Day 2: Monday, September 5: Namakan Lake to Fish Stake Narrows, Lac La Croix
I had set my alarm for an early time for day 2 at 5:15am or so. When my watch started beeping, I realized immediately that I made a big mistake waking up that early because it was completely dark out. Without a rain fly on my tent, I could tell I was in the middle of the night still. So, I justified sleeping a little longer. I was very comfortable and had slept great overnight. By the time I roused awake closer to 6, I could see the dim light of dawn behind me. I got up and started rushing around. My body felt pretty decent but I could tell I was really sore from the big day before. My shoulders and back were tight. The bear box was very nice to have and I knew I wouldn’t have such convenient campsite amenities the rest of the trip. The National Park site including a picnic table, prime tent pad, bear box, even a dock! That is a fairly stark comparison to what I knew about BWCA sites that feature some type of landing that can sometimes be jagged rocks, some type of fire grate, toilet way out in the woods, and hopefully a decent tent pad and hopefully a tree branch that makes hanging a bear bag possible.
Well past 6am, I was pretty frustrated to have woken up so late and should have known it would take a while to gather my things together. I was devastated to go start my InReach tracking for the day. The battery had been at 92% after the day yesterday, and now at 57%. I forgot to turn it off. Mike, you are a grade-A idiot!! You can’t be making those mistakes, I told myself. I got the tracking going, carefully strapped all my stuff to the board and set off towards the sunrise.
I remembered where to go from the night before, right on towards the first point, hook south through some narrows and on to Sand Point Lake, a long south stretch into the BWCA through Little Vermilion River. I was happy to know I’d make it into the Boundary Waters on the same day as my permit. Although I somewhat sketchily camped at a site that I didn’t technically reserve, I didn’t feel too bad about that since I at least reserved a site. I wanted to do it right, I didn’t want to break the rules. I paddled on towards the site I actually did reserve. Checking my watch’s GPS map to be sure, I realized I was off track right away. Shoot, hard right and into the narrows.
The forecast was for a little heavier winds, just a little more, maybe 6 to 8mph and more from the south instead of south east like the day before. The winds were essentially a non-factor the day before, luckily, but today I’d be going quite a bit south right away and I knew I’d have a big crossing of Lac La Croix likely at the windiest point of the day into the later afternoon hours. I was immediately frustrated with a slight wind right at my face. I could stand up, it didn’t have a huge effect on my speed, but I just didn’t want to fight the wind. Not again. I felt I had been fighting the wind all day yesterday. But, I reminded myself, it could be way, way worse. With the sun barely peeking up over the horizon to my left, it was shaping up to be another beautiful day, all things considered.
The narrows were cool. Easy paddling, tight corridors. There were a few small cabins nestled into the Canadian shoreline, and I imagined indigenous people from thousands of years ago camping on some of the sandy landings present leading into Sand Point Lake. I didn’t eat a full breakfast on land, so after getting near Sand Point Lake where I could see the lake really open up, I snuck into a leeward bay and directed a smashed up pop tart and compressed nutrigrain bar into my mouth and washed it down with water to get the food in fast as possible. I felt dehydrated from the day before. My lips were chapped, I knew I got some good sun and could just feel I didn’t drink enough water. I am surrounded by it for cripe’s sakes, I have to prioritize hydration to keep this thing going. If I fall behind on hydration there is no wiggle room, I told myself. So drank a big series of gulps of water and set off. It was always encouraging to feel like I had to pee, and when that happened, I frequently thought of my friend Pete and his sailboat and his method of peeing, as a man. I’ll never forget him off the front of his sailboat: “just hang dong, man!”. So I had a chuckle as I hung dong off the edge of my paddleboard, dribbling all over the deck and my shoes. Oh well, I used my paddle to splash the mix of pee and lakewater off the deck, as if that was adequate to sanitize what is essentially my living space, my world for the next 12 hours. I had a constant puddle under my feet. I wondered why that was. It seemed like my board was sitting lower than normal, even when I’ve had my dog Diamond or gear on board. I wondered if it was filling with water slowly. Oh well, I’m still moving, and set off across Sand Point Lake.
