We make promises to get up early and get out the door early. We both know that we both love the bed too much to get up early, but it feels good to say it out loud.
Even if we don’t mean it.
I get up first and decide to do something about the food situation. We have a ton of food and it’s really heavy. I’m trying to figure out what we can get rid of. Nothing. I pack a few more things and roust David and we get going. I leave a long page of information for Anna regarding how to live in my house and how to deal with Maddie. Most people just toss a $20 and the keys on the table and know that the house/dogsitter with figure it out.
I got problems.
Finally, we’re on the road, but first we have to stop at Walgreens to pick up my prescriptions, moleskin for my feet, alleve and batteries. David has to deal with the pharmacist dorkass that charged him for my last prescription pick up when he should not have (don’t ask). I wander away to look at enemas, corn removers and condoms. Then I head back out to the car because I freak about leaving the dog in the car for more than about 27 seconds. He’s barking at the old man walking by.
Finally, we’re on the road for real! Except there’s construction and we miss an exit. Then we’re on the road for real.
Some hours later I call to make sure our canoe reservation is still valid. The woman is either drunk, insane or not actually an employee. She has no idea what I’m talking about but she assures me that everything will be fine.
We stop in Ely to pick up our permit and head a billion miles out to the wilderness. We made arrangements with a resort on Big Lake to rent a canoe from them and also stow the car there. We get there and everything is in order (thankfully). We wrap everything in plastic, load up the canoe and try to get started.
Except Chester is not so keen on the canoe thing. The canoe is new and terrifying. David gets him in and he promptly jumps out. Awesome. David then hands me a wet Chester and tells me to hold him. Damned wet dirty dog.
We head out.
About 1/4 of the way across the lake Chester plasters his body against mine and shakes. Every time Chester moves the canoe rocks and I stiffen. I spend a lot of time worrying about being tossed from a canoe or worse, having our stuff dumped into the lake.
Finally we get him to move
It takes us about an hour to get across the lake. We’re not even in the BWCA until we are past the lake. On the other side of the lake is a 1/2 mile portage. We get out of the canoe and hope hope that the campsite on the lake on the other side of the portage is available. It’s too late to keep going and we need to set up camp before it gets dark.
We divide our stuff and walk the half mile. David is a faster hiker, he heads out before me. The very beginning of the portage is a very steep climb up smooth rock. Fuck. For most people this would be work but not insurmountable. For the human dugong, however, this is an epic quest. I start to climb but my pack is too heavy and it’s slung too low. I’m too bottom heavy. Great. The Weekly World News is going to run a cover story about “Mysterious Beluga Found Beached 1200 Miles from Ocean”. It will be the first time they print something true.
I decide to toss all my stuff to the top. Up goes the pack and the sleeping pads. Oh, awesome, one sleeping pad decided that it would hit the top and roll off the side. Is that muck at the bottom? Why yes it is! Luckily it stopped before the muck. I climb the rocks and shove everything up the next incline. At the top I get everything together and start marching.
Chester follows David for a while but comes back to me. He worries about me and he is right to. At any moment I could trip on a rock and land directly in a bear’s mouth. Chester is pretty sure that camping is awesome! Everything smells different, there are all kinds of new poop to snuffle and he can run his piggy little butt around. He also likes to stop and stand at attention with no warning. At first I was trying to be nice and encourage him to keep going. Eventually I threatened to shove a size five hiking boot up his ass.
When I get to the end of the portage David tells me that the other site is taken but we’re not going back. He finds a relatively clear, flat spot that we can camp at for at least one night. I head back down the path to get the rest of the stuff portioned to me. 1/2 mile to the campsite, 1/2 mile to the canoe, 1/2 mile back to the campsite. 1 1/2 miles of hiking on rocky, twisted terrain, 1 mile of that carrying heavy shit.
I can’t really complain, though, David carries the canoe on each portage. He has to pick that fucker up, flip it over and get the pads on his shoulders and then do the death march. I can’t do that.
David gets the campsite set up and I organize our stuff. There is no official fire ring since it’s not a campsite so we cannot have a campfire. I won’t even risk it. Everything has been so hot and dry and I don’t want to be that asshole that burns down one of the last wild places in the country.
We sit on the rocks and eat cheese, sausage, crackers and apple as the sun sets.