Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day Three: Sunday 06-14-09

Lakes /Rivers:

Talon Lake
160 m port
375 m port
South Aegean Lake
80 m port
Aegean Lake
150 m port
550 m port
100 m port
Welkin Lake / Beamish Creek

Total Distance: 15.5 miles (24.95 kilometers)

Ports: 1415 meters

Time: 9:16

Woke up at 0400 am, but I didn’t start my stretches until 5:03 am. I was out of the tent about the same time as yesterday morning.

Woke up to clear, blue skies, but there was a fog over the water. It’s still cool out, but its nice sleeping weather especially in my new down sleeping bag.

There was the sound of more rapids to the east of me. The birds were singing their familiar songs to me again. Beaver tails were flapping in the water. I heard a flock of geese fly over while I was in the tent. Now there’s another flock overhead heading north.

Once the sun popped over the trees a little before 6:00 am the temperature began to quickly rise.

At 7:45 am I was on the water and it was very calm. I have been wearing my PFD every day, but today I didn’t put it on because it simply was going to be too hot out. It was already hot! There also hasn’t been a lot of fast water.

Prior to getting on the water I made a cup of coffee for the “road”. I drank it as I paddled west from the campsite.

I continued to paddle along the north shore of Talon Lake heading to the narrows at the NW end of the lake. When the river turned to the north just past the narrows I saw a couple of loons “playing”. They were chasing one another. There was an eagle that was soaring overhead scanning the area.

Continuing NW in the narrows I came to the 160 meter portage at 8:40 am. There was an old blaze on a small jack pine telling me I was there. I walked over some smaller trees that were over the trail, and then I came upon a larger tree. This tree needed to be taken out so out came the pruning saw. I took out the bigger one and then I walked the whole trail taking out the smaller nuisance ones.

Once I was done with that I continued on with my first pack. I got to the end of dry land. I needed to walk into the water on the backside of a beaver dam to drop my pack on top of it. When all my gear had been carried across I loaded my canoe and got under way at 9:09 am.

It wasn’t long before I got to the second 375 meter portage. This portage went up and down. The first trip took me from 9:36 am to 9:44 am. There were some cairns leading the way across this portage. I tripled portage this one.

When I travel I carry an All-Weather notebook and a space pen to take notes as I go. This is what I wrote to describe this portage, simply “mother?#^@er”. Was it really that bad or was it just the first tough portage of the trip? Little did I know at the time I was in for more “fun”? Maybe another day under different circumstances I might have thought differently about this portage, but then again maybe I would feel the same way.

On this portage I really began to feel the tendon on the outside of my right ankle. I wasn’t sure if I was tearing the tendon or if my NRS boot was cutting into it. My left foot was fine. Could this be why I wrote “mother?#^@er” to describe the portage. It was hot out also, the hottest so far.

In another three kilometers I decided I would change up my route and go out of my way by another 3 km to look for some pictographs on South Aegean Lake. When I got to the general area where they were supposed to be I spotted them right away. There appeared to be three separate figures. The far right figure appeared to be either a moose or caribou. The middle figure appeared to be a wolf and the far left drawing wasn’t as clear. When I first looked at the drawing it reminded me of an anchor or a vertical line with an arrow at the bottom.

These pictographs face to the west and they are about a foot off the water. After finding these I paddled back to a campsite that I had past on the way over to stop and have lunch at 11:34 am. More peanut butter, strawberry preserve on Sourdough bread. I took some photos before I was began paddling at 12:01 pm. I threaded my way through the islands on South Aegean Lake before coming to the 80 meter portage to Aegean Lake. I reached this portage in the furthest north bay of the lake.

There was the most concentrated amount of deciduous vegetation that I’ve seen so far and it was obvious that the moose were spending a lot of time in this area based upon the amount of moose droppings I saw.

I double portaged this and was now on Aegean Lake at 12:51 pm. I paddled about a half kilometer before I went between two islands to reach the little bay where the next portage was supposed to be located. After I turned west to get into the bay I went directly to the far west shore to begin looking for the portage. Once I got to shore I headed south and scanned the shoreline for the portage. Shortly, I found a rock cairn on top of a rock outcropping at 1:06 pm. I triple portaged this one. Done with this portage at 1:29 pm.

I forgot to write the time I got to the next 550 meter portage but it probably was around 20 minutes after the last portage making it 1:50 pm. I don’t know if the lake I’m on has a name or not but about two thirds up it just past the narrows I crossed into a burn area. This fire line was in the SE corner of the perimeter of the lightning strike fire from 2006.

I found the rock cairn on top of a rock outcrop. Once on top of the large rock face I looked ahead and saw another cairn, but I couldn’t see anymore. I strained and squinted but I couldn’t see anything. My notes said go straight and don’t follow the flagging to the left. I didn’t see any flagging.

I muscled my big pack up onto my back, clipped my water bottles that are in a mesh bag to the carabineer on the left shoulder strap then put the line from my Pelican case up through the carabineer on my right shoulder strap and looped it back down to the handle. I walked in the direction of the other cairn. I was sweating from the hot sun when I got to it. I stopped while I was hunched over with my heavy pack looking in a straight line from where I came to the cairn in front of me. Nothing…I didn’t see another cairn, blaze or flagging. I stood there being baked by the hot sun with the sweat running down my face in the middle of no where on top of a bald rock with burnt trees surrounding me and not knowing which way to go.

I thought of a dumb book some people say is a masterpiece. I’ll just call it dumb. I needed to read this book in a literature class in college. It was called, “Waiting for Godot”. I really don’t remember the book that much, but I remember two guys waiting for Godot who never showed. Why I thought of the book at that time I don’t know maybe it was the hot sun affecting my brain.

