When Things Go Wrong
by William Llilly (1 of 3)
On my second trip to the Boundry Waters things didn't go near as well as my first trip. We went on the same week and month as the first year but the weather was totally different. It was much colder. This was not the only thing that was different.
On my first trip we went the week before memorial day and the weather was warm. We even took our shirts off on most days while fishing and exploring. The smallies were shallow and easy to catch.
On our drive along the Lake Superior shoreline we had our windows down and we could feel an abrupt change in the temperature outside at one point in our drive. It seemed the temperature dropped about 15 to 20 degrees in a matter of about 5 minutes.
As we started up the Gunflint Trail we noticed lots of snow along the way. The creeks and streams were roaring with runoff from the melting snow. We knew we weren't going to be going without our shirts this time.
When we arrived at the outfitters we had a snowball fight. We knew it was going to be colder this time but we brought our cold weather gear. We were still going to have fun.
The next morning when the tow boat dropped us off at American Point the driver said he didn't know if we were going to be able to canoe to our destination for a couple of days because the ice was still on the lake. He suggested that we stay on the island or one of the campsites on "Big Sag". As soon as he left we went to see if we could get through.
We found a small channel through the ice and entered it not knowing if we would even be able to turn around if we ran out of water. The channel was only wide enough to allow the canoes to go in single file.
As it turned out the ice actually opened up to water the further in we went. The heat from the land in the shallower water and the current made navigation easier as we went. We were on our way to Knife Lake and the great fishing we had on the neighboring lakes the previous year. We were going to enjoy ourselves after all.
The trip over the Monument Portage was much muddier this year and the rocks were wet and slippery. We were ready this year though. We were experienced now. We knew our way and we were running ahead of schedule. We were the masters of the wilderness!
While we paddled through the Ottertrack cliff area the wind was calm. The previous year we fought a wind tunnel effect going through here. This was a comfort considering the temperature. If the wind had been as high as the previous year we would have had a wind chill effect that would have been devistating.
As we paddled along we ran into another canoe coming the other direction. The gentleman and his wife told us that we would have to portage around the bay on the other side of the Little Knife portage. Everyone in the group had their heart sink at this point. We were planning on placing our base camp at the portage.
We forged on! We weren't going to let the weather stop our fun. We could always find another campsite.
We found plenty of sources for ice this year. There was plenty of ice in the creeks this year. Last year we were worried about ice to keep our food fresh. Ice was readily available this year. It wouldn't be a problem bringing back fish this year for our "group and spouse" fish fry.
As we appraoached the Little Knife Portage we did so with caution. We were very pleased to see that the whole bay was open water when we arrived. The canoe gods were on our side! It had, apparently, thawed in a matter of hours. The wilderness was at our mercy!
The other canoe we ran into earlier encountered ice but it was wide open now. The fish were waiting for our hooks! They are in trouble now. The Masters of The Wilds are back!!
We set up camp right on the portage. This would be our base camp for the week. I wasn't real thrilled about the idea of seeing people coming right through our camp every day. The old timers in our group didn't seem to mind. I think they looked forward to having people to talk to since us younger guys spent our time exploring all day.