Sunday, July 12, 2009

Woodland Caribou Solo Canoe Trip

Dates: June 12, 2009 to June 17, 2009

Paddler: Chuck Ryan (CIIcanoe)

Trip Route: Leano Lake, Kilburn Lake, Middle Kilburn Lake, Dragon Lake, Boomerang Lake, Talon Lake, South Aegean Lake, Beamish Creek, Welkin Lake, Beamish Creek, Wrist Lake, Streak Lake, Amber Lake, Nutria Lake, Mexican Hat Lake, Lunch Lake, East Lunch Lake, Bunny Lake and back to Leano Lake.

Travel Method: Canoe

Total Distance: 68.25 miles (109.8 Kilometers)

Portage Distance: 7183 meters

Total Travel Time: 39 hours & 29 minutes

Average Travel Time: 1.73 miles/ hour (2.78 km/hour)

The Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is located near Red Lake, Ontario and it covers 536,569 hectares (1,325,891 acres) making it the sixth largest park in Ontario. There are only about 800 users per year. The park was designated as a Wilderness Class Park in 1983.

The park is located in the boreal forest and it’s in the center of the Canadian Shield which are some of the oldest rocks on earth.

This boreal ecosystem is influenced by the prairie climate and has a diverse community of plants and animals. The summers are usually hot and dry.

The elusive Woodland Caribou are also found within the park.

The following are the typical boreal tree species present in the park. Jack pine, black spruce, balsam fir, tamarack and Quaking aspen. There are a few white spruce, also.

I’ve wanted to canoe this park for the past couple of years. Actually, I was going to paddle the Bloodvein River back in 1997, but the trip was cancelled due to the lack of interest on the part of some other people.

On April 25, 2009 I went to Midwest Mountaineering’s Spring Expo to see Claire Quewezence, Assistant Park Superintendent, give her presentation on the park. I was the first one in the room where she was going to give her talk so we introduced ourselves and I told her of my upcoming trip. She marked the day I would be arriving at their park office in Red Lake on her calendar.

It takes about 10 hours to drive from the Twin Cities to Red Lake, Ontario. If I wanted to visit the park office and spend a couple hours reviewing the office maps I would need to leave after work the day before I planned to drive to Red Lake. My father lives near Grand Rapids, Minnesota so if I drove to his place first that would cut off about 3 hours of that drive time the next day.

Dave Phillips whom I paddled with in Wabakimi last year also did a ten day trip to Woodland Caribou in 2008. He was kind enough to send me his route information.

While I was at the Spring Expo I bought another overview map of the park. This map has all the marked portages on it, but the map shouldn’t be used for navigation. I planned to transfer the portage information to the topographic maps I would use.

After deciding on a route I bought several Canadian Topo maps to cover the area I anticipated to travel. I ordered my topo maps from Map Town out of Calgary, Canada. This was the second time I’ve used this company to buy maps. They are inexpensive and their service has been great both times. This year I ordered the maps on-line on a Monday and by Friday they were at my door.

Drive Day 1: 06-10-09 Champlin, MN to Grand Rapids, MN

Today I went to work, but I was going to drive to Grand Rapids afterwards. Again, this would cut off about 3 hours of my drive time to Red Lake tomorrow. My intention was to get to the park office early in the afternoon before the office closed so I could go over some maps to locate some additional campsites. I had already decided on a route with a couple of different options.

I had some training at work yesterday and since it went past by normal work hours by 45 minutes I left 45 minutes early today.

Once I left work I stopped at my house to change clothes and threw my two portage packs into the Suburban. My neighbor was out so I talked to her for a few minutes, then I was officially on vacation at 5:07 pm.

I drove to the Holiday gas station to fill up my Suburban. My starting mileage was 115872. There were some broken skies with the sun peeking out. It has been several days since the sun last made a cameo appearance. The heat from the sun sure felt good. It has been a cool spring.

I’m hoping this was going to be the break in the weather instead of the rain and cool temperatures we have been having lately. I’ve been checking the forecast for Red Lake, Ontario for the past couple weeks and it has been getting cool at night and not so warm during the day. The forecast showed that it was going to get warmer.

