate a snack. I think we were there about an hour. Very relaxing. As we were leaving the portage to go back into Jack, I found a pair of clip on lenses. They looked like the old kind of clip-on sunglasses but they were clear and had a prescription to them. I put them in my pocket. This entire trip we had been searching the shorelines for wildlife. We hadn’t seen a thing yet. We then stopped at the high campsite on the point on Jack. There was a beautiful view from this site. There was a small sitting log area looking to the north end of Jack and the kitchen area was large with a view of the south end of Jack. The tent pad also viewed the south end of the lake with the two islands a short distance away. The large kitchen was too large. You could have a 2 keg kegger party there and still have room for people. Bring a lot of line to put up your tarp at this site. With a south wind, you also might get blown away. We shoved off from this site and paddled a hundred yards or so to the island. There we stopped for lunch and watched two bald eagles as they watched us. It was hot out with few clouds in the sky. I thought about how much more enjoyable this weather was compared to the wind and rain I encountered on Polly in June. It was just beautiful out there. Kelly was having a great time as well. I could tell she was really enjoying this. She even said so numerous times. After a photo op with the eagles it was time to head back to camp. Unknowing to Kelly, I raised a paddle in honor of a lost comrade. We approached the portage back to Kelly and saw a man walking around looking at the dirt. We watched him for a few minutes as we approached. What’s this guy doing? Does he have an ax and a chainsaw? Are we meeting our maker today? 20 feet or so from the shore we notice about 6 more guys walk out of the woods. Turns out they had just walked to the old mine. Oh! That’s where it is! Sweet! We chit chat a while and they walk back to the Kelly side of the portage. We check out the mine and begin our portage as well. It turned out that what the guy was doing while looking at the ground as we approached was this…he was writing with his foot in the dirt. “Silver Mine” and an arrow pointing to the mine trail. Back at camp we make a pretty tasty dinner. It was warm out, the sky was blue and it was early. Just how early we didn’t know. Neither of us brought a watch. The only radio station we could pick up well was KQDS. I think that radio station was on automatic all weekend. They never told the time until Monday morning. A few times we were able to hold the radio in a certain position with one arm this way and the other arm that way while standing on one leg on the highest beach rock in order to pick up the Grand Marais station. We were able to get the time a couple instances like this. It was a little running joke over the weekend – KQDS not ever telling the time. I can hardly wait to go back in closer to Ely so we can listen to WELY. Mouse! He was back. She didn’t even flinch.

So after dinner, Kelly is in the hammock admiring the pristine beauty of Kelly Lake and I finish the dishes. My water bottle is empty so I tell her I am going to fill it for my evening drink and then I will join her on the porch. I walked around a few cedar trees and down to the canoe. I lean down, pick up my filter and look south. What the heck is that I wonder? I stand and look harder. Looks like a big tree trunk that wasn’t there before. It’s brown, standing several feet above the water, yet it is in the water. It’s a little fatter in the middle than the top and the bottom. MOOSE!!!!! I rub my eyes a bit and now she is very clear. A big cow. A big cow standing about 40 yards away staring at us! She looked like a tree trunk as I was looking at her head on. I set down the filter and take a few steps toward Kelly. In a low, excited whisper I say “Kelly, slowly get out of the hammock, go back and get your camera and don’t say anything. There’s a moose right over there!” “Really!?” Wow! As she gets her camera, I whisper to her to turn off the radio. We stand on the shore and watch her in all her majestic glory. The moose put on a nice show for us. She walked around for several minutes in knee deep water. Then she went deeper. She kept swinging her head around as if to get something off of her back. I looked through my binoculars and could see hundreds of flies flying all over her back, neck and head. We snapped pictures and video as she went deeper and swam a short circle with only her head sticking out of the water. When she stopped swimming she began splashing in the water. Jumping up, sinking down and jumping up again. Cooling off or getting rid of flies? I don’t know for sure. She walked back to shallower water and walked around a bit. Then she turned to the woods, jumped over a big downed limbless tree and crashed through the trees as she walked away. It was amazing listening to the branches crack for another minute as she walked around out of view. Then it was quiet. The show was over. 20 – 30 minutes of it and we wanted more. We were just stoked with excitement and amazement. How flippin’ cool was that?! update 4/10/12 - 1/2 the report is