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BWCA - September 2011

Page 3: Days 3-4
Quadga Lake to Gabbro Lake

Day 3 – Friday, September 9 – Out of the Isabella River


The Quadge site is nice, but after two nights I'm ready to move on. Little do I know, but in two days the fire will sweep through this area and obliterate everywhere I've been so far. I’m up just after 5:00 and leave a bit before 8:00.  What takes so long?

Today is a long day.  The Isabella River throws up some obstacles due to the low water, starting with picking and lining through rock gardens after the portage out of Quadga Lake, after the 35-rod portage, and through what is shown as an 8-rod portage. But the river is just as beautiful today as it was on Wednesday.


There's a 178-rod portage half a mile before the Isabella flows into Bald Eagle Lake. Before the portage there's a campsite up high on a ridge, which offers a sweeping view of the river.


The portage goes smoothly. When I get to the end on the first carry, the forest about a third of a mile downstream is almost completely obscured by smoke.  By the time I finish the portage it’s clear.  I’d been breathing smoke for an hour or so, and the wind shift is most welcome. I head on downriver and into Bald Eagle Lake, where more smoke is visible.


The sun is shining bright red through the smoke and provides some interesting reflections. This picture shows the portaging thwart, a small metal box beam, tucked under the gunwale in its traveling position. The large nut secures the free end, which is moved across the boat to the opposite gunwale for portaging. The bar fits into the yokes at the top of the Knu-Pac carrier described earlier.


My plan is to camp at the north end of Bald Eagle Lake but the site I want is taken and the information I have on supposedly good sites doesn’t mention that there are no level tent pads in the area – which is, of course, my primary criterion.  So I press on in into Gabbro Lake. The entrance to Gabbro from Bald Eagle is probably an easy passage in normal water. The low water presents a challenge, and it's why my bow and stern lines are each longer than the boat; they make it possible to get through this kind of situation by lining rather than portaging.


After 12 miles of fighting the wind - which comes at me from ahead, astern, abeam, and everywhere in between - I make it to site 6 (C1714) on the north side of Gabbro Lake. It was tough: I've had some leg cramps and my muscles are sore all over. It's hot, I’m sweaty, and a bath is in order and very welcome. I need to wash my ankle brace; it may have prevented further injury, but now it smells like a boot. Yuk.

Today's wildlife: An early morning beaver at the Quadga campsite; two river otters; a kingfisher; two shrikes; a few grey jays; red-breasted nuthatches; a couple of swimming garter snakes; and the titmouse of the mammalian world, a chipmunk.

Dinner is Hawk Vittles Sweet Italian Sausage with Pasta and chocolate pudding for desert.

Tonight is another clear, moonlit night.


Day 3 summary:
Total distance 12.0 miles in 7:30
3 portages of 281 rods in 2:09


Day 4 – Saturday, September 10 –Gabbro Lake Layover


I sleep in and wake up to another perfect day.  I have a long morning meditation on various aspects of loving-kindness: many thoughts and feelings, and no interest in recapturing them in words.

Today's success: repairing a leak on an old water bottle. That's enough for one day.

Today's data, in the category of What Everyone Wants to Know: the latrine is 70 paces away.

Today's agenda: Eat, sit, fix stuff, get water, eat, read, rehydrate chicken, read some more, sit some more, take a few pictures – whew! – eat some more, get water, go to bed.

Mission accomplished!

This time alone – this idle, fertile, soulful time – is welcome.  I don’t feel much “Day-4-itis”, possibly because I've been thinking about it and open to its energy. Three more days of retreat and Sandy will join the trip. I look forward to that, to share this fertile, soulful place.

I wonder how the Pagami Creek fire – and its victims – is doing.  No smoke on Gabbro Lake today; just some puffy clouds.

The site has a reasonably decent view.


An interesting subject on the shore, first without polarizing ...


... and again with the filter on.


Firefighting aircraft pass over frequently during the next two days.


The main part of a very comfortable campsite:


It was a nice day.


Wildlife observation: Squirrels cut spruce branches bearing cones and drop them to the ground.  The branches make a soft whoosh before they hit, but by themselves the cones are silent. The chipmunk is busy – into everything – but shows no interest in the Bear Vault, which contains wonderful odors of meat and grain and peanuts. Do chipmunks like M&M chocolates?  The question remains unanswered.

Dinner is something good; can't remember what.

Tomorrow: On to the North Kawishiwi River


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Last updated November 12, 2011
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