Going It Alone
My first day started with an alarm going off at 3:00am as the road from Valley City, ND to Ely MN is a 6 hour drive. I pulled away from the house around 3:30 as I had previously packed all my gear the night before. The 6 hours of driving was a piece of cake as the excitement of getting on the water kept me focused. It was 9:30 when I arrived at Piragis Outfitters in Ely to rent my Northwind Solo canoe. As I drove to the entry I couldn’t believe that I would be heading into the wilderness alone, both excited and nervous at the same time. I arrived at Entry #6 at 10:30 and started getting things organized to make the 90 rod portage into Slim. I talked to a guy in the parking lot who was getting his last bit of gear. I find out him and a buddy are just traveling Slim Lake for a day trip. The parking lot also had a ND car which I was hoping is not camped on Hook Lake, my goal destination for the day.
The weather was perfect as I pushed off onto Slim Lake. It was in the mid 70’s, light wind and sunny. As I worked my way up the lake, I see an occupied campsite with tent and tarp. I now know that my site on Hook should be available. As I pass by I wouldn’t know it then, but that would be the last people I would see until my drive out in a few days.
From Slim I portage the 52 rod portage into Rice Lake. I am double portaging this trip as I take my canoe and a 20lb Earth Pak my first trip and then my 40lb Superior One Granite Gear pack on my second trip. The 130 rod portage into Hook was the longest of the trip. Arriving on Hook Lake I make my way to my campsite. It is around 2:00 when I step out of my canoe onto the campsite that would be my home for 2 nights.
The campsite on Hook is an amazing site. There is a large rock ledge that gives you an amazing view of the lake. There is a great area in some tall pines for a tent pad. The site is large and roomy. Some things I didn’t like about the site is all because of previous canoers. I found stumps that had been burned. I found branches and small trees that were cut and thrown in the lake. I found fried fish and grease left on the rock next to a fire grate that was left in ruins. I have read of the negative things people are doing in the boundary waters and I witnessed it first hand at this site. I did my best to fix what I could. I promise I left it way better than how I found it.
The completion of my first day was in the books. I had camp set up. I had filtered water and had something to eat, but mainly I relaxed and took in the wilderness. I sent my wife Nicole a message on my Spot as I crawled into my tent to let her know I was having a great time and everything was going well.