Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gitchi-Gami on the North Shore

Gitchi-Gami (with Lorrie, Karen, Barb J. and Lee)

Distance = 55.06
Time = 4.26.18
Max speed = 34.5 mph
Average speed = 12.4 mph

Wow! What a beautiful ride! Well, part of it anyway! (= I didn't sleep well the night before. We were camping at Gooseberry Falls State Park (Site #59) right along the shore of Lake Superior. It was amazing! I love the sound of the waves hitting land at night. I could pretend I was near the ocean again. (= But really, this is just as beautiful. Just in a different way. Anyway, I woke up when Lorrie had to crawl over me to use the bathroom. I laid there thinking I didn't have to go and knowing if I didn't go then I'd lay there awake and eventually have to go anyway. It's amazing how much thought goes into using the restroom when one has to go outside to do so! lol Anyway, so I did eventually get up and I met her as she was coming out. Then neither of us could sleep. So we just laid there and listened to the sounds. The air mattress had lost much of it's air so my butt was touching the ground. Everything else was elevated so it was comfortable enough. What was funny was that neither of us had any idea what time it was! We didn't have our cell phones nearby and neither of us wears a watch. It was dark... that's all I knew. Eventually we both fell asleep. We got up around 7am to get ready for the ride. I made breakfast and got the bikes all ready... air in the tires, lube the chain, etc. Karen and I took down my tent, which she had used the night before. She had this air mattress that was about 3 feet high and the corners poked out my doors! lol It looked hilarious! We put most of our stuff away but not all because they were planning to be back after doing the shorter (30 mile) ride. Lorrie wanted to be back before our 4pm checkout and to hang out with the dogs so they wouldn't be alone for so long. Sweet! The place we needed to check in for the ride was about 100 feet from our campsite. It was perfect! Lorrie had checked online Thursday before leaving work just in case there had been a cancellation. And there was! On a lake front site that close to the ride start. Karma! So we got to the start around 9am, the earliest we were allowed to leave. Lorrie checked in as her friend Baushkauf since she wasn't going to make it for the ride. She is a police officer in Canada and was investigating a missing woman from Thunder Bay. /= Barb and Lee had stayed in Two Harbors at a hotel and were planning to be at the start at 9am with coffee for Lorrie and Karen. As we were waiting for them, I realized I had forgotten Jeero! So I rode back to the campsite to grab Jeero! Phew! It wouldn't be an official bike ride without Jeero! When I got back to the start, Barb and Lee had just arrived... sans coffee! Uh oh!! Everything arranged, we were gone by about 9:30am. But then Barb and Lee needed air so they went back. See? If they had camped with us, I would have taken care of all that. (= We went on but rode very slowly. Lorrie had to use the bathroom so Karen and I stopped and waited for her. They still hadn't caught up so off we went again. We rode along Highway 61 for a bit, which confused us because we were, at one point, riding along the Gitchi-Gami trail. At the time it seemed weird. Finally on the trail and it was great! Very rolly and quite a few twists and turns. Someone missed a turn at some point and was hurt. I didn't see it so I had no idea how badly. But she didn't continue to ride. Karen was riding a mountain bike and was kicking butt! I can't imagine how fast she could go with thinner tires and a lighter frame! We all took it easy trying to wait for Barb and Lee but also trying to enjoy the ride. It was about 14 miles out on the trail to the first rest stop. Then we had the choice of continuing or going back. We waited while we got our water and PBJs and Barb finally showed up. She was determined to do the 55-mile ride but wanted to wait for Lee in case she wanted to continue. I was getting cold in my sleeveless jersey and Audrey Hepburn arm warmers so I needed to get moving pretty quickly. Lorrie and Karen headed back, with the intention of stopping for coffee along the way! lol And Barb waited. Out of the rest stop was a pretty good sized hill! I passed a few people who had decided to walk it rather than ride it. That was just the first of many. Up and down most of the way with a pretty strong headwind in 3 directions. The road was a bit rough too with some parts being construction zones. And ya know I hate to complain, but the scenery on that stretch was not great either. I like to see the farms and such. At some point, a woman who owned a little restaurant/shop had an unofficial rest stop where she served homemade brownies and water. As much I would have enjoyed them in the moment, I didn't have the brownies. But I was thankful for the water! On the road again it was still a headwind and lots of going up! When is the down!?? And there it was. An awesome downhill at the bottom of which was our second official rest stop. It happened to be at Eckbeck State Forest where Lorrie and I had camped 2 nights before with Darshi. lol It looked different in the daylight! (= I spoke for a little while with some women from Illinois who keep a photo book of socks. ha! They wanted mine in there, which I found flattering. (= Leaving the rest stop there was another huge uphill. At some point I resigned myself to all this climbing. Yes, I have said and I still do love climbing. But my legs on this day were just not there yet. Too much canoeing the week before! lol We went past Tetagouche State Park where Lorrie, Darshi, the dogs and I spent the previous day. Then we rode through Beaver Bay and Silver Bay. I can't think of anything notable about either place though I'm sure there's something! We came back out onto the same road that climbed from the rest stop. I didn't get too excited right away about the downhill because I didn't know where exactly on the road I was. And there was climbing potential. But they were nice and it was flat then downhill. I stopped to take a quick photo then went flying down the hill. FUN! The first rest stop was also the third and final rest stop. I stayed there for a few minutes. A man that I had been catching and releasing for many miles said, "You turned that corner and you were GONE!" He was laughing at how excited I got about going downhill. I looked some for Barb as I believe she is stubborn enough to have done the 55-miles even if Lee wasn't going to. But since I didn't know for sure if she had gone on or gone back, I took off again. From that point, we were back on the Gitchi-Gami reversing our route from the first 14 miles. It was still weaving and rolling, just in the opposite direction now. My legs were getting pretty tired and the climbing was wearing me out. I was almost always just one step ahead of a leg cramp, especially that point where my quad hooks to my knee... ack those hurt when they cramp! So I did everything I could think of to avoid it. I rode a lot with 3 guys, 2 of whom were on recumbents. The other was on an upright and climbed faster than I was but then got in my way on the descents. Arrgh! I stopped at one point to take a photo and let him get further ahead. That seemed to work and I was flying! But then I caught his slow ass! (-; AND I passed him on the final climb. Thank you GU!! lol That stuff works! And a slight competitiveness in my nature can be helpful too. THEN I figured out why they had us on the road at the beginning of the ride! I followed the recumbents on some off-roading! HA! Thank God I didn't puncture a tire! Those things are less than an inch wide ya know! They aren't hearty! lol We crossed some concrete walkway over the actual Gooseberry Falls and then a little more dirt before getting back on the road within Gooseberry Falls State Park where we had started. That was crazy! I'm quite thankful for my mountain biking experience because I would have had to walk it otherwise. lol A gradual descent then a short painful climb before finishing in another slight descent. Phew! One of the recumbent guys was cursing that last hill. lol Those bikes don't climb well at all! And that part of my quad on my right leg was cramping on the downstroke and stretching on the upstroke. Arrgh!! At the finish I picked up a couple scones... a weird postride offering! Whatever! (= I carried them while I rode back to the campsite where Lorrie was sitting with the dogs and reading. It was very cute and serene! It would have been nice to sit and watch had Tori not seen me and started barking. lol I was back by 3pm so we had a little time. We sat for a bit and I let her massage my cramping thigh. Then we headed up to the showers so we could be out by 4pm. Okay, this is gross but I had not showered in 2 days at this point... and had biked! YUCK! lol Hers was faster as always so she went back to the site to take down her tent. After showers and all, we went over to Gooseberry Falls. Not much water there. Basically a dribble over the top. Lorrie showed me her "thinking spot" and took some photos of me thinking deeply there. After a few moments, we were off again. We stopped at a wayside rest to eat and take care of the dogs. It was extremely windy and quite cold! Then back on the road for home! Lorrie drove the whole way this time. I called Barb to see how they were doing. She said Lee had turned back at the first rest stop but that she had gone on and finished the 55-mile ride! Awesome!! She finished at about 4;45pm and was impressed with my 3pm finish. However, she has a mtn bike and I have a road bike! I have been complaining about the climbing but I can't even imagine how hard it would be to climb on a mtn bike. Well, I guess I can. I've done it. But it's not fun! So I was impressed with her determination. (= As we were driving, it started raining some in The Cities but got really bad while we were on Hwy 52 and getting closer to Northfield. Then major thunder and lightening, which blinded us. Not great when we were already tired! So we just took it slow and both watched. Got home, got into my house, brushed our teeth, and went to bed without bringing anything else in. I left the bikes on the back off my car and just put the whole thing in the garage! lol Too tired and way too much rain!

