Sunday, August 16, 2009

On To Ester Lake

Bruce and I and Tom and Melissa got back on Thursday from a wonderful canoe trip. For all four of us, there is something about a canoe trip that refreshes our souls. So this week and next week I will try to give you a short synopsis of the trip.

On the 9th we took an 8:00 a.m. tow to American Point on Saganaga Lake. From there the plan was to paddle to Ester Lake and set up a base camp. Then we planned to explore some of the smaller lakes in the area. At our first lift-over portage, we realized this was a busy time to be in the BWCA. We had to wait in line for our turn to portage! There was another jam up at Monument Portage. It was quite interesting to compare the efficiency of the various parties as they crossed the portage. Some did very well and others made you wonder how they were going to survive the trip.

This 80-rod portage also reminded us that we were a year older. We had a party of 3 20-something guys who effortlessly crossed. They were in two canoes and we felt a little better watching them paddle – at least in that area we were much better.

Our second portage was a very short paddle down the lake. It was also 80 rods long and busy with other parties. Then we were in Ester Lake.

After seeing lots of parties, Bruce asked the first group we saw on Ester how full the campsites were. It was a mixed report. The result was that we took the first campsite on the island. While the gals waited, the guys paddled to the next campsite but rejected it. Our campsite was elevated and looked northerly down Ester. We ate lunch (1:00 p.m.) and set up camp. Then it was time for a nap. All of us were out cold for a bit.

Dennis Todd, one of our guides at Gunflint, had given us some fresh walleye the night before. Bruce took it along so there was no pressure to catch fish. We had fried walleye, chips and salsa, and fajitas with all the fixings for dinner. After dinner, there was time for a Yahtze game before bed.

The next morning after a modest breakfast of Eggs Benedict and fresh oranges, we made our plans for the day. Our goal was to get into Rabbit Lake where Dave Schudy from the front desk said we should have no problem catching lake trout. The portage was a ten-minute paddle away. It was a really easy trip across to Rabbit. The trout didn’t want to bite along the cliffs but we found them just across the lake. They were biting short so we only got one fish. We went back to our campsite for lunch and a nap. No sense in overdoing it. Tom and Bruce went out later in the afternoon to fish and pick blueberries for breakfast.

During dinner we had a rabbit in camp. She calmly munched on leaves while we ate brats, lake trout and mac and cheese. Interestingly she was getting ready for winter. Her back legs were starting to turn white. There were two other rabbits that appeared but only one had started to turn white. The other seemed to be a child.

After dinner and dishes, we played Yahtze. Tom had a second bad night while I finally improved. Bruce and Melissa held their own.

I’ll continue the story in a few days.

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