Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 10: Boats And Bogs

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The morning found us doing what all people should be doing – enjoying a cup of goodcoffee while listening to the sounds of the North Woods.  You’re probably thinking Common Loon. I’m not.  Loon schmoon.  They get too much attention.  We have officially nominated the LeastFlycatcher as the sound. 

After gearing up and stashing packs at the camp store (more on that later), we took another hike. With a 2:00 departure looning…um, sorry, looming over us, it was a casual mile or so.  More of the usual but certainly not dull.  Moose tracks (not the ice cream) were quite abundant.  Poopies were fresh.  We could tell. We know our shit.

Why did we stash our gear at the store? The park kicked us out of the cabin!  It turns out Natalie got naked and danced around with the rabbits (we saw some snowshoe hares– really!).  Patrons got disturbed and told on us.  Also, the cabins are so new, the official ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for our original check-out time. They needed time to clean up the joint, so they booted us. We knew this advance so it was hardly a big deal. Plus, they gave a few bucks off.

Why is this important?  Because the ceremony had a pile a cheese cubes the likes we have never seen, cake, cupcakes, beverages, and various nibbles and munchies.  We got to meet the Park Superintendent.  They agreed to name the cabin after us.  Awesome, huh?

With still some time to kill for the potential boat-ride-of-death, we hiked a bit more. Wolf scat. Awesome. While I am still regretting not photographing the tracks in Wisconsin, this will do.

I botched some River Otter photos as it was frolicking in the harbor. The Merganser was much more cooperative.

With that, we geared up and departed on one of the smoothest boat rides in the history of boating. Sure, visibility was just inches, but nobody got soaked and nobody chucked their lunch.  That can’t be all bad, right?

It should be noted that Boy Scouts are not always prepared.  I will give this troop credit, though. They hiked all the way around the island.  That’s cool. However, for the ride home, they thought t-shirts would be enough. Heavier shirts and jackets were stowed below.  They got quite cold.  Lake Superior on an open boat deck on a damp, chilled, cloudy June afternoon? Fail.

Upon returning to Grand Portage, Nat and I made a change.  Plan A got dumped. Plan B got the nod and off we went….three hours or so to Sax-Zim Bog……

….for nothing.

Sax-ZimBog is a birding highlight in central Minnesota.  It totally rocks in the winter and can be quite productive in the summer, as well.  Maybe that Connecticut Warbler would show up for Natalie? Maybe the FIVE Great Gray Owls that had been seen only two weeks before would be hanging out again. 

Sadly, no.  No warbler. No owls.  Lots of mosquitoes and imminent rain – how neat.  In fact, the best we could do was a heard-only Sedge Wren.  That didn’t help Nat at all.  She wanted to see it.

We did the best we could under the circumstances but decided to press on.  A short drive up the road was Hibbing.  A hotel was in order as setting up a tent in the rain blows...

In hindsight, the entire Sax-Zim Bog leg of the trip could have been chopped. Of course, if we had seen Great Grays, it would have been worth it and we would trumpet how cool it was. But we didn’t. So it wasn’t.  It was more or less worthless.

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