Sunday, October 12, 2008

Peter Lake

Last week we took a little canoe trip. Only 2 nights, but we paddled a long long way, and that is my favorite way to keep warm on a fall trip. We left from our dock, which I also like because it reminds me that we have access to a really big backyard. Really big.
We camped on the south shore of Little Sag, and then took a day trip down to through Makwa, Pan, through the Kawishiwi River area (haven’t been there in 20 years…glad to see that it is still wonderful) and up through Adams, Boulder, and back through Makwa. It was a full scenery day The forecast called for 20% chance of rain 100% of the time which turned out to be an accurate prediction, because it seemed to rain about 12 minutes out of every hour. Perfect, because we couldn’t have been in the tent yard cleaning tents even if we had wanted to be.
We took the Bell Northshore canoe---the one my friend Kelly Dupre calls “the party barge”, which is sort of accurate and sort of misleading because really it is sleek and fast, 55 pounds only 19 feet long. We completed our marathon daytrip and arrived back at our campsite just at total nightfall—on the last portage we didn’t actually need a headlamp until the very end. Ideal timing, if you've ever taken a fall trip with Jim Wiinanen . However, some people I know think that we were pushing the daylight envelope just a little too far.
The next day we paddled home through my favorite Peter Lake area—the only recovering forest part of our trip-those (above-the-tree line) alpine lakes touched deepest by the Cavity Fire in 2007. I can't quite get over how cool it is up there. It isn’t just me, others throughout the summer have loved it in there too. Something magical about the tundra feel to that area.. We saw a moose on the hill, like a big horned ship on a mountainside, and if you look very closely you can see the cow down below him.
When I visited French, Peter, and Virgin in 2007 (a full year after the Cavity Fire) these rocky portages looked as if the vegetation may not recover. Apparently 2007 had an impressive growing season---especially the poplar trees took off. Even if the parent poplar trees burn, fires stimulate production of suckers from the massive shallow root systems of these trees. Poplar trees (along with birch) seed readily, even the fallen branches can sucker into new trees. Once Shelby got an ominous voice as she looked at the rapid regrowth and said: “Mom, we couldn’t stop those Ppoplars if we wanted to.” She’s probably right---Look at this hearty guy, and you can see just how determined they are.

I f you look closely at these photos, you can see that they are taken of the same hill---one in 2007 (1 year after the Cavity Fire) and one in 2008. It was just a lucky coincidence that I took them on the same spot!!! But they do illustrate what is happening in there---and it certainly won’t be a group of tundra lakes for long. I’m loving it while it lasts! There’s something about that Peter Lake.

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