Sunday, July 12, 2009

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.

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