Thursday, August 14, 2008
The day starts warm, sunny, but quite windy out of the East. After breakfast of coffee and oatmeal we strike camp and continue on our journey.
With the wind at our backs for once we make good time to Thunder Point, but things change as we round the bend and start heading Northeast. This is going to be another grueling travel day with the wind pushing us back as we try to cover some miles. We’re targeting the campsites just before Monument Portage for tonight.
After a little while we’re at the portage from Knife to Ottertrack:
A short while later we’re fighting the winds and waves on Ottertrack as we try to hug the semi-protected shoreline. We still have to cross open stretches, however, and there are some moments where I get a little concerned as I see whitecaps. All in all, however, we make it to the sites we’re interested in only to find they’re taken…. We have to portage again today.
While we were on ottertrack we were able to see more gorgeous scenery and I happened to get another smallie while trolling a Gulp shad minnow on a white jig head.
Pretty soon we’re at Monument Portage, which I think we would have appreciated more if getting there hadn’t been so tiresome. Still kinda neat to see the big monuments here as well as the little markers all along Ottertrack.
It was right around here that I realized that my promise that Monument was indeed not our last portage. The McKenzie map’s marked portage from Swamp into Saganaga is almost buried in the border marker. My companions weren’t terribly happy to hear we’d have to portage again today. Happily this was the easiest kind of surprise portage to encounter… just a 10′ stretch of land we had to pick up and drop the boat across. Once we were on Saganaga I trolled the same setup as on Ottertrack and in short order got another smallie.
We scouted out the first two sites on Saganaga and eventually took site #339, which is the 2nd site on the lake. Its situated behind an island with an active beaver lodge. The site itself was very hilly and had lots of old growth on it, however there was an abundance of downed trees nearby that provided an ample supply of firewood.
Once the tent was up and the clothesline strung, thoughts turned to lunch and the fish on the stringer. They were filleted in short order and soon we had a shore lunch.
While we were eating we noticed that this site had by far the most wildlife visible of all the sites so far…. There was at least one loon family hanging out, the beavers across the channel, and other animals we’d soon see.
After we were all fed we paddled out away from the beaver lodge to fill up our water container. Once back in camp we searched out a supply of firewood for the night and followed some of the trails.
Ken and I wet a line to keep occupied. This site was about 6′ above the water with the bottom falling off quickly from shore. We were discussing what to have for dinner when dinner decided itself – I had our largest fish of the trip on the line, a nice lively almost 18″ smallie.
While it was on the stringer and we were trying to catch another one Joe noticed the fish starting to go crazy in the water….
‘Dude, Al – a turtle’s trying to eat your fish!!!’
We look down at the stringer and a HUGE snapping turtle is inches from our dinner. As soon as we stood up it moved off, but came back two more times to get the stringer.
Had no other luck with the fish so we fried this guy up and had dinner. We’re going to have a decent amount of food left if we keep catching fish…
After dinner we took the maps out and discussed what was left of the trip. Decided as a group to instead of push ourselves to cover the remaining 10 miles we’d take an extra day and camp by American Point tomorrow. That decided, we hang out by the fire while Ken tries to get more sunset pictures.
Our bellies full, the bag is hung for the night and camp is cleaned up. Not getting an early start in the morning but we want to get a camp secured early so we’re not searching around again. Fell asleep to the calls and answers of many loons.