Well, after a minute, but it seemed longer, I dropped the pack, water and Pelican case on the whaleback. I walked down the burnt bald rock face to below and then back up another whaleback while stepping over down, burned dead trees. I stopped and scanned the area. Nothing….I got out my compass and I was going in a north direction. That sure wouldn’t get me to where I wanted to go, so I went back to my pack, but I took a slightly different path looking for any sign of a portage.

Now back at the second cairn I look off to the west without my gear. Well, I see what I believe to be another cairn on another whaleback outcropping. I go down one face to another. I follow the cairns that are on top of this rock outcrop going SW. These cairns were stacked differently that all the other cairns I’ve come across so far. Now the cairns stopped on top of the ridge that dropped to a low lying wet bog area. I didn’t see any more cairns, blazes or flagging if there was supposed to be any. I walked through this bog full of down trees before deciding to go back to my Pelican case. I remembered I had my GPS with me so I went back and turned it on. Once I got a fix on my location I brought up the map page. It looked like if I would continue through the bog that it would take me to a small bay on the lake to the west.

Once again, I muscled my pack up onto my back and other items and off I went the way I just came. I meandered around, over and under some trees through some water and eventually I came out to the lake. That was the good news. I just had to do it one more time.

I got back to my other gear and decided I would leap frog these two items. I took the pack first and went to the last cairn before the wet low lying area. I went back for the canoe. It was a little trickier with the canoe. I made to my pack then hit the bog until I needed to drop the canoe so I could maneuver it through the down trees. Back I went to the pack and past the canoe. This went on a few times before I re-joined my first pack.

I didn’t see any cairns or blazes where I came out on the other lake, but I didn’t put any effort into finding any either. There were some large flies that were swarming around. I hurriedly threw my gear in the canoe and headed north to the next 100 meter portage through the burn at 3:37 pm. I took a photo of myself while I was paddling this stretch. It was so hot and no shade.

When I got home I e-mailed Claire Quewezence about some of my observations of the park. I mentioned that I had to bush whack this area. She replied that I was the second person to tell her that they needed to bush whack across. She said she hasn’t been through this area since the fire, but they have sent two crews to this area. She doesn’t know what the problem is, but they will have to send crews back yearly for a while to remove the down trees. I wonder if the two different crews had marked slightly different beginnings for this portage, but if that was the case where did the rest of the portage go?

Back on the water I had another 2-2.5 km to go before the portage. I was coming to the end when I spotted two cairns. They seemed to be in conflict with one another. The first one was on top of a rock outcropping off to the left just before the shore in front of me. There was another cairn straight ahead further to the north on top of a ridge. I knew the lake I wanted to get to was directly to the north. I headed for the cairn on top of the steep ridge. I got to that cairn but I didn’t see any more so one again I set off cross country. Eventually I hooked up with a trail that meandered down to Welkin Lake/Beamish Creek.

On my way back for the other gear I followed the trail as far as I could. I continued on the trail past where I had intersected it. I came across some blow downs blocking the trail. I got around these and got my stuff. I went back the way I originally came. When I stopped at the first cairn on top of the ridge I looked to my left. I saw the down trees that I went around on my way back, but I also saw a cairn. Well, it was easier to go the way I went to first time.

Back to the very first cairn. I didn’t go this way, but I believe it followed the low area slightly to the west then around the rock outcropping that I walked up. If there weren’t any blow downs that might have been the way to go in the past. I’m guessing it was probably the original trial before the burn.

This portaged seemed longer than the 100 meters the map showed it to be. I didn’t step it off. I just wanted to get it over with and get out of the sun at the campsite 2 kilometers away. I finished this portage at 4:32 pm and I took my last sip of water.

There were a couple nice breezes as I paddled to the west to the campsite. I was very relived and surprised. The breezes were short lived only about 30 seconds each. Just enough time to bring a brief smile to my face.

I pulled in at the campsite at 5:01 pm. My body was stiff and sore. My right ankle was sore. It was hot! I was tired!

First thing after I unloaded the canoe and pulled it completely out of the water up the bank was to filter water so I could hydrate myself.

Next it was time to set up the tent, put up the tarp, cook dinner, make coffee, and wash dishes. I was thirstier than I was hungry.

It was 7:41 pm when I was able to sit in my thermo-a- rest chair and relax. For those who haven’t done any solo trips it’s easily to forget that you have to do everything. If you don’t do it yourself it doesn’t get done.

This was a very hot day with some challenging portages. My right ankle was very sore when I got to camp, but when I changed into my Danner boots the constant pain went away.

When I looked at my maps I saw that if I continued on the route I intended to do there were several longer portages through this same 2006 burn area.

I was beginning to get concerned about the ankle. What would happen if I continued and the ankle got worst? Past this point I would have to continue with my original plan because there wouldn’t be any way to shorten the trip. The longest portage was 850 meters and that portage would be at the end of day 6. I really didn’t want to back track the way I just came. Those “fun” portages were still fresh in my head.

Tomorrow if I continue with my original route as planned it appeared to be a shorter day, but I might go further to give me some extra time to cross the 850 meter portage. Just in case it’s as fun as today’s 550 meter portage.

I’ve been sitting in my tent since 9:00 pm writing in my journal since the mosquitoes came out in force. It’s now 9:55 pm and I’m going to sleep. The place where I set my tent drops down about 3 to 4 inches. I needed to turn my sleeping bag around.

This new Hubba Hubba tent doesn’t have as much room as my other Eureka tent.

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