Day 1 (Thursday 09/20/07) – Moose Lake to North Bay
Got up at 5:00, washed up (last time), packed and headed out to Britton's for breakfast. It was clear when we got up, but drizzling by the time we got to Ely 10 minutes later. After breakfast, we headed up to the Moose Lake landing. We were on the water by 7:45.
We arrived at Prairie Portage around 9:30. The ranger station is closed after the 16th this year, which is why we had to get fishing licenses through an outfitter. We could have gotten them by mail, but they require 6 weeks advance notice. We had recently changed our original entry date to past the 16th, so we were too late for that method.
We left Prairie Portage after filling out the "honor system" camping permits - $20 CA per day, per person. I used a low limit credit card to pay for all of us. We reached the Burke Lake "sandy beach" portage around 11:00.
We stopped at the end of the Burke Lake to North Bay portage for lunch. At this time, one of the team admitted to some chest pain, accompanied with shortness of breath during the Bayley Bay to Burke portage. Now we had a problem.
We were within a half hour of our North Bay campsite, which would be pretty easy with the tailwind. Returning was a bigger problem, since we didn't think we should ask him to exert himself. We ultimately decided to return. We double portaged (or 1-1/2??) to share his gear load. The trip across Burke Lake was pretty tough in the headwinds. We used a trailing rope from the lead canoe to the single paddle canoe. This helped a bit, but made steering really hard for the lead canoe.
We got to the Burke Lake south portage (to Bayley Bay) around 3:30. The wind was really strong by then. I had the single paddle canoe, and my shoulder really knew it. We hauled our gear to the east campsite and tried the sat phone and cell phone. No service on either, probably due to the overcast, at least for the sat phone). Two of the party climbed the bluff to the east of the campsite and were able to connect on the cell phone.
We ultimately reached a GP (BIL of one of our party) who recommended getting out if we could. We didn't have any aspirin (which he recommended), but substituted ibuprofen (as recommended) instead. He hasn't had any symptoms since we turned around. We were able to arrange for a taxi from Prairie Portage after calling a friend to get the number of Canadian Outfitters. We tried to leave at 4:30, but waves were 3' or so - didn't dare try to continue around the point. Climbed back up the hill and cancelled the pickup.
I did learn a few things - they can pick you up at the portage to Burke if it's a medical emergency, but they do have to get authorization from Ontario to do it. Also, the boat transport closes at 5:45. The other option is float plane, but with the wind, waves and thunderstorms, it didn't look likely.
Made a (fishless!) supper – bistro pasta with reconstituted, dried hamburger, pudding for dessert. Quite tasty. Another thunderstorm came through just as we finished cooking. All retreated to the tent. We did have a couple of ounces of red wine from the bota bag to go along with it. Tom and Rick played a couple of games of cribbage. I read for a bit and crashed.
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