I saw a Canadian point very far off and wanted to hug the far shoreline to stay out of the wind. It was a long stretch, but the wind wasn’t terrible despite blowing almost directly over me. I enjoyed watching the beautiful sunrise – it was an amazing morning to be out. The boats started kicking up. Anglers zooming across the lake, a few houseboats off in the distance. I checked my map and saw two directions to go – Crane Lake to my right and Little Vermilion to my left. When I got to a last little bay I stopped again to change maps. I folded my Voyageurs National Park map up nicely, then crushed the edges of my Boundary Waters West map to optimize the viewable map area and fit it into my gallon ziploc bag. I drifted to some Canadian person’s homestead. Nothing to see here, just folding a map and drinking water! Then around the point off to Little Vermilion. I made my way. It seemed like it took a long time. I saw an icon my map indicating Ingersoll Estate. I wondered what that was as I passed a cabin nestled into the forest, and a boathouse. I wondered if they had a dumper on shore. Luckily, no need for now…
Across a bay and the shorelines narrowed together. I saw lots of cabins on both the US and Canadian side. I wanted to spot the sign to the BWCA, but missed it. I’m pretty sure I saw the back of it, though. A couple boats sped by. I guessed by my map that the red/dark orange outline of a waterway indicated that motor travel was permitted. The lake turned to a narrow, then to a clear riverway. The banks were full of vegetation. I was worried about weeds in my fin as I went over lilly pads and river grass, all of which pointed right towards me with the river’s flow and wind, indicating that I was paddling against both. Still, I was making good time.
I was excited to do some river travel, especially a mile or few down further where what’s listed as the Loon River turns left to a northeasterly direction. I might even have a downwind for a while, I told myself with excitement. I took a chance going straight instead of doing an S-curve into a more clear opening, and it luckily paid off. The weeds opened up and I could paddle right through. Another boat came around a bend. Who would be boating back here?? It seemed kind of ridiculous to me – a fragile-looking river in the Boundary Waters proper and boats can kick up wakes and speed on by. Huh. The waves were no issue and I was used to them at this point. Then again, I was pretty excited to get out of motor country.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, and it got hotter, I thought about jumping in. Maybe I would at Loon Lake, or Lac La Croix as a celebration. Not in this dark silty river, though. I was happy to not have to navigate rocks or shallow mud and the river travel was smooth. I tracked myself diligently using my map and watch, excitedly awaiting a big left bend in the river. Before long, I took it and was happy to feel the wind push me for once. Ahhh, it was a very nice feeling indeed. Another bend and I was back headed south, another bend and I was back headed east. It was narrow enough that the wind was not strong, but any little push was a relief. Not to mention, the wind at my back delivered a luxurious breeze. My shirt was getting ratty already – sweat soaked and dirty. I kept paddling. My hands were hurting again – right at the base of my middle finger, especially on my left hand. My gloves were already in tatters, and I took a moment to tuck the edges of my cut-off fingers into the glove itself. I liked that method… they didn’t get pulled down and also provided a bit more padding with the folded down fabric protecting the pinch point at the base of my fingers. I experimented with different grip configurations, like holding down my thumb with my index and/or middle finger, or holding down my index and/or middle finger with my thumb, or just a super solid grip a little lower down the paddle, or what felt most natural by hanging on just a bit by my fingertips. I liked that the best, but I could tell that natural grip was used exclusively the day before. It was clearly a strain on my wrist and I could feel a tendon running down my forearm becoming sore. My back and shoulders were sore, and in a certain style of paddle stroke I could feel the strain even more specifically. I didn’t want my body to fall apart. I wondered if I’d get “trail strong” where I’d just gets used to the daily physical abuse and repetition. I sure hoped so…
