Added 11 August 2004
On Thursday morning we put the kayak out on Gunflint Lake for a little shakedown run. We paddled to the Canadian side of the lake and along the shore about a mile and a half before turning around and heading home. The Aquaterra KeoweeII that we rented did pretty well. It's a very stable 'yak, but not what I would consider to be a speed demon. It's only about 13 feet long and 32 inches wide. I found that we had somewhat of a difficult time keeping a straight track, though we did get better by the end of the first tour. The worst problem we had was the length of the paddles. They were a pretty standard length we discovered, but I would have liked for them to be about a foot or so longer.
When we got back to the lodge relaxed, napped, got gear organized and enjoyed the view from the room. Later in the day we went to an outfitters on another part of Gunflint Lake in search of longer paddles to rent. We were unsuccessful to that end, but the woman at Northwoods Outfitters was extremely helpful and pointed us to a couple of hikes and some good places to go paddling. Shan wanted to go hiking so we did that, on a little used trail heading up from Loon Lake to the divide that separates Loon Lake from Gunflint Lake. The vegetation was extremely dense but the mosquitoes weren't too bad, at least if we kept moving. As we hiked we nibbled on the raspberries that lined the trail. It was a little early in the season I think, but most were still quite good.
Once on the ridge top there were some places that afforded us some phenomenal views down to Gunflint Lake and our lodge. We also got some nice views of Lonely Lake, which appeared be not so lonely as it would make itself out to be, as there were a few boats on it's shore. After a time the trail dove back into the woods and we couldn't see much, so we turned around and headed home.
Back at the lodge we found a plate of chocolate chip cookies awaiting us in our room. If there had been more than the four of them, the Dave and Paula might have found us dead in our room the next day. They were delicious, but rich and I'm sure in large quantities, deadly. When Shan thanked Paula for them later, hoping to get the recipe, Paula said it was a family recipe and she had to wait for her aunt to die before she got the recipe. That's hardcore! Shan didn't even ask for the recipe after hearing that.
We relaxed a bit and pulled out the spotting scope to watch some loons and Mallard ducks on the lake down below.
We ate a fairly early dinner so that we could do a little evening kayaking. This time the plan was to go north and paddle across Magnetic Lake then up a river that was named on various maps as either Pine River or Granite River to a waterfall that was indicated on the map. I had no idea what to expect there really, whether we would be able to paddle up the river or not, or what the waterfall would be like. But I figured it was worth the journey at any rate.
As we headed out it was cloudy, but not threateningly so. As we made our way across Magnetic Lake, the clouds in the distance started looking a bit more menacing, but it didn't look like they were moving anywhere, so we kept going. They didn't need to. Just as we got to the mouth of Pine/Granite River, the clouds above us had formed into storm clouds and it started to sprinkle. Rather than take a chance, we turned around and started heading back to the lodge before we got dumped on. The sprinkle only lasted perhaps a minute or so. Then it began to rain . . . hard. And the wind began to blow . . . hard. We started to paddle . . . hard. We were cranking for almost all we were worth, soaked to the bone. Fortunately the rain wasn't all that cold (though Shan would disagree slightly with that assessment.) With the wind came the waves, cresting at about a foot or so, with us needing to go cross-wise to them. It wasn't a very easy task. We had several waves crest over the boat and into our laps. The worst part was trying to get the boat to track straight though. The wind and the waves kept wanting to turn the boat into the wind and waves, which isn't exactly the direction we wanted to go. Eventually I relented and let the boat angle slightly upwind so we weren't spending so much energy merely fighting the boat. So we basically ended up tacking our way back across Magnetic Lake. When we got close to the neck that connected Magnetic and Gunflint Lakes, the waters calmed slightly due to the protection the land created.
While in the "eye of the storm" as it were, I told Shan to get ready for the next battle. Once out on Gunflint proper we would have to fight the wind and waves again. As it turned out, other than the steady rain, the wind and waves weren't as bad as I thought they might be on Gunflint Lake. We made it to the point of land that our lodge was on, and around the corner where the land gave us some shelter from the wind and waves. At that point we were heading more directly into the wind, which counterintuitively made for easier rowing that going across the wind. Once back at the boat landing we quickly pulled the boat up onto high ground, grabbed our gear, and hurried up the hill to the lodge, looking like drowned rats.
We dried off and relaxed the rest of the evening, listening to the falling rain. We tried to get our gear as dry as possible for the next day too.
Stats for Day 1: 7 paddle miles, 6 hiking miles