Monday, July 05, 2010

North Country Trail journal -- June 20, 2010


Sunday, June 20, 2010

I am leaning against my pack near the shores of Tower Lake in the Rainbow Lake Wilderness. I hear flies buzzing, bird call, bullfrog hiccup, the low drone of dragon flies, and the wind sigh through the trees. Conspicuously absent is the sound of any internal combustion engines, not even aircraft.

Today is Father’s Day and my thoughts go out to my dad and son. I wish I could be with them today, but here’s a pretty good place too. I’m feeling a little run down. Can’t seem to find the ol’ get-up-and-go. But it’s a beautiful day. I’ll get there.

I haven’t seen anyone on the trail in over 48 hours. I look forward to Drummond tomorrow, if only to interact with others. I love this solitude, but am at heart a social creature. [Later, as I took a break at a dirt roadside, a truck pulled up and a fisherman got out. He wished me a good day, breaking my on-trail drought of human contact. I never saw another backpacker.]

I overshot Lake Ruth by a couple miles last night. I realized this when I got to Muskie Lake Road and checked the maps. The map makes it appear as if the trail goes right by the lake, but it’s really a short hike down a forest road. Just as I realized this overshot on the map, I look up and see the trail sign “Lake Ruth 1.6 m.”

I never thought I would face a water shortage on this trip. But the last few miles have taken me across sandy soil, a glacial outwash, no doubt, and any standing water is soaked up out of sight. After overshooting Lake Ruth, exhausted and stumble footed, I stow my pack just off the trail in the woods a bit and, with water bottles in hand, hoofed it up the road towards Muskie Lake. I held up my empty water bottles to two trucks that passed. One slowed down and this beady-eyed inbred ingrate with a furious look stared at me as they passed slowly. His was the only face I saw yesterday. The truck stopped, and as I walked to it, they sped up and drove away, spitting gravel and leaving a trail of dust. Hee haw!

When I saw a lake, I ignored a private property sign and bushwacked to the lake. Unfortunately, the shore was all mud and standing water too shallow to dip into. I saw a dock nearby, worked my way towards it, and quickly, stealthily staying low, I filled up my two liters. But as I was walking back up the road, I saw an empty vacation home just off the road with a spigot on the side of the building. I did my best sneak walk, dumped my lake water, and filled up on well water. As I walked back into the national forest at dusk, a train of ATV riders passed along with a few trucks towing boats. This is what most people consider getting away from it all. I’ve lived in a different world the past few days. This brief respite back into civilization has been rude, loud, and dusty.

I made it back to the trail after dark, walked about 100 yards up the trail, and set up my tent right on the trail. I know this is a no-no, but was too tired to care. The trail is on an old forest road. There’s room for critters or, miracle of miracles, hikers, to pass. I tried to boil water, but my stove, which has been sputtering the past few days, now refused to fire up. I sent the alcohol stove back-up home with Steve. I tried to eat cold stuffing, but found it unpalatable. I didn’t have much of an appetite anyways. As I lay in my bag, nodding off to blissful, exhausted sleep, I heard a fireworks show nearby. That explains all the traffic. No matter. I’m in my world. They’re in theirs.

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