Traffic wasn’t too bad coming north. After I got past Elk River on Highway 169 there wasn’t any traffic to speak of. I got up to the west side of Lake Mille Lacs and the lake was very calm for as far as I could see. It’s not too often that I see this lake that calm. All there was the gentle up and down motion of the water from the boat wakes coming to shore from the distance.

There was one deer on the side of the road north of Aitkin. That was extent of the larger wildlife I saw coming up. I pulled into my dad’s place on Pokegama Lake south of Grand Rapids at 8:04 pm. When I started this road trip in Minneapolis the temperature was 70 degrees now it was 58 degrees.

My dad came outside and greeted me. I told him I needed to fill my 5 gallon water jug so he began running water through the garden hose. Once that was done I needed to vacuum seal the 3 pounds of Starbucks Guatemala coffee that I was bringing along. Better to have too much coffee than not enough. The coffee was wrapped in three one pound plastic bags.

Now it was time to sit back and talk to my father and step-mother about the trip since they had a few questions. I gave my father my itinerary and other pertinent information that I filled out for them. They also wanted to see the Iridium Sat phone that I rented from Mobal, so I brought it out to show them.

I went down to the bedroom and began writing in my journal at 10:12 pm. My plans were to get up at 5:00 am and be on the road by 6:30 am. It didn’t take long for me to write what I wanted to say in my journal tonight. I was ready to go to sleep at 1023 pm.

Drive Day 2: 06-11-09 Grand Rapids, MN to Red Lake, Ontario

When I looked at the clock when I woke up it said 4:39 am. Well, since I was planning to get up at 5 am I may as well get up now and take a shower. I slept pretty good last night.

Next I went up stairs to make breakfast. It wasn’t long before my step mother came out of their bedroom. We talked while I made my oatmeal and two pots of coffee. I usually bring two thermoses when I travel any long distances. It saves searching for some coffee shop looking for some GOOD coffee. There are many times its not even worth the time and effort in trying to find a place, so I just bring mine along. I refuse to buy gas station coffee.

My father got up shortly before I hit the road. I said my good-byes to them. I was ahead of my schedule by 40 minutes. When I pulled out of the driveway it was 5:50 am. The skies were partly sunny with the temperature of 47 degrees down by the lake, but it wasn’t long before the temperature dropped to 44 degrees.

My first stop was in Grand Rapids to fill up with gas at the Holiday Gas. Gas was 7 cents higher than when I filled up in Champlin. Gas in Champlin was $2.57 a gallon.

I took Hwy. 38 north out of Grand Rapids. One hour after I left my dads I saw a Timber wolf crossing the road up ahead of me north of Marcell. I noticed that all the lakes were smooth as glass since there was no or very little wind.

When I got to Big Falls at 7:35 am the temperature was one degree warmer at 45 degrees. I was 38 miles from International Falls where I would cross the border. I’ve never crossed into Canada from International Falls before.

The skies have been clouding up the further north I went. When I was 20 miles from the border I could see it was raining up in the distance.

It was time for more gas in International Falls. It was three cents higher here than in Grand Rapids. It has taken me 2 hours and 22 minutes to get this far. Very little traffic on the roads this morning.

It was only a few minutes before I got to the private bridge owned by Boise to cross into Canada, but not before handing over $6.00. Then I was given the ok to cross. Once on the Canadian side I pulled up to the booth with a young lady in uniform. She was very pleasant and she asked me the same routine questions that I’ve been asked before. I gave her my Minnesota driver license and passport. She looked at my canoe and asked my reason for coming to Canada and where I was going. After I answered those questions she wanted to know if I would be bringing back my canoe. That was a simple yes.

It started to sprinkle just as I left the customs lady. From here on in it would rain on and off all day long. I made my way to Provincial Route Highway 11 and headed east toward Highway 502. I stopped at the first rest area after I turned north onto Highway 502. There were two uncovered trash cans that had been knocked over by some type of animal. Trash from these cans was lying all around. Because there were very little leaves on the deciduous shrubs I could see a large amount of old trash out behind the latrine where the animals have taken the trash into the bush.

The first large animals I saw in Canada were two large bucks in velvet. The antlers were about 6 inches high, but very thick bases. The antlers were starting to spread out.

