Day 250: Moonrise over the Boundary Waters

Transfixed by the star-covered, moonless sky, I lay on the warm bedrock for hours watching whispy clouds flow by. The earth slowly rotated through space and I greeted new stars and wished others a farwell until the next clear night.

A faint glow appeared on the horizon, urging me to stay and watch the moon rise. For half an hour the light intensified, a glowing orb filtered through the tallest white pines and eventually breached the horizon, shining across the lake’s still surface.

I was tired when I finally crawled into bed at 1:30 AM but the memory of the moonrise and this image will remain with me for a long time.

Daily data:

Days in the wilderness: 250
High Temperature: 72 F
Low Temperature: 46 F
Miles Traveled: 4
Number of Portages: 2
Number of Lakes visited: 2

Animals Encountered:
Raven 3
Common loon 4
Bald eagle 2
Moose 1 (it was dead)
Common merganser 5
Common grackle 2
White-throated sparrow 7
Dragonfly 8
Snowshoe hare 1

Nipigon!

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Cedar: We are now in Nipigon, ON. It is the most northerly freshwater port in the world! It is very beautiful. It is sooo warm, it is ironic that the more north we go the warmer it gets! A few nights ago we were in this really nice place called Loon Harbor. There was this beautiful bedrock beach, and we played this really fun game called “Thicket”. We have also been swinging a lot like always. When we were in the Nipigon Bay coming into Nipigon we saw these really cool pictographs. They were really pretty. It is fun to think about how long they have been there—thousands of years!

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Brooke: We are in Nipigon, Ontario now. The weather is SO gorgeous! The sun is shining and it is 75 degrees!  The warm, sunny weather of the past few days has been great for swinging. A few days ago the interns even tried swinging!  Tomorrow we are sailing to Rossport, Ontario, where we are going to do another public presentation. On Sunday, I’m leaving the Sea Change trip and going home. I can’t believe the 2 weeks of my trip are already pretty much over! It has gone by so fast. I am very glad I got to come on this trip. It has been amazing!

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Lamar: Nipigon is such a cute town! There’s so many little shops. The Paddle to the Sea play stations are a lot of fun too. Brooke and Claire are leaving in only two days! It went so fast! Yesterday we saw some prehistoric pictographs. They were really cool but kind of hard to find.  Tomorrow we are going to Rossport, it’s a really little town. Barely more than a dock.  The showers at the Nipigon Marina didn’t have hot water last night so that was a surprise but I think they turned on the hot water heater so hopefully there’ll be a hot shower tonight.  It’s been really warm which is funny since we’re in the most northerly part of the lake! THAT’S kind of backwards.

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Decisions, Decisions. Reflection #2

Lower Red Rock Lake

 Lower Red Rock Lake

May 18th, We started the morning with a pliable mind, as we were not sure if our initial plan would pan out. The plan: Drive (thanks, Viki!) to the boundary of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (protecting migratory bird nesting grounds) and paddle the Red Rock River in our pack-rafts (thanks, Alpaca Raft!). Our plan was soon foiled by the washed out back roads of May in Montana. New plan (in some circles this is called plan B): Keep hiking until we can get a truck to navigate the back roads with. Viki dropped us off the western end of the Lima Reservoir; about 14 miles from Lima, MT.

Lima Dam drop point

Lima Dam drop point

We arrived at the reservoir around 2 pm, got our gear and packs organized and started walking on yet another dirt road. Keep in mind you, we are canoeists and backpacking is not our natural state. Walking on packed dirt roads really does a number on your hips, especially with packs digging in and grinding the bone. Ugh. Bonus: after a rest day one’s body is a little sorer. Thus, our aspirations of getting to Lima by nightfall and the sweet delight of dining at Jan’s Café were thwarted by our slow pace. We decided to camp along the side of the road and get back on the early train. This choice paid off big time as about 10 minutes after setting up our tent, a wonderful Montana May rainstorm rolled in. Happy in our tent, we used the Jetboil to make quinoa! What an efficient and easy camp cooking device, especially for the tired of feet and mind. The quinoa was made tasty by a soup-seasoning packet, turning it into a tender pot roast, minus the actual meat and vegetables. Imagination! While eating, the rain stopped so we opened the rain fly flaps and watched the clouds dance across the sky, as three different storm cells circled us. Our eyes did not remain open long as dusk approached, with dreams of fair weather for the days ahead.

