August 9-13, 2010
Day 5 - Back to Day 4
Thursday night was remarkably uncomfortable. The air was hot, humid, and dead calm - too hot to sleep. I also managed to make my bed on a set of rocks spaced at exactly the right intervals to render my ground pad completely useless. I didn't sleep well, but neither did Eric - I'm told that while I was asleep, I shifted far enough around the generously-sized tent to kick him repeatedly. Friday dawned cloudy and cooler, with a welcome breeze.
On our way out through the southeast arm of Wind Lake, we paddled past an area of storm damage from the Big Blowdown of July 4, 1999. This storm created an intense straight-line wind (up to 100 mph) called a derecho across a large area. According to the National Weather Service report, sixty people were injured by falling trees and other debris; twenty of those had to be evacuated by floatplane. Miraculously, no one was killed, but many portages were blocked, and people who were in the BWCA during the storm had considerable difficulty getting out.
Storm damage on Wind Lake
In fact, Kate was leading a group of high school girls on a BWCA trip when the storm hit. They didn't know the extent of the damage until later - of course, they had no way of knowing.
We made one last 175 rod portage from Wind Lake to Moose Lake. Powerboats are allowed on Moose, so to maximize our remaining wilderness time, we took a scenic detour around some islands away from the main channel. We noticed that vultures were circling nearby, but tried not to take that as an omen.
Portaging from Wind Lake to Moose Lake
We took out at the Moose Lake BWCA access (47.98893 N, 91.498210 W WGS84). We sat around for a while, waiting for our shuttle (Kate's mom), and eating our leftover gorp and Twizzlers. Yes, we carried Twizzlers around for five days. It was Jess and Kate's idea, and I'll defend their decision with all my strength.
One last portage up to the parking lot
With that, it was goodbye BWCA. We stopped for several hours at Kate's family friends' place on a lake just outside the wilderness area. These kind folks had a hot sauna ready for us; after several circuits of sweating in the sauna and jumping in the lake, I felt human again. We also had some fun goofing around the lake with a rowing shell (tippy as hell!), stand-up-paddle surfboard (weird at first, but fun!), and a bona fide lumberjack log-rolling competition log (really difficult to stand upon!). Then we returned the rental canoe to the outfitter, bought a six-pack of Dorothy Molter Root Beer, and headed to Kate's family's cabin for the night before we went home.