Thirty-eight miles up Highway 502 there was a big healthy moose off to my left, but I didn’t see him until I drove past and looked back. I saw him too late to stop to try and get a photo. Just a short ways from the moose I saw my first Black bear of the trip. It was a sow with her year old cub next to the roadway. I took a photo, but realized I didn’t adjust the exposure on my camera properly.

There was another bear 64 miles up on Highway 502. This bear was sitting to the right of the roadway where the road went through an area where the bedrock had been blasted away to build the road. I couldn’t get out of the Suburban to get a good photo.

Continuing on my journey I rounded a corner when two Turkey vultures came fairly close to flying into the Suburban, but they veered off at the last second. There must have been something good to eat.

My next encounter at mile 71 was a big Bull Moose. I was able to snap a couple quick shots of him. He checked me out as I slowed to take a photo of him.

The skies continue to cloud up, rain, break up and do it all over again.

Another black bear at mile 80.

I’m listening to Andrea James on 92.7 FM , CKDR, out of Dryden. Andrea has been calling for sun showers since I’ve been listening to her.

One more bear at mile 88.

It was 10:45 am when I arrived in Dryden. Mileage 116282. Five minutes later I was pulling into a Subway. For those who know me or have traveled with me to canoe races, canoe trips or for work know I frequent Subway quite often. Those who don’t know me say “what the hell” another Subway. I picked up a 12 inch chicken breast…toasted! I only planned to eat half of it and putting the other half in my cooler. Just before I left I asked the lady if there was a Subway in Red Lake. She said there was one and the owner of this Subway used to own the one in Red Lake. I never did make it to Subway in Red Lake, but I saw the sign for it. I even took a photo of it.

Out of Dryden I traveled Highway 17 to the west to get to Highway 105. Taking Highway 105 north would take me into Red Lake. I only saw two large bodied deer along this stretch of road.

When I arrived in Red Lake it was 1:35 pm. The temperature was 59 degrees and my mileage was 116417.

First thing I did was fill the Suburban up with gas. It was $1.11 per liter. I put in 57.205 in for $64.01 Canadian. This was a full service gas station or maybe I parked in the full service lane. Whatever, it probably cost me a little bit more.

When I spoke to Claire Quewezence earlier she told me to drive to the only stop lights in town, turn left and their building would be on the right side. That’s exactly what I did. First I parked on the street then walked inside and inquired where the Park office was located. I then walked over to the park office and asked for Claire. Kate whose name I recognized as the one who sent my park permit to me was behind the counter. Kate said Claire was on lunch, but she should be back shortly.

I introduced myself to Kate and the other park employee whose name I forgot. Sorry about that…Anyways I explained to them that I had spoken to Claire and she was going to let me to look at the office topo maps. They began pulling out topo maps and while they were doing that in walked Claire. Claire was very helpful and I’m glad to have stopped in.

After talking with Claire I decided to change up my option if I decided later to expand my route. My first option was to head from Welkin Lake to Beamish Lake, to Irregular and then back up to Mather. Now if I decided to expand the route I would go to Haggart Lake the way I planned ahead of time. Then I would head NW to Broken Arrow Lake, Haggart River back to Bulging. Claire told me this was a very scenic area of the park. Also, I would have a better chance to see the elusive Woodland Caribou. The caribou were still on the islands with their calves, but they should be moving off pretty soon. Claire told me they are going to start to evaluate some of the campsites on the islands that the caribou are known to give birth. Most likely these islands will be off limits to any camping due to the devastation of the vegetation that’s needed for the caribou.

Prior to leaving the park office Claire told me where Harlan Schwartz of worked in town and how to get there. After I spent about an hour and a half at the park office I drove to the business district of Red Lake. This part of town was to the right at the only stop lights in town when I came north.

I drove to the place where Harlan worked and parked on the street nearby. I walked upstairs and there wasn’t anyone behind the counter. There was an opening to the back storage area marked with "Employees only”. I waited about 5 minutes before I heard some noise coming from the back. I saw an employee in the back. When she looked up she finally saw that I was standing there. She told me she didn’t here the buzzer when I came up the stairs. I told her I wasn’t listening for one, but I didn’t hear it either.

She said her name was Angie and that Harlan was out helping customers. She didn’t know when he would be back, but she gave me his new work cell phone number. I used their business phone to call Harlan, but he didn’t answer and his v-mail box wasn’t set up. This was around 3:30 pm when I tried to call him.

