The Long Day

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10 days in the Canadian wilderness. Final trip of the summer. An all-star crew.

We knew right away what kind of crew our Trip Director had put together, so we looked at the map to plan our route with hunger in our eyes. The route went through many revisions to meet everyone’s personal goals, but one thing stayed – our hunger for miles. So, day 3 went down on the itinerary as “The Long Day.”

For many of us, it was the first trip comprised of all older, veteran campers able to portage, paddle, and experience the great outdoors to its fullest. The crew consisted of Finn, Danny, Nick, Michael, Mason, Christian, and me.

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The Secret CV Campsite…

The destination - a location known only by a few wily veteran counselors and John Erdmann - was called “The Secret CV Campsite”. It’s supposed to be right on top of Snake Falls, in the heart of the Quetico. We were on the water by 6:30 AM leaving from the south end of Wet Lake. By lunch time we had zipped through the Falls Chain – Little Falls, Koko Falls, Canyon Falls, and Kawnipi Falls. We thoroughly enjoyed the immaculate curtains of falls after falls, and at that point in the day, getting to the Falls Chain already felt like an accomplishment. But we weren’t done yet. The next 6 hours of the trip were some of the longest ever. Kawnipi Lake was long, the sun was hot, and the wind was in our face.

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We stopped very few times.

At one stop we found a large hip bone from a moose, creepily hanging by rope from the only tree on the small island. A bad omen, perhaps? Our other stop to find pictographs on Kawnipi was unsuccessful and so we paddled on. At Rose Island, our third stop, we quickly refueled and then were back on the water in what felt like a race against the sun. Kawnipi was behind us and only a few short portages were in between us and our secret campsite. To our delight, two of the portages we deemed unnecessary, so we went around them. The moving water was quite fun to maneuver, which gave us a necessary boost of moral for the last hour daylight.

Finally, we came to Snake Falls. But we couldn’t find the secret campsite! Through thick brush and across ancient boulders we came to the frustrating conclusion that the campsite was just too secret and we turned around.

The sun set and all we had was my headlamp guiding us through the black of night.

“Look,” said Christian and Danny, “there are spots to set up tents.” But the night only seemed to be playing tricks – there were no spots to camp. With wide eyes we searched and searched until finally we found a single campsite, unoccupied. My veteran crew got right to work, setting up the tents and hammock within minutes. Finn put together the Oreo cheesecake, Christian got a fire going, and we all sat quietly around it, contemplating our sanity.

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The fire had a certain magic to it that night after 14.5 hours of paddling and 30 miles behind us since breakfast. The stars were bright over our heads and the cheesecake tingled our tongues with immense satisfaction. We all agreed, it was a long day, but it set the tone for the rest of our epic 10-day trip. It was a glorious day we never forget. To see the photos from our trip, check out our SmugMug Gallery!

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