by Zach Evilsizer
Day One. The first day of hitch we all pile into the trucks. After loading the boats, we were off for Seagull Lake. Six hours and many sing along songs later, we put the boats in Seagull Lake and headed out to find our base campsite. We chose a base camp on the northwest side of the lake, a peninsula affording beautiful waters on sides, a good boat launch and great swimming. While it had great tent sites, a stellar bathroom was found a trek away—but the view was well worth the hike!
After setting up our base camp, we took the evening to rest and prepare for hard days of work ahead. It was at this time that we noticed in our haste that a few essential things were missing for our trip. Among these things were: weed maps, kitchen dish hammock, and invasive transport bags—oops! A few technical issues also showed up: only one usable Juno.
However, we are we remedied the minor inconveniences and strove for a successful hitch. Julie and Toby figured out weed points using the GPS, Juno and the campsite map, while an extra footprint made a great workaround for a kitchen hammock.
Day Two started off amazingly! A moose cow and her calf swam by the edge of our campsite early. The work day included a hunt for an evasive invasive: cypress spurge. Only evasive because it had eluded crews two years in a row! During lunch Toby radioed into the Forest Service for extra batteries in case we ran low on juice. After some sparse communication, they delivered a twenty-four pack of batteries to the truck on the dock halfway across the lake. We would try our best not to need the batteries and only retrieve them and lose half a day of work after the Juno had no battery at all and we depleted our radio charges, we got back to work.
Day Three we portaged across to Rog Lake, an easy task given that our boats are empty. On the seven campsites we visited we got our first taste of the work to come. A number of campsites were covered in thistle. Thistles are a whole different demon than the hawkweed or the oxeye daisy that we had to remove on the last hitch. Thistles are a shade loving plant that likes to hide in thick vegetation and undergrowth. On top of that if you get your hands on bull thistle, the spines on the leaves poke right through leather gloves. Boy howdy did we have are work cut out for us.
Day Four is where we started getting into the groove of things we portaged our canoes hopping lakes into Jasper Lake. On the other side of the lake we treated the portage trail leading into Kingfisher Lake from Jasper Lake, so that on the way back to base camp we could get the rest of the weed points. Overall, we saw and made a difference at Seagull, Alpine, Jasper, and Kingfisher lakes that day paddling eleven miles and portaging 426 rods. The day also presented us with our first encounter with spotted knapweed in the form of a sole plant.
Day Five was really a weed heavy day even though we only visited nine weed points we managed to identify and treat 21 different instances of weeds on Alpine lake. The sun really beat up the team today trudging through waste deep brush looking for the last bits of pointy thistle.
Day Six we stayed on Seagull accomplishing a large number of weed points, this day was also our first encounter with tansy. A much easier plant to pull than thistle for sure but its more bushy nature makes treating it a chore of its own. Overall six miles were paddled and we had some visitor contact and education to split up our day, which is always friendly and welcome.
Day Seven: getting out. We decided to do a couple of weed sites on our way out the first of which is when the Juno finally ran out of battery so we opted to write down our numbers and log them after we got back to VCC and recharge the Juno.
The folks at our last weed site recommended us to hike up the Palisades and see a view of the entirety of Seagull Lake. The view there was spectacular, and made the trip that much more meaningful, and special. Check out our dance party on top of the Palisades at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBB3EMv4jjM&feature=youtu.be!