Angie told me to come back in about a half hour and maybe he would be back. I left the business and drove around a bit. There really wasn’t too much to see when I drove around. I returned about 15 minutes later. Angie was on the phone, but when she was done she called another person who was with Harlan. She handed me the phone. Harlan told me he would be working until about 0530 pm.

I told Harlan that I would just going to drive to Leano Lake today. I told him I would try and stop by when I came out of the park.

Claire told me how to get to Leano Lake when I was at her office. I drove past the government building where I was earlier and continued driving to the west. After the second turn off to Madsen I made a right turn onto the Suffel Lake Road. This right turn is where the road sign that has the first part of it ripped off. This was a gravel road. Claire told me if I missed this turn and continued straight I would go to Starett Olsen. I would know I missed it because this road will dead end. I looked at my watch and it was now 4:00 pm. I was told it should take about 1 ½ hours to drive to Leano Lake.

Earlier, I was given some maps of the general area so I followed along on the map that showed the road accesses to the park. I followed along on the map and to the compass reading on my Suburban to give me a general idea where I was driving.

It started to rain at the 6.7 mile mark, but it would once again clear up. Another 3 miles down the road there was a black bear sitting on the side of the road eating something. It would amble off into the brush as I drove by. This would be the only bear I saw on the road to Leano Lake.

I continued driving when I looked over to my left and saw a small portion of a rainbow. I continued driving to see if I could get a better view of it other than what the surrounding terrain provided me. I decided to get a photograph of what was offered to me before the rainbow disappeared.

The Suffel Lake and Iriam Road were in fairly good shape considering the amount of rain they’ve had the last few days. There were washouts, areas where the water was completely running over the roadway and I can’t forget to mention the many ruts. The first area where the water over the road was a little nerve racking, but I didn’t see any ruts so the bottom must be pretty firm. At least I was hoping. Claire never told me about any standing water over the road when I was at her office so maybe this was in the last couple of weeks. I just dropped the Suburban into 4 wheel drive and off I went. I made it to Mile 51 Road without any incidences. The road was marked with a sign showing the way to turn to Leano Lake. The sign said it was 5 km to Leano Lake. There was a small section where water was over the Mile 51 Road but the bottom was firm. I didn’t have any problems driving this dirt road either.

I continued down the Mile 51 Road to some more signs showing that I needed to make a left turn onto a spur road. Later on, I walked straight from this junction on the Mile 51 Road where I saw some orange ribbon that had been originally been tied across the roadway, but now it was all bunched up on either side of the road. This used to be the way to the entry point of Leano Lake. The orange ribbon was the first sign showing not to enter. The second sign was a large dirt berm. If you made it past the berm then you would be checking out where the culvert used to be down below. The culvert had been removed so it wasn’t possible to continue any further.

It was 6 pm when I arrived at the new parking lot for Leano Lake. This parking lot was made last year along with a new longer portage cut to Leano Lake. My mileage was 116466. It was 423 total miles from the time I started from my home in Champlin, Minnesota to here. There were three trucks and a mini-van in the lot. The license plates showed one from Minnesota, Manitoba, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Once I parked I grabbed my camera and walked around the area. I continued on this spur road to the south where the new parking lot had been built in the middle of it. I walked a short distance when I came across some trash that contained mostly all beer cans. The beer cans have bear teeth marks. I’m not sure if the bear had grabbed someone’s trash or it was thrown there by someone. I continued to walk this road/trail for 500 meters. I’ve started bringing some Ranger pace-counting beads on my trips so I know how far I’ve walked. Or I should say it’s easier for me to remember when I’m counting.

I backtracked to the parking lot then I decided to walk the new portage to Leano Lake. The old portage was 60 meters long. This new one is 350 meters. I got 380 meters when I walked it. The portage isn’t marked, but when you drive into the parking lot it’s to the right and in the very corner.

The portage was in good shape. There were some wet areas early on, but you can expect just about any portage to have some water. What I found when you travel in Wabakimi or the Woodland Caribou you better be prepared with the proper footwear, because your feet are going to be wet all day from wet-footing. If you’re not prepared to wet foot it you may as well stay home.

