Next we hopped in the canoe and headed northeast on Knife Lake again. However, we ran into some navigational errors again. After negotiating those, we continued northeast, finally reaching the end of Knife Lake. Man, that was a long one!
We pulled into the Little Knife Portage and looked back at Knife Lake. The Little Knife Portage was just that, it was only 5 rods around a small rapids coming down from Ottertrack Lake. Ottertrack Lake was very interesting, as it wound its way around high bluffs and cliffs, with several branches going off into Canada. After some initial difficulty, we got on track and came pretty close to a loon while in the canoe. Then, after rounding another corner, we paddled right up next to a loon. This was odd because they usually dove whenever we got near. However, this one popped up while we were paddling by.
The sun finally came out as we were winding our way around another turn. We got a cool picture of some cliffs. We kept going northeast until the lake split into two branches. One went north into Canada, while the other headed east toward the Swamp Portage and Swamp Lake. Now that just didn't sound appetizing, so we headed south toward Ester Lake.
As we stopped to locate the portage and to rest up after the extensive paddling we had done so far today, we figured out that we were just at the furthest north point any of us had been. We saw the portage across a bay, but first snagged some blueberries. I checked to see if the film was used up in my first disposable camera. It wasn't.
The guide we were looking at said the portage to Ester Lake was an uphill climb and it wasn't kidding. The portage started off going up a very steep, long hill. It never really let up, as it continued at least up a gradual slope for its entire 1/4 mile length. The canoe was a joy to carry as well, as we kept smashing it into trees as we tried to navigate the winding trail.
We set the canoe in Ester Lake planning on making it to Cherry Lake to spend the night. However, it was already getting pretty late in the day (6 pm or so), and there was a longer portage than the one we just did before we got there. So, we started looking for sites on Ester Lake. Now Ester Lake is a pretty big lake, but we didn't see any campsites. Here's another location where the map with campsite locations listed would have reduced the searching and paddling time, but that searching added to the fun of the trip. Well, I say that now, but I wasn't saying it then! Anyway, we found a couple of cool sites on some of the peninsulas and islands in the lake. Unfortunately, they were already taken. They were the first people we had seen since we left Thunder Point. We finally did find a site near the southern end of the lake. A goose in the area seemed to have already claimed this site, but he let us stay. There was something wrong with his bill. One was longer than the other. He checked us out and wandered around the camp, but we didn't bother him and he didn't bother us.
We heard this strange squeaking noise coming from a large pile of wood that was near the back of our site, most likely placed there during the cleanup from the storm. We burned some of that wood in the campfire, but never did find out what was making that noise. I think we changed gears and had ramen noodles this night instead of spaghetti. Since we had had a long day of paddling, we decided to head to bed early. It was going to be a short day tomorrow, as we were just going to head to Cherry Lake. We were looking forward to it after the longest paddling day of the trip.
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