Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The winter trail to Sock Lake
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 02/18/2017
Entry & Exit Point: South Lake (EP 58)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 3
Day 2 of 4
Sunday, February 19, 2017

The piercing howl of nearby wolves wakes us shortly after sunrise. I'm sure they are further away they they sound. At least that's what I tell Vickie. Somehow Vickie's snow bed has caved in a little, so she doesn't get the best night of sleep. Also, it came to my mind last night that I don't recall unpacking the tent poles. Sure enough, they are nowhere to be found in camp; so I hike back to look for them while Aurora sleeps in. This early excursion affords me the opportunity to contemplate a gorgeous sunrise from across the scenic pond. Thankfully, I find our tent poles a short distance from there as well.

Back in camp, Aurora has awoken and we all enjoy a quick oatmeal breakfast washed down with hot chocolate before getting things packed up. Once again the daytime temperature soars into to 40's but, it is overcast today. An unfortunate consequence of the moderate temperature is that the snow has really become heavy and sticky. This coupled with the winding nature of this section of the BRT necessitates that I snowshoe ahead and break trail before we can bring the toboggans ahead. Still, it's such an awesome experience to be in a pristine wilderness setting. And, thankfully, Aurora is still enjoying herself immensely.

After a number of rest stops along the way, we eventually work our way to a significant check point - the Sock Lake cutoff! Several downed large trees just off the trail serve as an ominous foreboding of what's to come. Sure enough, within eyeshot of the Sock Lake sign, a large fallen cedar tree stretches across the trail. There's a fairly obvious detour around it, so I optimistically press on. A short ways further is a jumble of several trees that have fallen on the path, the blue ribbon in the middle leaves no doubt this IS the path. I bushwhack ahead, then pickup the trail as it starts dropping down hill. It's clear for awhile before I encounter another large popple tree across the trail. While this is just one solitary tree but, it is here that reality sets in and the hope of camping on Sock Lake is finally & completely dashed. I dejectedly snowshoe back up the trail to give Vickie & Aurora the news.

While this new revelation is certainly discouraging, we opt to make the best of the situation. The spot just before the first downed cedar tree becomes our tent pad, and we start setting up camp. A neat aspect of this spot is that it affords a pretty decent overlook of South Lake (even North Lake & Canada can be seen) through the leafless trees on the hillside. Also, while the downed trees play the starring role in preventing us from reaching Sock Lake, they also now take center stage as providing an ample source of firewood for the next couple of nights. Busy as we were in getting camp setup, Aurora was kind of neglected for awhile and was kind of acting up a bit. Dim witted as I can occasionally be, it took me awhile to figure out that she just wanted to help. So, as I cut up one of the nearby large popple trees I told her she could load up her little sled with the wood and haul it the short distance to our makeshift fire pit. The proverbial 2 birds (problems solved) with one stone.

Camp goes together reasonably well as we fashion some snow into a table complete with form fitted holders for our water bottles and cookware. We finish off the remainder of the wild rice stew for supper, although we also simultaneously bake some fresh biscuits as well. Aurora enjoys throwing a couple of 'color' packets into the fire as we all enjoy the quiet solitude before turning in.