I decided to try another solo trip to the Cabin. By going in August I hoped to miss most of the bugs and have some stress free time. Since the trip up takes close to 9 hours, it is nice to be able to stay up for an extended period of time instead of having to turn around and race back after a few days. I ended up arriving on 8 Aug and leaving on 14 Aug giving me 5 full days at the Cabin. The weather was great, almost 70°F during the day and getting down to about 50°F at night. Only one morning did it rain for a little while. It was mostly sunny the rest of the time.
I only took one trip into town, on Friday, 9 Aug, to get ice. If the refrigerator were working I wouldn't have needed to go in even once. The goal (ok, my goal) of never having to go into town is almost realizable! When I did go I found that town was already getting busy. It was somewhat cool and breezy, but sunny. The water in the bay was also somewhat cool. I could have done a little swimming, but didn't. There was a lot of road construction going on in town. It seems they have been doing a lot of road improvements in the area the past few years.
Unlike my previous solo trip things went pretty smoothly. The drive up was fine, some construction along the way but otherwise not bad. I actually arrived while it was still light out (a bit after 8pm) and the Cabin was tightly shut up, no doors forced open or anything!
The first "interesting" thing I encountered was while opening the shutters. To the right of the chimney I found an old mouse nest built out of Kleenex. Even more interestingly, when I went inside I found an empty Kleenex on the other side of the window with clear signs that mice had been around. I decided not to speculate on how or why the mouse transported the Kleenex from inside the Cabin to outside.
The Cabin was in pretty good shape despite not having been used for about 9 months or so. There was a lot of collected dirt in the kitchen and main cabin but otherwise not too bad. Besides the signs of mice noted above there were some around the sink and a little around the stove, otherwise, quite clean. The one remaining issue was the garbage can. It really needs to be left upside down, and wasn't ....
I had two small projects in mind for the trip. I fear neither one was terribly successful. The first was to fix up the griddle on the stove (no pictures worth showing). It has gotten a lot more use of late and is great for making breakfast, in particular. Unfortunately it also is in pretty poor shape. The no-stick surface has long since been removed, rust has accumulated, and it is generally hard to clean. I tried to scrape it down to bare metal, going so far as to scrub it with steel wool. This got rid of the rust but not all the way down to metal in all parts. I then applied 6 coats of oil to it, baking them on for about an hour at a time. In the end, it seemed better but still not perfect. It remains to be seen whether it holds up or not. Perhaps it is beyond serious repair.
The other project was to work on the stump. This has been a focus of Gentlemen's weekends. It is an ideal task at those times, involving axes, chain saws, and standing around with alcohol as it is burned, for days. The previous efforts had removed a tremendous amount of it, at least on the surface. I decided to dig down a bit to remove some of the structure below the surface. While doing this I found quite the root structure. Just focusing on one direction I found some major roots just underground. Initially I was going to burn it but decided against this. I was able to get under the root so it could easily be cut out or burned. Either way, both of these are best done during Gentlemen's weekend. So, in the end I left a bit of a mess, but it will be easily (and enjoyably) cleaned up.
My main "task" for the time was to go on short hikes. These often involved heading out into the woods in some direction knowing roughly where I wanted to end up and hoping I made it. Ok, it wasn't really that bad. By looking at a map and knowing in what general direction to head to run into a road, I would head out with a compass in hand.
In terms of wildlife it is rare to see any larger animals. There were some deer tracks (typically small ones though) but otherwise only some birds and a couple of squirrels. On the other hand there were a lot of grasshoppers, toads, and in the many pools, frogs.
Overall the bugs were not too bad but still annoying. This was particularly true on the roads where the flies really seemed to come out. For the most part I just accepted it, though I did eventually give up and actually used one of the head nets left at the Cabin.
The first hike started on the usual "loop" to the beaver dam/pool behind the Cabin. The water level still seemed somewhat low, not as bad as last year but still lower than usual. Because of this I decided to follow the river back and try to end up at the Cabin. Along the way I saw a number of other, old beaver dams. As always I am constantly amazed at how beautiful the scenery is. After crossing and recrossing the river on the many natural log bridges and stumbling through the marsh, I climbed into a more wooded, dry region. I thought it looked very much like the woods behind the Cabin. But all woods look pretty much the same, right? Turns out I was right behind the Cabin....
The next hike was a short one, the usual trip to the Lucky Buck which looked to be in good shape. I did see a path next to the river I hadn't noticed before. It is a short one that runs to a marshy area.
The next hike also turned out to be somewhat short. I had met a consultant for the Lumber company that owns the land on which the Cabin is situated. He was going around assessing the land for them. I saw on a map he had that the 40 acre lot around the Cabin extends mainly to the other side of McCloud Grade. In fact, the Cabin really is on the north (and somewhat western) edge of the lot. This meant I needed to explore some of the lot I rarely visit!
The creek that runs next to the Cabin splits at McCloud Grade. I began by following the more eastern branch which is mostly dry (the creek is small to begin with). Even so, there were some pools of water and wherever there is water there are frogs. Along the way I saw many blueberry bushes (actually there are a lot of them around everywhere). In general they are very small with a few, small berries on them. I also saw signs of old logging that had been done. By heading south I was able to run into a road that lead back to (snowmobile trail) 443, which leads back to McCloud Grade. Since this was a short trip I decided to do the loop in reverse before heading back to the Cabin.
