Day two : Yes, my bones do hurt. J-stroke-itis in my upper left arm, rib cartilage on the lower left side (remnant of broken ribs from the '80s), stiff back and a case of boot toes. I'm not complaining, that's just the way it is. The price for the fun and it was fun. There's still a few things to put away and then it's back to the projects of normalcy.
Brian showed up an hour early last Wednesday. Turned out to be a good thing as we killed the hour joining his gear to mine. As usual, preparation is close to never-ending and doesn't stop till the tires leave the driveway. About an hour later begins the panicked recollection of what was surely forgotten. Finally in camp, us modern day voyageurs - this old one in particular - discover everything has been packed and I was only suffering from memory loss, not gear loss.
The road is the road. I know that doesn't mean anything but I like the thought. Streets take you to work, grocery shopping and the dentist. But the road - ahh, the road - takes you to where the line meets the water. Solid carbon footprint, fast food, coffee and hours of excited conversation about nothing. A front was blowing through, gusts were topping thirty, temperatures plummeting from the seventies to the thirties and it was sprinkling a bit. Atop the truck our canoe vibrated but never caused a moment's worry. We were wired, stoked and near to giggling.
Two hundred, seventy miles stood between driveway and our date with the Gunflint Ranger Station before its doors locked for the evening. There was a backup permit site across the road at Bearskin Outfitters but it was the ranger station I wanted. Good memories lived within and this was a trip based on memories.
We made it by the 4:30 close even after sitting motionless at a roadblock for fifteen minutes. Have to thank Brian for showing up nearly an hour early or we'd have been banging on the station's door at 8:00 the next morning. Oddly enough that found hour stayed with us all the way to the end of the trip.
The ranger was pleasant and more than willing to give us a brief rundown of Boundary Waters etiquette after the video program refused to work. Nothing much new to learn. Camp in a campsite, leave it cleaner than you found it and no loud parties after 9:00pm. Odd they never suggest you stay alive. A dead, rotting carcass would be both a nuisance to other campers, a fly breeder and a sure fire bear attractor.
Next we were off to find our room for the night and there discuss the ins and outs of thomsonite. The lodge sat upon a bay noted for its supply of the semiprecious stone. Think of an agate on LSD and you've a fair idea of what thomsonite looks like. Another thing on my list of stuff to find, put in a drawer and forget about.
After dinner in Grand Marais (bangers and mash washed down with ale) we wandered down to the roaring lakefront. The wind was still up and the waves whipping the shore were surfable. Six to eight footers in hypothermic water. Yes, surfing is done on Lake Superior, in wet suits of course. Must be an imported sport as I can't recall any paintings of Ojibway hanging ten on the big lake. Hmm, birch bark surf boards, something to think about. That night as I lay in bed the roar of waves on rock sounded like the north shore of Oahu, not Minnesota.