 May 19th, Hear that? Finally caught the early train! Up and out of the tent like the bolts of lighting that graced the sky during the night, our feet hit that packed dirt road with vigor. Our plan for the day included having lunch in Lima at Jan’s Café! The day started out with multiple conversations with local residents, as they drove by us in their vehicles. We were offered our first ride from a women doing utility work and we kindly declined. The sky and weather had started to change, as we knew would happen from reading the forecast the previous night. We took our lunch break at Jan’s café, both ordering BLT’s on rye bread, with French fires and homemade ranch sauce.

As more ominous clouds gathered traction in the sky, we got on with the hiking, now on a paved road! 15 minutes in, the gusts of wind started. Another 15 minutes and the rain began and did not relent for an hour. A sucker hole then appeared. A sucker hole is what we call a break in the storm, when sun rays penetrate the gray to give you a moment of warmth and happiness before the illusion is shattered by more, usually worse, storm-age. We were offered another ride and water from a local driving by. We were good on both counts. Onward. The hail came shortly after that and continued for most of the afternoon, in between actual rain and then a constant drizzle of water falling from the sky.

first-person rainy hike view!

 First-person rainy hike view!

The motivation of the day was making it the 8 miles from Lima to Dell, where there was another café. We were MT café-hopping today. The sight of Dell and The Yesterday Calf-A in the distance re-invigorated our steps and we made a good pace there. The special of the day: grilled cheese and tomato soup. “We’ll take two. And pie. Please.” It was the best tasting grilled cheese and tomato soup. No contest. We took our time in the sheltered and warm environment, recharging ourselves and our electronics, and taking advantage of the rare cell phone service to pass along messages to friends and family.

On our way out the door, a man named Jeff Brown, walked in. He, among others, had been following our progress through our Delorme InReach device, and drove two hours from Idaho to Dell to meet with us! An enthusiastic adventurer and voyageur interpreter and canoe paddler, Jeff was excited about our expedition and wanted to meet us and help, if possible. He had brought us some snacks from the gas station along with 9 pre-stamped envelopes! A natural storyteller and all-around great guy, he walked a couple of miles with us and helped us keep our minds off of our feet. We made camp between the road and railroad tracks with just a barbed wire fence between us and the train that would thunder by us late in the night. To our surprise Jeff met up with us again, this time with a piece of hot pizza for us to share. Another night spent watching the Big Sky.

May 20th, Woke up and jumped back on that early train. There were no more cafes between us and the Clark Canyon Reservoir. We had 16 miles to go. 16 brutal, paved miles with more rain. It really was a miserable hike but the goal of getting to the Reservoir coupled kept us focused and the mile markers along the road helped us set our pace. About every mile we’d take a drink of water. Every two, we’d stop to pee. Every three we’d take a slightly longer break to eat something and then we’d hike two miles straight. The consistent breaks with adequate water, food, and a great sense of humor were the key to fighting the painful steps and cold, wet weather.

When the Reservoir came into view, we breathed a sigh of relief until then we realized we had two miles more to the campground.

Call it serendipity, at the exact moment we needed it, a truck showed up and really, good dude, Dale Stewart (for Senate!) pulled over and offered us a ride. This one was easy to accept because we would be backtracking to paddle this stretch anyway. The ride turned into dinner and showers at the Clark Canyon Bible Camp, where Dale serves as Director. Finally dry, warm, and well fed, we headed back to the campground and were in bed before the sun set, proud of our miles.

glorious 4-wheel drive!

Glorious 4-wheel drive!

May 21st, Rest day. We did some curriculum thinking and technology working in the morning and then Viki and friend, Grayson showed up with a truck, a resupply of gear and our pack rafts. We headed back to the Red Rock Lakes Refuge to camp, celebrate, and prepare for the descent of the Red Rock River the next day. What a difference a truck makes on those roads. We were in up to the fenders, but it was no problem. We played music and enjoyed each other’s company and the wild weather. Overnight the winds came in and made it difficult to sleep with the tent slapping us in the face regularly. You get used to it, I guess, and just fall back asleep.

