Will woke up coughing and wishing for home. He had been toughing it out with wads of yellow snot and an achy tired body. We had paddled 57.5 miles and I was rip roaring ready to do more, but Will looked so sad I proposed numerous options to get out of the woods. What kind of honeymoon could it be with him that miserable? Still he wanted to push on.
The day before we had been paddling through last years memories. It was here as the big open water of Voyagers funneled into the Little Vermillion Narrows that we had our tense fight over navigation. This time we trusted our system and each other. We contentedly slipped through absorbing the details of our surroundings. The greens and golds richly reflecting on the dark water, we spotted a black footed ferret scampering on the rock shore. That evening we pulled into our first BWCA camp site. It was the same one we loved last year.
On our fifth morning we slowly made our way across the lake smiled and nodded at a boat of fishermen. One made a paddling motion and remarked “How can you stand to do that all day?” My morning brain just smiled and shrugged. Will had a better reply “How can you stand to do that all day?” They chuckled conceding the point as we glided on. It had been and would be our best interaction with motorists.
As we moved into Loon River the pattern of dangerously oblivious boaters continued. As a general rule of thumb, if you wave to me from a motor boat and are gone too quickly for a friendly hello it probably means your wake is crushing me. A passing motorists wake requires turning the boat not to take it broad side and potentially capsize. The regularity of having to use our muscle power to accommodate the smiling fools became quickly intolerable.
The last of our patience for “civilization” was shredded at Loon Falls Portage. As is common in the area, it was on private land. There was a tram for motorboats and a fee for using it and the dock. We thought nothing of it until after arriving at the other end loaded down and a man yelled “Ten dollars to use the dock!”
“Really?” I shouted back. Hoping that there was some leeway.
“Absolutely Missy!” Or he said something like that. Subsequent fury has made the details of the exchange blurry. I mad a loud sound of indignation as we stood there slightly confounded at our options. The dock was surrounded by thick tall reeds. He started swearing at us profusely about his right to charge. We were still loaded down and staring back at him in confused shock.
I managed to get in “Well aren’t you a real treat!”
He then threatened to call the police. He kept at it as we located a muddy patch, clear of reeds. Three steps in and we sank to our thighs. Unable to move, Will rolled the canoe off his back. Now in danger of injuring ourselves we struggled to salvage the situation. Eventually caked in thick mud we made it into the canoe while F-bombs and arrest threats kept rolling at us. I have never paddled away so furiously. My arms were burning and I was sweating buckets in the hot afternoon sun before Will and I eased up.
We were deflated once the anger and adrenalin faded. It was only 3pm but we decided to settle at the first site on Lac La Croix. Wearily we unloaded our muddy selves and stuff. Will then tackled me to the ground. It was declared “Emergency snuggling!” after a dreadful day. We stayed there for a while. It was nice to simply stop doing and just be together comfortably on the rocky ground. With our spirits lifted we commenced washing our stuff by getting in the lake fully clothed.
By 7pm we were all cozy and tucked in. Five days down 14 to go.
Next: Hot wet hair to cold wet boots
This is the 5th installment of the honeymoon story which starts with A Beginning.
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