Somehow our schedules worked out so that we were able to take a second canoeing trip in the summer of 1994. It took some convincing to get Stacey to agree to go again, but we ended up with a satisfactory compromise: we would paddle for four or five days and stay at a bed and breakfast on Minnesota's North Shore for two nights. We got an entry permit for Stanton Bay on Pickerel Lake in Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park. We staged out of Saint Cloud and drove up early one morning. By the time we got in the actual water it was mid-afternoonish, so we just paddled across Pickerel until we came across a nice island campsite most of the way across.
The next day we paddled down the Bisk-Beg-Bud chain of lakes and made the long portage along the Pickerel River into Olifaunt Lake. That summer there was a nuisance bear that had been pillaging packs along this very route, so we were a bit anxious hauling all our junk across the portage. We saw plenty of bear sign but fortunately no bears. The view of the Pickerel River from the bluffs was very nice, easing some of the pain of the nearly mile-long portage. The wind picked up considerably as we crossed Olifaunt and made the exquisitely muddy portage into Sturgeon. Just as we set up camp on Sturgeon it started to rain with intent.
The next day we took a trip to Chatterton Falls. It was cool and windy for most of the day. The falls were pretty spectacular, though, so we did not mind so much. At least not until we got absolutely dumped on in a combination downpour/windstorm when we were about 200 yards out from our campsite. We were fortunate in that we got blown into our site -- we could see people farther out on Sturgeon who were not so lucky and had to seek shelter on some pretty unforgiving islands until the worst blew over.
Our fourth day dawned as blustery, cool, and gray as the day before, and we decided that we would head out a day early and go spend some time in Thunder Bay instead of suffer further weather-related indignities (I was reduced to wearing a pair of Stacey's pants, a handsome red pair as you can see, since both pairs of mine were soaking wet). So we paddled north through Sturgeon and Dore, keeping to the western shoreline to shelter ourselves from the wind. Crossing Pickerel was on our minds and we decided to take the "extra" 24 rod portage out of one of Pickerel's bays into Pickerel proper. That put us east of Emerald Island where we used a bunch of smaller islands to island-hop across Pickerel. We stopped for lunch on an island and then let the west wind push us down Pickerel to a site just outside Stanton Bay.
True to form, once we decided that we were going to bail out a day early, the weather cleared up that night and we were treated to a spectacular sunset (there were a lot of forest fires out west in 1994 that I think put substantial quantities of particulate matter into the air, thereby enhancing sunsets). Morning revealed a placid Pickerel, but we decided to leave anyway and drive over to Thunder Bay that afternoon which we had never visited before. Even though it was cut short, I enjoyed this "extra" trip to canoe country.
Last Update on March 16, 2005
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