Friday, September 24, 2010

BWCA 2010: Day 2

Boundary Waters Adventure with Eric Z., Jessica H., and Kate S.
August 9-13, 2010

Day 2 - Back to Day 1 - On to Day 3

The plan for Day 2 was to find a campsite on or near the Wind Bay section of Basswood Lake. We could then explore the islands along the Canadian border. We broke camp on Indiana Lake, paused for a few minutes in the middle of the lake to filter water (filters don't need to be cleaned of sediment as often when water is drawn away from shore), and then landed to begin what we thought would be a short 15-rod (one rod is 16.5', so about 85 yards) portage to Wind Bay and Basswood Lake.

Our campsite on Indiana Lake

I expected to see Wind Bay just a few steps down the portage trail. Instead, I saw this:

This lovely terrain is called muskeg - and the path through it was a lot more than 15 rods long. My GPS trail shows that it was at least 35 rods. Normally, that would still be a delightfully short portage. However, without benefit of a good trail, it was not so much fun. No hills, though. My pet theory is that the map reflects an old stream configuration that has been changed by beavers. I can't prove it, though. For all I know, it was done by Elvis and ancient Egyptians.

My journal entry from Tuesday evening, August 10:
Camp 2 - Basswood Lake, east of Norway Island
48.03178 N, 91.57750 W (WGS84), 1317'
Wx: partly sunny, high 85ish. Showers & storms predicted for tonight.

Broke camp on Indiana Lake and got on the water around 9am. Very short paddle to portage to Wind Bay, part of Basswood Lake. Portage was supposed to be only 15 rods, but we think the map was out of date. Took long portage through muskeg instead. Nice and flat, though. Got on narrow back channel of Wind Bay. Very near the end of the portage, there was an active beaver dam. Paddled up to it and stood up in the bow of the canoe to peek over the dam. A beaver looked right back at me. It was swimming near the upstream side of the dam with its head out of the water. Didn't get a picture of the beaver, though. Black files were out and Eric wanted to move toward open water to avoid them. The pool behind the dam was a good 4' higher than Wind Bay.
Beaver dam on backwater of Wind Lake (48.01150 N, 91.58423 W)
Paddled through long, narrow passage to get to open part of Wind Bay. Lots of wild rice. Started looking for a campsite right away because of forecast chance of rain in afternoon. Tried island in Wind Bay and a few others - all occupied. Saw the first eagle of the trip on our way across Wind Bay.
We had camp set up by noon. Had lunch and then went exploring on Basswood. Paddled to Christmas Island and Cabin Island, just over the Canadian border. Saw an old ranger cabin on Cabin Island. We brought a flask of Scotch on our invasion of Canada, and we toasted the Her Majesty the Queen when we landed on Christmas Island.Took group photos using mini tripod. Also found a camp pot holder that somebody left behind - it's Kate's now.
The beachhead in our invasion of Canada (48.04501 N, 91.56791 W)

Our conquest of the Northland complete, we returned to camp to relax for a while before dinner. We then prepared our meal on the gravel beach, right near the water. This was nice because it was pretty and also kept food odors away from where we would sleep.
Paddled back from Canada and cooked dinner on the beach. Kate made stir-fry with red potatoes, onions, carrots, and "textured vegetable protein." Quite good. Dessert was brownies made in the frying pan. Tried fishing with bead-head diving fly and later a chartreuse popper, but no luck. Motorboats are allowed on Basswood - I wonder if the extra fishing pressure from motorized fishermen made a difference.
After dinner, we set to the nightly task of securing the food pack. After considerable effort, we strung a rope between two trees, only to find that, due to stretching of the rope, we couldn't raise the heavy food pack out of ursine reach. Jess said it first: "We've made a bear piƱata."

We decided to follow Kate's preferred method of food storage when suitable trees are not available: wrapping the food pack in a tarp, tying pots and pans to it, and stashing it as far out of camp as possible. The idea is that any critters who disturb the food will knock the pans loose, scaring the nocturnal interloper and awakening us to keep 'em away. A bear-resistant food container would have been better, but oh well. Next time, I want to get the 60-liter airtight barrel from Recreational Barrel Works, which I learned about while trolling some BWCA message boards after the trip.

It started raining about 2 am. At one point it was raining hard enough that Eric got up to adjust the ground cloth. A little bit of water wicked through our tent floor near my feet, but not enough to really bother anyone. I think the rain quit around 7am. I was a little disappointed - I was really enjoyed the sound of the rain on the tent fly. Anyway, we were able to shake some of the water off our gear before we hit the trail again in the morning.

Rainy morning at Camp 2

The fun continued on Day 3.

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