27-28 December 2009.
Sgt Pulka's Maiden voyage. Todd, Chris and I left Roch at 8:15 headed to Cranberry lake, Peavine Swamp trail. Upon arrival we geared up and noted the tracks of a x-c skier ahead of us. We started off at a quick pace (pushing 3mph on snowshoes). Pulk was working great. We eventually ran into the skier on his way out. We chatted for a bit and then continued. At the leanto, Todd and I set up our tents/tarps while chris went for firewood. I finished setting up and began cutting breaking up the fine mixture of birch and maple Chris was able to scavenge. Todd joined me and Chris set up his rig. I made a fire bed and lit the fire before the sun completely set. Soon we had a nice little blaze going. We cooked up some sausages (and other foods) and sat around for a few hours. While I do not mind solo trips, the short days makes for a long boring night when alone. It was good to be with friends. I retired first and slept very warm... too warm in fact. The next AM Todd expressed a similar issue. I awoke before the sun at my typical time and made some cocoa. Chris was already awake so I didn't feel bad about making noise in the leanto. We left about 24hours from when we first began and made very good time on the return. Stopped at Stewarts for coffee/food. 9 miles total.
Nov 27-29 Bear Lake redux
another trip to Bear Lake to do work on the Lean2 site. Arrived Friday around noon. Quick hike in arrived to Lake just in time to see the tree fall. Set up camp and then immediately got to work. We (Pete, Paul and I) moved the “tooth” and dug a hole for its placement and planted the tooth. This took 3 hours, during which the rock cart flipped up and caught my knee. At one pint I was bracing this 1500lb behemoth between me and the firepit boulder for leverage. By this time, sun was setting so we headed down to camp. After dinner, it was dark and without a fire we decided to retire. Chuck arrived around midnight. The storm came in and since the wind was now from the East, I had to batten down the tarp. The winds were ferocious. The tarp withstood the pounding, though it was cold with the wind robbing my down uilt of its trapped heat. Heard a few trees/branches fall during the night. One right in the middle of our campsite, just a few feet from Chuck's tent. In the AM, we got to work and set the tooth. Then collected more rocks, none as large and we completed the firepit and hearth during which my second brush with near injury occurred. One of the large beech levers slipped out of chuck hand and slammed into my forearm. We prepped the landing site for the helicopter with logs to hold the materials and left garbage collected from around the lake. Evening around the fire with beer and sausages, Chuck, Judy and I. The night was warmer and I only awoke once to natures call. Next day, we cleaned up, covered the tools, hid the canoe and hiked out. 3 Miles and a few bruises
Nov 14-15 Bear Lake in Black river wild Forest with Lean2Rescue
Lean2rescue has built a leanto and will be assembling it this winter onsite. This trip was to prepare the foundation and dig the outhouse. I was on the road at 4:40am and got to the McKeever TH at 8AM. As I waited in my car, I heard another approach. I saw the camo canoe zip past me, so I started the car and followed. I got to the Bear lake Trailhead and met up with Paul. Others soon arrived. We loaded the caoe and began the push. About ¼ mile in, we realized we needed to rebalance the canoe, so Chuck, his son Matthew and I took our packs and we hiked them to the lake and then returned to help with the canoe. Arriving at the site, it was drizzling.. I quickly setup my tarp and others used it to stow their gear. Matthew was wet and cold, so we got him a dry spot underneath. We then go to work digging holes. 4 feet deep and 24inches across for the foundation.
The rain eventually stopped (it was never really that bad). With the holes dug we began looking for rocks. After quarrying and moving a few it began to get late so we set up camp down near the lake. Paul cut us some wood for the fire and then he (and others) left. Chuck, his son and I grilled sausages and had some beverages. Went to bed and slept great.
I awoke with the sun and went to explore the other campsite. After breakfast, Paul returned and we went to work quarrying more rocks. We broke a few straps (1 rated at 900lbs). We completed 3 foundation holes. Late afternoon we returned after stashing the canoe and paddles.
