Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Four Day Solo Canoe -Cedar River Flow to Cedar Lake

 Friday: Arrived to the Cedar River Flow (Wakely Dam) at 10:30ish am. Forecast is for rain; had some on the drive but is currently overcast at the put-in. Hope it waits a little while longer. There are only a few people at the dam. No one is on the water. Super quiet like glass. Maybe 50 deg at most. Paddled nice and slow enjoying my solitude on the flow.  As I approached the end of the flow I watched a deer at the water's edge. She looked towards me briefly and went back to her foraging. Saw a carcass of another deer just under the water nearby. Strange bookends of the life spectrum. The bog mat gave me some minor problems navigating the channel, but I managed through it. From the other direction it is more obvious. Up the river, an easy drag around the beaver dam and some more quiet paddling upstream. A few raindrops every once in a while. If it picks up I may spend the night at the Carry lean-to instead of pressing on.

No one at the Carry lean-to and the rain is picking up. Now a steady drizzle, enough to require rain gear while I collected firewood. I stashed some dry wood immediately and went for more. A few splashes down by the river; trout? I started a small fire to get a bed of coals going in preparation for heavier rains. The drizzle is picking up now as I head to the water's edge to toss a line. Rigged up a #0 silver mepps spinner with brown tail. Second cast landed a 9" brookie. A few more casts and another smaller trout. I had heard this was a good spot, the reports were correct. Even though this spot is not hard to access it still gets little pressure with the flow taking the brunt. Took a photo of both fish with my Denn Handmade knife for scale. The rain is subsiding, but I think it is a short pause. Time for a twelve horse and some dinner.

Saturday: It drizzled all night until it turned to snow. I did not think I slept to well, but the night went quickly so I must have. More splashes down by the river. I guess there are more fish. Morning fire started and coffee is hot. Overcast skies. Hope the bugs do not emerge as it is peal black fly season and I had heard the mosquitos have been fierce already too. Still a bit cool for the bugs today. Packed up my gear for the long portage to Cedar Lake. 

3-1/2 hours later  covering 4.9 miles and clearing blowdown all the way is what I need to cover to get to the Cedar Lake dam. Tough carry with all my gear and 3-days of food. Will still need to return for side-cutting and brushing out. I had taken a long early lunch break at the woodstove campsite. This was right after I crossed paths with a threesome heading to Wakely. After lunch, the Lamphere ridge trail is more wild than the old roadway. Made the portaging a bit more grueling not to mention it was the last mile and a half. That long uphill really sapped my energy. The last quarter mile returned to the old roadway and was easier going. At the dam I was quite relieved to unburden my shoulders. At this point I am not looking forward to the return portage. I have a couple days to recuperate first. A mother-son team was across the dam taking some photos. As I put the canoe in the water the mother and I chatted for a bit. She had hiked the NPT last fall, said the colors were amazing. She asked about some of thecampsites and lean-to spots. I gave her my recommendations. I asked how they enjoyed the funhouse bridge. She said it needed some work and asked if I was going to fix it. 

me: "some day, probably".

Paddling up from the dam was very nice but as soon as i hit the main channel the winds were stiff. I was hoping to check out Noisy Bay, but the winds were swift there as well/ I opted instead to head across to Beaver Pond figuring it would be more protected. A gentleman on the bridge asked if I had "any luck". I told him about the trout the previous day but had yet to wet a line today. I stopped briefly at Cedar #2 to sign the log book. I took a photo of Andy's entry from 2018 when we hiked the NPT together. I am sure he will appreciate seeing it when I get back home. The wind is chilly even on land so I needed to wear my rain jacket just for warmth. At least the chill and wind is keeping the bugs away. BAck in the canoe, I landed on the beach next to the bridge and a quick carry to Beaver Pond. As I was putting in a group of nine crossed the bridge. They appeared to be scouts. I heard one comment about "where was camp?"

In Beaver Pond the visible portion is smallm buit after a narrows it really opens up wide with a ;large island just to the right and a rock garden straight ahead. The wind was picking up here too. I skirted by the island heading to the eastern arm of the pond using the island to block most of the wind. This pond is really neat. I spotted trash from an old camp near the last cove. Did not see any spot where one would have camped though. Just trash. Looks like the spot may be a quick bushwhack from the Lost pond trail. I was getting hungry so I headed back to the bridge and the nearby campsite. Made a twig fire and cooked some pasta with pesto. While I ate two more (smaller) groups walked past. Not sure if I will stay here tonight. It depends on the wind. Time to gather firewood just in case.

Checked out the spring to see if it was flowing. Nothinbg coming from the pipe but the pools had enough flow I could dam one up and scoop enough to fill my water bottle (mostly). There are now two ladies from VT at the lean-to. This is a practice run as they are planning on hiking the Long Trail in a few weeks. I wondered later if they had seen any of Rob's videos. The wind died down enough for me to take an early evening paddle. I did not feel like moving camp so I just enjoyed the paddle up through the narrows and poked around. The sun was at the perfect angle to be bothersome. The only major downside. I did not feel like fishing so I did not go all the way back into the last bay. Still quite chilly which means no bugs.  There was one bay with a warm spot which all the bugs were attracted to. They did not bother me though. Probably a result of the chemical treatment on my hat and clothing. I paddled slowly back to camp and collected some more firewood and got ready to watch the sunset from the bridge. 

