Monday, September 18, 2006

More Fun Things

Just a quick word about the Famine Lake fire before moving on to something more fun. On Saturday we woke up to overcast skies, cooler temperatures and higher humidity. There was some rain Saturday night. Sunday brought more rain and clearing skies that afternoon. The wind shifted to the northwest. Today we have cooler temperatures and overcast skies. In the early afternoon it started a gentle rain which has continued off and on. Also yesterday the Forest Service flew in several crews to deal with the fire. The upshot is that things are pretty well under control unless something really unexpectedly happens. So, make your plans to come visit us on the Trail.

Now let's spend a little time talking about the last of our canoe trip. As with any trip in the wilderness, we had lots of animal encounters and all of them were fun.

One of the most unexpected occurred at the base of one of our waterfalls. I looked just 25 feet ahead and saw what looked like a brown stick moving across the water. Bruce thought it might be a mink. When the animal got to shore and climbed out, we discovered it was a red squirrel. Neither of us had ever seen a red squirrel swimming.

Another object moving across the lake in front of our canoe caught our eyes one day. It was an otter. He quickly swam to shore and climbed up on a rock. There he sat eating a fish and watching us go by. If he hadn't had the fish, the otter might have let us come closer to him. Otters are known as curious animals.

One morning we were fixing breakfast when a bird started flying back and forth over us. He was really talking to us. It turned out to be a pileated woodpecker. He must have been really upset with us because he just kept on and on with his tirade.

Another day we came around the corner after a portage and encountered a beaver swimming right at us. The beaver was towing a poplar branch and didn't want to let go. He got to within 10 feet of us before slapping his tail and diving. Tom and Melissa were a little behind us. They got to see three other members of the family.

Bruce spotted a seagull in the sky one day with a fish in its mouth. The seagull dropped the fish over the rocks surprising us all. Suddenly we saw why. An osprey was taking after the seagull and the gull was flying as fast as possible to keep away from the larger bird. Then a bald eagle joined into the chase. Eventually the gull evaded both larger birds and flew away.

We saw lots of loons and mergansers on almost every lake. They must be starting to think about flying south. A blue heron gracefully rose from the shore one day. There were also several species of long-necked diving ducks that we never could get close enough to for identification. Our best guess was grebes going south.

Thanks to Bruce's skill, we also encountered ample fish for appetizers several nights and dinner one night. The dinner of fresh walleye and one bass disappeared. We all felt it was the best dinner of the trip. Bruce also caught several northern which were returned to the lake. One northern broke off the lure (no leader) and then a few minutes later was dumb enough to bite again. Bruce landed him this time and got back the lost lure.

There were also things that we didn't see and hoped to see. We saw no deer, bear or moose. We saw no mallards. The nuthatches and chickadees remained unseen and unheard. It wasn't until we got down to the end of Kawnipi that we started to see a few Canada Jays. I am sure that a lot of it has to do with the changing vegetation as we came into more stands of poplar and birch and ash rather than pines.

Today we have a wet, cold rain outside. My house seems infinitely cozier than sleeping in a tent but we will be out on the canoe trails again next summer. Maybe we'll meet you there.

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