Saturday, March 29, 2014

-Boundary Waters Expedition Day #6

*The One Mile Day*

February 23, 2014:

            My biological clock has now taken effect after almost a week out here. 0600 give or take a minute or two and I'm wide awake. For at least another 15 minutes or so I lay there preparing myself for the sound my sleeping bags zipper makes, exposing my warm body to the bite of -20 degrees. 
My bed & Fire food
It doesn't take long to come to full consciousness.. Quickly I begin snapping sticks for a decent bundle to place in the stove and with a small piece of birch bark I've got instant flames. Within minutes as the tent warms I can no longer see my breath and it's a comfortable 70+ degrees. It's great not having to "pick out what your going to wear ." Every morning, in order: top base layer,  wool socks, wool pants, wool long sleeve shirt, suspenders, wind break parka, mukluks, gators, wool gloves and rabbit fur hat. Before packing, my frosty mummy bag must be dried out beside the molten hot steel box stove, personal gear is then ready and staged beside my toboggan. Following a bowl of hot oats and the disassembling of group gear, I pack both tents, a box of food and personal gear onto my sled. Everything is double checked, nothings left behind, give the fastening straps one last hard pull and off we go to experience yet another beautiful day.

         We bushwhacked and traversed 1 mile through the forest, breaking our own trail up steep elevation, fighting 4+ feet of snow and clearing debris to make way for our toboggans. As we skirted the banks of this beautiful river connecting the two lakes, I would sit on my gear from time to time for a moments rest. The sound of a free stone flowing river and it's constant babble is like getting lost in the flames of a flickering fire or consumed in the view from high peaks. It's always changing, never losing its magic, no one moment is the same as the next and you're completely in it. Natures television at its finest..
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."
              We had thought we were free and clear of open waters and made our way back onto the ice to get around the last point of the inlet. Paul took lead with the ice chisel in hand, poking his way forward to make sure the ice was safe. No more than 100 yards along the narrow and just as Paul was rounding the point, he speared the ice to his left and the chisel broke through on impact. "Well, it's pretty thin here guys" he said. "No more than two inches." The shoreline was about six feet to his right so he turned and poked at the ice, once again busting right through. Shattering a good portion this time,
A very close call..
his right foot slowly began to sink.. "Paul, get out of there, back up towards us" I said. Almost in a whisper as if my voice would cause him to plunge in to the frigid waters. He inched his way backwards as the ice gave way. It was a tense moment for sure and an enormous sigh of relief when he was clear of the paper thin ice. "Better find another way" Paul said. We were all in agreement. Another hour went by as we packed yet another trail over land and onto the open terrain of Lake Jasper. We've only traveled one mile today and it's taken us a little over five hours (that's not a typo). Five hours to move A mile and we are too exhausted for this 20mph head wind, so the very first cove sheltered from the North would be our home for the night.

          To accompany our dinner, I made another cinnamon raisin bannock for the guys but this time it was topped with a heavy, melted chocolate drizzle. The drizz was created with hot water, whole powdered milk, chocolate bar chunks, cocoa mix and butter liquefied to perfection over the fire. Again, a complete experiment that turned out to be unbelievably tasty. What a delicious treat, we might as well be kings out here! The richest men in all the land... Goodnight.


  1. Whoa!!! What a day. Not a good day for Point man today. Very difficult, time consuming and tiring. Plus the thin ice to boot forcing a longer detour to get back on trail. Melted chocolate for drizzle? Such delicious wilderness cooking. Great taste overcomes my tastebuds. Beautiful post for such a challenging day. I loved it.

  2. I love the cold. What a refreshing sensation