When I came back up the trail it began to rain. I didn’t have my rain gear on and I didn’t have any protection for my Nikon camera. I quickly upped my pace. I got to my Suburban and jumped in the driver seat. I began writing in my journal while it rained.

Kate at the park office had printed out the 5 day weather forecast for me and it still looked like the weather will change for the better.

It’s only 7:50 pm and I’m ready to lie down, but it’s too early. When it stopped raining I got out and walked the Mile 51 road to where the culvert had been removed. When I was done looking over that area I walked the same road but to the east a distance before going back to the Suburban.

I was thinking of sleeping in the back seat of my Suburban, but I know from past experience that isn’t too comfortable. I decided to make room in the back. I rearranged the stuff in the back and made enough room for me to squeeze in.

Day One: Friday 06-12-09

Lakes /Rivers:

Leano Lake Parking Lot
350 m port
Leano Lake
400 m port
Leano Creek
123 m port
Leano Creek
50 m port
Leano Creek
Unnamed Lake
100 m port
Kilburn Lake
150 m port
Middle Kilburn Lake

Distance: 14 miles (22.53 kilometers)

Port Distance: 1173 meters

Time: 7:04

There wasn’t much room in the back of my Suburban, but I slept alright. I used my old sleeping bag that was in the back, but there isn’t much insulating quality left in it. Sometime during the night I needed to throw my gray blanket that I keep in the Suburban over me. It was just cool enough where I could feel the coolness on my legs making me feel uncomfortable. When that didn’t warm me up enough I put a on a pair of long underwear. That did it I was comfortable now!

I awoke at 5:23 am, but I felt like sleeping in just a little bit more. When I awoke again at 6:08 am I started to move around to slowly get my muscles loosened up. From my vantage point on my back in the back of my Suburban it appeared cloudy out. It was cool, but when I dragged my body out of the back of the Suburban it didn’t feel that bad. In fact, it seemed warmer outside than inside the Suburban. Maybe because I was moving around. I started the Suburban and it showed it was 43 degrees out.

Back in 2006 I parked my Suburban at a campground the night before I was going for about a week long solo canoe trip into the BWCA. During the evening before the trip I left my hatch open while I put my gear together for the trip. The next morning when I went to start my Suburban the battery is dead. Luckily I was in a campground where there were other people around. Ever since that time I usually just start my Suburban to give me piece of mind. I know I don’t have to worry as much since I replaced the bad battery, but it’s always in the back of my mind. I wrote a trip report called, Big Water to No Water and Portages in Between, about that trip and about the dead battery.

While I was outside the skies began to clear and I could feel the temperature rising.

There was some food in my cooler that I should eat so decided not to have my normal breakfast of oatmeal. Breakfast this morning consisted of one raisin-cinnamon bagel, 2 yogurts, some dried cranberries and a banana. There was just a little bit of coffee left in my thermos so I finished off, but I started boiling more water for more coffee. While the water was heating I took my Prism off the Suburban. Next I took all my gear out of the back of the Suburban that I was taking on this trip.

Once everything was packed up I move the Suburban to the other side of the parking lot, so now the hood of the vehicle is easily accessible.

My trip officially began at 8:08 am when I took off with my first pack across the lot to the portage. It took me 7 minutes across the 380 meter portage. Actually it was probably more like 420 meters from where I had placed my gear in the lot.

Again, this is a new portage cleared last year that was over mostly moss. There are three to four wet areas, but overall it’s a good portage with good footing.

I walked back up to the Suburban to drink some more water to really hydrate myself before I had to use the water in my Nalgene bottles that I will carry with me.

I decided to triple portage this first portage even though I really didn’t need to do so. I wanted my body to get used to this new form of exercise.

Now it was 9:49 am and I am in the canoe looking around the surrounding area of Leano Lake just out from the portage. I can’t see the portage unless I’m right next to it. The wind was very light coming out of the SSE. I pointed my canoe south along the east shore of Leano Lake and begin paddling. Just a few minutes into my paddle I saw two canoes to the SW of me. They had come from the NW arm of Leano Lake. It appeared they were heading my way toward the Leano Lake portage. I veered toward them as they veered toward me. We stopped and talked a bit. They had been out for seven days. They mentioned it had been cold while they were out. They must have had a weather radio along because they told me the weather was supposed to turn for the better. I remember at least one of them was from South Dakota and another was from or living in the Twin Cities. I took a photo of them before I continued on my way.

