Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Adventure Into the Canadian Wilderness Part IV


 
 Into the Steel River
Duluth packs and gear stowed and ready to go.

 On the morning of our fourth day in the canoe, we had an easy two hour paddle, completing our long paddle  up Steel Lake, to the first of several portages leading into Aster Lake. Aster Lake formed the apogee of our route and from that point we would turn south and begin thankfully to run the Steel River. We initially found the river to be smooth sailing with only a few minor rapids. If the water had been higher, with sweepers and log jams, it would have been dangerous or have required many more slogging portages. Lower and with rocks and boulders to be avoided, the river would have been too "technical," i.e. crashes into hidden boulders and wading and dragging the canoe would have been the order of the day.
Upper Steel River
It was a big relief to be able to follow the strong current thru easy chutes and minor rapids. We had little paddling to do other than some steering and avoiding the occasional rock.
An easy rapids

 At one of the first rapids, where we could see straight ahead to the very end, a duck appeared. I wasn’t into birding then, so I’m not sure what kind it was, possibly some kind of merganser. He would be at the head of the rapids and then dive underwater. His reappearance several hundred yards downstream amazed us at first. This little guy seemed to be leading the way as he repeated this performance several times. The idea was, if this little duck could make it ... so could we!
We sailed thru without a scratch. The scenery was stunning with rocky bluffs and the forest for a backdrop.We liked to set up camp by mid-afternoon as that gave us time to catch our supper and relax around a campfire.

About that time, we found a flat area about twenty feet above the rocky shoreline. It was covered with moss and lichens and looked especially soft and comfortable. This proved to be a big mistake. In our tent, that night, we found ourselves being bitten by a mysterious insect we couldn’t see. "No-seeums" they are called. No-see-um ... yep, you sure can feel-um even if you can't see-um! Apparently we had disturbed their home in the moss. Our only alternative was to spend the night out of harms way, our heads buried in our sleeping bags. Not good as it was too warm and stuffy.

The next morning we began our second day on the Steel River confident we could handle any more challenges. At the crack of dawn it was foggy as usual. The rapids we did encounter would best be described as Class II technical. We checked them out carefully, decided our route and with only the occasional "eddy turn," had no difficulty negotiating them. In those few cases, where we were uncertain as to advisability of running the rapids, we chose to portage. The thought of wet sleeping bags and clothes was not appealing.  And yes we did some fishing along the way. 

Troutbirder eyeing a walleyed pike for supper.....

23 comments:

  1. Morning, nice fish, not so nice skeeters, Francine.

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  2. What a nice trip except for the bugs. I am the first to ID anything that wants blood while others are going,"Whats the matter?"

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  3. Nice fish! I can almost taste them! What a great trip with your brother:)

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  4. Wall-eyed Pike fresh from the river. Almost makes up for the bug bites. I'm loving this adventure.

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  5. Yikes, I once hid in a sleeping bag on a beach in Florida from those darn no-seeums. That is not a fair fight. I was curious what the bug situation was.
    Loved your being led by a duck. What a great trip.

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  6. It looks like you chose a very interesting and scenic route. I like easy rapids.

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  7. I am enjoying this trip so much. I just love the photos. :-)

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  8. You and your brother are brave souls out there all alone with no-see-ums (nasty critters) and rapids. You both look so young and fit -- your fish dinners couldn't be fresher! -- barbara

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  9. I too m enjoying this trip. Never heard of no-see-ums before and I don't think I ever want to be near one. Great photographs, especially the one with the reflected mist etc.

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  10. What a marvelous adventure!! Spectacular scenery, and I doubt much has changed there even years later ... well, hopefully the portages are marked now ;) We just traded our 65 lb 17 ft canoe for a 35 lb Kevlar, so I totally understand the issues you had on your portages with an aluminum beast ... ugh!

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  11. I was introduced to no-see-ums about 10 yeas ago up in NW Ontario. That duck wasn't a loon, was it? The beak/bill seems loonish.

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  12. THat looks so fun! I'd love to take a trip like this with my 3.

    No see ums are a pain. We have them here too.

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  13. Although you had challenges in the absence of a guide well-acquainted with the route, your determination, SURVIVAL, and adventures, all well described, have given me an enthralling glimpse of the wilderness experience that this van camper will likely never have had otherwise. Thanks!

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  14. What a great adventure. We like to visit Grand Marais, Minnesota and watch all the people get ready to do the boundary waters. I miss visiting there.

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  15. I caught a walleyed pike once. One of the highlights of my life.

    Sounds like you are on a grand adventure. Hope you won't have to portage too often. Enjoy! Beautiful country.

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  16. What a great trip! The camp site sounds like a lesson in "too good to be true"...flat and soft/noseeums. Nasty things!!! Your rapids travelling sounds great! Love the duck paving the way.

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  17. What an adventure! You have great photos, too. I hate those no-seeums. Unfortunately, I feel-um, too.

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  18. Thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious travel. You were tough stuff!

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  19. No-see-ums put a serious crimp on my summer night reading.. they are especially drawn to light at night & come right through our window screens. Darn things!
    I especially love the fog over glassy water shot.

    My blogger reading feed was down for a couple of weeks, glad it's up & running so I can be catching up again! We plan to be off to the Canadian Wilderness sometime in the next few weeks.

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  20. These are wonderful photos and wonderful memories. I'm neither camper nor fisherman so I'm happy to experience these trips vicariously! :)

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