Glassy Bootleg Lake early in the morning--looking south from the campsite.
The last day. I leave very early. I will do some of the drive home today. Only one of my "neighbors" is up. I think he is worried about the 80 pounds of outfitter-supplied food. I paddle north on a glassy surface to the beginning of the Little Pony R. The sky is clear and I now paddle into a north wind (as I predicted on the first day); but it is another perfect day.
On the next to last portage I see a moose with a very small calf crossing the river. The calf has to swim while the mother walk across rather indifferently. She looks at me but doesn't alter her course.
I see many ducks and mergansers while I paddle and reach the bridge about 3-1/2 hours after I leave Bootleg. The current is a non-factor--it takes me five minutes longer to go downstream than upstream.
The rest of my trip is quickly told. I eat a tasty lunch (hunger is the best seasoning!) at the Northwoods Café in Ely and unsuccessfully look for a stuffed loon with babies on its back for my wife. Then drive to Tomah, WI.
The next day I miss a turn in Rockford, IL while I listen to Car Talk and suddenly start seeing signs for the "Northwest suburbs." I think, "Suburbs of what?" Shouldn't I be seeing cornfields? I'm nearing Chicago. The Sears Tower is on the horizon and O'Hare airport in off to my right. Is this what the whole country will look like in 100 years? Will the BWCA survive this relentless sprawl? I drive south through Indiana instead of Illinois. The driving time would have been the same except that I get stuck in traffic in Nashville and have to use compass readings to get around some construction.
I turn off the engine and hear the tree frogs blasting away. I'm home. Cats, dog and wife greet me in that order.