Day Two: Hol Ry - Red Eye
We woke up at 5:00AM and made our final preparations. We reassessed our gear and packed that which would be left behind into duffels for storage. We swept out the cabin and went to the chow hall for breakfast. Maeve met us at the chow hall and reviewed some final details with us. We all ate, took our gear to storage and placed our valuables into a safety deposit box. We pulled our final crew gear, fuel and food. Put our personal gear into three large gray Granite packs and the green plastic tubs with food and crew gear into dark green custom packs. We put the two four-man tents, one for the scouts, the other for the adults into the gray packs. Maeve carried her own dome tent and Duluth pack for her personal gear. When all was done we estimate the Gray granite packs to weigh approximately 75 80 pounds each and the green packs to weigh between 80 and 90 pounds each.
Next we went and picked out PFD’s, paddles and our assigned canoes. Our canoes were We-no-na Minnesota II’s made of Kevlar. They weigh in at approximately 45 pounds each. We now needed to get down to the launch dock thus we started our first portage. This was approximately one-quarter mile, which later we refer to all portages in rods (1 rod = 5.5 yards,16.5 feet, or 5.03 meters). The packs weight almost equaled that of three of the scouts. Joey Z (101 lbs), Joe V (102 lbs) and Travis (105 lbs). Tyler weighed 153 lbs and was much taller than the others. The scouts and Mr V carried the packs and paddles while Maeve, Steve and I carried the canoes. It was very difficult carrying the packs and canoes down the steep hill, on the narrow path and well maintained terrain, and this was just the beginning.
We had to wait for several other crews including Charlie crew prior to our departure. Finally our turn came. We placed the canoes in the water; loaded the gear and we launched our voyage at 10:30AM CDT.
Our voyage started in Moose Lake right at the Northern Tier Charles L. Summers base on map F-10. (The W.A. Fisher Company Map Division printed the maps we utilized on our voyage. Map E-15 covers the entire BWCAW and Quetico). We began paddling Northeast up Moose lake. A short distance into the trip we observed another crew from the Charles L Sommers scout camp. You can tell what outfitter a crew used by the logo placed on the front of each canoe. The CLS logo is well recognized and immortalized on the various literature about the Northern Tier. As we got closer Maeve asked us to shout out “Hol Ry” on the count of three. Without questioning we did. No sooner had we gotten the phrase out the other crew respond with “Red Eye”. Apparently years ago a tradition was started based on the past voyagers of the French trading companies. Whole rye representing bread and food, red eye representing the local ale to wash it down in friendship.
As we neared the most North end of the lake we observed our first Bald Eagle. It was a beautiful site and it escorted us onto Newfound Lake. As we continued our travel in a Northeastern direction we observed Bald Eagle number two. We continued past Horseshoe Island and saw our third Bald Eagle as we entered Sucker Lake. By this time we were sure that if we saw another it was an omen that all four scouts would earn the rank of Eagle during their scouting days. We turned Northwest toward Prairie Portage next to a small waterfall. Here we secured our canoes and made the short 20 rod portage to Inlet Bay where we needed to process through Canadian Customs at the ranger station to Quetico Provential Park. We ran into Charlie crew which had recently made the portage with all their gear. It appeared that they had snapped a yoke on one of their canoes and needed to wait for a replacement canoe to be brought to them. Luckily it happened here rather than a couple days latter where it would not have been as easy to rectify the problem.
It was about 12:30PM and the ranger was out to lunch. Actually she was wrapped in a towel out back hanging her laundry. The sign on the door advised us that the office would open at 1:00PM. We sat on the lawn outside the ranger station and had lunch. We were all very pleased that we had paddled approximately eight miles in about two hours. Maeve stated that this was the best pace one of her crews had done yet this year.
While the adults processed through customs and purchased our Canadian fishing licenses the scouts played in the water. The Ranger then had all of us enter the ranger station for a few words of advise, rules, regulations safety and leave no trace. When we were done we made the 20 rod portage back to our canoes and back traced to where we could exit Sucker Lake to Birch Lake. Then it happened, we saw our forth Bald Eagle of the day. The scouts were excited and I was pleased. In all my life I had rarely seen a Bald Eagle and in just a few hours we had seen four. (Now on map F-11)
As time went on we had paddled just over four miles since lunch. Everyone was getting hot and a little run down. We decided to make a stop on a small island near Polaris Lake to take a swim. The sun was bright and the black flies were plentiful. The scouts were jumping off small rocks into the water having a great time. After about one half hour we again launched heading through Birch Lake to a 40-rod portage to Carp Lake. We were a bit disorganized and this was the first true portage with gear. The trail was extremely narrow, full of rocks and went along a shallow stream with white water. It was difficult but manageable. At the other end we reloaded the canoes and headed of on to Carp Lake. No longer could we see the United States. We were now 100% into Canada. About two miles from the portage we found a nice campsite on a big rock. We had to make a climb to get the to site leaving our canoes below.
After pitching our tents, gathering water for the meal and filling our water bottles some began to cook while others took a short swim. When I got the chance I sat on the large rock and just took in the scenery. The sky was clear, the water calm and the sounds of loons were in the air. This was different than the outdoors back home. After dinner we strung up the bear bags and most of the crew went to bed. Joey Z and I took one last swim to cool down and relax prior to retiring for the evening. It was a nice time with my son who indicated that this was turning out to be a wonderful trip. As I went to bed I listened to the songs of the loon on a clear night across the lake.