Some snowglobe-storm camping aftermath!

    Some snowglobe-storm camping aftermath!

May 22nd, Got up early and left camp set up, we’d be back after the paddle. When we got down to the river, the wind was ripping towards us. Here is where we began to experience a difference in confidence. Where Lisa was excited to paddle no matter what, Alyce had different feelings. Feeling more physically tired and stressed about the wind, Alyce decided that after 2 hours of paddling into a direct headwind, in pack rafts that are incredibly challenging to stir in direct headwinds, that this was no longer a positive risk for her. When we met up with the truck, she hopped out as Lisa continued on. For Lisa, this was hard, but still within her limits. After another hour of battling the crazy wind, Lisa met up with the truck again and decided to take a ride downstream to get behind the storm and paddle with the wind. Tired minds don’t always come up with the best plans but sometimes you just have to go to know. Lisa went to the west end of the river where it dumped into the Lima Reservoir and began paddling upstream in the hail. Now at the tail-end of the storm, the tailwind was gone and Lisa waged a new battle with the current. As the river turned her farther from the road and the support crew, she realized after about and hour and half that the current was stronger than her ability to cover the rest of the distance upstream. She sent a text with the Delorme to meet at the next spot where the road touched the river. She ended up doing a lot of hiking and pack dragging through the river.

Why do all this battle today? It was the only day we had to paddle the river. If not this day, odds are, we wouldn’t be able to come back and then our mission to become the first all-female team to descend the 4th longest river system in the world would be incomplete.

May 23rd, Up early, Lisa and Grayson decided to finish the last stretch of river before meeting up with Lisa’s parents mid-day to get the canoe and more gear. With great fortune, there was no wind and, this time paddling with the current, the travel went much more smoothly. Lisa and Grayson were able to cover the distance left between the two attempts the day before and made it on time to the rendezvous with the canoe. The plan was to then paddle the 10 mile stretch of the Lima Reservoir. Here’s where the plans had to change again to meet the needs the expedition, the expeditioners, and Source of Confidence as a whole. For Alyce, it was a touch decision, knowing that perhaps too much had been taken on, with trying to start a non-profit, fundraise, run a business, and paddle 4,000 miles. With our varying roles within Source of Confidence, the most pressing thing for Alyce was to be able to take care of the business and financial-related aspects of Source of Confidence, to ensure that the back bones of the expedition were in place, to allow us to complete the big picture mission. For Lisa, it was finishing the remote stretch of the route while the opportunity was there. We quickly came up with a new plan for Alyce to head back to town for internet and phone access, while Lisa would stay with her parents overnight and find someone to paddle the reservoir with the next day. Tensions were high as both us had different priorities and the exhaustion from the weeks of tough travel and constant decision-making and plan-changing began to catch up to us. We parted ways on tense terms, both of us believing we were doing what was right for ourselves and Source of Confidence as a whole, yet both of us knowing we would be able to resolve the issues after some space and time to think.

May 24th, Alyce and Viki took care of Source of Confidence related business matters, logistics for the expedition, and other details. Lisa and her mother (GO DEB) paddled the Lima Reservoir. When the team reunited in the evening in Dillon and tales of the day were exchanged, it turned out the last minute decisions made the day before had worked out favorably for everyone, the expedition, and Source of Confidence as a whole. Lisa and Alyce were able to see eye-to-eye, stay humble, and roll with the punches. A challenging and productive conversation was had, each clarifying roles and understanding that the other had the priorities right within their role. This is what Source of Confidence is all about: women coming together, doing something incredibly challenging and understanding that at times things are going to get messy. We are doing something HUGE! That takes patience, perseverance and the confidence to make tough decisions to benefit Source of Confidence as a whole.

Alyce tackles the joy that is online banking!

    Alyce tackles the joy that is online banking!

May 25th, We spent the day organizing gear to switch into the canoe phase of the expedition. The 26th would be the day to paddle the Clark Canyon Reservoir and begin the Beaverhead River. This day could not come soon enough. With paddles and guitar now in tow, we venture into river life with optimism, enthusiasm, and much new insight into how we operate as a team to handle the multitude of challenges that come with expedition life, putting together a confidence building curriculum and trying to run our own business. It will be 10 days until we meet with Viki again in Three Forks, Montana at the headwaters of the Missouri River. Happy trails!

