Saturday, March 26, 2011

Calm, rain, wind, birds

It is a calm and gray day and I arrive at the wet end of the Harrison portage without a thought on my mind. I suppose that I do not need to have a thought on my mind.

western grebe

I paddle north, noting that the long necked western grebes have returned to the fresh water, a sign that they will soon migrate to their nesting grounds. I pass quite a few goldeneyes and some Canada geese, not stopping until I reach Wolf Bay, a former Native American village site now occupied by a private park for the wealthy neighbors (It's no longer a bay for that matter). There is no one here, unless you count the two bald eagles perched in a tree above me - I do. They may be the north nest pair, or they may be from somewhere else. The north nest is not far by land from here.


Past Wolf Bay, the shore of ridiculous scenes of wealth gives way to a wooded shelf below steep bluffs. A few houses are tucked in here, but when the lake was lowered in 1916, I figure that this shelf wasn't large enough to build on. It is well treed and pleasant. I stop and retrieve a 55 gallon drum. It has fluid in it and I can't take it with, so I roll and shuffle it to a somewhat secure spot under the landowner's dock. Maybe they will do the correct thing.

At Sand Point I stop for lunch, and continue north, which turns out well. I find a ringnecked pheasant at the waters edge and many swallows, which I did not expect at all. When I come back, I find an immature bald eagle in a tree, and a large flock of scaups that have flown in behind me.

It is raining now and a south wind has started. I have almost 3 miles to go to get back to Union Bay, so I just put my head down and paddle steady, a game of making as much distance as possible should the weather get worse. It does rain and rain, but rain is not wind and wind is always more of a problem. Today is a long paddle, maybe a dozen miles with a couple miles of portage and it seems that thoughts come in the inverse of the distance. I just watch the sweep of my hand past my face with each stroke.

I circle up through the north end of Union Bay. Of note, there are many common mergansers about in groups of 5 or 6. It's not a big surprise since I saw a flock of 69 a couple weeks earlier on a dawn paddle.

I'm hungry and I finish at the east end of the ancient portage, because the portage home from here takes me right past a grocery store. More portages should have grocery stores.

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