Friday, July 28th, 2017
Morning mist on Agnes Lake greets me when I get out of the tent. I retrieve my food bag from the bear pole, make some breakfast, then pack up for the hike back to the dock. I will not soon forget this place; it is a truly beautiful spot to camp. I only wish I had planned for more time here but I'm almost out of food.
The canoe is right where I left it (thankfully, the city boy in me is nervous about leaving things unlocked and unattended). I load it up and cast off. The lake water is a deep black this morning, perfectly still with thousands of suspended particles floating below the surface that make it look like a starry sky. I dig my paddle into this black syrup --- 1, 2, 3 strokes on the left; 1, 2, 3 strokes on the right -- pushing the stars behind me and propelling myself through these watery heavens. It's such a mesmerizing scene I spend the first few miles just watching the paddle slice through the water.
Some kids in a fishing boat tell me I'm making good time. They saw me leave the dock from afar earlier on. They ask me where I'm going -- Woodenfrog I say. "Shit", one of them says, "you think you'll make it by the end of the day? You've got about 10 miles to go". "I'll be alright," I reply, "as long as the wind stays down". "You should drag a pole", another says. "Yeah, get me some lunch!" I laugh.
The wind does pick up a bit as I exit the long inlet into the main body of the lake. Not enough to be a major concern though, I should make it, I focus on each paddle stroke. I stop off at the beach where I took a break on the way down for another skinny-dip and some food; then dry off in the sun. Just a perfect day today.
I don't make any more stops. I want to get back to the resort now. (Hundreds of paddle strokes later) I finally get there, exhausted from the 12-mile canoe trip. The nice lady is there at the resort to welcome me back. We chat about the peninsula I was on, the animals I saw, the bear signs I came across near Elk Lake. She says I probably didn't see one because they have enough berries to eat and aren't out foraging much. Likely for the best I didn't see one, I say. She only charges me 50 dollars for the 3-day rental of the canoe which was supposed to be 90. Quite nice of her. Now I've got to sort out all of my gear and get the motorcycle packed again. I'm so tired I just look at it all in dismay for a minute. One bag at a time, I tell myself, it will get done...and it does: 30 minutes later I'm on the road heading for International Falls. I'm getting a motel tonight -- no question -- to rest up after these three days of pretty intense physical effort.
At night I meet a few people hanging around in the downtown International Falls area. They see my license plate and want to know what I'm up to. Among the tidbits I learn: yes International Falls is cold in winter but not always so bad, not much snow this year. The big employer is a paper mill built by Boise-Cascade but now run by someone else. It dominates the city with its huge warehouse-like buildings and smokestacks. No one has any tips on things to see in North Dakota, but they do recommend a few different roads to avoid the highways.
Stats for return canoe trip (Strava data):
Miles canoed: 11.7
Elevation gain: 24 feet
Moving time: 3:58:01