The goal for day two was to navigate to a remote lake inside a PMA and see if it contained fish. The DNR data on some of these lakes is from 1988 and some don’t have any data at all. This one the depth was totally unknown and the DNR had no fish data on whatsoever. Research had reports of fish years ago but with the unknown depth and the potential for a hard freeze we hike with the expectation that little to nothing would be found swimming around.
The hike was interesting, learned a lot regarding the different types of forests one can encounter in the BWCA. I’m no expert but it seemed like we ran into three different scenarios. 1. Red Pine forests, relatively easy to navigate because the under growth is kept to a minimum and you could walk basically freely without having to bushwack much. 2. The Marsh, this turned out to be the most interesting. My expectation was that we would potentially have to hike in a mucky, wet, slow going bog but that turned out to be almost the opposite. I’ll preface this with two caveats, first I do believe the time of year matters with regard to the conditions, wetter/earlier and the moss we found may not be there (need to go during earlier spring and investigate) and two, the marsh areas seem to be at two slightly different elevations of which we managed to avoid hiking through possibly the worst conditions. With that said the marsh was nothing but black spruce and tamarack trees laid out on a bed of what seemed like endless moss. A moose moss mattress as I would later describe to my daughter. I dug down with my foot almost two feet and still didn’t find water. I assume its down there but I was astonished at the ease of travel through what I had mentally prepared for would be the worst. Then we come to the 3rd type of forest…the deciduous mess. Comprised of short slow growing trees that made a wall and because we were navigating on a heading we had no choice but to cut a straight line through which proved to be the most difficult.
We found the lake and I learned a few things about navigating by compass which was one of the major goals of the day. The lake like the other lakes we had seen seemed to have a “dead” side and what I can only hope was a more productive side. I say this because we hiked around to a rock outcropping that I had been spying on google earth for months and wanted to get to, this put us on a featureless and mostly void of life side of the lake. With that said we did find fish and despite not catching much we proved that fish were there which means the potential is great on the opposite side of the lake. This is in a PMA (primitive management area) and likely its been a long time since anyone stepped foot on this lake which provided great intrigue for me and was one of the reasons why I chose this location for the trip.
We hiked out after the clouds rolled in and despite staying dry through the hike it turns out that as soon as we put the canoe in the lake to paddle back to camp a full on downpour with winds creating white caps on the lake showed up. We were resigned to being wet cats and slowly and safely made it back to camp to see the rain stop and a double rainbow show up. The rest of the day was spent fishing and making dinner before crashing out for the day.