The #4 Duluth pack has been carefully packed and sits upright, waiting, next to the front door. A medium sized compression sack, occupying the bottom of the pack, contains my clothes for the week. I packed light but did include my favorite fleece jacket to keep the September early morning chill at bay.
Next in the pack is my sleeping bag and pad. The Big Agnes is compressed to the size of a football and I marvel how, although so small and light, it keeps me warm on even the coldest of nights. On top of the inside of the pack sits my new Eureka tent. This is to be my first trip with this tent. I can't wait to crawl inside it that first night near Basswood Falls, the sound of rushing water a wilderness lullaby for a well-deserved sleep after my daylong paddle.
Next to the Duluth pack sits a Granite Gear thwart bag; it contains all the gear I need for some serious fishing. The larger compartment holds a plastic Plano organizer box. This box in turn holds spoons and crankbaits that will surely entice vicious strikes from Jackfish Lake pike. The smaller compartments are filled with jigs and various plastic tails; walleyes and smallies of Fourtown Lake are surely in trouble.
Nestled among the packs are my L.L. Bean Maine Hunting shoes. Over ten years old now, they continue to serve me well. To make certain that they are up to the rigors of this trip I have applied a generous slathering of Sno-Seal. I hope I can wear my Keen sandals most of the time on this trip but acknowledge that September weather in Canoe Country can turn wintry quickly. I need to be prepared.
The maps have been pored over and a challenging route awaits my brother Rick, my nephew Matt, and me. We are veterans of Canoe Country but still anxiously await this 10-day trip to Crooked Lake and points beyond with the excitement of little kids waiting for Christmas morning.