Three boats in a row came through a very narrow area. How? They looked curiously at me as we passed each other slowly, then they zoomed off. I could see rocks ahead – how did they get through that?? It was a cool area. I wondered about portages. I still didn’t feel super set up for portaging and was excited that I really didn’t have many on the day. But, when I looked closer I saw two that were simply named “Motor Portage”. Huh, I wondered if that’d be passable by a paddlecraft and there was just some type of infrastructure for boats only. It was wishful thinking. I came into a small bay and saw the big dock and a massive rail structure that appeared to somehow lift boats up and onto a u-shaped track, straight up a fairly steep hill and presumably back down to Loon Lake. I paddled closer and it looked like a ski lift, with a shack structure and sign. The sign had pricing for different size boats, and a line for non-motorized dock use for $15. I hesitated – that would be me, I figured. I also saw a sign for canoe portage at a landing to my right. Oh well, nobody is here, I figured, and my portage setup was still not perfect. It’d take me a while to get this all set up, and the dock would help tremendously. I transferred to the dock and sat on it with my feet on my board as I got my food bag unstrapped, backpack unstrapped and the whole rig onto my back. I piled my water vest and safety bag onto my back as well, struggled to lift my heavy board out of the lake. It must be filling with water, I thought. When I got it tucked under my armpit, I grabbed my paddle and headed up the portage.
The motor portage hike to Loon Lake was pretty steep. I tried to follow the signs and they led me a ways into the woods, back to the track, then a flattening and I could see the lake. Nice, pretty short. I passed a house with a propane grill and a deck, and it looked like anyone’s nice lake cabin. That must be where the operator lives? What a weird life, way out in the damn middle of the Boundary Waters. I didn’t see anyone though. It felt awkward like I was trespassing through someone’s yard. I saw another sign for a canoe portage, and could clearly see it led to a swampy landing. I could also see the nice long dock to my left, with the other side of the metal track system right beside it, and the rapids of Loon River further on. With nobody there, I went for it. Whatever. I went to the end, set my board in, put my feet on it, and set my various gear and food bags from my back to the dock. As I refolded my map to show the rest of Loon Lake and a sweet downwind that would push me right into Lac La Croix, I heard an aggressive yell: “HEY!!!” “HEY YOU! WE HAVE A CHARGE FOR THE DOCK!!”
Aw shoot. I’m caught. I remembered the listed charge of $15 immediately. What a jip. Before I could even respond: “I think the signs are pretty fucking clear!!”, and all I could yell back was “Sorry!!”. He repeated himself: “we have a dock charge and my signs are clear”. I was defeated… just so tired that I had to use the dock, and I got caught. It was the middle of the day and I was just trying to crank miles here. Why pick on me… “Sorry! I’m so sorry”, was all I could reply. He replied: “So ‘sorry’ means I’m not getting paid I take it”. I yelled back that I had $20 on me, thinking that he’d empathize that my emergency fund of $20 is all I got and should’t be used for this petty dock fee. Uh, nope. I completely misunderstood how he’d react to that comment and yelled one last time that’d he’d bring me change before turning on his heel to go back to his shack or house or whatever structure that stored his change. Yeesh. Just before I could finish my re-sorting and packing of my paddling rig, he appeared down at the end of his dock with 5 dollar bills folded in half and presented them to my face. This guy was pretty abrasive. C’mon man, nobody was here. What, were you pooping? He was probably in the can when I awkwardly walked by. I hoped he didn’t see me on his other dock, because I didn’t have $30 on me. I traded my $20 and he once again said that his signs are pretty clear. Yeah, I said they are very clear, and I’m sorry that I didn’t follow them. That’s why I was sorry. He didn’t say anything from there, and I was luckily able to launch shortly thereafter and get the hell out of that stupid portage. What a crock of shit. Terrible customer service. I was pretty frustrated and paddled hard into the increasingly large main bay of Loon Lake.