Lisa & Alyce

 

Alyce and Lisa get ready to board the canoe at Clark Canyon Resevoir

  Alyce and Lisa get ready to board the canoe at                              Clark Canyon Reservoir

 

The Start! Reflection #1.

Greetings from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Montana! One of the last remaining nesting places for trumpeter swans, we have learned. We (Lisa, Alyce, Viki and Owa the Dog) are camped at the Lower Red Rock Lakes (LRRL) Campground today, May 17th, 2016.

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One of the transport cars, fully loaded with gear and food.

We departed St. Paul, Minnesota on May 7th and spent 2 days driving to southern Montana. We had a fine support team along with us, including SOC artistic director and communications manager, Victoria (Viki) Carpenter, and friends, Anne Flory and Briana Patnode. Viki will be based out of southern Montana for the next three months as we, Lisa and Alyce, begin the expedition. Upon arrival, we spent two days preparing final details, including printing maps, organizing resupplies, handling random banking issues, and ensuring we had the proper amount of gloves for the cold days ahead.

The expedition officially started on Wednesday May 11th, 2016. Anne, Briana and Viki drove us down a rickety dirt road in the Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana. We got out of the car at an unmarked, even gnarlier dirt road, packs fully loaded, and over a year of preparing for this moment. Amid our collective feelings of excitement, nausea, doubt, awe, and a few others, it was passion to find the ultimate source of the 4th longest river system in the world that allowed us to take those first steps into the wilderness. Well, that and confidence in our skills, each other, and ourselves, as well as the comfort of all the support we had received so far.

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Alyce and Lisa ready to start hiking.

After pictures, hugs, and some tears, we started hiking. The thoughts in both of our heads had been whittled down to “wow” and “we’re here” and “this is finally happening”. About 20 minutes of walking on the road and we found the old Continental Divide Trail (CDT) that would bring us to Lillian Lake, 4.5 miles away.  The trail was easy enough to follow in the beginning, though as elevation increased, so did the snow pack. With the trail buried under all that snow, we quickly had to start relying on our navigation skills. We quickly learned that screenshots of the topographic map that we printed at the library the day before were not going to be all that useful until we knew exactly where we were. We also had our GPS map function on our Delorme InReach with waypoints of each of the main destinations, including Lillian Lake and Hell Roaring Creek. Though trying to follow those waypoints through the mountains wasn’t as straightforward as we thought earlier. After scaling a steep and snowy section of wilderness, we arrived at the top of a peak and with daylight fading, doubt started to set in. Should we really be here? We had shelter, food, and the skills to build a fire to turn snow into drinking water and to cook, and ample experience camping in cold temperatures. We also had a stunning view of the sunset over brilliant snow-capped peaks. Yes, we should definitely be here. We made camp and decided to get our bearings in the morning. As we set up our tents and prepared food (rice, potato, curry, and extra butter) and water, a realization crept over both of us. All the months of dreaming, planning, preparing, the challenges, and sleepless nights thinking about details, all lead up to this moment. Being there, on that mountainside was a hard earned accomplishment. To celebrate, we dried our tired feet around the fire, split a K’ul chocolate bar and allowed the pure joy of being alone in the wilderness wash over us.

Camping on that mountain the first night, keeping a level head and using our skills to meet the demands of the situation laid an important foundation of confidence for the days ahead.

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First night view! Not to bad.

May 12th: 1st Full day of the expedition.

In the morning, we lined up our compass, map, GPS, and our route notes from other explorers with what we had learned about the terrain the day before and decided that we were now mountaineers. Abandoning the trail we couldn’t find, we established a route down to the valley where we would find Hell Roaring Creek and get our bearings again. After only a few minutes of wandering along our newly planned route we found the CD trail! We were never that far off! This reassurance added vigor to our step and we were able to follow the trail through the snow for enough time to let our minds drift, only to lose it once again. The adventure unfolded essentially as such: deduce approximate location, make plan for where to check maps next, hike along (usually up, like UP UP), get a view of the valley, get confused, consult route-finding tools, hike down, cross a creek, hike up to get a view again, etc.

