Monday August 14, 2017 Day 3
Went to sleep and woke up to the loons calling across the lake. It was a chilly night and I had to wrap my down jacket around my legs for added warmth. Had coffee while watching a reindeer scampering along the edges of camp.
It was a LONG LONG hike today 14-16 miles. Most of it was spent hiking to the end of the lake. This is the longest lake EVER! We were still uncertain about the fire and wondered if we would have to turn around. Midway into the day we still did not see any smoke. Onward we went.
Two hikers coming towards us said the trail was passable and the fires were, “no problem.” They also told us they had left a canoe on the point and we should take that to the end of the lake instead of hiking.
As soon as we rounded the point we saw three things: the canoe, a sheltered cove with a beach begging for us to luxuriate on and smoke plumes from the peat fires. First we inspected the canoe and found 2 paddles made from 2×4 and plywood, lots of dings and dents, several holes patched with duct tape and two life vests in various states of decay. Given that we didn’t have a good way to keep our gear dry we opted against the canoe. A decision we later regretted just a little.
We went swimming which consisted of dunking as quickly as possible and getting the heck out of the water. Bone numbing, take your breath away CCCCCCCOLD! After lunch on the beach we continued toward the end of the lake and the smoke. It took another 2 hours to reach the end of the lake…….remember I said it was the LONGEST LAKE EVER!
It was here that we found ourselves walking right through the aftermath of the peat fire and in some instances right next to the smoldering peat. There were little smoldering fires everywhere and in some places the trail was completely obliterated. In one section very close to our feet there were actual flames. We picked our way away all the obstacles…..it was slowww going.
IMG_5998 click on the blue words to see the video.
By the time we reached the bend in the end of the lake and the edge of the fires we were covered in ash and soot. We stopped at a small creek and swelled down our feet and cleaned up. It was here that we saw a canoe pull up with two hikers who we passed yesterday after they had turned around because of the fire. They hiked all the way back to the hut on the other end of the lake and in the morning someone returned a canoe and convinced them to canoe to the end of the lake and bypass the fires. I was happy that these two backpackers didn’t have to abandon their trip. They were happy too, and having just spent three hours in a canoe bounded down the trail with fresh legs.
Lisa and I on the other hand slogged down the trail for another 4 miles before we could find a place to camp. Camp spots in this terrain are difficult to find. We hiked to the next lake and found a long sandy windy beach and called it home for the night. We plopped down in our backpack lounge chairs and didn’t move for a long time. We watched the valley fill with smoke until we could no longer see the other side of the lake. It is now 10:30 and I’m cozied
up in my tent listening to the wind and the lapping of the water as it meets the beach. It’s still light out!