Looking ahead at my map, I had to get around a point then head due north for a nice stretch. With the winds picking up ever heavier from the south, I was super excited to have a downwind for once. It seemed to me I had been fighting the wind at my face the whole trip so far, really. No downwinders so far. This will be nice. But, getting across Loon was presenting a challenge. The waves were whipping up and as I tried to head due east to round my point, the cross waves were pushing me all around. I could feel the strain on my left side as I paddled exclusively on that side. I’d been paddling so many more strokes on my left. As I had been heading mainly east with the entire trip really due east, and winds mainly from the south to that point, I’d get pushed to the left. Therefore, I had to counteract that with mainly left-side paddling. What was nice is that I could paddle of my left almost for hours on end and go straight. That’s efficient, but hard on my arms and hands. The division of left and right side paddling is a necessity, really. When I’d switch to my right, when I absolutely had to give my arms a change-up, I’d immediately turn hard left to the north to go with the waves. Then I’d have to fight even harder on my left side to get back to a due east bearing. Loon Lake opened up to a big bay and I could see my point off in the distance. It was a hard crossing. I didn’t want a hard crossing. A quick check of my watch to confirm my bearing, and I was pleasantly surprised I was eyeballing the wrong point! Nice. A few more hard strokes on my brutalized left hand and I was right there.
It was interesting using my watch’s map data screen to confirm my location and use as a secondary navigational aid to my maps. I found that the .5 mile zoom level was the easiest to see in coordination to what I was seeing on my map and seeing in front of me in real life. It was sometimes convenient to zoom way way out to see where I was, but not good for ongoing check-ins. Zooming way in was impossible to see anything… just me out in the middle of the ocean unless I was tight to a shore. I would zoom in and out all the time, which was generally a waste of time and just to satisfy my curiosity on if I was where I thought I was on the map. The .5 mile level zoom seemed to match up best to the map’s scale and so I promised myself I’d keep it there and zoom in and out only if needed.
I was conscious of rocks at the turn of the point, more difficult to see in choppy waters, then turned to my left into a sweet downwinder. It was great. I stayed close to Canada while navigating the smaller channel to Lac La Croix. I remembered the other Motor Portage on the map and kneeled down to take a peek. MOTOR PORTAGE, again. I’m definitely not using the god damn dock, I told myself.
My mile splits were excellent and I knew I’d just have to follow the waves and wind straight to the portage to La Croix. It was mindless paddling without a strategy to beat the wind or wayfind, and I got more excited with each mile: 14 something, high 13, low 13, under 13 minutes. Hell yeah. Let’s go. On a wider section paddling head-on to an island, the waves were almost a little dicey while standing up. I was going straight downwind, but if I’d catch a crest or a trough they would jostle me, push me forward quickly then stop the momentum as the crest pressed the entire back of my paddleboard under water. I thought about sitting down but never got to it. I just plugged along forwards with my head down until I came to the end. I saw another group setting off from the portage my way in a tandem canoe so knew where to go. Nice. It was a little swampy but I just paddled right into shore, jumped off into ankle deep water and started schlepping my gear off. Efficiency. I planned to either eat lunch on the portage itself, which had several nice grassy knolls. I was excited to get out of the sun for a minute. Then again, after my last encounter, and with a similar setup at this portage with a very private-looking house, railroad track for motorboats, and a god damn dock fee of $10, I wasn’t too keen on sticking around. So, I carried my stuff hastily to the other side. It was a brief portage and I made it to the Lac La Croix with no incident or without seeing anyone. I put in quickly on the rocky beach and paddled out sitting down with my pack still on my shoulders. I scanned the shorelines to find a spot to sit. To my right looked OK, with a nice rocky outcrop shaded from the sun. I stopped there and it felt very nice to sit down and relax. I was feeling the work on that had been done on the day, for sure.