After an exhausting day of never really being lost (we always made sure we knew how to go back because we always knew where Hell Roaring Creek was) but also not really knowing where we were going, we found ourselves on a high ridge, getting farther from our goal (according to the GPS), and with clouds rolling in, we hit a big decision point. We only had so much food and energy (Alyce was menstruating hard) before our first resupply so we needed to make a judgment-call about continuing on or turning back to regroup. Luckily, this is a situation that we both had faced many times before and were able to keep a level head and quickly weigh options. After talking it through, we decided to head down to the creek and follow it to the source. If we had to turn around the next day and hike out, we would. For now we would be cayoneers. We traveled as long as we had energy and made camp. Here is where we discovered we didn’t have all the necessary parts to our stove. We boiled water in our JetBoil (coffee maker), poured it over Ramen noodles, and went to bed.

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Lisa packing her bag in the morning.

May 13th, We were up with the sun, too excited to stay in the tent, despite the colder temperatures outside. This was the day we would reach the source! All we had to do was follow Hell Roaring Creek, up to over [8,300 feet look this up] in elevation! It was beautiful, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, majestic, and tremendously challenging, with steep, slippery terrain, wet feet, swift water, snow. When we finally made it to Brower’s Spring, we found ourselves on top of many feet of snow with no visible markers of where the Spring itself might be. We realized that we had failed to write down the exact GPS coordinates for Brower’s Spring! Though strangely enough we had cell phone service and called Alyce’s mom, Ann, to ask her to look up this information. We eventually got the coordinates and located the ultimate source of the fourth longest river system in the world.

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Lisa and Alyce at Brower’s Spring!

We took pictures and interviewed each other about confidence. We took time to celebrate and reflect on what it meant to be a confident woman, taking on challenge, standing at the beginning of a nearly 4,000 mile stretch of river. There aren’t really words to put down all the feelings that came with this experience. We were living our dream, right there in that moment and then the moment needed to end so we could get out in time to make our resupply (which we had already extended one day). We followed Hell Roaring Creek down into a valley, ate some more ramen noodles and peanut butter, nursed our sore feet and camped again. We enjoyed our last night in the mountain and felt a true sense of accomplishment.

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Morning view as we descend the Mountain.

May 14th, We made it down Hell Roaring Creek, traveling through the stunning Hell Roaring Canyon. As we bushwhacked our way down into the valley we saw Vicky and Owa (Vicky’s best friend, a Pomerian, and the 4th member of the expedition), waiting for us with camera in hand and fresh food! It was a triumphant reunion and we traded stories over hummus and pita chips. We did a quick resupply, as plans for Vicky to stay with us were foiled by several factors: impending rain, muddy, bumpy and barely travel able even in a big truck MT roads and so we bid farewell all to soon to our friends.

May 15th, We were snowed on and rained on. We took our time getting out of the tent and on our way, relishing in our accomplishment of the previous days and trying to favor our blistered feet. We were at Hell Roaring Creek, and as we were not sure if we could paddle it the night before, we had sent out pack rafts and accompanying equipment home with Viki. So we did what we knew we could do and started hiking. After a bit, we decided we could paddle this and that it would be most efficient to take the road along the creek, to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife refuge and come back to paddle Hell Roaring Creek another day. We knew we couldn’t paddle Red Rock Creek and Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes, because of the protection for the Trumpeter swans and other migratory birds, so we kept on hiking. We stopped at Upper Red Rock Lake campground where we met Carlos and Carlos, two dudes biking from Seattle to Huston. After some story swapping, we ate more ramen noodles and passed out.

May 16th, More hiking, more blisters, more plan-adapting. We hiked 4 miles to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and gained some local area knowledge that helped us further adapt our plans. Then we hiked another 6 miles to the Lower Red Rock Lake campground where Vicky would meet us the next day for a much-needed rest and resupply day.

May 17th, Viki and Owa arrived in the afternoon, with a resupply of food and the gear needed to pack raft Red Rock River, below LRRL. We recharged all of our electronic equipment as well as our bodies and made (flexible) plans for the coming weeks. We inventoried our gear, resupplied food for the next stretch of travel and shot some great footage. We all camped out together, enjoying some great lady-time around a fire with the sun casting a golden glow on the now distant mountains.

