This week, we spent a lot of our time clearing portages of brush, downed trees, and trees leaning perilously over the trail. Initially we would have the conversation, “Such and such a portage shouldn’t take long too long… it’s pretty clear” and then several hours later we would realize how much time actually passed since we started.
The worst instance of this, thus far, occurred on Saturday. We planned on paddling up through Lynx Lake, spreading our backcountry host presence through the park. We figured we would also work on the portage to Little Frasier for sure, and perhaps a portage or two after it depending on how things went. “I think we can just take the loppers… I don’t think we really have anything big to clear,” said Alex. Dave suggested the bow saw might as well come along anyways, and we were glad that it did. 20+ fallen, falling, or dead trees later, the bow saw was greatly used that day.
Though it is work that leaves you sweaty, tired and sore at the end of the day, it is rewarding to see the progress we are making.
Temporary fix for a muddy mess…. that mud is DEEP!
Week 4 also brought an increase in animal sightings… really good animal sightings!
On our way in from the front country on Tuesday, we saw a bald eagle in the trees along the curvy Jacknife Lake. We thought this was an awesome sighting until later in the week we had the opportunity to watch a bald perched majestically near our portage off Butterfly Lake. He was much closer than the eagle on Jacknife and hopefully would provide better photos than the blurry results from Tuesday’s encounter. We were able to take some pretty good pictures (if we do say so ourselves) as we floated near the shore for about 20 minutes before he took flight.
The moose were also out this week! On Wednesday, as we were sitting in the cabin reading, Dave excitedly exclaims “There is a moose swimming in the lake!” Sure enough, there was a big moose head and ears floating determinedly towards our shore. Sadly, it did not choose to exit the water at our boat landing area, but in the woods adjacent to it.
Friday’s moose sighting all happened thanks to a mistake. Tiredly paddling across Charr Lake after clearing the three portages between Lynx Lake and James Lake, Alex says “I wonder where that water way goes?” Dave responds with “Probably to another part of the lake.” Profound… yes. We round a corner expecting to see our portage, but instead see a young bull moose on the shore. We excitedly, yet calmly, slow our canoe and scurry for the camera, sure that the moose will run. Instead, the moose provided us with 30 minutes of viewing pleasure. Every so often it would pause from its grazing of plants to make sure we were keeping a reasonable distance, and then continue on eating.
Later, in Lynx Lake, a loon let us paddle amazingly close to it, providing us with yet more fantastic viewing and photo taking opportunities.
Friday, also happened to be Dave’s 30thbirthday, so all these animal sightings were of course thoughtfully arranged by Alex as his present! :o) In addition to the animals, Alex also made Dave a “chocolate vinegar cake” with a peanut butter swirl. It is an interesting recipe (who puts vinegar in a cake???) but quite tasty!
Getting every scrap of cake batter… no worries… no eggs!
Here is the recipe in case you would like to give it a try:
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup warm water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Mix dry ingredients together to lighten the flour—no need to sift. Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Mix well. If the batter isn’t very loose add just a bit more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a thin batter. This will make a very moist cake.
- Pour into an 8- or 9-inch square pan.
- Place a few dollops of peanut butter on the top of the batter, then run a knife through several times in each direction to distribute.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
A few other highlights of the week included finishing our puzzle (at one point we were perched on top of the table like owls working on it… sadly there are no pictures of that scene), spotting several large groups of grouse, and baking more chocolate peanut butter goodness.