Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Molly's Folly or the Best Laid Plans of Moose and Mollies
by missmolly

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/04/2017
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 17
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I planned to paddle and fish for 23 days, but a family crisis yanked me home. I planned to explore new logging roads to reach new lakes, but I was smacked upside the head by sucking clay and trees.
So, I planned new lakes and 23 days of fishing for multiple species. However, the best laid plans of moose and Mollies often go awry. Crossing the border into Quebec via Maine was easy peasy. The guard asked me if all my gear was for paddling, fishing, and camping. I said, "Yep," and she waved me into Canada.

Eastern Ontario was more agricultural than I expected. I was told that Mennonites bought vast tracks, sold the lumber, cleared the stumps and roots, and farmed away. I stopped at a chip stand because when in Rome.

I saw two moose on the shoulders and crossed lots of swift rivers. The trout lakes I'd hoped to fish had a trail closed sign on them. I was tempted to ignore it, but pressed on. In Thunder Bay, I saw a tall, strong woman hitchhiking. I gave her a lift to Kenora, Ontario, atop Lake of the Woods. She was on her way to Vancouver. I just had an essay published called "Red Checks" about wearing a red checkered shirt on my first trip into the bush and she was also wearing a red checkered shirt. I felt like I gave a lift to myself.

My first lake was right beside the trans-Canada highway down a power line trail. Weirdly, it only held small fish. I moseyed down a nearby four mile logging cut. It wasn't as wet as it can get and was a fairly easy ride. I fished a skinny lake with steep banks, which was lovely, but didn't like paddling back to my SUV to sleep in the rear, so I switched to a tent and stuck with that. I fished a couple other lakes on the way out and then drove to a lake a little farther north.

Going down that logging road was violent at times. I lost my passenger side rear view mirror and dented that same side twice. Hundreds of scratches too. I later learned that the Canadian Army was using the trail and their vehicles had chewed on it like a rawhide stick. I reached the lake, but immediately worried about getting out if it rained, so I left the next morning via a different route, hoping it would be easier, but got bogged in sucking clay up to my thighs. I failed to dig myself out and my come along was locked in place, so I walked four miles to the asphalt road. I saw a hundreds of tracks and scat piles, mostly bear and wolf and then I saw one of the biggest bears of my life. That made me happy. He was so huge and glossy and healthy and I was glad to see at least one wild critter was thriving. I reached the highway smeared with clay and the first truck stopped for me. She took me to Kenora where I talked to a rescue crew. They were retrieving a semi that had gone into a river, so I waited all day.

They had a Kubota that wasn't road legal, but great for off-road with an electric winch with a pully and locking rear and front axles. Even it got stuck on the way in and the driver kept saying, "No way in fooking Hell you came down this road!"

I kept pointing out my trail markers and he'd say, "You got a pair, girl!"

The Kubota couldn't pull my SUV free until they tied it to a tree and the tow hook in the front got stuck on a rock on the way out, which necessitated pulling that rock out of the Earth. I added two more dents to the Nissan Xterra Pro4X and spent the night in a motel, licking my paws and washing my britches again and again in the shower, as we came out as the Sun was setting.

Smacked down by clay, I went to a familiar lake, fought the wind that was the common denominator at all the lakes, and caught fat bass. On this lake, I saw the only person I'd see on water, a trapper checking his trap line cabin. One night I was camped on a knoll of an island and a storm was brewing, so I moved my camp to the flat shoreline at dusk. One morning, I thought a big beaver was swimming in front of my canoe as they often do. It was hard to see because I was paddling into the rising sun with mucho glare, but when it exited the water, I was delighted to see it was a bear. I also saw a giant rabbit in one lake, struggling to climb ashore. It looked at me, hopped a few times, and looked at me again, as if I were to follow it, but I'm no Alice. I also had a critter on that same like keep moving my supplies. It tried to chew into my one pound of pecans, so I left a pile of them for whatever it was when I left.

I visited a couple other lakes and was frustrated by the wind, but it sure helped me sleep at night. I was too tuckered to worry about critters. I was also frustrated by my fish photos. I thought I'd photograph all my fish against a tape, but many were blurred for whatever reason.

A medical family emergency pulled me out of the bush early and I then drove from dawn until midnight to get home and spent the next 22 days in a hospital, the first 11 nights sleeping bedside in an I.C.U. So strange to go from the quiet, beautiful wilderness to the noise and bustle of a hospital.