Addendum: We found out the next day that there had been major flooding further south from us. Homes had floated away and there had been a few deaths. Scary!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gitchi-Gami - Day 2

Woke up and Lorrie was still cold. So weird!! We hadn't connected our sleeping bags since it was so late. Turns out she hadn't zipped up the bottom of hers either. So she had a nice stream of cold air going through her bag all night! Oops! lol We got up and saw how great our campsite really was. We both decided we really like state forests. After 1 experience! lol Darshi was up already and Lorrie was right, Darshi was very cold last night having no air mattress to sleep on. Even though ours was flat, it was still something between us and the ground. I made eggs and cheese on my little whisperlite burner. It was quite good! How difficult are eggs and cheese though? We also had some grapes. Yeah, I know the menu might be an exciting thing to blog about. So what! Write your own! (= We all went for a walk on the river afterwards. There was very little water so we were able to walk right in the river. Tori had some difficulty because of her little paws. Emma seemed to do okay.

Afterwards, we packed up the site and headed to Tetagouche State Park, Lorrie's "favorite place!" We walked along a ridge and came to a barricade so had to turn back. She was bound and determined to get down to one of the beaches! (= We had to walk down the road some before we found another trail into one of the pebble beaches. That was gorgeous! We sat and played there for a long time. Emma and Tori loved the water. It was shallow enough most of the way so they barely had to swim. Lorrie and I picked out rockes for cairns. I love flat rocks like that! They're perfect for cairns. They all started talking about their tradition of having pizza when they travel together. So we started to head out in search of pizza.... with Darshi and me taking time for photos of course! lol Lorrie and I both thought there was a Sven and Ole's in Beaver Bay. But we couldn't find anything so we drove on. Lorrie tried to talk them into eating at a restaurant overlooking the water so that we'd be closer to Gooseberry Falls State Park, which is where we were going to be camping. But they wanted pizza, not scenery! lol So we drove all the way down to Two Harbors with the intention of driving back to Gooseberry. Too much driving! Once there they didn't want to drive back to Gooseberry so we did the Harbor Walk in Two Harbors. That was very pretty also! SO many dragonflies! I cannot describe adequately what that was like with them flying all around us. I've never seen anything like that before. The trail went along the water and then into a harbor. There were a couple lighthouses that we didn't go up to see. But they were pretty from the park where we sat. It seemed to get hot very suddenly while we were there. I started taking clothes off and was still hot. I don't think they had much that could be taken off. /= So we started back to the cars. Darshi was heading to MSP to see a friend and then back to Mankato.

We needed to check into our campsite so off we went in our separate directions. We stopped for an iced coffee that was luke warm and then got ice and gas before heading out. Our campsite at Gooseberry was awesome! Lorrie had checked their website at the last minute Thursday before leaving work and there had been a cancellation. It was a lake front site! WOW! We were getting organized and pulling out Lorrie's tent, which she took back from Darshi. Then Karen showed up. We were finishing our stuff so I put up my tent for Karen to use. Gary, her boyfriend, had bought her an air mattress that was about 3 feet high! lol The corner poked out of my tent it was so big! lol She unzipped some things and got it all to work. Wow! Cushy! The 3 of us went for a walk along the water. It was gorgeous! I know, I say that a lot! But this area is just incredible. It was also scary here with no railing or anything. I kept Lorrie far away from the edge! I lowered myself down onto a rock and then pretended to fall. She freaked out just a little. But I got her back for screwing around with me at Cascade Fall in June! Yeah, I hold a grudge! Watch out! (= We took some postcard photos of the 3 of us. Then we needed to head BACK into Two Harbors to meet a couple of my friends, Barb and Lee, for dinner. They were also planning to ride the next day. They were staying in a hotel rather than camping. So we met at Blackwood's Bar and Grill. We were just a little late! There seems to be a lot of confusion when there's no cell phone coverage.! Ah well! It could just be me too! We had a good meal with great company! Afterwards, I went with Barb and Lee to Pamida for some film and a disposable camera. We also needed bowls for the cake Karen had made and a corkscrew for their wine! lol Lorrie and Karen went back to camp to get the fire going. Barb and Lee stayed for wine and dessert then headed out around 10pm. Campfires had to be out after 10pm. So we got ready for bed. We were both asleep pretty quickly!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Boundary Waters (Day 5 - August 11, 2007)

