First solo: Bower Trout to Ram
The first real day of the trip. The plan was to get to Brule Lake today, but I was also willing to just see how the travel would be. I didn't get out of the tent until 6:30am and then decided to make a campfire. I made a big blueberry-apple pancake and fried SPAM breakfast. Got all done eating and realized I had forgotten to use the maple syrup! Guess my mind was elsewhere.
This is a trip of transitions and reflections. Tomorrow I am turning 56, which is the same age as my mother when she died. I don't know many people who can avoid comparing their parents' deaths with their own eventual demise. I know my husband went through that when he reached the age his father had died of heart issues. He became anxious about his own health and had the docs run loads of tests. Now with me reaching the age of my mother's death, and my father nearing his own death, it is a time of change in life, death, and all I hold dear. I am also thinking about how my son is launching out into the world and will be off to college in a year. He has such poise and confidence, but still so much to learn.
Back to the trip. I left the campsite about 8:30 and completed the 91 rod portage to Marshall. Some small hills and a bit rocky, but a straight forward portage. No one at the campsite on Marshall. Turns out this will be the case all day... no one camped or paddling on any of the lakes I pass through. The next 4 portages were all around 30 rods plus or minus. They were all very buggy, rocky, and muddy, but no deep mud. I wore my head net the whole morning. The lakes are more like wide spots in a narrow winding stream, and I love this type of area.
I saw a bald eagle and a mommy merganser teaching 3 little ones how to dive. It was adorable. Mama and babies would all dive underwater in perfect unison and pop up altogether 20-30 seconds later. Lots of flowers blooming this time of year: blue flag iris, twin flower, wild rose, thimbleberry, bunchberry, and more which I need to look up. Tons of frogs calling and leaping about near portage entrances.
I ate a floating lunch on Swan Lake to refuel before the 281 rod portage. I had tortillas, salami, and asiago cheese. I tucked the Bit o' Honey, fruit leather, and almonds into my shirt pocket as nibbles for the long portage. This portage was long, but had some of the better footing for the day, and was not as buggy. I was able to double portage the whole way to Vernon Lake, but I was pretty exhausted. So I told myself, if a campsite was open on Vernon I should take it and wait to reach Brule tomorrow. Turned out to be a great decision! Beautiful campsite right by a spring fed stream. Once I saw the rocky portage to Brule the next day, I knew I was smart to stop when I was so tired.
How can so many solo paddlers say they don't get very hungry? I was famished by the time I made camp mid afternoon! This ended up being the case for the whole trip.
This was the first day I set up my new CCS tarp. I hadn't even had time to get it set up at home due to caring for my dad. I took my time, cut the lines, and decided what I thought would be my favorite way to set it up. I loved it! So many great choices for tie off points. This is a really well designed product.
This campsite had a perfect swimming spot and the added fun of the stream outflow. Because it is spring fed, it was particularly icy water and the current made it fun to float around in my life jacket. Very refreshing! The day had been cloudy, but really hot and humid. Nice steady breeze from the south kept the bugs at bay and made quick work of drying my freshly rinsed trail clothes. The stream outflow was popular with a loon as well. One hung out diving for fish all evening.
My 1st frustration tonight was figuring out the best way to set up my new water filter. I really hadn't given it much thought before the trip, but after some frustrating losses of water due to an unstable set up, I finally figured out what would work. Used the alcohol stove to cook up some Pad Thai ramen and hot cocoa. I was very disappointed to find out one of the storage bottles for the alcohol now leaks...ugh! Fortunately, I had also bagged both bottles so I was able to rescue most of the spilled fuel.
I nicknamed this campsite Wind Tunnel because the south breeze made lighting anything very difficult (but kept the bugs away).
The only people I saw all day, paddled by my campsite about 4:30 on their way to Brule. I am guessing they were the people who had today's Bower Trout entry permit. Headed to bed early to read and write and better organize my gear.
~Bower Trout Lake, Marshall Lake, Dugout Lake, Skidway Lake, Swan Lake, Vernon Lake
Portages: 91 rod, 30 rod, 33 rod, 36 rod, 31 rod, 281 rod
Miles: 8 (I report map miles, I do not include my back and forth distance on portages)