My first Solo - 8 Days In and a Rather Tough Exit
I woke up later than I should, but it was raining lightly and I didn't want to start out with everything wet. My 15 year old REI Half Dome 4 was still bug-proof and the water-proofing and seam sealer that I had applied a few weeks earlier made it once again water tight. I broke camp, packed up and waited for the rain to clear. I got my permit and my rental canoe from Sawbill Outfitters and got my stuff loaded in the car and headed for Kawishiwi Lake. By the time I got to Kawishiwi and had everything ready to hit the water, it was 2:00 PM!! Now, I was way behind schedule and there was no way I was going to get to Malberg or even Koma until early evening. I paddled through Kawishiwi and up the river to Square Lake while I considered my options. The weather was great and it took me about 10 seconds to get comfortable with the Prism and paddling with a yak paddle.
By the time I got to Square Lake it was evident that I wouldn't even be getting to Polly any time soon, and I was concerned that I might get to Polly so late that finding a campsite would be difficult, so I checked my maps and saw that there were a couple campsites on the south end of Square. Nearly the entire area surrounding the lake was in early burn recovery mode, but the campsite I found (1015) was in a little area that wasn't burned. It was an OK site for just my one tent and for one night, and I had the lake all to myself. I set up camp and did some exploring, eventually heading to Baskatong Lake. The portage to Baskatong was little used and a bit overgrown, and the lake itself was completely surrounded by burn area. It was a pretty desolate landscape and made me glad that I had a campsite that wasn't in the burn area.
I headed back to camp and got a small fire going - just enough for me to cook the brats that I'd brought in for the the first dinner. I ate early and was glad that I had camp already set up when it started to rain. It was a light rain but it was enough to get everything wet. I always prepare for rain so I had everything buttoned up as well as I could and stayed completely dry. I sat around doing not much of anything until it was time to hit the hay.
This was my first test to see if the heebie-jeebies would pay a visit (the night at Sawbill didn't count since there were plenty of people around). Sometime in the middle of the night I awoke to an unusual noise - it was a couple wolves howling not too far off in the distance. Then, there was a third howl, much closer to my camp and it sounded different than the first two howls - it was higher pitched and I suspect from a younger wolf. My reaction was "how cool!" No heebie-jeebies; not even a heebie. This would be unchanged for the rest of the trip. I had passed the first big test of my first solo.