Tuesday, April 23, 2013

October 23: Portage key

I have been feasting on my can goods to try to make the portages lighter, since I am sure to hit a town at least once a week, and assuming I can resolve my banking situation I can buy a week's worth of food in each.  What I do is grab cans from the bottom of the bag: stuff I don't like as much or has lost its label.  Cook up a couple cans and if by the third I haven't hit my regimen of carbs and protein, make some mac and cheese, adding tuna if necessary.

Today's marked portage was at the end of Cass Lake, a recreational lake, and its Knutson's Dam a recreational dam.  It turned out to be open and safe to shoot, saving me a 300 yard portage!  This inspired a code for my portage page, OOO, for Open, 0 foot drop, and 0 issues.

What's a portage page?  There are a lot of portages and to keep my spirits up I made a list of them in the back of my notebook, writing little codes next to each one; the final key becoming as follows:

  • xT: x number of Trips
  • xE: x number of Eggs
  • xP: x number of People seen
  • SG: Slid canoe on Grass
  • DF: saw a Dead Fish
  • OOO: Open 0 foot drop 0 issues
  • S: Scouted ahead
  • BP: lifted boat with Bungeed Paddles
  • FLH: Felt Like Hell
  • FC: Found Crack
  • GP: Gouged Pavement?
  • RR: Rest Room
  • RN: ReNamed?
  • xH: x # people Helped
Day 124 ended: a little spot of sand half covered in snail shells on the shore of Winnibigoshish, a mile north of the river.

I am betting strongly on no significant rain or wind tonight.  All my stuff is close together very close to the shore, with the intent that I can get going very early in the morning.  I hope this bet pays off.

October 22, Part 2: Staying dry

I don't know how other people do it, so I must invent as I go,  Although it essentially rained all [the previous] day, spirits remained high until my hands and feet began feeling hopelessly cold and wet.  The rest of my body was thankfully covered in Gore-Tex.  It's a mystery that I can walk in the water in the Gore-Tex boots I had and my feet did not get wet, but a day of rain leaves them soaking.

My hands, though, felt warmer at the end of the day than at any time during it -- looking ancient, shriveled, wrinkled.  It will be a while before I have a chance, but I simply must find a pair of gloves that will work decently, and then probably a couple extra pairs of socks.  I currently have 5 pairs of socks, and wore 3 during the rainy day, leave only a couple of pairs for later.

I use a tent for the night, since it appears the rest of the campsites lack the 3-wall shelters.  I hang my flashlight from the top of the tent by a string, and tonight several socks and gloves are tied up in it in hopes that swaying above me all night will help them dry faster.  With every reason to expect continuing rain, if I remain stationary for even a day at this point freezing is the more urgent concern.  I suppose other canoeists suffer the cold and wet much like I do.

The good news?  I discovered my hair had grown long enough to lay flat in my Tilley hat the Kings gave me, which fit well again throughout the long rainy day.

Day 123 ended: Star Island campsite (by the lake inside the island inside the lake)

Monday, April 22, 2013

October 22, Part 1: Wolf Lake

Before me stretched the shoreline.  I searched carefully for the outlet of the river, but I was having difficulty, even when consulting the map.  A forest stretched from the left to straight ahead, finally broken by docks and houses which continued to the right.  A third of the way from the right side of that subdivision was a white house that had caught my eye as I approached.  A road extended to the right of this, even beyond where the houses ended, and I had seen a car driving on this road vanish in the vicinity of the white house.

Somewhere ahead had to be the river.  Here's a one-question quiz to see if you've understood everything I've written so far about navigation.  Where did I need to go?  Where was the river?

a) Left of the houses
b) Near the white house
c) Right of the houses

The answer is after the break.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

October 20, Part 2: I am a spaceship

I am a spaceship hovering over some alien planet.  Below me is a foreign geography composed of black forested continents stretched in light sandy oceans.  The atmosphere of this place is seen to have an intricate web-like pattern of light and dark clouds, illuminated by the constant showers of meteors which falling into the planet's air, join it, leaving only ripples on the surface.  Occasionally some black mass of life rises up off the sea and floats, speeding across below me -- a true flying island.

Black holes and nebulae burst out like living boils thrust upward from undersea currents, and in the deep space of exploding stars, cosmic spiders scour the surface for unlucky prey, as the naked boughs of trees drape over my head.  I am a canoe, and the water is dark, large, and living.

Day 121 ended: ???

Saturday, April 20, 2013

October 21: Stump Lake

Is it any wonder why they called it Stump Lake?  Not really.  A hundred beavers the size of bears had once roamed the place, taking down the biggest trees first and schewing the sides, face-up, flat as a board.  If someone were to come in and rotate these board 180 degrees, they'd chew the other side too, then you could ship these to a hardware store and sell them.

I wandered through the wreckage forever looking for the "Stump Lake" camp site that showed up on the map somewhere around the bend.  I decided I was intelligent, but just not intelligent enough to solve the riddle of the lake -- until a couple bends later I finally found it just before the sun set, and froze my fingers writing about the experience so you could read it.

The thing is, the real beaver story comes later.

Day 122 ended: Stump Lake Campground

Friday, April 19, 2013

October 20, Part 1: The grocery portage

Plastic bags just love to loose my food all over the ground.  I want to carry less food, not more.  More towns, more portages, less need to carry three weeks worth.  I'm not sure I can afford it, anyway.  Pick up a tin, put it in a different bag - bit more than shreds of plastic.  Hold my new fuel can in one hand, a barrel of oats under the arm.  When the first bag ripped, it was easy enough to redistribute to the other three.  When the second one fell apart -- obviously I was having difficulty but no one was going to just pull over and help.  With the last hundred yards to go on my mile trek back from the grocery store, under the unthinking gaze of Paul Bunyan and Babe I dumped it all on the shore and walked to the canoe.

I came back in the boat to pick up my things, when a woman came running out of her car.

"Excuse me, do you need a plastic bag?"

"Oh, thanks!"

"I tried giving it to you earlier, but..."

-- but I knew no one was going to help.

Day 121 continues.