The Canoe-Toboggan: Preparing for Spring

Amy, Dave and Tank heading across a lake with the Canoe-Toboggan.

This week’s Notes from the Trail is about how we are adapting to the changing seasons. We have gotten our canoe and are waiting for the day we can paddle it. The sun feels more intense than it did just a month ago. I remember back in December we struggled to charge our batteries during the short days. Now it seems like the batteries charge in minutes. That same sun is working to diminish the snow and ice on the lakes. It is melting the snow that covered the ground all winter. A walk in the woods is suddenly filled with smells of dirt and pine needles. The sun heats our tent like a little greenhouse. We don’t need a fire in the wood stove on a sunny day. There are more hours of daylight each day and the amount of daylight is still going to increase! We can travel so much farther in a day than we could back in November, December or January.

What do you notice about the changing seasons where you live?

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We have been busy making changes to the gear we have and our mode of transportation. Tank is settling into his role as the only dog, sleeping in the tent at night and lounging in the sun by day. When it is time to pull a load, Dave and I are helping Tank pull it, giving us a new appreciation for the hard work the three sled dogs did all winter.

We have a month’s worth of food and all the gear we need for the paddling season now. Two separate crews came out to supply us with all this stuff. We have a strange mix of things we use in the winter and things we use in the summer. Here is a list of some of the equipment we have with us now:

Personal flotation devices (life jackets)
Down jackets
Snow shovel
Rubber boots
Wood stove
Duluth packs (super big backpacks)

Which items do you think are for summer and which ones are for winter?

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We had to think creatively about how to travel with a 19 foot long canoe while the lakes are still frozen. We figured out a way to strap the canoe onto our toboggan. We packed all of our gear in the canoe. It looks kind of funny, but it slides over the snow easily. Tank, Dave and I pulled it together when we moved camp from Knife Lake.

Pulling their load in front of cliffs on Ottertrack Lake.

We mostly just pulled it across frozen lakes. When we came to a portage, we carried the Duluth packs across the portage and walked back to pull the canoe/toboggan across. If we need to, we could even take the canoe off and carry it on our shoulders. We might need to do that on rocky portage trails.

Dave and I love overcoming a challenge. We had to work to solve the dilemma of how to transport our canoe. Actually, at first we tried to slide just the canoe, but it got stuck in the soft snow. We had to try strapping it to the toboggan in several different ways before we found a way that worked. We never know when we will encounter a new challenge when we are in the wilderness. That is actually one of the things I love about traveling in wild places. Sure, it might be hard to figure out a problem, but it feels so good when we finally do figure out a solution.

How do you approach finding a solution to a problem?

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Now we’re ready for anything. We have plenty of food and our strange assortment of winter and summer equipment. We’re ready to paddle, but we have no idea when that day will come. The conditions are great for traveling on the frozen lakes, so we’ll keep moving!

Student Response Worksheett





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