We were now solidly in the BWCA and entering our second week of paddling. Will was finally feeling not so sick. We were actually really enjoying ourselves. The weather had been so nice Will had developed what he called “South Arm Syndrome” where all the sunblock in the world would not prevent his right arm from tanning darker than his left. October 2nd was so hot I declared lunch a good time to wash our hair. If I had known it would be the last for 14 days I might have savored it more.
The next morning we paddled by some pictographs.
Later that day, as we entered Crooked Lake the wind was at our backs. It was warm and sunny. The wind pushed us across, along with the waves. Half way through, the waves had built up terribly large. Will was steering at the stern and struggling to stay in control with waves hitting him from behind. He made the order to kneel. We kept our weight low, stayed focused and paddled hard. The slightly harrowing experience had snuck up on me and I hardly had time to get scared. We rested at an island. There was one more stretch of wind exposed lake before making it to a protected channel. Once out of the lee of the island we were barreling towards safety. Far too late I saw and then felt a rock scrape and stick under me. In the middle of deep water it was not just one, but a narrow ridge of rocks. Soon the waves threatened to pivot and capsize us. I stepped out on to the ridge and freezing water washed into my knee high boots. Unloaded, the bow was free. Now I was stuck on the rock. I slid the boat by me until the stern with Will’s mass got stuck. With wave filled boots I precariously climbed into the middle, and then the bow. Still stuck, Will flopped his weight over the packs in the middle to lift the stern. Finally free Will wiggled backwards into his seat. With fading afternoon light we had over an hour of paddling to make it to camp.
That night the weather radio’s slow electronic voice foretold of a strong South wind. We would need an early start if we were going to get anywhere.
On our first cold morning and my socks and boots were soaking. Even the light morning wind made it slow going. It was new territory for us and the portages were difficult to find. We were navigating a rugged shore and the wind pushed us broad side into some rocks. I instantly burst into tears. Turned out we were absolutely fine. It was almost funny. Actually I’m sure it was entirely funny. We sat in shallow water in the sun while Will sweetly waited for my sobbing to fade.
The whole day was hard going. What felt like long portages were only tiny fractions of what Grand Portage would be. The weather radio warned of winter weather in the coming days. That night I studied the maps and reassured myself we could get ourselves out of the woods if we needed to. Despite Will feeling crummy most of the time, he was still rooting for us to push through.
Next: Stillness before snow
This is the 6th installment in our Honeymoon Adventure story. It starts with A Beginning