The goal today was Battle Lake, and it was a battle to get there.
The sleepless nights had caught up, and so I started out later than I wanted. Breakfast today was reconstituted hash browns and a western omelet (powdered eggs). The cooking process was a little more involved than I would have liked, especially for a day when I was going to break camp. It wasn’t until almost 9am that everything was loaded up and I got underway.
On the way to the portage, I swung by one of the camp sites. A doe was browsing around the area, and ran off after seeing me.
The portage to Clark Lake is well hidden in the vegetation, it took a bit to find it. The landing area was mucky, which would turn out to be a theme for the day.
It took three trips to portage to Clark Lake. The camp site on Clark looks like a nice place to stay. The lake itself is small and scenic, though it looked low. There were a couple of shorelines that were full of sun bleached rocks. It turned out the west portage to Meat Lake was a swamp. The first 20 feet or so were tough to navigate, stepping from rock to branch to keep out of the muck. I suspect the portage is a little farther inland when the water is higher, in a much more stable area.
It took three trips to portage to Meat Lake as well. I resolved to try to do each portage in two trips from now on. Meat Lake was … something. Apparently, the water level in the lake has dropped off drastically, because the lake was split in two. It turned out the portage leads you to a pond, which was once part of the lake, but is now separated by a 30 foot stretch of land. Crossing the strip, I startled a family of grebes, who took off before I could get any kind of camera out.
I spent at least a couple of hours trying to find the portage to Sprite Lake. According to the map, the portage was on an inlet between two points of land. I went to the spot on the map, approaching the inlet from the south side. All I saw was a brook. GPS showed a totally different shape for the lake, and was no help. After paddling around for a bit, I went to the north side of the north point, and bushwhacked a bit. A pond was there, just where it was supposed to be according to the map.
Frustrated, I was about ready to give up, then decided to try one more time. Going back to Clark was not appealing, and Meat Lake did not seem to be the most scenic place around. Tried from the north side of the inlet, and there it was, just like the map said. The extra vegetation from the low lake level had hidden the portage landing.
Relieved, I assembled the gear and prepared to head out again. I had worn sandals since Sunday, and my feet were starting to protest. I switched into shoes, and two tripped to Sprite Lake. It seemed that all the water that was supposed to be in Meat Lake had been held up in Sprite. Compared to the previous portages, this one was easy.
It was a short walk to Phantom Lake, but it looked like the trail went on. It was getting late in the day (almost 5 by this point). I could camp at Phantom, go across Phantom to Boulder Lake, or continue on to Battle. I decided to hike down the trail and see where it lead. As it turned out the portage to Battle was right there.
If I had to do the trip over again, I would have camped at Battle at least a couple nights. This lake is just beautiful. The shores are rocky, but scalable. The lake was full of loons and beaver. The water was almost perfectly still. The camp site was on a higher point, and had an excellent view.
I was so exhausted by the time the camp was set up, I didn’t have the energy to cook dinner. I got a camp fire going, munched on trail mix, and just watched the fire and listened to the loons and ravens.
A little exploring revealed a patch of wild blueberries right next to camp. Delicious, but the berries are so small, you’d need to eat the whole patch to put a dent in your appetite. It was an excellent complement to the trail mix.
Once again, the mosquitoes forced me inside after sunset. The trials of the day had me brooding a bit. I had made it to my goal, but I was too tired to really enjoy it. I thought I wanted solitude, to get away from people, but now that I had it, I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted. I wanted to share the experience with someone, someone who would help share the load and enjoy the area as much as I was. I dozed off contemplating ways to find like minded individuals for the next big adventure.
Wildlife today: deer, grebes, beaver, loons, ravens