Saturday, October 15, 2011

Superior Hiking Trail | Day Two

Sonju Lake to Egge Lake

Sonju Lake in the morning

We woke up to the soothing sound of loud goose honking. The morning was chilly, but the wind had stopped sometime overnight. Sonju Lake was calm and still, and after coffee and oatmeal, I spent some time on Lilly's island taking in the reflection of the surrounding forest and blue sky above in the glassy lake. It was a gorgeous morning, and as much as I looked forward to the day's hike, I wished that I could spend more time on this little rocky island.
Sitting on a boulder at the tip of Lilly's Island in the morning

We left our campsite just before 11am, a very late start for us. We usually get going fairly early, but we did not feel especially rushed and took our time packing up. We passed the remains of a decaying trapper's cabin, but the majority of the day's hike was actually a bit boring. There would be no views of Lake Superior during the first few days of our hike, and this section did not provide much in the way of scenery. We arrived at Egge Lake around 12:30 and stopped for lunch at North Egge Lake campsite. Both North and South Egge Lake campsites are on the shore, and cables are provided for hanging food bags out of the reach of bears. We had never seen these types of cables before; they were strung between trees overhead, but didn't seem high enough to be effective.
The old trapper's cabin

After collecting water from the lake, we ran into a bit of a snag. Our water filter suddenly became very difficult to use. The internal filter should be good for several uses, and this one appeared in good shape before we left, but on only our 2nd of six days on the trail, it was suddenly so clogged that it barely worked. We must have put it through more work than we thought prior to this trip. Luckily we had water treatment tablets with us as a back-up in the event something went wrong with the filter. We managed to filter a good supply of water at Egge Lake, but throughout the rest of the week we used the filter sparingly and treated most of our water with tablets. It's good to have contingency plans.
My new favorite trail lunch. Wasa flatbreads with cheese or various Justin's Nut Butters.

The wind picked up again and we decided to stay where we were and set up camp. The last forecast we had seen had predicted rain on this day, and it seemed like a storm was coming, so we stowed our gear in the tent vestibules and decided to give the questionable bear cable a try. Most of our food was in an Ursack, which we just tied to a tree trunk, and we strung a stuff sack with some additional food and our garbage as high as it would go on the cable just in time for the wind to go nuts. The food bag swung back and forth violently, and we ended up more worried about the wind blowing trees down than a bear rummaging through our camp and testing the height of the bear cable.

Our campsite at Egge Lake

The sky darkened quickly and dramatically, turning purple above the choppy water of Egge Lake. We lingered at the shore and watched the storm blow in as long as we could before the increasing wind and scary weather drove us into the tent at 7:45 pm. Like the night before, we noticed ash on the surface of our tent, but again figured that the wind was carrying it from the campsite's fire ring. As we laid in the tent listening to the wind howling outside throughout the night, we felt the temperature drop steadily. The warmer-than-expected weather of the first two days was coming to an abrupt end. 

After about an hour, we both noticed the smell of campfire, which made us extremely uneasy. We suspected people were camping at the South Egge Lake campsite, but we didn't think anyone would be so reckless as to build a fire in this kind of wind. I started to think about things that had never occurred to me before: What would we do in the event of a forest fire? Would we be able to hike out in the dark, or would our way be blocked by fire? It was getting bitterly cold; would we have to take refuge in the lake to avoid being consumed by flames? How long would we be able to withstand the cold water before succumbing to hypothermia? (I had tried to get in the lake earlier in the day but wimped out because it was like ice.) What are the odds of a tree falling on our tent giving me a fatal head injury before escaping a forest fire becomes a concern? These paranoid thoughts combined with the loud wind kept me from getting much sleep, and it wasn't until morning that the wind died down enough for me to relax and listen to the welcoming sound of a barred owl hooting nearby. I'm sure it would have already fled if the surrounding forest was about to become a charred hellscape.
Stormy sky above Egge Lake

To be continued in Day 3: Egge Lake to Section 13 Cliffs


DC said...

Hah, I know exactly how those paranoid thoughts go. "Wait, what was that sound? Is that a bear? Maybe a wolf? What about a cougar? Is the wind too strong? Am I going to be crushed under a tree? What about falling rocks?" ... hasn't been a problem yet!

Anonymous said...

Your photos are always so spectacular! The scenery is great, but you bring it to life !