The second portage of the day was 400 meters long. I got there at 9:32 am. The landing was muddy, but the portage itself was up over higher ground. There were moose tracks on the trail and it appeared the moose was having trouble keeping its footing in the slippery mud. This was almost a double portage, but I put the canoe down about 15 to 20 meters from the end. My food pack wasn’t riding correctly and it made carrying the canoe awkward. I did some adjustments and now it should be good to go.

I put the canoe in the water and paddled about a minute before I came to another portage on river left. I didn’t have this one marked on my topo, but it was 123 meters. There was a lot of wolf scat on this trail. I double portage this portage without any difficulty.

Back in the water on the other side of the portage. The next portage was on river right. A short one of only 50 meters. The creek bed is really muddy. It had a high clay content. The water itself isn’t full of silt, but the mud sticks to the canoe and everything else that comes in contact with it.

The rest of the creek had plenty of water before it opened up into an unnamed lake. Once I got to the opening I headed SW. The next portage was a little less than 1 km away. I paddled directly toward the portage. When I was about half way there I spotted some movement. At first I couldn’t tell what it was, but then I saw the outline of a person. As I got closer I could see it was a guy by himself in a Bell solo canoe. I waited in my canoe out from the portage because I wouldn’t be able to land my canoe at the portage with him there. There was some debris blocking a straight shot to the portage. The rapids were immediately to the right of the portage. It would have been interesting to try to swing out of the current to get to the portage.

The guy told me to wait and he would get out of my way. We met at the debris where we both got out of our canoes on either side of it.

We introduced ourselves. He said his name was Harry Stimson. He was from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Of all people to meet in the park. Dave Phillips who paddled this park last year and who I paddled with in Wabakimi last year came across this same person.

Harry just recently retired. He used to be a sales rep for North Face and Eureka. Harry has been coming to this park for 25 years. He told me for his retirement he gave himself a two week trip to the park then he’s going for a week long kayak trip on Lake of the Woods. He told me it has snowed twice while he’s been out.

Harry asked me where I was headed in the park. I wasn’t very familiar with the all of the lake names off the top of my head since this was the first time I’ve been in the park. Also, not all of the lake names are on the topo maps. The reason Harry asked me was because he had been traveling the southern part of the park where he was unable to get through because the portages and surrounding areas were blocked with blow downs. He said he couldn’t get through the portage safely as it was just a tangle of blow downs. He had been traveling upstream on one of the rivers in the strong current. There had been a lot of rain the last few days and he couldn’t go any further up the river. He needed to back track a ways to bigger water. He used his Sat phone to call Chimo Air Service out of Red Lake to pick him up and drop him off on Sydney Lake so he could continue his canoe trip. The route I was going to do should be fine he said. I wasn’t familiar with his route.

I noticed that Harry had a SPOT tied down on top of one of his packs as we talked. I wrote down my name and blog name on a piece of paper and gave it to him. I told him I would probably do a trip report if he was interested in reading it. We said our good-byes and good lucks.

Once I started writing this report I googled Harry Stimson and I saw his wife Margaret twitters and here are two of her comments about Harry while he was on his trip. “Tracking Harry on Google map as he solo paddles in remote Woodland Caribou. He's using Spot and a satellite phone to keep us from fussing.12:19 AM Jun 3rd from Twitterrific” and “Harry's canoe route blocked by blow-down. Plan foiled. Forced to fly out. Thank goodness for his sat phone and fly-in fishermen.3:22 AM Jun 11th from Twitterrific”.

I doubled portaged this 100 meter portage. By the time I got all my gear across it was 1130 am. It was time for lunch. I made a peanut butter sandwich with Strawberry Preserve on Sourdough bread, some beef jerky and gorp.

While I was sitting back eating lunch I could feel the warm rays of the sun as it peeked out from behind the clouds. I was finished with lunch and back on the water at 11:49 am.

There wouldn’t be anymore portages for a while and that’s fine with me. Maybe about 12 km before the next portage. It appeared the wind was now coming out of the SW. There was a light chop on the water. When I got about a third of the way down Kilburn Lake I could see a boat cache of two boats off to my right.