As with all expeditions, plans change and being able to adapt and flow with the actual reality is a skill developed over time. Especially when you have spent over a year planning, when things you wanted to do can’t happen, you learn the most valuable lessons about your self, your abilities to remain flexible and stay in the present moment, and the amazingness of ones teammates. So we have yet to paddle Hell Roaring Creek and we don’t know if we will. We do know that tomorrow we will paddle the Red Rock River and get to where it connects with the Lima Reservoir. But we will try.

We are well, safe, fed and happy. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and encouraging words from friends and strangers. We hope to post weekly, though there are variables beyond our control, like limited cell service, weather and water levels, so be patient with us please! Thank you for following along!

Alyce & Lisa

Exploring Watersheds

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As we paddled to Brule Lake, we traveled through small lakes and streams. We portaged around places where the streams formed rapids. Dave and I began to think about water and where it flows. This week’s Notes from the Trail is all about watersheds.

A watershed is the area of land where its water drains into a common place. Rivers, tributaries, wetlands, ponds and lakes all are features of watersheds. Mountains, grasslands, deserts and forests are also important features of a watershed. A watershed acts like a funnel that helps to transport water to the sea. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes, they cross county, state and national boundaries.

Water is always moving downhill. Due to gravity, water always finds the lowest spot on a surface and collects there, just like puddles form when it rains. If rain falls anywhere in the watershed, it will flow downhill until it reaches a stream, river, pond or other type of water body. Generally watersheds are named for the major rivers that carry the fresh water to the sea.

When it rains where you live, where does the water flow?

Share your answer!

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is actually at the top of two watersheds. We have passed over the the Laurentian Divide, several times. The Laurentian Divide is a continental divide. Rain that falls on the north side of the Laurentian Divide is in the Rainy River Watershed, which eventually makes its way north to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. Rain that falls on the south side of the Laurentian Divide flows towards Lake Superior and the Great Lakes Watershed, making its way east into the Atlantic Ocean. The state of Minnesota is at the top of three major watersheds. The third watershed is the Mississippi watershed, flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

What watershed are you in? What are some major lakes, rivers or bodies of water near where you live?

Share your answer!

Brule Lake, where we are right now is south of the Laurentian Divide. Several small streams flow into Brule Lake. Water flows out of Brule Lake in two different places. The water that flows out of the lake to the west eventually forms the Temperance River. The water that flows out of Brule Lake to the east forms the Brule River. The Temperance and Brule Rivers flow into Lake Superior.

In the natural world, water is an incredibly important element. Water is the basis for all life. With over 70% of the earth being covered in water, water seems like a resource that is dependable and ever-present. However, for humans there is a limited amount of usable water. Think about how much of the water is salt water in the oceans. Since fresh water is such an important resource, it is helpful to recognize it in its various forms and how water shapes our lives and our natural environment.

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How do you use water on a daily basis?

Share your answer!

In order to ensure safe drinking water and successful habitats for animals and plants, watersheds need to be healthy and clean. Since water travels such great distances, it is important to remember that pollution is often carried those distances as well.

Student Response Worksheets

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Day 243: Visiting with our Friend John

Dawn is my favorite time of day in the Wilderness. The soft light and mirror smooth lake provide the perfect backdrop for reflection. Amy’s dad left last night but our friend John is staying with us for another night or two. It’s always fun to share the Wilderness with others. We were excited to greet John as he paddled across Brule’s 0mirror smooth surface on Friday morning.

John grew up fishing on Lake Minnetonka, but stopped fishing when he got into whitewater paddling about 40 years ago. Yesterday he caught his first walleye in many years, which we ate along with chocolate cake and @Trailtopia Chicken and Vegetable Stew as part of Amy’s birthday feast! It was fun watching John reconnect with the primal joy that comes with catching and eating a fish in the Wilderness. I bet John will be wetting his line again today!

Have you ever eaten a fish that you caught? How did it make you feel, or what do you think it would be like?

