Day 10: The Rendezvous
As the morning sun rose so did we. For the final time on this expedition we fixed breakfast, broke camp and loaded the canoes. We had approximately 12 miles ahead of us but we knew it would not be hard. We would not be allowed to reenter camp prior to 2:30PM so we took our time. We made it through Burke Lake in no time and took an 84-rod portage to Bayley Bay on Basswood Lake. This portage had been nicknamed “The Yellow Brick Road” do to its wide trail, sand surface and ease to travel. It was approximately 10 feet wide and completely flat. Many interpreters have completed what they call the Charlie Challenge at this portage. The challenge is where an interpreter carries three Aluminum canoes at one time the entire distance of the portage. We attempted to convince Maeve to take the challenge with the Kevlar canoes but she decided against it. Thus we handled it like all the portages of the past and made it in no time at all. At the other end was a 50 yard long sand beach. This was the first sand we had seen on the entire trip.
We reloaded the canoes and followed the North Shore in an easterly direction until we got to Inlet Bay. Another mile southeast and we came to Prairie Portage. This was the portage we came to on our first day on the water, the last time we saw Charlie crew with the broken yoke. It had at least a dozen crews lined up for the portage as well as processing through Canadian Customs at the ranger station. We made the portage, our final portage of the trip into Sucker Lake and reentered the United States.
Traveling southeast we paddled a couple miles until we went around the peninsula changing our coarse to a southwest direction. We followed Sucker Lake to a small island east of Horseshoe Island and docked the canoes for lunch. It was 10:45 Am so we had plenty time to spare so we swam, talked and ate. The black flies were plentiful at this location making it a somewhat unpleasant experience. We watched a ribbon snake cross the island going from the east to the west. It was about three feet long, green in color with yellow ribbons running the length of its back. It was the first snake we had seen on the entire trip.
By the time we got back into the canoes the afternoon winds had picked up. The waters of Newfound Lake were very choppy with waves approaching a foot. Outfitters motorboats that ferry canoes to Prairie Portage for other crews to begin or end their votyages also were now passing us. The winds were head winds thus it seemed to take a couple strokes of the paddle to get the same momentum only one stroke took earlier in the day.
We rounded the corner from Newfound Lake into Moose Lake and were on the final stretch of the trip. Only three more miles and we would be entering the docks and Charles L. Sommers Scout Camp. By the time we got there my arms were tired and I was ready to call it a day. We approached the docks at 2:39PM, emptied the canoes and then scrubbed them clean. For the final time I put a pack on my back and a canoe on my shoulders and made the trip up the hill to the camps canoe storage place near the Bay Post. We emptied the Granite Packs the Green Duluth Packs hanging them up to dry, turned in our excess food and crew gear. We picked up our personal gear from storage and valuables from the safety deposit box. From hear we headed to our cabin which would serve as or sleeping quarters for the evening. The scouts ran the trash to the dumpsters while the adults finalized some out-processing paperwork.
While we were out-processing Charlie crew made their way back to camp. The scouts shared stories and were having a great time. With our gear in the cabin we all headed to the showers to clean up, shave and brush our teeth. It was nice to have running water, utilize soap and shampoo and get reacquainted to flushing toilets. After freshening up we all went to the trading post and had soda, ice cream and purchase souvenirs.
Joey and I took a walk around the camp to take some pictures. The main gate is a tower as if entering a fort. Outside the tower was a trapper’s display. If you follow the stockade fence to the end you come across the Northern Tier sign and behind it a little Indian village with various indian art affects.
After our walk and prior to dinner we came across the scouts from both Bravo and Charlie crews on the deck outside the dinning hall. We continued to tell of our adventures as well as determine the distance we traveled on our voyage. By utilizing a long piece of string Maeve and the scouts retraced our entire voyage for measurements of paddling as well as portages. When they were finished they determined that we had paddled a little over 100 miles and portaged just over five miles.
After dinner we joined all the other crews that returned to camp for a program called the Rendezvous. At this program we sang songs, learned a little history of the area and shared skits or songs from each crew that represented something about their voyage. They were all very well done, rehearsed and fun to watch. As it turned out the reason we never met up with Charlie crew on the lake was that one of their canoes was not properly secured to shore and it had drifted off. It took them several hours before they discovered it gone and then several more hours searching the lake they were on for the now capsized vessel. They did eventually find it and only suffered a lost paddle. Their skit was a song to the tune of the theme of Gilligans Island but the words described their crew’s fate and tale. Another crew had a similar tale thus this must be a somewhat common occurrence.
After the Rendezvous we made our final stop at the soda machines, took another shower to cool down and headed off to bed.