Got up at the hotel around 8am and took our time getting ready to go. We went down and grabbed some food from the continental breakfast and brought it back to the room. By the time we left, I think we'd taken 6 bananas! Not sure why! lol Got back on the interstate and took I-94 over to Hwy 52 then to Hwy 19. That seemed a little faster since we avoided Mpls traffic. We got to the vet between 12 and 12:30. Perfect! I'm not sure I mentioned before that the reason we left the camp Friday night instead of today was because I had to pick up the dogs by 1pm today or they'd be there all weekend. I didn't want that so we needed to head out early. The only thing I regretted about that is that it would have been incredible to see the people who have been in the wilderness for a month or over to return. Anyway, the dogs were extremely happy to see us. I was very glad to see them too! We went to my house and unloaded then Lorrie went home to shower and get organized. I took a nap! lol I was exhausted for some reason. She came over later to watch a movie and relax more. Next we head back up to the North Shore for the Gitchi-Gami bike ride and camping.

Another aside that I didn't mention much was the fact that my friend Candace and her girlfriend were supposed to go on this trip with us. I met Candace when I was in Michigan but she now lives in North Carolina. They'd paid their deposit and bought their plane tickets. Then something happened at the hospital where Candace works and they took away her vacation time. It would definitely have been a different experience with them there. Good I'm sure! But I think we did okay for just the two of us with a guide! (=

Friday, August 10, 2007

Boundary Waters (Day 4 - August 10, 2007)