Normally when we do the loop we turn to the left to cross the river at the beaver dam. This time I decided to go to the right. We have rarely taken this path; it ends in marshy area. Given how dry it has been I decided to go through the marsh. For the most part I made it ok, only stepping in deep mud once. Again by cutting south I was able to find a trail leading back to McCloud Grade.
I had a crazy plan to do some cross country hiking and end up near the Barfield Lakes. I even planned to camp if it was late enough when I got there. In the morning it clouded up and actually rained for a little while. I took this as a sign that I shouldn't try such a long trip through the woods by myself. (Naturally, because of this decision it was the only rain that occurred on the whole trip.) Instead I took the more normal route, hiking along McCloud Grade past the Lucky Buck, .... On the road off of McCloud Grade there were some earthwork berms built. I presume this is to keep cars/trucks off the road. It runs to a river which can only be crossed by a wooden bridge meant for pedestrian traffic as far as I can tell. Even so, there were many tracks from four-wheelers along the road running all the way up to the bridge. It wasn't clear if they cross the bridge or not (though I can't imagine the bridge surviving long if they do). Typically they either went over the berms or made new paths around them.
The area around the Barfield Lakes is quite beautiful. It is a group of lakes, I only went to some of the larger ones that are easily accessible from a road. In the past I had gotten to the large lake, then turned around. This time I continued on. There is a nice, small road that runs along a ridge between two of the lakes. It looks like a perfect place for a small camp ground. Lakes can be seen looking to the left and right from the road. The road ends at the small river/marshy area connecting the two lakes. I briefly thought about crossing it, but it wouldn't have been easy. Instead I turned around and continued around the smaller lake for a little ways and ended up exploring a small peninsula that runs into it. This looks like a great place to go in the winter (though the main road, at least, must be a major snowmobile trail).
On the way back I was stopped by some people driving to the ruined cabin site just past the Lucky Buck. We had explored it in the past (I don't seem to have any pictures of it). It is most notable for the double seater outhouse that is still standing. It seems that this used to be Okinawa camp. It was abandoned because the lease cost got too high for the limited time they could use it. Instead the former owners stay in town and come out and visit the site the few times they are in the area.
The last major hike was again exploring the other side of McCloud Grade. This time I started following the main branch of the creek that runs along the side of the Cabin. Just off the road there are a number of nice sights. It is a particularly marshy area. This was most clear when I found a group of large trees that had fallen over. They put out shallow roots since water was easy to find. The root mass with Earth that got pulled up when they fell was a good 12-15 feet in diameter. There were at least two rather large trees that had grown near each other and a number of smaller ones. There were other signs of wind damage. For example, a largish tree that was snapped off about 10 feet from the ground. The tree seemed to otherwise have been healthy, it even still had green leaves on its branches.
I didn't end up following the creek for long. It quickly dissipates and gets lost in the marsh. There were some pools of water but otherwise I didn't follow it far. I was trying to stick mostly to the south and west. Eventually I wanted to end up on Old Seney road. I intended to find a road running east-west and taking that west toward Old Seney. I never made it that far south. Instead I cut through a lot of thick undergrowth. I must have pushed through the woods for about an hour, much of it hard work.
Eventually I did make it to Old Seney. I took this opportunity to finally visit the area that formerly contained the one lane bridge. It is now a super bridge that looks entirely out of place on a dirt road in the woods. It seems to be a very nice bridge and all that, still, it just doesn't seem like it belongs.
Despite the bugs not being "that bad" they were still annoying enough that it would not have been possible to sit outside for long without some form of protection; the mosquitoes quickly find you and begin feasting. Fortunately I came prepared and brought up some mosquito netting. I set it up in the obviously best location; near the creek. (The location can be construed as the correct one for building a permanent structure. This would be the correct interpretation. Though it is also the case that I needed one with trees nearby since the netting did not have a free standing structure.) A real structure could/should be closer to the water, but this was a relatively flat area and served the purpose well.
By far this was one of the best parts of the trip. I could sit outside for hours resting, reading, eating, drinking, all without being bothered by bugs. It was pleasant weather with a nice breeze. It was wonderful. I cannot stress enough how useful such a structure would be. The installation of the wood stove in the bunk room transformed cold weather trips. A screened in structure would be orders of magnitude more useful, in warm weather. In fact, it would make it possible and enjoyable to spend more time at the cabin in warmer weather. It would open up the Cabin for more frequent and more enjoyable trips in the summer.
The details of such a structure are less important than actually getting it built. As usual we have talked about it ad naseum with all sorts of crazy ideas. It would be great if it could be used year round, could be heated, had direct view of the water, etc., but even without that it would be great! It really just needs to get done.
My plan was to leave the Cabin by 10am. By doing a lot of packing/cleaning the night before I was in good shape. Even so, it took about 2 hours to shut up the Cabin. I pretty much left exactly on time. The trip back south was mostly uneventful. There is construction on the Zilwaukee bridge which has shut down the south bound lanes on I-75 (and perhaps they will also be shut down for Labor day). Hopefully the Cabin will be nice and clean for Labor day (except the kitchen floor which Vittoria would want to clean herself anyway, I'm sure, which is my excuse for not doing so).