Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Part II: 30 Miles There & Back

Soloing with the Ancients
     The wind did indeed die down and we were able to break camp on an absolutely beautiful clear morning.  The type of morning where the surface of the lake is quite literally like a mirror.  After we broke camp and repacked the canoe I took a minute to plan our route the short distance the a campsite above the upper falls on the Basswood River.
Planning the Route
     We were in very familiar territory for me because I had worked as a wilderness ranger for the Forest Service in this area while I was going to school in Ely.  As a matter of fact the last campsite I stayed in when I was working on the Forest Service trail crew my first summer as a ranger was the last site my wife and I stayed on during this trip.
Portage Break
     The paddle to the campsite was easy, just a couple miles on a glassy surface.  Setting up camp was MUCH less eventful seeing as how no bear visited us this time.  With camp set up we paddled the short distance (maybe 50 yards) to the Basswood River portage which is close to a mile long.  With nothing more than our water bottles, lunch, and day-packs  the portage was a breeze.

Portaging...Like a Boss!!!
     I did rest the canoe against a short pine snag at a point that turned out to be about 70 rods from the end of the portage.  Good canoe rests, where you can simply step out from under the canoe are often hard to find.  Visitors use to lash poles in-between trees at regular intervals on longer portages but the Forest Service takes them down because some feel it diminishes their wilderness experience.  I've been on portage with and without canoe rests and I love them.  They do not do a bit of harm to my wilderness experience, but I'll save that bully pulpit for a later post i think.
     I am not the only one to portage on the trip.  My wife, who weighs only slightly less than our canoe, took more than her fair share of turns participating in this glorious torture. 
     At the end of the mile long portage we sat on the rocks listen to the river flow and gurgle by, took in the beauty of our surroundings, talked and laughed while enjoying our lunch of summer sausage, cheese, crackers, and trail mix. Then it was time to get back on the water and make our way down the rest of the Basswood River to our ultimate goal of Crooked Lake and the Picture Rock located there.
Lower Basswood Falls
The rest of the paddle down the Basswood River was largely uneventful other than my wife's first chance to step on Canadian soil at Wheelbarrow Falls.  She said it felt a lot like American soil but just a little different, eh.
     When we reached the end of the Basswood River at Lower Basswood Falls we took a moment to take  advantage of the timer on our camera and snapped a quick picture for posterity.  Then it was time to hoof it over that last portage on the river and into Crooked Lake.
     We were approaching the terminus of the farthest I had ever been in this part of the Boundary Water so that every new experience that we had was a shared one.  Around each corner, and in each new bay our eyes took in new sites for the first time together.  I love that feeling.
Pictured Rock on Crooked Lake
     What we got to see next was the overarching goal of the entire trip, the Picture Rocks on Crooked Lake.  We have a painting over our fireplace by Francis Lee Jaques that depict the rock with a group of Voyagers paddling by.  It was gift from my parents and it ties our urban lifestyle nicely in with our wilderness life philosophy, and serves as a constant reminder of that fact for me.
Canadian Border Marker

     We snapped a few pictures of the various hieroglyphs on the rocks.  I have included a picture of one of my favorites which looks like a pelican and a large watercraft, which I think looks suspiciously like a viking long ship, but I am biased. Do I think that vikings painted on these rock? Absolutely not.  Is there a chance that the ancients that did the paintings had seen a long ship on some distant trading sojourn to the coast and recorded their memory for countless generations to see? Possibly(hopefully).

Looking-up the Lower Basswood Falls
     Before we made our trip back to our campsite on Basswood Lake my wife took a few pictures of me paddling solo past the Picture Rock to compare to the painting in our living room, then I paddled back over to pick her up next to the border marker I left her by.  While we we taking in our last look we heard a strange rushing noise that sounded a bit like a jet engine just over our heads.  It was loud enough and close enough that I physically ducked.  It turned out to be three Bald Eagles fighting over a fish, and the strange noise was the wind rushing through their wing tips as they would dive bomb each other.  One of the coolest experiences I have ever had in the woods.
Heading  for home
We loaded back up and retraced our steps up the Basswood River to our campsite.  We spent a uneventful evening in camp running over the experiences we had shared, and talked about ours hopes for future trips together.

The following morning we packed up our gear and made the long paddle back to the Fall Lake Campground and our vehicle, stopping at an island on Pipestone Bay for lunch where I took a moment to get a shot of our faithful canoe loaded on the water.

The Last Portage

Four days, 3 nights, 30 miles, and 12 portages later and we were, well a picture is worth a thousand words so here are two-thousand for me to send this post out on...
I Love You Shelley!


SurvivaLogic said...

Sounds like an amazing trip. Great pictures - what phenomenal scenery!

Perkunas said...

That picture where you paddle in front of ancient rock paintings,is plain awesome !

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