Well, we survived! And I would say that we thrived! I woke up again before it was light and then dozed until it started to get light. Then I realized we were supposed to watch sunrise from the waterfall and that it must be getting close. Same thing as yesterday. Lorrie saw that I was awake so she crawled over me to get up. I followed a little later. I was sitting outside by the non-existent fire and Lorrie called me down to the lake. The sun was just rising over the bluff on the other side of the lake. It was gorgeous! Amy got up a little later, actually a lot later, and apologized for not waking up in time for sunrise at the waterfall. Said either her alarm didn't go off or we didn't hear it. We decided that she was already starting her crash from the summer since we were so much easier to lead than 12-year-olds. lol She was sleeping at least 10 hours a night! I doubt she was doing that with the kids. It was interesting how we developed a routine so quickly, just 2 days. Since Amy was always the last one awake, she got all her bedding and such packed up and taken care of before she came out of the tent. We would be outside milling around and then would start taking the food down from the tree branch and start untying the bags of food. She would come out and start working on breakfast. I would go into the tent and pack up Lorrie's and my bedding then Lorrie and I would start taking down the tent. We basically packed everything up and put it together but then left it next to the Duluth Packs for Amy to pack. This morning breakfast was egpocheese, which I'm sure you can guess was eggs, potatoes, and cheese. I liked it, Lorrie thought it was okay. Nothing special but I'm easy to please when it comes to food! Breakfast done, Lorrie did dishes and I piddled around getting things packed up. We all put off as long as possible getting back into our wet clothes. Brrr! But once they were on it wasn't too bad. It's true about wool, it stays wet forever but it still keeps you warm. My socks never dried but my feet were always warm. Next time maybe I'll just wear wool all over! (= Got everything down the stairs to the canoe, which was a little challenging with the Duluth Packs. Going up seems to have been easier yesterday. You can see in the photo, not only the lovely cyclist's tan, but also a bit of the Duluth Pack and the steps I had to walk down. We paddled about a mile to the next portage, which would take us up to the waterfall we missed this morning and then on into Rose Lake. The plan was to take every up up up, then down to the other side, then to come back up to see the waterfall. I think it was an 80 Rod portage but what I do know is that there were gazillions of stairs, rocks, and roots. There was one step that was about 2 feet high. No big deal... unless you have an 85 pound canoe on your shoulders or a 50 pound Duluth Pack on your back! We elected Amy canoe carrier for this one and Lorrie and I took the rest. It was humid and sticky, my clothes were still wet, and we climbed. FUN!!! lol It was definitely difficult! But it's why we were there. There were several different groups on this particular portage. Probably the most people we had seen at one time the whole trip. One of the groups was a Menogyn group with 2 male leaders, 2 12-yr-olds, and a 13-yr-old. One of the kids was coming down where we were getting ready to go up. He had a Duluth Pack on his back, which was more than half his height. He was bent over at the waist... and he was flying with the force of gravity!! lol It was so funny. But he did it! And that was cool! Another kid came down with his pack and the guides sent them both back up to help out the third boy. Once their packs were off, they walked with this cocky swagger! I assumed that the successed they were experiencing was increasing their confidence and I thought that was great. Hell, I felt the same way! But I can control my 12-year-old swagger... usually! (= I don't think Lorrie enjoyed this portage as much as I did. But she finished it and then was fine. As we were walking up toward the waterfall, Amy was coming back down and asked if we wanted to earn some trail karma. To do so, we had to walk back where we had just come and help others portage their gear. Lorrie and I just looked at each other and followed her... with Lorrie flipping her off, with both hands!, for a few feet. lol Doesn't she know we're old!!?? Anyway, we did offer to help but they had everything carried already. Phew! (= So back up toward the waterfall. Finally! If I hadn't heard them, I could have begun to think they didn't really exist since we seemed to keep avoiding them. But there they were! It was really beautiful! A little smaller than I expected... though why should I expect anything!? There were quite a few people in there so we waited a bit for it to clear out then jumped in. I'm not good at not showering. I can do it and I can handle it. But if there's an opportunity, I'm likely going to take it. We didn't use soap or anything but just to stand under "running" water felt so cleansing! I sat there for a long time just letting it run through my hair and over me. Lorrie used the taller stream.... she's a little smarter than me! lol But the photo was too dark. )= Stupid disposables. She was naked too. So, unless you were there, you missed out! (-; Afterwards, we climbed up above the waterfall and laid in the sun on a rock to dry out a little. What a view of Rose Lake! Wow! Neither Lorrie nor I wanted to be right on the edge so we found a big flat rock a little away from the edge to hang out. It must have been about 45 minutes that we sat there. I actually felt a little bored at first and just wanted to keep moving. But I took a couple breaths and realized I was there to slow down too. So I laid back and ended up falling asleep! Amy showed up eventually and off we went. I was feeling a little groggy! Good thing we weren't near the edge. Once we got down by the canoe, we decided to eat there rather than canoe to another campsite and unpack again. So we sat there and ate what was left of our lunch compilation. Actually we didn't even finish everything! Lorrie preferred the pemmican and Matt food. I tried to eat the dried fruit but it was much too hard. So I went back to hummus and salami or tortillas. The food that we didn't eat goes into a "seconds" bin, which Menogyn staff can use on their personal trips. I thought we should have gotten it since we paid for it! (= Back in the canoe to cross Duncan lake to our final portage into Bearskin Lake. As we were leaving the portage area, Amy spotted another moose! This one had antler though was apparently also quite young. It's in the photo... I swear! Toward the middle you can see the brown. They do blend well. Next time I will have my own camera so I can zoom. ::sigh:: That was very frustrating. And it was our last photo! Anyway, I did get to see my second moose and I seem to be graduating in size. Maybe I'll see an adult next time! Crossing Duncan Lake was uneventful and we got to the portage with no difficulty. My only thing was that I still can't really see the portage openings when I'm out in the water. I don't see the breaks in the landscape. They're on the maps too but I can see myself missing them periodically. Even Amy mentioned several that they had missed on various trips. Something to work on! Lorrie decided to take the canoe on this last portage. Amy had said it was much easier than the others. Ha! It was still 80 Rods and the terrain was certainly not even. I guess they're all hard right now since we're so new to the whole thing. We were both tired so we had agreed that she would "bridge" about halfway so that I could take it the rest of the way. She ended up carrying it the whole way! (= I took one of the packs and some misc stuff. At the end she bridged and I took it and helped her lay it down. Then we decided to just take it into the water right side up with both of us at an end. We agree that Amy was not far behind and was just hanging back so we could do that on our own. I thought that was pretty good guiding. I'm glad she felt comfortable doing that stuff with us as adults. As she came out into the open, she said we were doing a good job and then walked into the water to dump her pack into the canoe. It was cute. I guess that's how it should work. One person carries the canoe into the water, flips it right side up and the rest follow behind with packs to dump right in rather than having to set them on the ground. Smooth! Anyway, we got everything in. Lorrie had thought about trying to steer again but we all decided it would be bad for her hand. So I decided to give it a shot. It was only about 2 miles so I figured I could handle it. Steering is HARD!! No wonder Amy was so tired! lol It's constant J- and C-strokes to turn left or right. I couldn't quite get the J-stroke at first but started to get the hang of it eventually. The C-stroke was easy but I couldn't just keep doing that or we'd go in circles. We did a LOT of weaving at first but then I got better at it. The funny thing to me was that Lorrie had such strong strokes that whatever I did was exaggerated. So a C-stroke on the right side should turn us left. But we would go WAY left because I didn't know how to adapt to her strength. We figured it out eventually. Basically, I told her to be a little weaker. lol So I finished up the trip in stern with Lorrie at bow. Apparently that's a tradition at Menogyn as well. The guide starts the trip at stern but by the time they come back, they should either be at bow or a duffer. I think that's a good tradition. I had to maneuver around an outcropping and then into the "harbor" where the dock is. Then I had to avoid a rock that sticks out of the water, which they call Kilaminjaro. But I gently got us to the dock... and we were done.

We stepped out and unloaded, then got the canoe out of the water to put it on the rack. I couldn't sauna because of the Boba potential and Lorrie chose not to. So we all jumped into the lake to cool off. Some of the Menogyn staff were swimming across the lake from where we had parked my car. Wow! I think they said it was about a mile. That swim was very nice and refreshing! Afterwards we jumped out and started sorting our gear. Lorrie and I did the dishes for the last time. We were laughing because in a normal situation, paying for a guide would mean they take care of those details. We were getting a little snooty! But we went with the YMCA so we got to fend for ourselves! That's okay. We definitely learned a lot. I had take the approach that this was "canoe school" so learning was the whole point. Amy hung the tent and Duluth Packs to dry and air out. The tent looked very cool strung up like that. But I had no more photos left so you just have to imagine it. We got the stuff, our clothes, etc that we'd left behind at camp and went up to the lodge for a proper shower. I couldn't find deodorant or shampoo so I had to use Lorrie's. Thank God she had brought some. She had originally planned to use mine! That would have been awful after looking so forward to being clean. After I got cleaned up, I was out getting some water in the cafeteria when one of the youth workers asked if I was there for the welcome back. I said we'd just gotten in today without finishing that we'd been on trail and they all went on to describe the epic skit they had developed and were planning to perform. At the time, I was surprised that they would do that for us. But Amy had said they always plan some kind of welcome back thing. Lorrie and I had talked about leaving before dinner so we could get closer to or all the way home that night. I went back to the room and told her we had to stay because they were doing some kind of skit for us. Dinner was pasta primavera, corn on the cob, salad, and bread. It was basically just staff there so about 1/4 the number of people as when we first arrived. Much more intimate! Turned out the skit was for the next day when the long trippers come back from their 30-40 days trips. For us coming back... we all got dessert... spice cookies. *That* made much more sense than doing a skit for us. lol Everyone thanked us for coming back so they could have dessert. (= It was cute! After dinner we got our bags together and headed down to the dock for our ride back across the lake. We waited quite awhile because of a potential ice cream run that we were going to catch a ride with. Apparently it wasn't getting organized very quickly! The St. Olaf guy came down while we were talking to the nurse and asked if we were waiting for a ride. So he took us across without the ice cream people.

