We got up and dried off what we could, but it was starting to look like the wet clothes bag was going to stay the wet clothes bag for the rest of the trip. Thankfully it was just a mesh laundry bag and not very valuable to us anyway. It cleared out quickly after the storm as well, which was nice. However, the winds were just as strong as, perhaps stronger than, yesterday when it was an interesting trip to our campsite. We loaded up the canoe and headed west into the part of Kekekabic Lake that was least protected from southwest winds. Man, was it fun. The canoe was bouncing and flopping everywhere and paddling was about twice as slow as normal. The paddling over to the portage to Pickle Lake seemed to take forever. We took shelter behind islands when we could, to get some paddling in without being battered by the waves.
As we finally neared the portage, the waves concealed some boulders barely underwater away from shore. I noticed we were headed for it, but it was too late, and we got beached right on top of it. Waves were just pounding us and threatening to tip us over. We struggled to get off the rock, but we weren't moving. So, I jumped out of the canoe and walked us to shore. Thankfully the water wasn't too deep and it was pretty easy to walk to shore. We had narrowly averted another disaster.
We met another pretty large group with noticeably light canoes at the portage to Pickle Lake. They informed us it was illegal to have more than one group on a portage at a time. No one had told us that, and we never saw it written anywhere (must not have looked hard enough). It sounds like they ticket people for it, though, so it's a good thing they told us. We stayed out of their way, though, far away from the portage trail. They also showed us locations for campsites on Vera Lake. That was valuable information, as you'll see later today. They showed where they stayed last night and told us they had a bear steal some of their food the previous night. That was also useful information! We saw them set off into Kekekabic Lake, thanked them for their information, and started our portage to Pickle Lake.
This portage was about as flat as they come, and no, we weren't complaining. It was a good 1/4 mile carry, though, so it was definitely tiring enough with distance alone. We were just passing through Pickle Lake, though, so we really didn't see much of it, as we just paddled across it. The portage to Spoon Lake was also flat, and much shorter, so Tracy didn't have any difficulty carrying this one. Of course, we had to turn back southwest again once we were in Spoon Lake, which meant paddling into the wind again - JOY!
As we passed the mini-islands in Spoon Lake, I noticed the clouds all getting blown over and let those guys know that there's either going to be no storms the rest of the day, or severe weather. The portage to Dix Lake was pretty tame as well, thankfully. While we were paddling through Dix Lake, the clouds were looking more like thunderstorms. There was a huge rocky shelf area in the middle of Dix Lake that we avoided so we wouldn't have the same experience we had on Kekekabic. Getting to Skoota Lake was much more interesting, however.
I was carrying the canoe on this one, and it didn't look too bad, as it was only 30 rods long. However, this puddle tried to eat my leg when I stepped in it. It didn't look very deep, but then I stepped in it and nearly dropped the canoe as I plunged to the left, getting my knee stuck in the puddle past the knee. After freeing myself there, I headed up the portage. About halfway through, going up a hill, a tree had fallen across the portage in such a way where I couldn't step over it and couldn't duck under it. I set down the canoe, slid it under the tree, and by the time I was done with that, Shawn had caught up and helped me put the canoe back on my shoulders. The rest of the portage was uneventful. We then went back to get the gear and that's when I snapped a picture of the man-eating puddle!
Skoota Lake was pretty cool, but the storm clouds gathering to the southwest were getting our attention more than the lake by the time we were most of the way through. Also, the fact we had a long portage ahead of us. We set in on that portage in a hurry, because we still had a couple portages after it to get to Vera Lake. Here's a picture of Tracy carrying some gear on this huge portage. It went down into a valley pretty steeply, crossed a muddy stream, and then went back up the other side of the valley quickly. I think we switched off three or four times on this portage. The end was especially interesting, as it plunged down toward Missionary Lake. After a 1/2 mile of carrying, the canoe kinda bumped on the ground on the steep decline. However, we made it!
As we paddled Missionary Lake, the thunderheads to the southwest were getting closer, and more ominous. We hurried to get to Trader Lake. The portage to Trader Lake wasn't that long, so it wasn't too bad. By the time we reached the portage to Vera Lake from Trader, we could begin to hear the thunder off in the distance. We were definitely in a hurry by then! The portage to Vera Lake was pretty hilly and wound through the trees. It was another 1/4 miler. We hurried back to get our gear as the wind started to pick up. Yep, folks it's about to get real interesting.
When we set in to Vera Lake, we headed for a campsite recommended by the folks at the Kekekabic Lake portage. It was snagged already! We noticed one on the north side of the lake, it was unoccupied! We started for it, as the winds began to howl. Somehow we made it across to the campsite. We rushed to flip the canoe over, set up the tent and put the rain fly up, and get a tarp over all of our gear. No sooner, and I mean no sooner, than we got all of that done did it start pouring. There was a ton of lightning with this storm, too, and I was expecting hail. The raindrops got really large and I have a feeling there was hail in the area, but thankfully we were spared. I was also concerned for any possibility of tornado, like we could've gone somewhere or something! This storm was looking pretty nasty. Lightning even started a small fire just to the east of us. The storm passed us by after about an hour of rain and 40 mph winds. Shawn decided to attempt to make a fire, while we all nibbled on some of Bri's Deluxe Trail Mix. The fire wasn't even coming close to starting, and some lightning was appearing off to the southwest again. Looks like round two. We decided to hang up the food bag to deter any bears that we knew were in the area. We headed for the tent to see if we could wait out the rain. And, no we couldn't. It rained for the next 5 hours straight and we ended up going to bed without eating anything else. Talk about your insane days! We played cards for a long time and eventually fell asleep some time in the late evening, like 9 or 10.
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