Camp is all set up and I readied a late dinner; well a half-dinner as I was not all that hungry. Last time I stayed at this campsite was in honor of my grandfather's 100th birthday. Interestingly I brought the same "it was agood deal" beef stew as I did that last time. I planned on adding dumplings, but I knew it would be too much to eat. After I ate, I watched the sunset fromt he briodge. The ladies at the lean-to were behind me on the rocks. I hope I did not spoil their photos. The day eneded with some campfire tv before bed.

Sunday: Another chilly night, but no snow. The hammock is much warmer with the quilt compared to being on the ground. I think the hammock helps keep it tucked around me better. I slept very well. only one midnight break. Up at 5:30 no surprise. Lit the fire and put the coffee on to get ready for the sunrise on the bench. With a large cuppa I headed to the bench just as the sun was cresting the hillside. Was too bright to look at directly. Some thin clouds above would hopefully make for some nice colors. As the sun rose I contemplated what to do today. Options were to stay at Cedar with a long day back to the car on monday with a much lighter pack, or spend half a day here and then go to Colvin Brook splitting the big portage a bit but addinbg a couple of extra hiking miles. Had quite some time to figure it out. No need to decide right away.

After breakfast the winds picked up again so I decided to head back towards Wakely and adjust along the way. As I passed by Cedars #1 I noticed there were a few people there. When I signed out at the register,  I noted it was the Hobo +3. I cleared some more blowdown along the ridge. A marten was curious and watched me for a bit. He stayed put lomg enough for me to snap a picture. 

Even cutting blowdown it was much faster getting to the woodstove campsite. Fresh legs and going downhill. A few sprinkles so I propped the canoe against a tree and made some soup for lunch. Just as I was eating two hikers came cruising by, one barefoot the other wearing a disposable poncho. They had some spring in their step. 

"going the whole way", I asked.

"To Placid. Yes" said the barefoot hiker.

"Awesome! have fun" I said as they motored past.

My lunch break was a nice long one. A good hour. Was not really raining, just a few drops here and there. From the SuckerBrook trail to here took me 80 minutes yesterday. On the return it took half the time due to me not stopping to clear the blowdown. At the junction the rain began to increase steadily. Instead of hiking with rain gear to Colvin Brook. I chose to continue to don the big canoe umbrella and press on to Carry lean-to and the dry wood I stashed. Hoping it would be unoccupied (not a good bet considering the holiday weekend).

I neglected to put on my rainpants which was a lapse in judgement as now my pants were soaked from the undergrowth (which I still need to cut back next time on my section of trail). At Carry, the two thru-hikers were there taking a break. I asked if they were planning on staying here to which they said nop, just taking a break as they had more miles to do. Typical comments and thought process of thru-hikers. They invited me into the lean-to out of the rain. After I introduced myself and mentioned I also "go by DuctTape", the poncho girl (Anna) exclaimed "you're duct tape???!!! We have been reading about you in the shelter books. It is so cool to see you in person". We chatted a while. We went to the same college; they recently graduated and this hike was a celebration. I shred with them some of my favorite parts of the trail and they asked a lot of questions. I told them of my NPT-west dream. Katie was intriguged by it. As the readied themsleves to continue on during what seemd to be a slight decrease in the rain I wished them well.

Not long after they departed the rain picked up again. The steady drizzle just like on Friday. In similar fashion I head a splash by the river. So I headed down to toss in a line. Since it worked so well last ime I used the same lure. A couple casts, a small bump. Then a snag. I trudged upstream in my boots to get above it so it would release. A few casts from my new vantage point and then a big hit. Whoa, this was big one. My net is back at where I started. So I played the fish while trudging back keeping the line tight. I caught a glimpse of the fish as I moved. Definitely had some size to it, not just a fighter. At the beach I picked up my net and landed the beauty. 15", almost as big as the net itself! I guess I know what's for dinner. Hope the drizzle lets up, but I would rather it drizzle than have bugs.

Monday: The rain stopped over night. I slept soundly until 1 am, but for some reason was wide awake. I did eventually fall back asleep. I had covered my eyes so I could sleep in. Still up early, a little after 6am. All is quiet except for the sounds of birds. Speaking of which heard a barred owl with her distinct call last night. I can make out at least 4 different bird species but am not able to identify any of them. I am reminded of the ornithologist kid I met at Duck Hole years ago who was able to Id birds by their song; even whistle them himself. That was cool. This is the warmest morning so far but the fire is still welcome as is the hot coffee. Having extra time this morning and a ton of extra food I will try a cooking experiment; always good practice over the fire. I will repurpose my dumpling mix into a biscuit dough and see if I can use the cookpot to "bake" it. Will probably have to flip it to get the top side brown. Anyway it will be fun to try.

Let's call this a success. No butter or jam, but I have olive oil. Not bad. But camp bread (yeast) is till better. Looks like it is going to be nice, so I will pack up and paddle as far upstream as I can go. I made it to the first rapids and the campsite. Nothing special. Turned around and slow paddled back downstream and to the flow taking the opposite shoreline back to the dam. Once back on the flow the wind was really stiff coming straight at me. I guess the easy paddle out would be some work. Still very few people at the dam, but the black flies were here. Hovering just over my head while I packed up the car. 

To recount: 4 days, 3 trout, (almost) zero bugs, infinite enjoyment.