We stayed at our second camp on Cherokee Lake for 3 nights. The morning after setting up camp, we made a short day trip to Long Island Lake. When we were renting our canoe, the outfitter who was dealing with us gave us some recommendations; this was one of them. The eastern half of this lake’s shoreline had burned in the big fire of 2006, and it sounded worth a see. We only packed the food pack – so we didn’t have to leave it unattended in camp – and only had 3 very short portages, so this day was not nearly as exhausting as the day before. We left around 10AM and reached our destination around noon. On the way there, we had to lift over a muddy beaver dam (although I was able to avoid the mud as was Freki – he’s very delicate and always steps around mud and puddles). One of our portages also had a very muddy spot that LB plopped right into. Another portage had a gorgeous rocky stream that we stopped at briefly. When we got to Long Island Lake, we looked for a spot to stop and lunch. We found a large rock or tiny island, depending on how you look at it, right across from the burn-down area.
It was a very nice, sunny spot, and the water around it was quite deep. Freki set off swimming away from the rock immediately – oftentimes when he doesn’t have an objective while swimming (such as fetching or eating water bugs), he just determinedly sets off perpendicular to shore as if he’s never returning – and we had to call him in to keep an eye on him. He spent the whole time paddling around the water with hardly a pause.
LB and I had a nice lunch until some bee decided to come buzzing around my head. Eventually LB was able to kill it, although I did wish he hadn’t used the cheese knife. Eh, more protein. Then, as LB was cleaning off the knife, I looked over to see a mass of bloody black thing on LB's ankle. It was a pile of leeches feasting on his flesh. The blood drained from my face, near as quickly as it was draining from his ankle, as I whimpered and squeaked "Leeches!" while pointing at the insidious mass. He found several more throughout the day, some were hiding in the black sole of his Chacos, and one huge gigantic bloated one was spotted by me at the last portage on the way home. After lunch, I took some pictures then we packed up and returned to camp (back over the beaver dam OF DOOM AND LEECHES).
When we got to camp, it was only 2:30PM, so we spent the afternoon relaxing a bit. We waded in the water a bit, washed up, and tossed Freki’s water Frisbee.
As we dried off I had LB rub the knots out of my shoulders for a while on our sunny rock on the beach. We had our dinner and got a relaxing night’s sleep.
We spent the next day in camp; we slept in, then had oatmeal with dried fruit for breakfast, which was DELICIOUS (we mixed the fruit with the oatmeal before adding the hot water, so they remoisturized and warmed a bit). As I was starting up the Jetboil to boil water for our breakfast, I felt some small thing hit the back of my head. I paused briefly, thinking, oh something must have fallen out of the tree. Then something hit my shoulder, and shortly after a pine bud flew past my arm and impacted the ground. I then heard the loud chatter of an angry red squirrel. I was under attack! Freki soon came to my rescue and barked up the tree that the poor little squirrel was inhabiting.
After breakfast, we played card games and water fetch with Freki most of the day, then hung out by the campfire late into the evening. It was nice to have a lazy day around camp to work out all the sore muscles and recuperate for the next day's travel.
The next morning we headed out to our third and final campsite, of which I do not have a picture. We paddled back to Sawbill Lake the same way we had come to Cherokee Lake, but this time there was only one leech (that we saw) on Freki, since we were both much more cautious when crossing beaver dams. Our third campsite was nestled in the woods and had separate areas for the fire and for the tent. We spent some time swimming here, but mostly we slept and prepared to leave early Saturday morning. We woke up early the next morning to the sound of a deer rutting off in the woods, although we never saw him. We skipped breakfast and paddled just under 2 miles back to Sawbill Outfitters. On our way out, we stopped by a cafe in Tofte to grab the most delicious lattes and pecan cinnamon rolls I've ever had (eating naught but granola bars and freeze-dried food for a week had no effect on their flavor, I'm sure). LB drove the whole way back, while Freki slept and I got some pictures of the scenery, although unfortunately it was too foggy to get a picture of Lake Superior.
Despite its shaky start, our vacation was great for everyone. The weather was perfect (mid-70's, sunny, no rain all week), there were few bugs, and we got a lot of fresh air and exercise. We were all exhausted for a few days after coming back, but it was worth it.
Boundary Waters 2009 - Part 1
Boundary Waters 2009 - Part 2