For our last hoorah, before the kids go back to school, we enjoyed a final camping trip of the summer, returning to Mooselookmeguntic Lake. This, being our new favorite spot on the planet. Evan (our youngest / 17) was able to join us!
We again stayed on Students Island at a site requiring about a 3/4-mile canoe trip from the mainland. Because Evan was with us we had to bring our gear across in 2 loads. As in our prior trip, the arrival crossings were a breeze. Or, should I say there was no breeze/wind. More on that, when we cover the departure crossings a few days later…
Here is Evan about to enjoy the trip to Students Island.
This was our front yard.
The main agenda: fishing. If you’ve read the earlier posts covering our 3 previous camping trips of the summer, you’ll recall that Cindy is the only one who has caught the desired fish (trout). On this trip 19 fish were caught (small mouth bass and shiners; no trout). Perhaps Cindy caught the last one 🙂
On one of the mornings Evan and I took the canoe out. We were enjoying the beautiful day, the sound of loons calling one-another and we were catching fish. Evan spotted a bald eagle flying just a few feet off the water, only 30-40 feet from us. The magnificent bird then climbed, seemed to be preparing to dive for its breakfast, and then flew off towards Students Island until it was out of site.
Cindy remained at our campsite, reading her book. At least we “thought” that was all the excitement she was having.
Upon our return Cindy had a story to tell…
As she was lying there reading, catching some rays and listening to the same loon calls we were hearing, she saw our bald eagle swoop in, along with another large bird (which she couldn’t identify) and together they started thrashing around in the trees just above her. As this was occurring a squirrel was screeching for its life; likely the object of their pursuit. At this point, Cindy began backing towards the water in the event the birds came to the ground in their frenzy, talons flipping around as they fought for their meal.
Shortly after this action subsided she observed a pack (sounds better than a flock, for our story) of 6 ducks darting across the surface of the water towards her, as they were chasing and diving for fish just a few feet from shore. Another feeding frenzy was taking place before her eyes. This scene reminded her of one of the Jurassic Park movies when the little dinosaurs were preying upon the young girl on the beach.
She considered giving me a call over all this excitement, but decided to wait and tell us once we returned from our fishing excursion.
After enjoying a few days of great weather, fishing, swimming, time together and starlit night skies we reached our final day.
Our Departure Crossings (A.K.A. “Note to self”)
On our day of departure we awoke to the sound of waves, which were a few levels above “gentle”, lapping at the shore.
Based on this, and the forecast, we knew we had to promptly pack for the 2 crossings we needed to make, prior to the wind picking up…
Cindy and I easily made the first crossing with a full load of gear. It only took about 10 minutes, the wind being at our back.
Evan remained at the campsite with the small load of our remaining gear, for the 2nd crossing.
After unloading the gear on the mainland I quickly departed for the return trip, leaving Cindy behind to stand watch over our gear. Within 30 feet of shore I realized that, well, I was kind of in a KITE! I had almost zero control of the canoe.
Instead of heading in a northerly direction, where our site was, I was being blown south!
The best I could do was paddle furiously to hopefully reach the southern tip of the island before being blown out into the larger/open part of the lake. After an extended adrenaline rush, I made it to the southern end of the island! Not my intended destination, but at least I was ashore.
At this point I began rowing up along the shore of the island, in my quest to reach our site. So far so good, as I was protected from the wind by a jut of land…Until I wasn’t…
The kite factor returned.
After attempting to paddle directly against the wind, and I wasn’t even around the bend (of wind protection) yet, I knew this would be futile. So, I let the wind blow me back south to one of the unoccupied sites on the island, with a nice sandy beach.
I attempted to call Evan (there is a great cell signal out there), but it rolled immediately to voicemail. His battery was dead…
By now, he was definitely wondering what was going on, as I should have made the return trip by now. Because our site was on the northern end of the island, around a bend, he could not see what was going on.
From here I pulled the canoe ashore, left it behind and began the 3/4-mile hike up the island to our campsite; in my flip flops. I hadn’t planned on a hike, especially on a trail consisting primarily of roots, rocks, mud and that sort of fun.
After about 20 minutes I made it back to the site. There was Evan – still waiting for me to return and pick him up. As he gazed off into the lake I crept up behind him. When I was within 6 inches of his ear I whispered: “maybe they left me.”
He freaked. Probably needing a change of underwear.
This has special significance as he had previously made a comment, while we were at home, as he observed our camping gear stacking up for a prior trip, saying: “Are you guys coming back?” And, to make sure he made it on this trip he joked: “I am going to wake-up early and be waiting with the camping gear to make sure you don’t leave me at home” 🙂
After laughing hysterically for a few minutes and sharing the details of my crossing, we decided it was time to head to the canoe.
We placed the remaining gear on our backs and hiked the 3/4-mile trail back to the canoe. And, even though I was in my flip flops I thankfully received only a few nicks on my feet.
Once we made it back to the canoe we loaded the gear for our crossing. The wind was still blowing and the waves were bigger than before, but with 2 paddlers we easily made the crossing.
So, my “note to self” is: don’t try paddling in the wind, when going solo! Until then, I seriously thought I was an experienced paddler. I had certainly met my match that day.
All part of the adventure 🙂
We hope to return to Students Island (by the summer of 2015).