Monday, September 27, 2010

BWCA 2010: Day 3

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

Day 3 - Back to Day 2 - On to Day 4

My journal entry from Wednesday, 8/11:
Camp 3: island in Wind Lake
48.01343 N, 91.53202 W (WGS84), 1370'

Wx: rained approx 2-7 am last night (while we were at Camp 2 on Basswood Lake). Rain quit at breakfast time. A few sprinkles as we were paddling.Now (1pm) clouds with a few patches of blue. Sun out enough to dry some of our gear.

Drying the tent fly at Camp 3
Paddled back through Wind Bay (part of Basswood Lake) to portage to Wind Lake. 130 rod portage, not too bad (i.e., it was relatively flat). Nice beaver dam at east end of portage. Immediately began search for campsite. Wanted one on a point, to maximize breeze. First choice was C1662, occupied. Grabbed C1664; seems very nice. Broad flat area for tents. Deployed hammock. Will sleep in hammock if weather holds. Campsite has broad views to the east and south; beach area affords north view too - will look for aurora tonight, since solar activity is high and it might be visible. Broad view of sky, too - might look for Perseid meteors, since the shower is supposed to peak soon. Just relaxing around camp now. Will go explore lake later. Might go for night paddle, depending on weather. Plan to stay here two nights. Then one long portage to Moose Lake and exit on Friday.
The local fauna really started to cooperate on Day 3. An eagle frequented a snag across the channel from our camp and buzzed us several times. A family group of mergansers was hanging around, too. Loons were never far away, and one of them put on a show for us.

Mergansers (Mergus sp.) running across the water

Flapping display from a common loon (Gavia immer)

We also encountered some painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). One at first...

He seemed to say, "I'm a painted turtle - who the hell are you?"

...and then a full-blown turtle convention.

My personal beliefs require me to take pictures of turtles at every opportunity, so I was glad these shellbacks were cooperative.

Mr. Eagle, did you just get out of bed?

This unkempt-looking bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sat in a snag across the channel from the turtle convention. It's worth mentioning that the "eagle" cry at the opening of The Colbert Report actually belongs to the red-tailed hawk. This is probably because eagle vocalizations tend to seem very...undignified.

Another eagle frequented the area around our camp, so we heard a lot of the squeaky calls. It's a lucky day when eagle calls start to feel almost like a nuisance.

I did some fishing around our camp. I tried the spinning rod first. I tried a 1/4-oz chartreuse Rooster Tail spinner first. I put a wire leader on in case the lure attracted a northern pike or other toothy fish. I firmly believe that a chartreuse Rooster Tail of appropriate size will catch anything that swims. However, I had no luck - I just got snagged on the rocks a lot. I eventually switched a small floating Rapala, mostly because I had one and floating lures are fun to fish. Still no luck.

Kate and Jess went for a sunset paddle around our island. I thought about taking a canoe out too, but the attraction of my hammock was too strong.

Jess and Kate go for a paddle on Wind Lake at sunset

Since the overnight weather forecast was clear, I slept in the hammock again. In the warm, still evening, I enjoyed the air circulation afforded by the hammock as much as the absence of rocks in my back. It was too warm for a sleeping bag - I just folded it up and used it as a pillow. I wrote in my journal and then stared into the sky. Kate and Jess did a crossword puzzle in their tent. I helped a little bit, yelling out answers from the hammock when I could. Eric was audibly snoring in the other tent long before the rest of us fell asleep.

Even six weeks after the summer solstice, it stayed light late. Only the brightest celestial objects were visible before 9:30, even though the moon was new. Twilight is delightfully long at these latitudes. I was hoping to catch some of the Perseid meteor shower, and maybe even the northern lights - due to high solar activity, the weather office in Duluth had reported that the aurora might be visible while we were on trail. I decided not to stay up super late waiting for full darkness to take effect, so I didn't get the full show. Still, I saw several meteors - two were very bright and seemed to light up the whole sky for an instant. The mesh on my bug net is fine enough to block out the view of dimmer stars, so I occasionally poked my head through the entry zipper to get a full view of the sky, including the Milky Way.

On to Day 4.

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