June Cross Bay-Frost River-Gillis Loop
I was up at a reasonable hour; my alarm-dog rarely lets me sleep in too much. Back to the bug shelter for a couple cups of coffee and my standard get-going breakfasts of oatmeal, crushed walnuts, dried cherries, a little dried milk and a little bit of butter. After breakfast and clean up, it was time venture up the little path into the dark woods - a task I was dreading given the mosquitoes. Amazingly, my dog who nearly always wants to follow me everywhere decides he is very content to lay in the dirt under the bug net until I return.
Camp is packed up and I’m on the water about 9:30 with the first portage barely 5 minutes away. The sun is coming out and a bit of a west wind is coming up as I cross Rib Lake. At the south end portage I pull into the gentle landing area, step out and start unloading. With my two Duluth packs and food barrel ashore, I reach for my camera bag and get a shooting pain in my lower back. I have no idea why - it was neither an odd angle lift nor even a moderately heavy bag. I’ve never had back trouble of any kind what so ever, so I am surprised, puzzled, and bit spooked by this. The pain settles down and I spend the next 15 minutes or so stretching and wondering what would happen the next time I tried to lift my camera bag, or any of the much heavier bags, or the canoe. It even crossed my mind whether I should continue forward, go back to the last camp, or what. Well, no one was going to carry my bags for me, so I decided to go forward, but very slowly. Normally at a portage I carry one Duluth pack on my back, a smaller one on my front, and my camera bag over my shoulder, then a second carry with my canoe and food barrel. This time, however, I did my first quintuple portage - carrying each bag and the canoe over one at a time. The dog looked at me with disappointment and confusion. The back was still a bit sensitive, but did not flair up again, so onward I go to Lower George and Karl lakes.
Both to avoid the now stronger winds and one 35 rod portage, I chose to paddle around the big central peninsula toward the river. Hugging the shore of the peninsula I waved to a couple campers at the southwest site - these were the only people I had seen all day, and the last people I would see for about 5 days until I got to Mora.
I went down the passage to Gordon and over to the portage to Unload. The portage was buggy and had some very mucky sections - I have to say I was very glad to get through it, and yet more glad to see I could paddle directly into Frost by pulling over one beaver dam.
Though I increasingly find myself worrying about being able to find a site, perhaps from years of experience or perhaps from reading too many frightful stories on BWCA.com, I paddled into the wind on Frost and found the lake was all mine. I passed up the first two site and took the third, middle site which gave some shelter from the wind. It had a nice sandy beach, a decent fire area and tent pads, and a big wide open area with lots of down wood. It was one of the few sites I’ve seen in the BWCA where its easy to find a supply of quality firewood so close to the site.
Even with the wind, the tarp and bug net go up and I do another boil in bag dinner on my stove, then hit the sack pretty early.