BWCA 2011 Part 3

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lakes traveled: Horse, Horse River, Basswood River, Crooked, Wednesday Bay, Thursday Bay.

13.7 miles traveled, 18.6 miles total. 1mph average speed.

We’re up early, before 7 tearing down camp and getting ready for the day’s travel up the Horse. We’re hoping to get as far as Thursday Bay on Crooked, we’ve been eyeing the ‘Hilton’ site as our destination. After a quick breakfast of coffee and oatmeal we’re loading up the boat. We stop just before the start of the river to fill our water bottles and my camelbak, we know this is going to be a long and hard day’s work.

All of the groups we passed yesterday that we talked with told us what we already knew – water on the river is exceptionally low and we’re looking at 7-8 portages before we get to Lower Basswood Falls.

We feel up to the challenge, so off we go! We have the river to ourselves at first, then while stopping for a break we see another group appear behind us. Somewhere around this time Joe finds an almost empty tube of toothpaste sitting on a rock, it’s a strange place to find it, I don’t think I’d want to brush my teeth in the Horse… We play leapfrog with the other group, then at one point while letting them pass we see another group behind them! This one is a husband and wife, they’re camped on Horse and just daytripping to see the falls. We let both groups pass as we’re moving slower than them double portaging. At one of the official portages we see a fleece hanging on a tree. We know it didn’t belong to the groups that passed us, and unsure what exactly to do we end up taking it. Maybe we can find its owner. Either way, we know its going to get colder so hopefully its owner doesn’t miss it too much. We stop for a bit and admire a beaver’s engineering at one point on the river, and have some trail mix and jerky.

Before long we’ve passed the worst part of the river and we’re on the wider open parts leading up to the falls. We have to get out at one point and line the boat as we don’t have a deep enough draft to paddle. Other times we just have a hard time keeping the boat centered in the weedy, narrow channel. I think we need to work on our coordination, and my new paddle seems to move more water with less effort. In the end we make it to Lower Basswood Falls just fine. We stop to admire the falls for a few minutes and then run into a group daytripping to see the pictos. They ask us about our Horse experience as they’re considering moving on to Horse tomorrow. We tell them what everybody else had told us – ‘The Horse sucks!’
It took us about 4 hours to paddle the length of the river to the falls.

We shove off and start North up Crooked into a stiff headwind. This will be the theme for the rest of our paddle days on this trip. But, the sun was strong and warm still on our backs and in short time we were at the pictos. We didn’t spend a lot of time there because we knew we had a long paddle ahead of us, and in hindsight I wish we had stayed a little longer because we would discover our plans of coming back the next day weren’t really possible.
The wind is getting channeled down Crooked from Wednesday Bay. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly slowing us down some. We round the corner at Table Rock and stop for a moment to get the obligatory picture –

We started discussing which campsites were of interest as a backup in case the site we wanted was occupied. I know we’re both getting tired, too. It’s been a long paddle into the wind today, plus the river. So far since leaving the falls and picto area we haven’t seen anybody, and every campsite we’ve passed is open.
We press on, passing through the ‘current’ narrows just before Thursday Bay. Still, not a soul to be found and every campsite empty. We’re pulling into the little bay that has the campsite we want, and I can tell by both of our paddle strokes that we won’t be traveling much further if the site is taken. The first site on the bay, on the Western shore is open. It looks decent from the water. We can see our desired destination, and even better it’s open! We paddle around the rock peninsula and find a suitable landing. Exhausted, we unload the boat and set up camp. Before we can change out of our wet clothes, however, we need to go out and fill our water containers. The plan is to lay over one day then press on to Friday Bay for another night. Our water full, we head in and pull the boat up for the night. There’s another nice pile of welcome wood at this site, and we’re even more grateful to the last group to stay here for this. The site itself is alright. There aren’t a lot of pad options, at least that we can see, so we end up pitching the tent not too far from the fire area. Forecast for tonight has no rain again so we decide to leave the fly off the tent.

Dinner tonight is backwoods pizza. Instead of buying a box crust mix we opted instead to get a pair of boboli 8″ crusts. They fit pretty well along the side of our food bucket. I get the pepperoni sliced while Joe tends the fire and gets the crusts going. We lay down a layer of foil on the grate, weighted down by rocks, then put the crusts on top of that. Then we tented another piece of foil on the top to trap heat and melt the mozzerella.
In the end, they turned out great!

After dinner, dishes, and a nip of scotch we try some more night fishing from the rocky shore. It seems to drop off pretty quickly and we’re hoping there’s something hungry down there. We’d like to eat some fish! Unfortunately, the cold front that’s coming has turned off the fish or at least we can’t find them…

We walk out a bit into the lake on the sandy side of the campsite to wash off. The water feels cool and refreshing, and it’s nice to rub off the grime from earlier in the day. We take the time to rinse out our clothes and set up a line in camp so they can dry.

After washing up, we hang around the fire well past midnight enjoying each other’s company and the wilderness around us. At one point I hear sounds across the bay from us, sounds like rustling in the trees. For a little while I’m concerned that a bear maybe smelled the pizzas and wanted his share, but in the end I see ripples in the moonlight and my mystery animal turns out to be a beaver.

As we’re packing up camp for the night, Joe discovers a friend that has been lurking under one of the portage packs –

We put out the fire and head to bed. It’s been a long day but we both agree that any day in the BW is a good day.

Continue to part 4

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