I unpacked my lunch bin, and the cheese was completely unappetizing. My uncrustable sandwiches were turning to all crust. They looked nasty but I ate one, a beef jerky strip, and lots of cheese. I figured the cheese wasn’t going to be any more delicious or less risky to eat over time so now was the time to administer those calories as soon as possible. Cheese weighs a lot. I had a nice lunch and filtered water. I had been drinking way more water on day 2, which was good. I had to drink more, I told myself. It was a positive sign to be completely dry and need to water refill by lunch.
As I set off from my rock onto the big Lac La Croix, I was excited for the afternoon. I always wondered what La Croix would be like. It looks so big on a map, but after crossing big Rainy Lake yesterday, it was comparatively small and looked pretty tight along shorelines the whole time. On my map I identified one big bay to cross where the windy south breeze could cause me issues. My options were either to add a mile or two to try to stay leeward, or try to make a crossing into what I figured was a 10mph cross wind. That was hours off, though. I was about 27 miles in for the day, not quite 8 hours in and as I paddled onto a beautiful tailwind it was getting pretty close to the 2pm hour. I was trying so hard to run math. 8 hours by 4 miles per hour would be 32 miles. Not quite. 8 hours by 3mph would be 24 miles. I’ve surpassed that. 8 by 3.5 is… I had to do lots of calculations but figured I was right at 3.5 mph. But, that included my long two portages, one where I had to pay a fricken dude $15 and another one where I stopped for lunch. My watch beeped for the 27th mile in over 42 minutes. Meh, not bad for about a mile of paddling plus a portage plus lunch. Before I turned westward to the big middle part of Lac La Croix, I logged a 13:14 mile. Excellent.
Looking at the map and studying the points and the islands, and I realized there were lots of configurations to make it to my destination. I knew I’d deviate from the border eventually by taking a southbound channel and an island-strewn bay to pop out at what is labeled Fish Stake Narrows on the map. That looked like it’d shave off a mile and certainly appeared to be passable. Also, that’d put me at 45 miles or so for the day and there were ample sites available in that area. That’d be my goal. For now, I stuck close to the US/Canada border. It was a beautiful afternoon and I made good time. I tried to stay to the leeward side of each little island and it worked well until I tried to sneak through one island. Instead of an open corridor was a 10-foot landmass that was impassable. Shoot, that’d take so far to paddle back around! I figured I could portage it quick, and jumped off to struggle greatly trying to pick up my whole board with everything on it. My packs would slide around with a slight tilt and I could not pick up my board sideways like normal without removing all the bags. I eventually bear hugged my board and lifted it then shuffled across this stupid little bog. I bashed my board on the other side but was satisfied that I didn’t lose any bags sliding through my bungees. I could have seen that… I gotta make better decisions, I told myself with a bit of frustration. But, I paddled on.
My shoulders were starting to get sore, and I could feel my lower back strain with certain paddle strokes. My hands were taking the brunt of the abuse. I figured I’d have a big blister and felt best about a strong full grip focusing the paddle shaft all the way back to my palm and thumb area. That’d require a lower grip on the paddle shaft itself, which required more leaning and activation of my lower back muscles. It worked OK but I questioned how my body would hold up. I’ve never done back to back 40+ mile days. What about these 2 then 4 more? Oh well, I kept paddling.