Back to the car and we decided to stop for our own ice cream at the little stand on Gunflint Trail. Good thing I had my lactaid with me! (= I drove to Grand Marais, about 30 minutes. We stopped there to get Lorrie some coffee so she could drive. I was suddenly exhausted! Sven and Ole's was out of coffee AND cappucino. So she ended up with a diet coke. Yuck! lol She drove to Duluth where we stopped at a Motel 6. Because of the Blues Festival, there were no rooms anywhere! They gave her a couple phone numbers and we ended up with a reservation in Hinckley about an hour further south at Golden something casino. I can't remember. lol All I know is that I was asleep when we pulled into Motel 6, I woke up for approximately 6 minutes, and as soon as she said we were going on I fell asleep again only to wake up once we got to the casino hotel! We were both exhausted so we went inside and collapsed.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Boundary Waters (Day 3 - August 9, 2007

I woke up before sunrise and laid there hoping that I would be able to sleep some more. But I couldn't. I probably got 7 hours of sleep and that was just fine. I couldn't get comfortable anymore and my arms kept falling asleep. My fingers were also extremely swollen! I knew I would be sore this morning because of the new muscle movement. But it still sucked! And no ibuprofin for me. ::sigh:: So I just waited. Lorrie woke up about the same time the sky started to lighten. She gave me a little hug, then crawled over me to get up and out of the tent. She went off to have some alone time. I got up a few moments later and went a different direction to read by the water. The temperature was great for shorts and a sweatshirt, which is perfect! We met up a little later and spent some time together before Amy got up. She slept 'til about 7am! lol We came back up to camp and started getting some of the things together and bringing down the food bags. Amy got up about that time. She made Trail McMuffins this morning. They were awesome.... yes, even with salami. Is salami the same as summer sausage? The Italian would know this but I don't! So I use them interchangeably! I apologize if this offends anyone! lol Basically she mixed bisquick in a bag and then used the bag like a baker's frosting tool. No, I'm sorry, I don't know what that is called either. So you figured out I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen! lol Anyway, that's how she made the muffin part. Then she used powdered eggs and we sliced the salami. Simple as that! And it was awesome! Could be that I was really really hungry! But whatever, it tasted great! We worked together to get the rest of camp taken down and cleaned up and were back on the water by about 9:30am.

Lorrie started out in stern (rear) position steering and Amy was in bow (front). This worked for me since my arms wer
e killing me. Lorrie took us in 2 or 3 circles before we got going forward! heheh We basically had to head straight across the lake to a beach area where there was a little inlet into our next lake, Little Gunflint. We weaved and circled our way over there. Lorrie was trying to decide if she should keep trying to steer. But when we got to the entrance to the inlet, she said, "No way!" lol It was really narrow and windy. I guess she figured we'd be bouncing back and forth from shore to shore like a pinball. I probably would have peed my pants laughing so it was a good choice! lol So Amy went to stern and Lorrie to bow. I stayed at Duffer. Great for sightseeing, I gotta tell ya. Although being in bow is great too because stern does all the steering. So you can just paddle and not worry much about where you're going... unless there's a rock or something in the way. Maybe that's only the case when you have a guide! lol If we were out here alone, we'd both have to be paying close attention! (= Anyway, lots of swampy beauty here. Gazillions of lilypads. Amy and Lorrie had a discussion about which lilypad was edible on top. One they agreed was edible at the root but neither were sure about the top. I just thought they were pretty. I'm pretty unlikely to dive down to the bottom to dig up a root to eat at this point. Maybe that information will come in handy in the future! Little Gunflint was definitely a little lake. Within what seemed like a short time we were heading into our next inlet. This one is extremely narrow and often has too little water to paddle, which would mean our first portage. There seemed to be enough water so they were going for it. One interesting thing was that it was "flowing" like a river against us. Amy gave us the disclaimer that "campers" are not supposed to go on white water at all. This was far from white water but she was covering her ass. She told Lorrie to speed up her strokes so they could paddle against the current. Immediately upon entering the inlet we hit ground. lol It bears mentioning that feeling the rocks on my ass was pretty funny! Perhaps I was just giddy this morning! A definitely possibility! ANYWAY, Amy told Lorrie to get out so they could pull it. I started to get out and she told me I could stay in there! HA! So Princess Jennifer was pulled through this gorgeous inlet by two women in life jackets! The photo shows my view. I did a few "float waves" and then settled down. Like I said... giddy! We made it out of the inlet without issue and were into Little North Lake. We circled around the entrance a little. Apparently there was a train station there at one point. We saw the platform under water but couldn't make out the tracks. That was pretty interesting. Something about our logger history and everything ending up under water once the ice melted. Apparently in the winter, they would build tracks on the ice to transport logs and such. We crossed Little North Lake and it seemed like we were getting more into the wilderness like we wanted. Before we would see people periodically and now it felt like we were totally alone. From Little North Lake to North Lake there was an 80 Rod portage. 1 Rod = 1 canoe. Lorrie decided there was no time like the present to learn how this whole thing works. So we heaved the canoe onto her shoulders and off she went! AWESOME! Amy carried the lighter Duluth Pack and the day pack. I carried the heavier Duluth Pack, a paddle and the Nalgene bottles. I was directly behind Lorrie and I have to say that it was amazing to see her carrying the canoe like that. We had practiced taking steps with it at Camp Menogyn. But that is completely different than carrying it on a trail, with rocks and such. Just amazing! And she just did it. No comment, no question, no whining. Done! lol She did the whole thing then bridged at the water so Amy could put it in. It was extremely rocky there so I would say an excellent choice to let the guide do that part. If it was just us, we would likely have set it down then carried it upright with each of us on one end into the water. Amazing!

