Monday, October 29, 2018

Day 12: Boats, boats and more boats!

August 27: Karolina and I woke up to a beautiful morning! She cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast for the both of us again--twice in two days, now. I was feeling spoiled! =)

Then it was time to do some town chores. We picked up our laundry which had dried during the night, but the main thing we needed to do was grocery shopping. We needed food to last us five days to our next resupply point.

In fact, we had to buy food that would pretty much last us until the end of the trail. We had shipped two mail drops ahead on the trail with food, but this was the last real grocery store we'd see until we hit the end of the trail.

So I bought about a week's worth of food and my pack was heavy. Between that and carrying a laptop, I wouldn't have been surprised if my pack weighed 60 pounds.

The next section of trail was going to throw something new at us: boats! The trail passes over a few lakes that require a boat to get over. Some of them have rowboats stationed at them so hikers can row themselves across while others have ferries and--for a fee--will motor you across. And some lakes have both.

Today, our first lake crossing would require rowing about a half kilometer, then at the end of the day we'd reach a lake that required a motorboat since no rowboats would be available, so we scheduled our day around the motorboat. It would pick up hikers twice a day, at 10:00am and 6:00pm. We'd never get there in time for the 10:00am boat, but we could totally make it to the 6:00pm ferry.

At least, we thought we could. Karolina examined the maps and announced it was about 11km away. It wasn't until we were a couple of hours into the day's walk that we realized she had misunderstood the scale on the map and that the lake crossing was closer to 20 kilometers away. We might still have been able to reach the boat in time if we rushed, but neither of us felt like rushing. Our plan was to camp by the lake's shore--one side or the other. It would have been nice to get it out of the way today, but it wasn't a problem if we didn't.

Anyhow, that wasn't a concern for us. Not for the time being, at least. We'll cross that lake when we get to it. =)

Karolina checks out some moose poop--because she finds poop fascinating. =)

The trail stayed mostly flat at first, following the shoreline of a large lake. It zigged here and zagged there, then passed by some sort of water control structure linking two lakes before entering the woods and dumping us out at the shore of another lake.

When we went uphill, my thighs were burning with exhaustion, and I knew it was because my pack was too heavy. I'll get a lot of aches and pains during a thru-hike, but it's unusual for my legs to get tired. It's probably the strongest and most-used muscles in my body! Karolina seemed to think it was funny--some sort of cosmic payback for always making backpacking look so easy. *shaking head*

We missed a turn and ended up at a shore with no boats. After wandering around a bit, we realized our mistake then headed up the correct trail to another shore where we found a guy about to push off across the lake. He heard us coming up the trail and delayed his departure in case we needed to cross as well for which we were very grateful!

The reason we were so grateful is because there are (usually) three boats involved. There's supposed to be at least one on each side of the crossing so hikers in either direction can cross, then there's a third boat which can be on either side and insures that there is always at least one boat on each side.

So, for example, if we arrived and there was only one boat on our side, we'd have to row it to the other side, pick up a boat to tow back to this side, then cross a third time to get back to the other side and leave the crossing with at least one boat on each side.

If we arrive and there are already two boats on our side, however, it's much less work. We just take a boat, row across, and we're done.

For some unknown reason, this particular crossing had four boats--but only two of them were on our side and had our friend paddled off without us, we'd have been stuck with just one boat on our side and would need to row across three times instead of just once.

We made introductions and learned that the hiker was from Germany. We piled into the rowboat and he started paddling. Being a novelty, though, we all took turns at the helm, paddling for 5 to 10 minutes before switching off to another person.

Our new German friend, whose name I have long since forgotten. =)

We made a note of the time it took us to cross so we'd have a better idea of how long future lake crossings would take, and we took about 20 minutes to cross the half kilometer channel. The paddling was difficult and awkward--none of us were used to it--but I think we improved even in the short time we spent paddling. The rowboats might have been for rowing, but they weren't particularly sleek or efficient in their design.

Finally arriving on the other shore, our new German friend continued on hoping to catch the 6:00pm motorboat at the next lake. We told him that we'd probably miss it, but if he can convince the boat driver to hang out for awhile, we'd get there eventually. (We didn't think for a minute that a boat driver was going to sit around for an hour or two waiting for us, however. It was mostly meant in jest!)

We took a short snack break before continuing on. The weather was beautiful and the rest of the day's hike had plenty of great views but was otherwise uneventful.

We arrived at Riebnes Lake at around 6:30 so we missed the motorboat, but not by as much as we had guessed that we would. A couple of people had already set up camp near the shoreline. We figured they had probably come across on the 6:00 boat then set up camp--which is initially what we planned to do in the other direction. Our German rowing buddy was nowhere to be seen so he had clearly caught the motorboat on time.

But it was official. We were stuck on this side of the lake until 10:00am tomorrow. Time to set up camp!

We chose a site with a view of the lake and shoreline. I was still itching to cowboy camp under the stars, but the weather forecast for overnight predicted rain so once again I set up my tarp. *sigh* Maybe someday....

I'm not sure what this structure is supposed to do, except control the water between two lakes.
Yep, still on the right trail!

Thank goodness there are two boats on our side of the lake!

And we made it!
I wouldn't try using this boat that we found at another lake....

A hint of autumn!

I really shouldn't just leave my camera sitting out. I didn't know about this photo until after I got home! =)

And, of course, we had to take video of us rowing the boat! So this is the video of me rowing.

And this is the video of Karolina rowing.


Michael said...

How do you know where to boat to? I get that when you arrive at the lake, you see the boat. Great! But then once you boat through the lake, how do you know where to stop on the other side?

Ryan said...

In this case, you could see the boats on the other side. It was maybe a quarter-mile away. On the longer crossings, they put up large white boards that you aimed for.

Michael said...

I'm amazed the whole system works! How many hikers who arrive at the beach and see only one boat and then either don't know or don't care and then just take the boat over. I'm guessing not very often, but often enough to be frustrating. I'm glad you didn't face it.