Once I rounded the southern point of Kilburn Lake I now was headed to the NW. I continued to follow my progress on the map as I made my way to the next 150 meter portage from Kilburn Lake to Middle Kilburn Lake. After a couple turns within a kilometer of the portage I was there. Before I found the portage I saw an orange object on shore so I paddled over to it thinking the portage was close by. When I got close I noticed it was an orange fuel container that had several bear teeth holes in it.

The portage was further to the right of where this fuel container was. I almost made it to the end of the portage with my first pack. This pack has my axe and saw. Well, there were some trees blocking the portage. The way the trees had fallen it would be too much work to get around them if I could do so. I broke out my new pruning saw. It only took about 5 to 10 minutes to cut the tops off the trees and move them aside. I placed the saw back in the scabbard and carried the pack to the end. I walked back the short distance and grabbed my Pelican case and water bottles. Then I went back for the other pack and the canoe. There was another boat cache at the end of this portage on Middle Kilburn Lake.

My planned campsite for the night was about 1 km away. I paddled up the narrows toward to islands. In the last hour the wind had picked up, but I didn’t realized how much it did until I reached the open part of the lake.

Once I got to the islands I began checking for some fire rocks and where the best place to land near them. I checked the small island and found them then I decided to check the bigger island to see if there was another campsite. I didn’t see anything on the big island although I didn’t paddle completely around it. I paddled back to the small island and found a suitable place to land the canoe. I threw my gear out of the canoe and hauled it up to the top of the site. There was room for a couple of tents here. First things first. I put up the tarp, tent then filtered water.

I’m beginning to think I might start bringing the gravity filter bags so I could be doing other chores while the water is filtering. My concern is that they seem to either work great or not. We seemed to spend a lot of time cleaning the clogged gravity bag on the Wabakimi trip. We had two of them along with two extra filters and we seemed to be constantly changing them out.

Dinner tonight was venison spaghetti with lemon pudding. Coffee, too!

Once dinner was cooked I was sitting back in my therm-a- rest chair eating when I heard a loud noise over to my right and to the back of me. I wasn’t too concerned about the noise, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought it sounded like the largest squirrel climbing at tree or possibly a smaller tree falling. There aren’t any gray squirrels around and then I heard another smaller similar noise. Now I needed to get up to see what was going on although I was finally getting a chance to relax in my chair. I got up and found an open spot to get a view of the area between the three islands. I saw a cow moose and her calf in the water swimming. They were both looking at me while swimming to the other island. I couldn’t get any good photos from this angle. They were swimming toward the smaller island that had been burned over. I walked over to the west end of the island I was on so I could get some pictures. I watched as they swam over to the island. Once they got on land they took their time disappearing to the far side of the burnt island. That was a nice sight, but it was time to get back to eating and some coffee.

After supper I did dishes and took some more photos. I began writing in my journal when I noticed a large black cloud developing to the west. Time to button down camp. There were only a few light sprinkles on me, but I could see where it was raining to the west.

I sat back down going through my maps. I’m deciding if I’m going to attempt the expanded my route from my original loop. I also took a GPS location of this campsite. About a year or so ago I bought Garmin’s Topo Canada and I downloaded some of the maps of this area into my Garmin 76CSx before this trip.

The wind continued to fluctuate up and down. Right now it’s calm (8:42 pm). About 20 minutes ago the temperature dropped making it too cool to sit in only my short sleeve shirt. It was comfortable sitting in the sun when it was out.

It looked like there will be a nice sky to photograph tonight with the clouds forming in the west.

It’s really peaceful out with the birds singing their tunes. I’ve heard this very familiar tune many times before.

Tonight will be the first night in my new tent and sleeping bag.

Well, I think I’m going to stop writing for now…that didn’t last long. Here are some thoughts…I’m wearing my Danner boots in camp. I’m glad I brought them even though they are heavier to lug around than my tennis shoes. They give me more support and they are much warmer.

I’m wearing my brown poly hat, black light weight Smartwool top and my REI green fleece wind stop lightweight jacket.

The black flies haven’t been too bad. I’ve been bitten a few times. The mosquitoes are coming out now. Now, that’s it….

I took some more photos and went to the tent around 10 pm.