(continuing the chronicle of voyageurs national park)

the following morning, we were awakened by a symphony of furious whining from the mosquitoes hurling themselves against the outside of the tent (and a few itchy spots where the mesh had sagged against our skin during the night, apparently admitting hungy probosci). but it was another gorgeous day, with a light breeze bearing the smell of propane-fueled instant coffee, thanks to the earlier-rising betyper. over a hearty breakfast of porridge, we devised a cunning plan to paddle only a short distance, claim a campsite for the night, and leave most of our stuff before setting off on the day’s main adventure. this secured us an absolutely gorgeous site on the edge of an island, above a tall rocky outcrop complete with lake-view fire circle.

we were smitten. this site also boasted a formal ‘tent-pad’ of packed sand, pit toilet with wooden screening wall, a tree-stump autographed by zorro (or perhaps norro) and a little artistic surprise in the water at the far side of the site.

after a brief exploration and quick tent-pitch, we hung a yellow bag in a lakeside tree to show the place was occupied, and set off for the day. our goal was to reach kettle falls hotel (green spot below), some six miles northwest of our campsite (yellow spot below), situated on a narrow waterfall on the us-canadian border and accessible only by boat.

the four of us went in a single canoe (with the two duffers in the middle providing turbo-boosts as needed) and reached the falls in about two hours, sometimes zigzagging over to skirt the dangerous foreign shores of canada. the hotel itself was quaint and reasonably quiet. a few groups of pontooners (many of whom had ogled us as some kind of non-motorized curiosity on the trip up) came and went while we ate a hearty lunch on the screened porch, sampling the local cuisine and ale. we checked out the famous sloping floor in the bar (look closely) and the falls themselves, then took a brief power-nap in the mid-afternoon sun before the return trip.

the breeze had picked up some, and the turbo-boosters kicked in across a few open stretches, but we were comfortably back on our island paradise by late afternoon. the ledge and clear water surrounding it created an excellent swimming site (for us, and an apparently aquatic stick insect that backstroked past), and served to make us clean and hungry by dinnertime. we ate looking out across the water, utterly content, and were treated to a glorious sunset and glass-calm waters (perfect for skipping stones).

as darkness closed in, we lit the campfire we’d set earlier in the day and stayed up to watch it settle slowly into orange embers. loons called and the stars came out, fringed with either hazy clouds or faint northern lights (we couldn’t be sure). we eventually dragged our weary but blissful selves off into the tents, and i set my alarm for a few hours later to check the northern lights, but when i woke up, i found i had missed them slightly…