On my way to our hunting camp last week I was disappointed to see that some the nearby lakes were already iced over. Fortunately, or so it seemed, the channel where we put our boats in the water was open. So, with great optimism we loaded the boat with a few provisions and set off for one last trip to our outpost camp.
Since it was to be my last time on open water for the year, and our last trip in to camp, a sort of sadness came over me. Although the rowing was difficult, it provided plenty of time to just enjoy being there in the moment. Few things bring me more peace than the rhythm of rowing, watching the shoreline go by, one stroke at a time.
I briefly forgot about the potential that our camp would be iced-in, but as I caught my first glimpse of the lake I realized we were going no farther. Ice had taken its grip on the lake. We floated there a while considering how we would transport all of our gear more than two miles without the use of a boat. Our only option was to wait for the lake to freeze and walk in, but we’d have to avoid the open water and thin ice of the channel. In the meantime, we packed our frame packs with the bare essentials, and struck out to find an overland route in to camp. We figured we’d spend a night at camp, do some hunting, and then return when the lake ice was thick enough for safe travel with sleds full of gear.
Going through the woods proved easier than we imagined. Thanks to past timber harvesting, an old trucking road led brought us close and a short bushwhack brought us to camp just before dark. The next morning we did some hunting that proved unsuccessful, but fun just the same. With a long walk back to our vehicles ahead, we loaded our packs heavy and planned to return to camp just once more to retrieve the rest of our gear.
The next few days were cold and the ice added-up. We returned to our outpost camp on a good five inches of ice and a couple hours later camp was down and we had all the gear loaded onto three large sleds.
It was a good feeling knowing we had retrieved all of our gear and with no time to spare for our camp permit expired on that very day. For once, mother nature seemed to be on our side.
Ice-in came real early this year. I cannot remember the last time our lake froze in November.