Last night before bed we all stood out on the rock listening to the loons. For the past 3 nights they have erupted in a chores that starts 10 minutes later each night. Amy noticed this trend two nights ago and we are excited to see if they begin to sing in unison at 10:05 tonight as the first stars appear.

Daily data:

Days in the wilderness: 243
High Temperature: 76 F
Low Temperature: 43 F
Miles Traveled: 4
Number of Portages: 2
Number of Lakes visited: 2

Animals Encountered:
Raven 1
Common loon 6
Bald eagle 2
Beaver 1
Common merganser 2
Common grackle 2
White-throated sparrow 1
Walleye 1
Turkey vulture 3
Bluejay 5

Day 242: Walleye for Dinner

Our day trip yesterday helped us reach another milestone. On the 242nd day of our #wildernessyear we visited our 250th lake! We are hoping to visit 500 different bodies of water during A Year in the Wilderness and it is exciting to be halfway to our goal. Plus we are two thirds of the way through A Year in the Wilderness, it is amazing how fast time passes.

We brought our fishing rods along on our day trip yesterday and fished for the first time this season. Our friend John, Tank, Amy, and I piled into our 19 foot Wenonah Itasca and paddled and portaged across Brule, Juno, Vern, Whack, Homer, the Vern River, and East Pipe to Pipe Lake. John relaxed and fished in one of our @helinox chairs in the center of the canoe as we paddled. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we all had fun catching fish and exploring new lakes.

In the evening we returned to camp and made a feast of fresh walleye, steaks that Amy’s dad brought in, and a homemade batch of macaroni and cheese, topped off with hot cocoa and a few squares of chocolate. After watching a full moon rise over the glassy lake, we crawled into our sleeping bags at dusk.

Daily data:

Days in the wilderness: 242
High Temperature: 76 F
Low Temperature: 45 F
Miles Traveled: 19
Number of Portages: 13
Number of Lakes visited: 8

Animals Encountered:
Raven 5
Common loon 9
Bald eagle 4
Red squirrel 4
Black-capped chickadee 14
Common merganser 7
Chipmunk 2
Pileated woodpecker 2
Common grackle 2
White-throated sparrow 2
Walleye 1
Northern pike 3
Northern slider turtle 1
Turkey vulture 4
Goldeneye 1
Mallard 1

Day 240: Visiting More than 240 Lakes!

Our day trip yesterday helped us reach an interesting milestone. The number of lakes we have visited has surpassed the number of days we have been in the Wilderness. Today is the 240th day of our #wildernessyear to @savetheBWCA and we have now visited 244 bodies of water. We are hoping to visit over 500 lakes, rivers and streams. We have been ramping up the number of lakes we visit each day. It is exciting to now average more than one body of water visited per day.

We hope you will join us in our efforts to protect this watery Wilderness from Twin Metals and other sulfide-ore copper mines that are being proposed along the edge of our nation’s most popular Wilderness. The EPA considers this type of mining to be the nation’s most polluting industry. This national treasure is too precious to risk. Please learn more and sign the petition at www.savetheboundarywaters.org

A hint of red on the horizon marked the rising sun as I filled our pot to begin boiling water this morning. As the pot began to steam, a glowing red orb floated over the trees and as I took my first sips of @stonecreekcoffee I began to feel the warmth of the sun. Smoke from several forest fires and prescribed burns in the region probably added the red glow to this morning’s exceptionally beautiful sunrise over Brule Lake.

As I sipped my coffee I thought about the beautiful set of lakes and rivers we visited yesterday. After saying goodbye to Olivia yesterday morning, we paddled east across Brule, Vernon, Swan, Skidway, Dugout, Marshall, to Bower Trout Lake. These lakes form the headwaters of the South Brule River. As we portaged between Brule and Vernon Lake we realized that water flows out of Brule Lake in two directions. From the far west end of Brule, water flows into South Temperance Lake which becomes the Temperance River and water flows out of the east end of Brule into the South Brule River. During our journeys all across North America, we have only encountered a handful of lakes that feed multiple rivers. This really is a maze of interconnected waterways.

