Jack Frost Loop, May 2002

Retreat of the Southerner
Frost Lake Camp. My moose visitor walked along at bottom of the picture.
Second Day

The Great Spirit of the BW had other plans.  I awoke to a gray day with a cool breeze.  Neither cold granola nor oatmeal appealed to me and I took the time to make cornmeal pancakes.  With whipped butter, which doesn't melt in the heat (not a worry today), and real Vermont maple syrup, they were delicious.  I was well fortified for the day's trip.
I vowed to be focused on the terrain and the map and not to become disoriented (no day dreaming!).  I headed west down a narrowing cove with a high bank to the north.  It was very beautiful even in the cool light rain that began to fall.  I worked my way up the muddy and rocky portage to Sitka Lake.  It marks the divide between waters that flow to the Artic Ocean or the Atlantic.  I made it a point to spit on one side and pee on the other.  I wondered if I would encounter any of this water on my July trip down the Thelon River in Northern Canada and whether it would pass by Memphis when I go to an art show there in October.  I passed a couple going in the opposite direction.  The woman looked cold in long mittens and heavy parka.  The man was bare headed and smiling.  I sensed a bit of tension between them.  They seemed to have left most of their gear at the landing and were walking the portage without carrying almost anything.  Why?  My load was getting heavy and I continued without conversation.
I didn't immediately see the portage out of Sitka Lake, but suddenly a canoe appeared and we exchanged directions to each other's next portage.  The 140 r. portage into Cherokee Lake was also tough: mud and several changes in elevation. Several fishermen had already arrived at Cherokee Lake for the opening of the season.  I threaded my way through the islands.  I got a good look at an eagle that flew over me and landed at the very top of a big pine nearby.
The south wind helped get me to Gordon Lake quickly.  The lake narrows down as one progresses north.  At its narrowest where there is a high bank to the west many Yellow-rumped Warblers were feeding on some type of Mayfly that was hatching and floating on the water.  A flock of 25-30 kept flitting in and out of the branches above the water.  With my binoculars that I always carry around my neck I got several great views on the bright yellow marking at the base of their tail and at the front of the wings.
Then it was on to the long 140 r. portage into my destination, Frost Lake.  On this portage I encountered a father and son team.  Their portaging system was to have the father carry the paddles and life jackets across while the son unloaded the canoe.  The father returned and carried two big packs--one in front and one in back.  The son carried the canoe.  One of my regrets in life is not having a son to accompany me on these trips.  The father was having the opposite thought, "Alone, eh?  I've always wanted to do that."  It's hard to be satisfied in this world.
More fishermen were in evidence as I paddled onto Frost Lake.  I headed for the campsite nearest the Frost River.  It was unoccupied until, while I was setting up my tent, a moose walked right up to the fire grate and looked at me.  I said, "Keep on going, Buddy."  It immediately splashed into the lake and walked along in the shallow water until it disappeared near the northernmost campsite.  I noted the sandy beaches but with the temperatures in the 40's, I was not in a mind to contemplate swimming. Even with a fire and more sun, it wasn't really comfortable sitting around in the cool wind.  So I read and dozed in my tent.  This was a short day.  It took me about 3 ½ hours to cover about 7 miles. 
     This was Mother's day.  I fired up my rented Satellite Phone and called my 88 year-old mother.  She said, "Where in the world are you?"
"Frost Lake," I answered.  Then I told her about the moose.  I don't think she understood the technological wizardry involved in my call, but appreciated hearing from me.
      I also called my wife and quickly retold the moose story.  These calls cost $2/min. and I tried to keep them brief.  But it's cheap considering that now my wife and mother know I'm ok.   I retired early to continue reading; I wanted to get an early start for the trip down the Frost River.  Bob Beymer's says that you could be in for a "very exhausting day."