Arrived at TH at 8am. The crew was an hour ahead of me but with what they they were pushing I figured to catch them about half-way. As I approached the two canoes, I could see i was in for a world of pain this weekend. I threw my pack into the second canoe and helped push. We slogged through the mud the remaining 2 miles to the lean-to. Set up camp and got right to work removing the old roof. The roof looked in ok shape. In fact the crew replaced it just last year but it leaked. While installing the new roof the rain came. it rained continuously. We finished the roof and went to collect wood. After a fire was made and dinner was eaten the rain stopped. The fire was great. Went to bed and slept like a baby in the hammock. the rain came again during the night. I awoke warm and dry and made breakfast from the comfort of the hammock. back at the lean-to, paul was tending the fire. When everyone was up and ready we continued the days work of bundling the old shingles and digging a new outhouse hole. After lunch we loaded tha canoes with the tools, etc... and began the push back. The first hill was a killer. At the top I became the mule and was pulling the tow line. Through all the mud, I was soaked. Back at the car I changed and headed home. During the trip we joked how if this were our job we would quit, yet we gladly volunteer for this work whenever it is available. As Paul says, we are a stupid bunch. Oh, i made jambalaya for dinner for Chuck and I. The Genny lights I carried in were good too.
We crossed a beaver dam to get to the Five Ponds Trail and we followed it to Big Shallow where we ate lunch. By then, the weather had begun to clear and the sky was looking blue. We saddled up and headed to Sand lake. After stopped numerous times to enjoy the views and other treats along the way, we arrived at Sand Lake; tired and hungry. We had traveresed a little over 12 miles, some of which was through the thickest blowdown and new growth i have ever experienced.
The sun was out and we enjoyed the chance to dry ourselves out and warm up. We made camp and collected wood; plenty to be found. Some nice treasures from the old days were found rusting in the near vicinity. A nice fire and stars emerging eventually gave way to my heavy eyelids. I ventured to my hammock while Gregg stayed up a bit longer. I slept soundly until the pitter pat of rain awoke me. A slight rain, but I was warm and dry. I was again fast asleep and awoke with the rising sun. I tried to stay quiet as I made a new fire to remove the morning chill. Gregg soon awoke from his slumber and we both warmed up and ate breakfast. We were on the trail sometime after 9.
On the way to High Falls we encountered the wet section. This was the wettest I had ever seen it. At one point I realized that any effort to stay reasonably dry would be futile so I just high stepped it through hoping my gaiters, boots and fast feet would keep my socks relatively dry. the splashing soaked my pants but in the end it seemed worth it. Soon after, we saw the first people on the trail; a couple of guys and a dog heading out. We warned them of the upcoming wetness.
We arrived at high falls and were the only people there. Strange considering last year at this time it was packed. A quick bite, and relaxing rest on the rocks we headed out. We saw a few more people on the way to Cowhorn, most were on their way back from Cat Mt. One group I noticed a small tree sticking out of his daypack. Thoughts of one of the Karate kid films entered my mind; the one when he went to get that bonsai tree from the cliff. Those thoughts gave way to just how wrong it was for him to be taking a tree, even such a small one. Trail was mushy on the way toward the cat Mt turn. many people=lots of mud. After the junction, the trail was much drier and not well marked. I always end up getting off the trail in this section in the winter since there is nothing to follow. This time of year it was easy to see the foot tread. The trail to Bassout was very obvious this time of year as well; I made a metal note of its location for a future exploration.
Gregg stopped for water and I continued to cowhorn Junction to wait. At the Jnct, I could see the beginning of the old trail to nicks, it disappeared within a few feet. Another future exploration. At Cowhorn junction it began to snow! It really started coming down as we hiked the esker skirting Cowhorn Pond. At cowhorn we decided to both sleep in the shelter and we collected wood. A business card for Hawks Vittles was tucked nicely among the hanging pots/pans in the shelter.
Lots of dead dry hardwood would make for a nice hot bed of coals. I built the base fire and Gregg tended it. We eventually had a nice rager going. After dinner, I soon went to sleep. I awoke at one point feeling very toasty warm. the next time I awoke, I could feel a chill. The reason became apparent in the AM when the frost was visible. The temp had dropped below freezing; my water bottle had ice. After a quick bite for breakfast and a nice warmup from the new fire we headed out a little before 9am.
A quiet and quick pace, my guess is we were both tired. We ran into a family on the way in who directed us around the newly placed logs since they were floating! Back at the car at 11:30 where we met Mark L (from the forum) he remembered me from last years CL-50 hike. What a coincidence. Sat 12.2mi, Sun 15.1mi, Mon 7.5mi. Total miles: 34.8.