Daily data:

Days in the wilderness: 240
High Temperature: 67 F
Low Temperature: 42 F
Miles Traveled: 21
Number of Portages: 14
Number of Lakes visited: 8

Animals Encountered:
Raven 2
Ruby-throated hummingbird 1
Common loon 3
Bald eagle 2
Red squirrel 3
Black-capped chickadee 1
Common merganser 10
Chipmunk 4
Pileated woodpecker 1
Barred owl 1
Common grackle 6
White-throated sparrow 2

Day 236: Would you like to be a Moose?

The sunrises continue to be stunning from our campsite on Brule Lake. The morning’s first rays thread through the trunks of towering white pines surrounding our campsite and warm our tent well before 7 AM. This morning after enjoying the sunrise I spent some time reading and responding to comments and emails from kids that are following A Year in the Wilderness and learning along with us. Every Monday we publish a “Notes from the Trail” on www.wildernessclassroom.org, which includes worksheets and questions designed to help students learn along with us.

This week’s post is about the moose we recently saw and it was written from Tank’s perspective. In it we asked students “Do you agree with Tank? Would you like to be a moose? Why or why not?” Tank would not like being a moose because he likes eating food from his dog dish rather than grazing.

I found myself cracking up while reading some of the student’s responses.

“I would not like to be a moose because they eat plants and someone might step on the plants and get them dirty before I ate them.”

“I would not like to be a moose because then I couldn’t go to school.”

Kids always come up with creative answers!

Apples, Thunder Bay and Snow

kid1 kid2 kid3

Lamar: We are now at our second big destination. Grand Marais was the first one and now we are in Thunder Bay. We’ve even talked to Canadian people! Big accomplishment.

I have only gotten a little woozy but no real seasickness so far so I am psyched. It feels like a whole new experience without feeling like I’m going to throw up. I found that popcorn helps when I feel woozy too. Which means I get to eat a lot of popcorn!

I keep getting cold and if I bundle up more I basically can’t move. I tried putting on this super warm fleece but I was so stuffed up I felt like a sausage. So that didn’t last long.

Today when we were coming into Thunder Bay we were beating right into the waves so it took us a ridiculously long time. THAT was really frustrating. We had small snow showers all day too! I thought this was spring!

I’m excited to see the city of Thunder Bay tomorrow because it looks really cool. Tomorrow we also have our first public presentation and open house (or more like open boat).

We’ve been sailing for three days in a row so it will be nice to stay put for a day. I’m excited to have a day without sailing even though the sailing’s kind of fun.

We had to eat 50 apples because we weren’t sure if we would be able to take them across the border. I like apples so that was no problem for me. We had to eat a lot of oranges too. Again no problem.

Brooke: We have made it to Thunder Bay after three days of steady sailing. It has been really great learning how to sail! I feel like I am finally understanding how it all works, and what we have to do for different things.

When we sailed from Knife River to Grand Marais, we left at 5 in the morning. Cedar and I were sleeping in her bunk so we could sleep in and not have to get up at 5. That day we sailed for about 13 hours. It was a long day, and by the end we were all so tired! That evening, the wind was so warm I thought it felt like summer! Nobody agreed with me, though.

The next day we got a later start. We left Grand Marais at 11, and we sailed 7 hours to the Suzi Islands right on the border of the US and Canada. The islands were so pretty, and I saw a lot of places that looked like they would be good for rock climbing! We anchored in the Suzi Islands overnight.

Yesterday we sailed from the Suzi Islands to Thunder Bay. It was so cold; there were even snow flurries! When Cedar and I were on watch, our toes got numb, and it took about 5 hours for them to warm up! Even though I love sailing, I’m looking forward to a few days in the same place. The marina seems nice, and there is even a little park with some trees (though unfortunately they are not good for climbing).

Cedar: We are now in Thunder Bay. We just had three long days in a row. They were all pretty cold days, excepted for the end of the day were we sailed up to Grand Marias, then at the end of the day there was a super warm wind, it felt very nice! Brooke and I have been standing a watch together, it is very cold and yesterday when we came off of watch are toes were very numb. It took a very long time for them to warm up. In the middle of the night 2 nights ago a little bit of a swell picked up so when I woke up yesterday we were bouncing around. Last night we cleared into customs over the phone. Then later that night Security guards kept coming over and asking us all kinds of questions.