After that, we were going to have lunch but decided to cross North Lake first and eat on the other side. I took over the bow position with Amy still at stern. We, by Amy's report, crossed the lake at about 3 mph, which she basically said was unexpected for a couple of old ladies! lol She was more diplomatic than that of course! I felt stiff for just a few moments and then seemed to loosen up pretty quickly. It almost felt better to be moving my arms again than it did for them to be still. We crossed over the lake and went for a little beach in the calmest clearest water I have ever seen in my life. We could see what I think were walleye swimming around near the bottom among huge boulders created by glaciers. Just amazing! We pulled onto the beach then. I should mention that one of the Menogyn rules is that the canoe bottom does not touch the ground. So the person in bow position has to jump out into the water before the canoe gets close enough to touch rocks. Basically our feet are always wet. That's not such a big deal. But it's difficult getting used to jumping onto uneven slippery rocks. The general tendency is to set one foot out and try to stop like that. But there are lots of potential "splitting" injuries that can occur that way. So the best way is to jump out, both feet first, and just grab the canoe. I have NOT perfected this move by this stop! lol So it feels very uncoordinated.
But I do get out and I do keep the canoe from hitting anything. I have done my job! (= This beach and campsite and beautiful! I almost wished we were at the end of the day so we could just stay here! We were getting a little loopy by this time. We were all hungry and definitely thirsty. I, for one, should have been drinking more water. Then Amy said we all should have already drank 1 Nalgene bottle. Oops! I don't think any of us had drunk even half. Not good. Dizzy giggly women trying to park a canoe on slippery rocks. Hmm! For lunch we had a conglomeration: Matt food, chunk of chocolate, hummus, pemmican, cheese chunks, tortillas, dried (rock hard) fruit, salami cut on the paddle, and trail bread. The trail bread was given to us, and everyone else going on trail, yesterday. It's a bon voyage tradition. The hummus was fun for me! It was dried so we just had to add water into the plastic bag. Easy right? Ha! Remember... I don't spend much time in the kitchen! lol I dumped what I thought was a little bit of water in the bag. I look up and both Lorrie and Amy are laughing at me. I don't get it! lol Amy said that I had put the exact right amount of water in there but that dumping it in all at once was not recommended. HA! Well if it's right, it's right! (= It actually did need more water. But it was pretty good. That might have been my favorite part of lunch. Lorrie's was the chocolate! lol The bread and cheese were good too. I have to mention that we brought 3 big chunks of cheddar cheese out here. Whoever said that cheese has to be refrigerated!?? lol Not so! It gets a little slimey after a couple days. But still tastes good. Apparently they eat it out on their very long trips as well. I would really like to see that! Amy said if we do that not to touch the cheese because it feels gross and maybe that it does something to the cheese. I can't remember. I'm sure it's extremely slimey! lol ANYWAY, we finished eating and were feeling a little less loopy. Amy was going down to the canoe to get something and she slipped on one of the rocks. She hit her lower back on the point of a rock. Ouch! I know that bruised! I, of course, laughed! What is wrong with me!!?? So then we had to explain to her my "laughing when others fall" disorder. It's from watching too much "Jackass" and "America's Funniest Home Videos!" As we got ready to leave I couldn't find the "biff." In that case, we take a little shovel and dig ourselves a little hole to bury everything in. (= Nice eh?!

The portage from lunch was about 1/2 mile so I paddled over there. Then I carried the canoe on the 60 Rod portage. It was up and down, rocky, and the worst, roots! I hate roots on mountain bike and now I hate them on portages. They get so slippery and there's no rhyme or reason to them. It was pretty difficult. I rarely use my shoulders in that way so I was dying by the end. Even when I work out I am weak on shoulder lifts. But now I know the importance of working harder on them! (= I also need more experience in getting it well balanced. I know it would have hurt less had it been in the "sweet spot." But it wasn't and I still made it. I did the same thing at the end and let Amy portage it into the water. I don't feel sure-footed enough to take that on in the rocks and such.

Lorrie took over paddling duties in the bow position. Poor Amy, she was still in stern. That's why she gets paid the big bucks I guess! (= Just as we were pulling out into the water, Amy or Lorrie saw a moose standing right by the entrance. It was amazing! He was younger and had no antlers. But I could still see his power. He just watched us... seemingly to make sure we kept going away from him. But continued eating and never really flinched. Wow! I believe he was on the Canada side. My first moose!! We also saw a huge number of loons. This is sad since I grew up in Minnesota and they are the state bird... but I did not know that they could dive and swim under water. Amy said they also have some difficulty flying compared to other birds. Hmm! We also came very close to a Blue Heron, who flew away quickly. Lorrie was extremely happy about that one! (= As we paddled along, we ran into another guide from Menogyn who was on a personal trip with friends. We let them pass and they stayed ahead... further and further ahead! lol After crossing North Lake, we had a 4 rod portage into Rose Lake. We tried to just pick up the canoe with everything in it. Futile! LOL It must of have looked funny! So we unloaded most of the stuff and then just hauled the canoe, upright, over to the other side where we re-loaded it and were off. Seems like it would be easy... and I guess it was but it was a pain to take everything out for such a short portage. About that time, clouds started rolling in a little. Nothing too scary but definitely noticeable. Not far off shore and a light sprinkle started. That turned into rain. Then Amy told us to turn around and look back at the black line on the water coming our direction. That was a downpour making it's way toward us! lol They paddled over toward the shore so we weren't out in the open for lightening. Thunder was incredible. It was crazy watching that line come at us and then it hit! Holy crap it hit! It was beautiful! But as duffer, I froze my ass off! It was basically Jennifer soup in the bottom of the canoe. Eventually my body temperature warmed up the water in the bottom on the canoe! lol But my exposed skin was cold and I was starte
d to chatter. We came across a "not so great" site that we decided to pass up. But that was not before Amy ran up to grab more camp booty... 2 towels and a water container. We put the towels, wet, over my legs and I felt 10x better! Back to paddling toward the "best" site. We finally got there and the other Menogyn guide had taken it! Doh! So off we go again. At this point we were on the opposite side of "Bottlecap Mtn," which incidentally looks a lot like a bottle cap! We finally got to the second campsite, which was unoccupied. Thank God!! The rain had stopped some so we got unloaded. I was soaked! Once everything was up at the campsite, we were able to get into our warm clothes. Immediate warmth! What a relief! We got the tent up and started getting things organized for dinner. Amy put up and extra rainfly to cook under in case it started raining again. We didn't end up needing it but it was useful for the clothesline it provided as well. All our wet things were hanging up there... unlikely to dry completely of course. Amy made shepherd's pie for dinner, which was incredible! I am loving trail food on this trip! We were pretty hungry so she made popcorn first as an appetizer. For the shepherd's pie, she used the same bisquick trick, hydrated some dehydrated potatoes, mixed vegetables, and peas. Layered it all and voila! I'm sure Emily (English friend) would not have been very impressed. But for a camping American, it was great! We had hot chocolate afterwards instead of the apple pie, which was on the menu. We were all too full! lol Lorrie and I took care of the dishes and Amy did some organizing and hung the food bag. We watched sunset and spent some time together exploring a little. The view from this campsite is INCREDIBLE! It's elevated above the water and the view is framed perfectly by trees. We didn't see any, but there was evidence of beaver activity. That would have been an interesting animal to see in the wild! We'd seen numerous dams but no beavers. /= We're in bed at 9pm as we plan to get up very early to hike over to Rose Waterfall and watch sunrise from there. Before going to sleep, we talk about our high point and low point! heheh My high point was my successful portage. I was pretty proud of myself!