By the time the mid-afternoon rolled around I justified a stop for myself. I had 2 larger bay crossings and knew the south wind would play a factor compared to the past several hours I’d just enjoyed with leeward paddling through islands or the nice downwind miles to start Lac La Croix. I wanted to eat some snacks that I’d repacked into my hydration vest from lunch, check the weather forecast and refold my map, so I picked an island and tied up to a log protruding from the leeward north side in a shallow, swampy area. I was definitely feeling the day and the sunshine. I knew I needed more sunscreen, and scolded myself for not putting any on today. Tomorrow I will, I told myself. 10 hours in, and over 35 miles means I was still tracking nicely for just over 3.5 miles per hour. That meant I could probably make it over 10 miles before sunset around 7:30. As I refolded my map, I figured 10 miles would be just about perfect for Fish Stake Narrows and the suite of campsites in that area. That’d set me up decently well for the next day. But also, the forecast was scared me as I got the notification that my tracker had pulled a fresh forecast. That was such a nice feature, and it beeped loudly when it was done updating. I did not have good news. It’d be a windy start to the day tomorrow. I had many, many miles south, and a south wind of over 10 miles per hour was forecasted. Today was supposed to cap out at a maximum 10 miles per hour, and the later hours of the day the next day, Day 3, which was… it took me a while… Tuesday! Tuesday’s max wind was supposed to be 15 mph. Oof. Even right away in the morning looked windy at about 10 mph. I had a jaunt due south to Iron Lake tomorrow, the traverse of Crooked Lake with many large, exposed north/south bays but also plenty of leeward sections, then 10 more miles due south to Basswood River. THEN, lots of tough portages. To cap it off, I had big Basswood Lake which had stretches of open water to dwarf Crooked Lake. Tomorrow would be a challenge. So as I set off across a bigger bay on Lac La Croix, I wanted to focus the rest of my afternoon on setting myself up well for the next day. I didn’t think I’d be smart to try lots of miles past Fish Stake. I might as well just try to get up early – earlier than today for sure – to get a jump on the wind.
Mile after mile, I kept on moving. I approached the big bay on Lac La Croix. It didn’t look too bad. I’d been standing all day, so I told myself I could kneel to take the pressure off my feet a bit. A few of my toes were getting numb and it’d take me hours to really realize it then try to wiggle them and get blood flowing again. So, kneeling was a nice break. I promised myself I’d crank across this big bay in one shot, which I thought was at least a mile or two. That’s like, 30 minutes of constant paddling, I figured. I took a nice long drink of water and set off, using my hips to propel my board through the cross-chop. The waves weren’t too bad and I could see my destination easily. Due west! Er, east! I kept mistaking the direction I was heading with the direction I wanted the wind to go. I’m headed east, and want a west wind. Due east! Turn west, wind! Even a little! The wind was straight from the south, if not a little from the east.
In no time, by putting my head down and just cranking away, I made it to the leeward shore near a narrow southbound shot to a lower bay near my final destination for the day on Lac La Croix. I realized fairly quickly that cross winds were much better than a straight headwind. Yes, my left arm was killing from lots of wind and waves coming from my right side, but as I slowly made my away around a big bend, I got to switch sides and enjoy some calm waters tucked away near land. Ok… where are my narrows? I couldn’t see the map with enough detail to tell if I’d be able to skirt between several islands. I zoomed in on my watch and tried to scope the land. I hoped I could make the gap – I have myself the OK to just go for it. A nice channel between land and a tiny outcrop of dense forest panned out in my favor, and the high-rise land features creating a north-south channel started to formalize as I got closer to my shortcut against the true US/Canada border. I figured if I could skirt to the eastern far side of this channel, I’d be out of the wind slightly more, and cut a bit of mileage off my route. Maybe .1 miles. But the waves pushed me around and I stuck to the west side. Around 6pm I hit 40 miles on the day. I figured I had 5 miles more to go to Fish Stake Narrows. I made the crossing to the east side of the channel with no incident. It wasn’t any better with the wind and waves hugging the west or the east shore. They were at my face either way and all I could do was try to powerfully charge forward. It worked and before too long I made another left turn.
I was on the home stretch and could see the Fish Stake Narrows. They’re a long ways off, I lamented to myself. It was panning out to be a beautiful evening. The sun was directly to my back. I repeated the Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics “the sun may rise in the east but at least it settles in the final location”. Sets in the west, I’m headed east. I could feel the evening low sun beams on the backs of my legs. My long sleeve shirt was working great. It wasn’t too hot despite hot days, and was certainly blocking the sun. My legs were completely exposed and I could feel the sun damaging my skin. It was hot. Ouch. But in the grand scheme of things, not too terribly burned or painful.
