Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 5 - Chickenbone Lake to Daisy Farm

From Chickenbone Lake campsites, we hiked long Greenstone Ridge Trail, then down to the shore of Lake Superior though the term down is misleading for every down slope was followed by an upslope almost as long but not quite, resulting in a general trend down that was achieved there bit by bit. Since I was trudging ahead in the lead to set the pathetically slow pace, I deprived my companion of the ability to share in the observation of my first moose. Since it was vastly hugely larger than I imagined such a thing would be, I loudly exclaimed a few words that would have been totally inappropriate in the presence of the Boy Scouts, providing another good reason for our setting out ahead of them. He kindly let me live after I scared the moose away before he could see it, and we moved on. We were rewarded later, when we came to a beautiful pond with rock formations and wild irises and I confidently said with my new found expertise on the species, "This looks like a good place for moose." And yes, there, just yards away, was a giant dark brown hulk munching on something from the depths of the pond. I snapped photos from afar, resting on my worn out feet, while my partner snuck back for a closer look.
Later on the trail, we encountered another first, this time a botanical one. Yellow lady slipper orchids appeared, first singly then in groups. Their brilliant yellow would be enough to make them stand out in the shade under the tree canopy, but their unique shape, with a ballooned pouch under a trio of striped burgundy petals, two of them long narrow and twisted, makes them like nothing else in the plant world. Only the onslaught of mosquitoes kept me from shedding my pack to creep about the soggy ground on my belly to photograph them from every angle. Instead, I snapped a few shots from above and by holding my camera low, and scurried on. Remaining a moving target is the only sure way to keep the tiny biting devils from sucking blood. Just as I was remarking that I had seen the two most amazing things I had ever seen, one from the animal world, and one from the plant world, we came upon the longest boardwalk I had ever seen, longer than I could imagine people thinking wise to build from one board at a time carried from miles away. Along that boardwalk were interesting woody plants that I assumed to be blueberries, making me crave fresh fruit more than ever before, and horsetails and the usual ferns and skunk cabbages, but then, alas, something new and entirely different. The pitcher plants were in flower! Rich deep maroon red down-facing flowers of thick waxy petals over tubular leaves that are carnivorous, in that they trap and dissolve insects. What an truly amazing day! Camp at Daisy Farm is in the woods away from the shore of the 'big' lake, Lake Superior, where the wind was cold but after being hot and sweaty for so many days in row, it was a welcome cold. And it felt good to know that there was just one long day of hiking left, meaning there was a genuinely good probability that I would make it back home alive.

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