I'm also supposed to note Lorrie's fall when we were unloading the canoe here. )= I laughed like an idiot. My stupid disorder! It's like Tourette's or something. She was bruised a little but not injured. Phew! Can you imagine if I laughed and she got injured. What a jerk!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Boundary Waters (Day 2 - August 8, 2007)

First day "on trail!" What a busy morning getting ready to get out on the water! I know some of the things we did this morning were supposed to be done last night. So it was our fault for being late that we didn't get them done. /= One of the things we were supposed to do this morning was a swimming test! lol Lorrie said a few times that she didn't think we needed to do that.... since we're grownups! lol Eventually, Amy said we didn't have to do it. I think it was partly because of time that she finally let it go. She may also have asked a supervisor if that would be okay. I don't know why it was such a big deal to us. Both of us can tread water and swim just fine. Oh well. It didn't happen so that was good. (=

This morning the bell rang at 7am. I guess it's the, "Getcher ass out of bed" bell. That seemed the only purpose. S
o we did. We had an appointment in the food prep cabin at 7:15am. That was interesting! We took each ingredient for each meal and double bagged it. Then we had 3 stuff sacks, one for each meal. There were a ton of ingredients but I'll go into that more later. In the middle of working on the food, the bell rang again. Time for "first word." One of the staff members read a motivational story and then dismissed everyone to get ready for breakfast. The camp is technically a Christian camp. But I liked that they didn't focus on that aspect. My guess is that first word and grace at dinner have evolved over time into positive motivational messages rather than God-centered messages. Don't get me wrong! I'm all for God-centered messages. I just think a lot of the kids that attend now might not be there if there was an in-your-face Christian focus. Just my thoughts. After first word, we headed back to finish our food preparation before breakfast at 8am. Can you believe I was functioning so completely at this hour!?? lol I'm actually quite the morning person when it comes to camping, cycling, and (now) canoeing! Sometimes it's a little strange for people who know me to experience. Lorrie already knew because of TRAM so it wasn't a big shock to her system! ANYWAY... breakfast was at 8am. Coffee cake! lol It was tasty but everything was carbs. They also had canned pears and then canned peaches. I guess that's what you do when feeding 50 kids, eh?

Between 9am and 2pm we made final preparations for the trip. Like I wrote before, so much more detail than I had expected. We also had to laugh because we were doing most of the work and that's generally why adults hire guides. Right? So they don't have to do all the labor!? It was actually very good for us so that we could learn how to do it all and not need a guide in the future. We got all our gear into the dry bags and then into the Duluth Packs. Amy packed the Duluth Packs so that we'd be able to portage them. Basically they just had to be stuffed evenly. These bags are like old-time backpacks. Very wide, sortof short (for an adult), and no waist or sternum strap. They way they hang is very odd and pretty uncomfortable. But they are only meant to be carried for a short period of time on portages and up to campsites. Anyway, that done we had our canoe lesson. She taught us the stroke, drawing (away from the canoe), pulling (toward the canoe), C-stroke (putting an ear on the canoe), and J-stroke (a line down the side of the canoe and then out). We would remember none of this! LOL We also had to go see the camp nurse. She took our temperatures, checked our feet, and asked about our medical histories. They seemed unsure of how to handle us as adults since they hadn't gotten our forms earlier and we'd had no physicals. But they do women's trips every summer so I was confused by their confusion! (= No biggie, we all just adapted. We picked out our life jackets and paddles (NOT oars!!), and got Lorrie some high top hiking boots to wear. We stuck the stuff we'd be leaving behind in Amy's huge locker. I couldn't believe how much stuff fit in there!

While we were waiting to take off, there were a bunch of other groups also waiting. Some were going to canoe and others were hiking and rock climbing. A bunch of boys were playing rooftop ball on the dock. They were hit the ball onto the roof and the next person in line would have to jump and get it back on the roof when it came down. The only reason that was significant was that no one seemed to care that they were nearly pummeling the people trying to get ready to leave. They played right in the middle of all the preparations! lol No one got hit and the ball stayed out of the water. It was just that easy-going. I wanted to join in the game but figured there was some weird code about it only being teenage boys! lol Anyway, w
e finally got on the water around 2pm, along with several other groups. We canoed across the Bearskin Lake, Lorrie in front and Amy steering, to the launch we'd gone to yesterday. A shuttle bus with a canoe trailer was there waiting for us. There were 2 groups on the bus. The other were 6-8 boys. Interestingly I felt a little car sick on that ride. I had to close my eyes for a little while. This had happened when I first got on the bus for TRAM as well. Hmm could be some of the Boba/medications I've been taking.

