We packed all of our gear back in our packs after that, and headed back down the pass. I was worried we got too late of a start and we were going to have to fight the wind all the way back down the lake. Our car is at the far end of the lake in this picture.
We made pretty good time going down the pass. However, going down is always hard on the knees. I actually prefer going up than down. Call me crazy, but it’s more rewarding, and it’s not as much of a pounding on your body. Or maybe I’m just getting old and frail. Haha. NEVER! Here’s Jared getting some fresh H2O with our state-of-the-art water filter.
A couple hours and 6 miles later, we found our canoe, which was a relief in itself, and threw our packs inside. My fear had materialized. The wind had kicked up, and there were 2-footers rolling across the lake. We both groaned. It was going to be a long 7 miles. So what could we do except get in and start paddling? This part of the trip was a good metaphor for life. You know the familiar saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Well that’s true. We could have sat on the beach for hours complaining that the wind was too strong and the waves were too big, but we’d never have gotten back. Then we would have been in real trouble. The same thing is true in life. I’ve learned from first-hand experience that we can play the hand we’re dealt and determine that we are going to be happy, or we can sit back and complain about everything that’s tough and be miserable. I’ve decided to choose the former. This was a good lesson I’ve appreciated from this trip. So we started paddling. I’m not going to lie. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I was sitting up front, and the front of the canoe was going up the front of every swell, then slamming 12 or 15 inches back down onto the water. Over and over and over again. If we stopped paddling we would start to go backward in a matter of seconds. The lake shore had a few twists an turns in it, creating small coves and sheltered areas from the wind. We zigzagged across the lake several times thinking that it would be easier paddling on the other side, which from across the lake, looked more sheltered and the water more calm. It seemed just as soon as we would get where we wanted to go, we’d look back at where we had just come from and swear the water was now smoother back where we had been. And so it went until we just didn’t care anymore and paddled straight up the lake, waves be darned. We had saved a freeze-dried meal for lunch that day, and we stopped about midway and ate. As we sat there on the beach, a canoe came around the bend. Inside sat a man and a woman. There was nothing significant about the man, and I remember nothing about him except his gender. The woman on the other hand, was taking full advantage of the warm sun, and apparently didn’t want a single tan-line to mar her delicate skin. They glanced our way, and we waved a short greeting. They looked right through us as though we were just another rock on the beach and didn’t even acknowledge us. It was quite hilarious.
A couple more hours of paddling, and we finally made it back. My arms were burning like mad and my face and lips were extremely sun-burnt. I think it took at least two weeks for my lips to return to normal. It took us a two hours to go up the lake, and seven hours to get back. There were a few times I didn’t know if or how we were physically going to make it, but we did. We explored around the lake, a bit, ate dinner, and then crashed. The next morning, we got up early, and hit the Polebridge Mercantile, which is a must-stop place if you’re ever in Polebridge, Montana. The pastries and baked goods are out-of-this-world delicious. The only thing keeping everybody and their grandma from overrunning the place is that nobody knows where Polebridge is located. Even if they did find it, grandma would have certainly lost her dentures on the miles of wash-board road before she even got to the Mercantile. It’s so bumpy, it makes moguls on a ski hill feel like a romantic skate on the pond. Ah, more pastries for the rest of us.
Anyway, I digress. We saw two large buck on our way back to the highway, just reminding us of all the things there were yet to see in this amazing place. We had caught it. The Glacier Fever. We’ve been sick ever since. We’ve since gone back a few times…and every time we’ve left with a higher Fever. But these are stories for another time…BK