Thursday, September 14, 2006

We're Back!

Yesterday the four intrepid explorers returned from our canoe trip in the Quetico. It was a wonderful trip. There is so much to tell about it that I have decided to spread it out over three blogs. Today I will give you the general route of the trip and overall impressions. Tomorrow will be the "Day From Hell." Then I'll finish with some fun encounters with animals.

Bruce and I along with Tom Shank and Melissa Anderson left the Trail on the 5th at about 6:30. By 10:15 we were on the north side of the Quetico Provincial Park at the Nym Lake Entry Point. The weather was beautiful with very little wind. We paddled for about an hour before coming to the portage into Batchewaung Lake. This 165 rods portage would be our longest. Naturally it was also when we had every bite of food for the entire trip on our backs. Each of us had to make 2 trips. I didn't quite die but it certainly brought home the fact that I am a bit out of shape. We camped that night in Batchewaung Bay.

Day 2 took us down Pickerel Lake into Pine Portage Bay and a 91 rod portage into Dorie Lake where we camped for the night. I especially remember this camp site because of a log that was perfectly placed to act as a back rest when I sat on the ground. It was almost like sitting in a chair.

Day 3 went from Dorie Lake into Twin Lakes and then down the Deuz Riviers to Sturgeon Lake. You will hear a lot more about this day tomorrow.

Day 4 we canoed into Russell Lake past Chatterton Falls and portaged into Chatterton Lake. The falls on this trip were wonderful even with low waters. It's hard to believe that much of the water from the northern part of the Trail drains toward Hudson Bay through the falls we would see. This also meant that from this point on, every portage was going uphill. Thankfully the food supply was going down. We paddled up Chatterton Lake to Split Rock Falls and stayed at a wonderful campsite where the tent spots were covered with nice soft moss. My body loved it.

Day 5 started out with the 72 rod portage from our campsite into Keats Lake. Next was "Have A Smoke Portage" into Shelley Lake. Then 3 more portages into Kawnipi Lake. There was virtually no wind so we paddled down Kawnipi to the entrance to McKenzie Bay. We were so lucky to make that day without wind in our faces.

On Day 6 we paddled to Kennebus Falls and entered the Falls Chain. First was a 30 rod portage into Kenny Lake, then a 95 rod portage around Canyon Falls , then 111 rods around Koko Falls and finally a 36 rod portage into the lake (unamed) just east of Wet Lake. Just getting to our campsite was an accomplishment that day.

On Day 7 we took the last three portages in the Falls Chain. They were all pretty short because the low water enabled us to get up close to each falls but rocks made them difficult to cross. We ended up in Saganagons and took Dead Man's Portage and found a campsite near the Silver Falls Portage.

Day 8 found us doing the Silver Falls Portage which was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Of course, our food was down to almost nothing and even I had toughened up a bit. Also the fact that this was our last portage of the trip gave us all a little extra energy. We camped that night on the mainland just south of the Cache Bay Ranger Station. There was no wind on Cache Bay was we paddled across it. Bruce and I spent a very pleasant hour or so visiting with Janice, the Quetico Park Ranger at Cache Bay. She has been there for 22 years and we all knew lots of stories about the area.

Day 9 was our last day and we had planned about 4-5 hours to paddled in across Saganaga Lake to the landing. Our lucky held. There was no wind and we made the trip in 2 hours.

Let me tell you that September is a wonderful time to be in the woods. We saw parties every day but not lots of people. The north side of the Park is primarily a conifer forest. By the time we hit the fire burns along the southern edge of Kawnipi, poplar, ash and birch trees were much more abundant. The colors were great.

The weather was warm for September. We went swimming about half the days. We had ice on the bottoms of our canoes only 1 morning. Our sleeping bags were warm and we were never cold at night.

Bruce was a breakfast and dinner cook and we ate very well. The favorite meal was fresh fried walleye (caught that day), cheddar broccoli rice and hot apple cobbler. Melissa brought lunches and we had rye crisp with sausage and Asiago cheese or peanut butter and jelly. Dessert for lunch was fruit cups, puddings, candy bars and gorp.

Melissa was also the entertainment chairman. She brought along Yahtze dice and score cards. The entire game fit into a small ziplock bag. We played 6 nights of a game each. It was an easy fun way to end the day. I've got to say that we laughed over each game and we laughed throughout each day.

Tomorrow I will give you a little bit more on the trip.

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