But that was weird! Anyway, they dropped us off first, at Gunflint Lake. It took about 45 minutes to get there. I started having that feeling again... excitement that this trip was actually about to start... and nervousness that this trip was actually about to start! WOW! We, my in front and Amy steering, paddled about 6 miles, which took about 3 hours. That's completely an estimate because neither Lorrie nor I wear a watch! lol I paddled that segment. It was a strange feeling. As you know, my sports are mainly leg sports! I run, hike, and cycle. Arms are used but not intensively. So my arms were revolting a little. Once I got into a groove, they were okay. But I could tell I would be sore the next morning... if not that night! There were 3 islands with potential campsites that we wanted to check out. Amy said she preferred the second but that we would look at all 3 in case that one was being used. The first was occupied so we needed to check out the second anyway. That one was empty... and it was really nice. I've ne
ver camped on an island so that was a new experience. I liked it. I liked knowing that we were the only people on that piece of land and especially that we wouldn't have to worry about neighbors. As we set up camp, a bald eagle flew very close overhead. I've never seen one that close before! The "whoooph whooooph" of it's wings was an incredible sound! I can't do justice to any explanation so just know that it was incredible to see, hear and even feel it. There were tons of loons around and they were all chattering. That was nice background noise!

The route we had planned followed the US/Canada Border almost the entire way. On the island where we camped, there was a marker that marked said border. I think you can read it in the photo, but it reads, "Intl Bdry," which means "International Boundary." Of course we had to take sides since Lorrie is one of *those* Canucks and I am American! No, I did not take this opportunity to push her into the water. (= I guess I should have. But I didn't want to jeopardize my chances for migrating! lol

After Lorrie and I set up the tent and Amy did her "booty hunt" around the island, Amy started making dinner. We decided on quesadillas. Torillas, cheese, summer sau
sage and some Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP). I liked the TVP! (= For dessert, we had vanilla pudding, with raspberries that I had picked on the island. The mosquitos and black flies were pretty bad here. I'm sure I've said this a million times this summer but for some reason I am being bit and stung like I have never been bit or stung before! I am constantly applying benedryl and spraying myself with repellant. The benedryl works for the itching but nothing seems to keep them off me. I still wanted to explore. So we went walking around everywhere. This was also my first experience with the "biff." I took a photo of it but it turned out too dark with my disposable camera. Suffice to say it is a brown plastic toilet shell placed over a hole in the ground. It also has a stepping stool type thing in front of it so that you can have your feet off the ground. Think "throne!" lol Not bad for being in the middle of the wilderness! We're all just sitting around quietly now, listening to the background noises of loons, crickets, and the occasional bug in the ear. lol Last night we slept in bunk beds. Tonight we sleep in a tent with Amy! heheh She seems relatively oblivious to how we act toward each other and we're not flaunting ourselves. Lorrie almost said something about bringing a second tent. Then neither of us wanted to carry more weight so we're doing as the Romans, so to speak. It's actually kindof fun to be clandestine. I would venture to guess Lorrie disagrees! lol Makes me wonder how things would have been different had Candace and Lori been with us. I do know that we ALL would have been in one tent. Amy said that groups up to 8 will be in the same tent, even if they have squish in together! lol Maybe next year! HA!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boundary Waters (Day 1 - August 7, 2007

We left Northfield about an hour late because I had to finish packing and take the dogs to the kennel. MY BAD! /= It was a nice drive but took about an hour longer than expected because the camp is in the middle of nowhere! We thought it was closer to Grand Marais. Another oops! Needless to say, we were later in our arrival than expected. We also stopped in Duluth for some lunch and to take a quick drive through Canal Park. We have driven past the place so many times without Lorrie having the opportunity to show it to me, we just had to stop. It was also the first time I could actually see what it's like coming into Duluth. It has always been night, foggy, or raining like crazy when we've gone up North! lol

When we finally got to the camp, we followed the directions and then
the signs along the gravel road. All this time, Lorrie has decided that she isn't going to talk anymore for awhile. If you know her, you will know that this is a significant and very strange thing. I actually handled it very poorly because I'm used to her running commentary on how beautiful everything is. We stopped and took some goofy photos... and still she was quiet. Then I started getting a little irritated, which she found funny. Arrgh! lol She finally did say something once we were on the end on the dock looking at the scenery. And it was back to normal! That was a stressful 5 minutes! lol

We ended up at a boat launch! Weird! So we went back and stopped at the caretaker's house to ask him what to do. He explained that the little boathouse down by the launch had an intercom and that we were to use that to call across the lake to the camp so that someone would come over in a pontoon and pick us up!! Ha! Very interesting! So that's what we did. Then we went up and started getting our stuff out of my SUV so that it would all be down there when the boat arrived. Apparently it's a short trip because our guide, Amy Teadecki, was up by our car in no time! She helped us get our stuff to the pontoon and then across Bear Skin Lake we went! I was so excited at this point. I could not believe that my Boundary Waters trip was actually happening! It seemed unreal. And then it started to settle in and I began getting a little nervous. lol

We got to the camp and went to the room where we'd be staying. Then Amy took us upstairs to the dining hall. We were just in time for dinner. Typical!! lol It was a typical camp-type cafeteria... totally full of teenagers! Ha! The kids at
Camp Menogyn go on 8-40 day trips... backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing. It's an incredible operation!

After dinner we went to see the fleet of canoes. We talked to a guy who graduated from St. Olaf that builds and maintains a lot of the canoes. Very knowledgeable. And now I can't remember his name either! Arrgh! He was recanvassing a wood canoe, which is apparently a pretty detailed process. It was amazing to see how that all works! We picked out our canoe, Amy put her name on it, and we were set. The they had a fireside thing, it had a name but I can't remember what it was. "Last word" or something like that. Afterwards we spent time going through the clothing we had brought to make sure we didn't take too much and that everything w
ould be useful. I took some things out of my pack but actually had done quite well... for a terminal overpacker!! Lorrie and I put all our clothes into 1 dry bag and Amy used a smaller one for her stuff. We left raingear, camp shoes, and some other things out of those bags to be stuffed into the Duluth Packs for easy access. We also carried 1 daypack for raingear, sunscreen, first aid, etc. That together, we got ready for bed, did some reading, and then were asleep by 10:30pm or so. Wow!! We slept on bunkbeds in "Spring Room!" Isn't that cute!?