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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Boundary Waters Bob, Our Hero

We started our Boundary Waters Trip with two mules, I mean guys, that did all the boat hauling and most of the food box hauling, as well as carrying their personal packs.

Natalie and I carried our personal packs, and usually carried the guy's day packs when we were moving to and from a campsite. On day hikes, we only carried our day packs, while the guys took care of the canoes and also carried their own day packs.

Our fire pit/ dining area at our camp on Caribou Lake
We came out after five days  of paddling and stayed one night back in the bunkhouse. Bob had to leave about midnight to get Andrew to the airport in Duluth. But we all were dreaming of a big steak, so we took a shower, let Andrew get his gear packed to either take on the airplane or send home with Bob, then drove to Trail Center, a popular, little restaurant nearby.  Natalie had to protest that she couldn't possibly eat an entire 16 oz steak before diving in  and cleaning her plate. .  The rest of us didn't bother but all were able to clean our own plates.  Bob and Andrew even had room for desert.

A waterfalls connecting two lakes


Easy rider - several times we had dragonflies ride along on our arms
The second week, poor Bob was stuck with hauling a a three-man, 21 foot canoe.  This one weighed 55 pounds and was so long, that occasionally he had difficulty making turns on the portage trails. He was such a guy, that he hauled BOTH his personal pack AND the canoe, which made a total of at least 100 pounds.  AND he suffered both of us picking on him.  

Interesting ground cover with fruiting bodies -  about 8 inches tall
 But I must say, he is one of the kindest and most amiable persons I know.  He is always ready to take care of people and sees the job that needs doing and jumps in and does it. He did a wonderful job of planning this trip and taking care of Natalie and me.  And he is always ready to take any abuse we hand out.  Once, on another trip, he fell over backward when his chair sank into a sand bar.  He even recreated his fall so we could take a picture of his disaster.  AND he was STILL speaking to us after dealing with us over almost two weeks.

At each portage, helped  unload all the gear, then put on his personal pack.


Then he got balanced - usually on some rocks, and  picked up the canoe.


 Then he swung it up and over his head.


And then, he rock-hopped to the trail.


And then it was  up and down hill, sometimes slipping through muddy spots.

 Some 30 to 100 rods later, he'd be ready to again hop across rocks to put the canoe back in the water, and reload it.

Meanwhile, Natalie and I only had to carry our personal packs, our day packs, and usually Bob's day pack.  He carried our food pack for his second load. I'm sure he was really glad he didn't have do this every day, but only on the way in an out.

We again did day paddles and explored more lakes. One of the neatest plants we found were pitcher plants.  I had never before found them in the boundary waters.





We had much better weather and early morning sun on our campsite. Our favorite place from the time we woke up until way after breakfast was the rock right by the water.  It warmed up as soon as the sun came up, and the winds were blocked by tall shrubs. We enjoyed the flight of birds past our site, swimming loons,  and visiting with passing paddlers. We were so laid back, EVEN ME, that we often didn't leave to go paddling until almost noon.



Then we would come back and I'd quickly add water to my prepared and then dried meal and call them to come eat.


Supper's on
Then we would sit again to enjoy Bob's fire until we could not longer keep our eyes open.

Ready to burn

I suggested that Natalie might like to spend a couple of days enjoying Ely. Must-dos there include eating at the Chocolate Moose Restaurant, browsing through Piragis's wonderful store filled, with camping supplies, gear, clothes, and books, visiting other stores that cater to outdoors people, visiting the International Wolf Center, the American Bear Center, and the Dorthy Moulter (AKA the Root Beer Lady) Museum.

Natalie  was delighted to get to go to a place she had heard so much about so we came out of the Boundary Waters on Wednesday night, stayed yet another night at the Rockwood bunkhouse, then drove the 90 miles to Ely.  (Crows can make it in about 30 miles over the road-less Boundary Waters, but we had to to south, east, then north by road. We arrived in time to thoroughly enjoy the American Bear Museum.  This place reflects over thirty years of bear research in the Boundary Waters and has lots of videos researchers have taken of bears, as they often follow them around. Take time to look at some of the ones shown on-line from their web-site.  We ended up spending about five hours there, with a break for a delicious lunch at the Chocolate Moose.

We all enjoyed our day and a half in Ely.   The following day, Bob and Natalie went to the International Wolf Center and the Dorthy Moulter Museum.  Natalie was thrilled to see both and both of them had lots to tell me about their day.  (I stayed at the motel and worked on editing pictures and writing blogs, then did a little shopping and took a long walk on the Mesabi Bike Trail, before cutting back through town to meet Natalie and Bob for supper.

Natalie's photo of two happy campers
I also really want to thank Mike and Lin at Rockwood Lodge and Canoe Outfitters for the great equipment wonderful hosting, and great advice. And just gotta say that Trail Center Restaurant was also a great experience.  (Actually about four wonderful experiences, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.) The restaurant also makes its own dried food to take with you.  The samples were really delicious.

I'm finishing this blog on October 1, 2013, a dark day for all the employees of National Parks, the Forest Service,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife, The BLM, and most other federal employees who have been furloughed and will be locked out of their jobs by noon today.

I'll get to stay here, but we will not be able to have Roundup if this goes on more than a few days, which is when we remove enough excess animals, so that the herd can have enough food to live through the winter. This could have serious consequences on the health of the herd over the next several years.  And I have no place to play since I usually am recreating on public lands. I can't even drive around on the refuge.

And the saddest thing is that the people I work with have chosen to work in low-paying jobs because they want to help keep native plants and animals and wild, beautiful places available for the enjoyment of people, as well as the health of the planet and now they will get no money as long as the government is shut down. One of my friends just started her first permanent job and now will not receive any pay.  Please pray for them and their families and for our country.