Mark (a guide) and Ken Barry picked me up at the airport in Bemidji, Minnesota with our supplies.
We spent our first night at Lake Itasca. I had asked if bears would be a problem and Mark said it was rare to see them. I was also glad to hear that there are no poisonous snakes.
We did have visitors to our camp site. I woke to the noise of a raccoon on our table, later I saw 3 investigating our supplies. At 3 am I was greeted by about 20 raccoons, one right at my nose.
It was 42 degrees at night , with a high of 68 during the day.
As we left the lake, the water was about 8” deep. We walked and pulled the canoe for most of 3 miles, At that point we reached a bog. We couldn’t see the river, but the vegetation was so dense we could walk on top of it. That is, almost walk on it. We bounced along and at one point I fell through and had to drag myself back onto the surface of the bog. It was not easy to drag the canoe – It was heave, heave, heave, rest. The bog was about 400 yds long and may have been the toughest situation I’ve ever been in. ( This is really a big thing for Robert to say. He’s been canoeing for about 30 years)
Arrived at Gulvic Landing at noon. It had taken almost 4 hours to go 3 miles.
We were in and out of the boat a lot. The twists and turns were so tight, we frequently had to pull the canoe.
We spent the second night at coffeepot Campground. Minnesota has a lot of camp sites near the river. They usually have a three sided shelter and a water pump (the kind with the long handle like you might have seen in an old movie). We travelled 17 miles the first day.
The second day we started drinking river water. We put it through a filter and into a
2 litre soda bottle.
There was another large bog but it had a clear channel to paddle through . We stopped for lunch at a spot where a bear had pressed down a large circle of grass.
There were a number of small rapids along the way and 1 larger one called Stumphges rapid – This one was fun.
At 5:30 Wednesday, we met Eric Hansen, a fellow paddler who had stopped for the day. It was the end of his 5th day on the river.
We went on to Iron Bridge Campground. It had a beautiful overlook of the bog and river. We had travelled 31 miles the second day.
Today (Thursday) the river was deep and fast – we were able to average 4.5 or 5 mph. After going through one area so thick with fallen trees that we had to get out and pull, we reached Leach Lake. It was about 1 ½ miles wide and 2 miles long with big waves – scary.
We have stopped at Bemidji for supplies. Travelled 14 miles so far today.