|Yep, a 5'8" paddler in a 17' kayak can indeed fit in that cave!|
|"Sea cave phone home"|
I crossed into Minnesota near Duluth, got the first oil change of the trip (5,000 miles down!), and took the North Shore Scenic Drive up to Grand Marais. According to the sign at city limits, Grand Marais has been voted "America's Coolest Small Town" and although I've seen enough of those claims to doubt who holds the current title, I'd be hard pressed to argue against Grand Marais keeping the belt for a while longer. I found one of those great small town diners for breakfasts, the meal I enjoy most on the road. And a rooftop bar with live music and local beer, where one can enjoy sunset mixing with the evening fog in the harbor.
|Grand Marais lighthouse|
|Rose Lake Cliffs, BWCAW|
|The alpha male of the International Wolf Center, Ely, MN|
My first portage (carry from lake to lake) was made easier with a system of Teflon and rollers. If only they were all so simple! I got a proper Boundary Waters beat down on my second portage, carrying my waterproof pack and the canoe on my shoulders for a muddy and rocky 190 rods. What's a rod? Good question. A "rod" is quite possibly the most useless unit of measurement known to man. It's something like 16.5 feet and it harkens back to the days of Indians and trappers. I get the historical aspect, but for planning purposes it's somewhat confusing. Apparently there are 320 of these rods to a mile. All I can really tell you is that I dreaded anything over 30 rods. I was too stubborn to shuttle my gear back and forth and made all the portages in one super-haul. My shoulders are still upset with me.
|The easy way|
|The hard way|
The solo canoe I had rented was sleek and easily managed, once I figured out that I had used the newfangled "bent" shaft paddle backwards for the first 10 miles. I paddled against an awful headwind for a couple of days but once that died down I ended up making pretty good time and arrived my final camp by 1130. Looking at the stormy sky, I decided to push on to the take out instead of spending a rainy night in the tent. I had to paddle like hell to the shore on three separate occasions when lightning burst overhead, but I made it back in plenty of time for a few post trip beers and stories with the locals and guides back in Ely.
|Their beady red eyes don't show up in the photo. I think I interrupted dinner time and they stared me down with those devil eyes.|
|I made a friend!|
I'm giving up the great North Woods for the Great Plains. Heading to North Dakota on my way to the Canadian Rockies and hoping to leave the mosquitos behind me.