Ludlow's Lesson #10: Exploring
In the winter of 1938 Hod decided he would like to see if it was possible to put in a track portage at Bottle Portage, between Iron Lake and Lac La Croix. Martha, Hod and Lil's first child, had been born in December of 1937, and as Lil's Mom had come to help with the baby, Hod decided to do a little exploring.
He enlisted Toy Ranta to join him, and they got a ride to Crane Lake and snowshoed up to Lac La Croix and spent one night at Campbell's before heading out the next day. They started hiking east on the lake and ended up staying at a logging camp near Bottle Portage the next night. They had a good meal at the camp and spent the night in a bunkhouse which could house up to 300 men.
The following morning they refused lunch from the camp cook, as they had only TWELVE miles to go! They hiked to Bottle Rapids to measure out a track system, which they thought was very feasible, but they would need permission from the Canadian authorities. Once they had accomplished this, they started snowshoeing to the Echo Trail Ranger Station, following the old telephone line. There were 4+ feet of fluffy snow (1 new foot had fallen overnight), and it soon became apparent their snowshoes were not going to work. They started walking, and Hod remembers, "This worked pretty good, but was awful bad too!" By noon they were desperately wishing they had taken the cook up on the offer of lunch!
They soon realized they would have to spend a night in the woods. They tramped down snow and as they made the loop several times, realized there were wolf tracks on top of the tracks they had just made. Hod said he didn't sleep a wink, and Toy slept so close to the fire he melted his belt.
After a breakfast of snow the following morning, they continued following the telephone lines and eventually reached a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp. They then made their way to the Ranger Station and finally to Ely where they were picked up by Toy's father.
I don't believe a tracked portage has been put in at Bottle Portage.