Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quetico, 2007

Bruce and I are back from California. Here is the first of three installments on our canoe trip. The pictures were all taken by Melissa Anderson. More than how difficult the trip was or how tired we were, these pictures show why we go on canoe trips. Views like these wipe your mind clean of all the worries and fuss back home.

On the 18th we left with our friends, Tom and Melissa, for another 9-day trip in the Quetico. We took a tow across Saganaga to American Point and then started paddling to the Cache Bay Ranger Station to check in. There was a party of four men from Kentucky ahead of us and two parties after us. Next was to paddle to the north end of Cache Bay.

At this point we departed from the normal route down the Silver Falls portage and took a series of four portages through three small lakes just east of Silver Falls. From personal experience, I can tell you not to take this route. Very, very, very few people appear to go this way. We did it to see what the route was like. The portages were poorly marked and poorly maintained. It took Bruce one hour of bushwhacking to find one of the portages.

By the time we got through all the portages and on to Saganagons Lake, we were all bushed. Part of it was that the route was tough and our bodies were not tough. Also all our food packs were filled with the entire trip’s rations. Anyway all of that sounded like pretty good excuses for being so tired.

We spent the night on the first campsite we saw. With the Ham Lake fire and the extremely dry conditions in August, we were all pretty concerned about safe campfires. The Quetico did not have a fire ban but it was still plenty dry. Tom and Bruce poured four or five buckets of water on the bushes all around the fire ring. They also kept a full bucket of water right near the fire during the entire time they were cooking. I have never seen them so conservative with fires.

This picture is dinner on our first night. Look how small the campfire is! That night we had fajita marinated onions, green peppers, and steak with wild rice. Dessert was cookies.

The next day we paddled to the east end of Saganagons and took the portage into Bitchu Lake. Then there was the portage into Ross Lake. This picture shows some of the marshy areas we paddled through. We were very thankful to the beavers for helping to keep the water level high.

The final portage of the day was the really killer – 2/3’s of a mile. Each of us had to carry two loads over the portage. We divided it into halves. By the time we were ready for the final half with the final loads, everyone was a little tired.

Tom and Bruce decided that they would make one extra trip so that Melissa and I could go ahead with one canoe to find the campsite. It made no sense because there was no one to fight over the campsite. Melissa and I, however, were so tired that we quickly accepted. We found the campsite and dragged ourselves out of the canoe. Then we sat and looked at the lake until the guys came. Not only had they gotten all the packs but they had also caught a northern for appetizers. It was wonderful.

On our third day we had just two portages. The first was short and easy. The second was about 1/3 of a mile and not quite as easy but we all made it. That day we stopped at 1:00 p.m. As we approached our island campsite, an otter dove into the water. Another otter ran into the woods when we circled round the island to look at the second campsite.

After setting up the tents, Tom and Bruce went out to catch a fish for appetizers that night. It was a bass this time. Melissa and I got the inside of the tents organized. The wind was quickly rising. We all settled in for a nap before dinner. By then the wind was really howling. It made the tent seem really cozy. By dinner time the wind had died down and we had a great dinner. Even with a nap, we all went to bed early.

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