I was ready to be done for the day. I started looking closer at my map to plan my site options. I figured the second one in towards the south was the most direct for my route. On a little island, it looked to face due west. I expected that would afford a nice sunset, and maybe some extra light to ensure my tent and food gets set up correctly without too much fiddling by headlamp. That’s my one.
With a couple navigational errors on Lac La Croix, mainly just one mistake trying to paddle through a tiny land mass, I was a little paranoid I’d be able to make it to Fish Stake through many islands. My route was not direct. I could either go south and might benefit with less wind the further south into the bay I go. Or I could go north, have a beautiful big island block most of the wind, then make a shot across the bay to Fish Stake Narrows proper. When I had to make the decision, north simply just looked better. I stuck to my left, hugging a Canadian point to my left and watching carefully for rocks as I got close to that land mass. Every time I’d get close to land, especially around a point that I’d frequently try to skirt as close as possible for the sake of mileage efficiency, I’d slowly see the lighter color of rocks beneath the otherwise dark void of the lakes potentially hundreds of feet deep. Sometimes the rocks would come quick. Sometimes, I’d be studying the map so hard, trying to count out miles or plan out an efficient route, look up to see that I was paddling straight towards a rocky ledge. Pay attention, Mike!! The northern route around a fairly large island was the right choice. I met up with the land mass, skirted around it by keeping the island tight to my right, and plotted a direct route across the bay to Fish Stake. I used my watch to get a bearing. Curve around this island a bit more, then it’s due east. I liked having the compass on my watch. I looked down at my wrist and lined it up. If I checked halfway across the bay and was still heading due east, I’d get right to my island. I could theoretically see the finish line for the day. My splits were indicative of the wind direction. Heading into a cross wind slowed me down but I was satisfied with rounding out my day about 4 miles per hour. A couple sub-16 minute miles and I made it to a first grouping of islands. I could see one campsite empty to my left, and figured I could see my goal site right on ahead. So, I paddled right to it. As I got closer, my confidence grew that it was indeed the site I was looking for, and it was indeed empty. Yep, stopping here. As I got close to inspect the site itself, my excitement increased as it looked amazing. Nice rocky outcrop, sweet fire pit, plenty of spots for a tent, all compact, and so I landed ashore, happy to be done for the day. Nearly 45 miles. Excellent.
I tried to quickly formulate a plan. Set up tent first things first. Get that good. I picked a sweet pad in a beautifully flat grassy spot. I filled up my 3-liter water filter bag and kettle for making dinner. I noticed some prime firewood at the pit. It wasn’t quite 7:30 yet and the sun was just lowering below the far treeline. I figured if I could get my shit together by 8pm I’d be doing good. Tent set up, and I changed my plans. I wanted to take a dip. My shoulders, arms and hands were killing. I knew it’d be a power day the next day, with lots of direct headwind. I needed to promote recovery. I got a fire going first, and it started up great and was roaring in no time. Some saint had cut a ton of wood and it was dense and brittle dry. Perfect. I jumped in the lake. Ooo, very uncomfortable right away, but then quickly it felt amazing. I swished my arms around, trying to get some blood flow. I hopped out and warmed back up in front of the fire. The smoke was cleansing. It bolstered my skin’s toughness. The whisping flames danced towards my outstretched arms as I looked out towards the deep orange and purple hues that smoothly melded together in the panoramic dusk sky. What a fucking amazing view. I imagined the centuries of people who probably camped here. This is the fucking spot, for sure. Yeah, I was pretty amped up about a highly successful second day, and was very eager to eat a nice hot meal and relax in front of the fire for an hour then sleep. And that’s exactly what I did. The weather predicted 0% chance of precipitation so I left my rain fly off, instead using it as a pillow with the rest of my empty tent and sleeping bag bags shoved all into my tent’s bag.