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BWCA - June 2011

Page 3: Days 4-6
Crooked Lake and Waterfalls

 

Day 4 – Thursday, June 2 – No portages!

I wake at 6:00 and remember last night's freeze warning, so I check the zipper-pull thermometer on my daypack in the tent's vestibule. It reads 40 degrees; no wonder I felt warm all night.

The morning offers a few photo ops, including a family of mergansers.

 

 

As usual, Tom is up ahead of me, getting valuable "fire time." I'm as happy for him as I am for being able to sleep a bit later.

 

It was a lot warmer in my sleeping bag. Hot granola takes the chill off nicely.

We leave this site at 9:00 and head north, enjoying the 10-20 mph, S-SE tailwind and checking out campsites along the way. One of the first stops is Table Rock, which is badly overused and offers no shade. We stop for lunch on a huge, high boulder on the Canadian side, in which is implanted a boundary marker. We've seen quite a few of these and note how new they are. I wonder what the odd Q-like symbol means. The marker is about 8 inches (20 cm) tall.

 

Shortly after we get back on our way we spot an eagle carrying a long stick. Nest building, no doubt.

 

We continue to check out campsites and compare notes on each one we stop at. We finally arrive at site 3 (C1877), in the southeast corner of Sunday Bay, at 2:00. This is one we can easily agree on - open pine woods and sheltered from the north, south and east (you know which way the wind came from).

 

A bath and shampoo feel great.

Dinner is couscous with ground beef*, shredded carrot (fresh!), onion*, currants, and bread sticks. Once again, lots of food and no leftovers. We eat under the tarp and do our best against the fairly moderate numbers of black flies and mosquitoes. They've increased, but they aren't a major nuisance.

I don't know how many times I nearly trip over this rock.

 

Reflections on Day 4

A veteran of many Boundary Waters and Quetico trips, Tom mentions a common experience among trippers that could be called the four-day syndrome. It seems that for many people it takes 4 or 5 days to shake off the the civilized world and fully gain access to the natural world. Not only does it take time for our bodies to get accustomed to the rigors of paddling and portaging and sleeping on the ground, but it takes time for our brains to stop churning through the mental baggage packed along - that unfinished project at work, the fact that the house needs new shingles, the kids' ball games or swim meets, and worries about having forgotten something important. In addition, for many of us an extra measure of tension is also packed along, a byproduct of packing for the trip and the rush to get to the landing. It takes time to shed this mental baggage and begin to live in the moment. For those who experience this, the mental and physical transformation process seems to take 4-5 days to run its course. It's not uncommon for the fourth day to be a low point, a funk that may be marked by tiredness, lethargy, irritability, homesickness, and/or depression. Once it's over the simplicity of wilderness living feels normal and the trip becomes a joyful (or at least accepted) process. Portages, rain, soot and silence are taken in stride, and even one's partner's idiosyncracies can seem like just so many chipmunks scolding from the trees. I've been through this process a number of times - in fact, every time I've been out for more than three days, and not just in the BWCA. As the trip progresses - with its usual challenges of terrain and weather - we return to "Day 4" with reflections on how important it is to not get too caught up in it and just move on into whatever lies ahead. If you haven't taken a longer BWCA trip, one that gets you well past the four-day syndrome timeframe you should consider it. You may find the latter days of being on the trail true bliss!

I'm very happy to be here and feel quite blessed. As if in reply, Nature speaks back.

 

It's calm in the evening but windy again during the night. Before heading into the tent for the last time, I look up and see what look like nighthawks, wheeling and turning as they catch flies.

 

Day 4 summary:
Total distance 12.7 miles in 5 hours
No portages

 

Day 5 – Friday, June 3

It's a beautiful day for a layover with sunshine and a SW wind in the afternoon.

Tom delights the crew with a breakfast of pancakes, blueberry jam and bacon.
Dinner is Tom's burritos, made with seasoned ground beef*, fat-free instant refried beans*, and salsa*. For a change we have room for dessert, which is chocolate pudding. (Note to self: next time make up the milk separately rather than mixing it dry into the pudding powder; it doesn't blend very well that way.)

At noon we get a visit from one of the locals.

 

 

 

 

This afternoon we hear a grouse drumming nearby. Over the next few days we hear it several more times.

Once upon a time I had a set of shiny stainless steel cookware.

 

The apparatus in front of the fire grate is a Littlbug stove. It may be small, but it thinks it's a blast furnace - and acts like it. It burns small pieces of wood and boils water in almost no time - certainly much faster than my trusty Coleman multi-fuel stove.

Tonight I hear what sounds like a whip-poor-will. That explains last evening's nighthawk sighting.

 

Day 6 summary:
Total distance 0 miles

 

Day 6 – Saturday, June 4 – Waterfalls

Today's breakfast is Red River cereal with peaches* and brown sugar.
Dinner is Tom's shepherd's pie, made with lots of rehydrated ingredients and eaten with relish.

Today is mostly sunny with a W-NW wind at 10-22 mph. We take a day trip to Rebecca Falls via the portage around Curtain Falls. It's a headwind going out but a very nice tailwind on the way back. I get a few shots of the falls.

Curtain Falls, from the top down:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop: Rebecca Falls. As at Lower Basswood Falls, the river splits around an island, but here it's quite a bit larger. The right side crashes between a sheer rock wall and the island's sloping shore.

 

The left side, oddly enough, does the same thing, but with more panache.

 

 

The washout at the bottom forms an enormous eddy with many boils and crosscurrents.

 

 

There are two very nice campsites on the island.

 

This one makes a nice lunch spot.

 

Tom's first BWCA trip was in 1976, and one of the campsites he stayed at was Crooked Lake no. 2, on the large island to the north of Sunday Bay. We stop and, though few words are spoken, I can somehow sense his experience - almost. I enjoy the view, but he has memories.

 

Day 6 summary:
Total distance 13.3 miles
2 portages of 280 rods

 

Tomorrow: On to Friday Bay

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Last updated June 24, 2011
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