Day 9

August 8, 1998

I had a delightful breakfast with the Gettelman's at 9:00 a.m. Next, Paul took me on a quick tour of his 100-acre farm that border's Lake Puckaway's southern hillside. The land included wetlands, ponds, coniferous and deciduous woodlands surrounded by small farms or undeveloped land - a real hunter's paradise. The farm is also a short distance away from the Grand River Wildlife area where we visited next. On our return, Paul pointed out the Fox River inlet to Lake Puckaway that awaited me.

"As we approach the head of Lake Puckawa (now Puckaway), the widespreads broaden, with rows of hills two or three miles back, on either side,-the river mowing a narrow swath through the expanse of reeds and flags and rice which unites their bases. Where the widespread becomes a pond, and the lake commences, there is a sandbar, the dregs of the upper channel." 
Ruben Gold Thwaites 1887, Historic Waterways

The canoe was reloaded at Gettelman's boat dock and I shoved off at 10:15 a.m. in warm, clear and calm weather. A moderate bloom of Aphanizomenon was present on the surface of the placid lake. I passed many pontoon fishing barges and one obnoxious jet boater making noise and waves as I made my way to the narrow inlet at the southwest end of the lake. The Grand River Dam was reached at noon and the Montello Dam at 2:20 p.m. Short portages were required at both dams and the carries seemed more difficult in the hot, humid mid-day sun. Another large electrical fish barrier was present at the Montello Dam and several shoreline anglers where trying their luck in the dam's tailwater with little apparent success.

I found the Buffalo Lake Campground on the northeast end of the lake at 3 p.m. It was located about 1.5 miles above the Montello Dam on the LDB. The campsites were packed closely together and were located on the north side of Highway C, which would require a long carry from the landing. The campground proprietor graciously called the next campground "Call of the Wild" located eight miles upriver and handed the phone to me to find out what was available. I was informed that they did have one site left that should meet my needs. I returned to the canoe and headed into moderate westerly winds for the long trip up Buffalo Lake.

Three and one-half hours later, I reached my destiny. The waterfront was heavily covered with submersed vegetation and quite shallow. On my way to the campground's bar, which also served as the campground office, I noticed a garbage-strewn campsite next to the lake. To my dismay, I learned the site I passed was the camping unit the proprietor had spoke of a few hours earlier. Since the site was within ear shot of the bar and they requested a hefty camping fee of $13.75 for my 8-hour stay, I politely refused and decided to seek a shoreline site above Buffalo Lake. I briskly continued my upstream quest at 7:30 p.m. as a thunderstorm approached from the west.

Buffalo Lake narrows slowly and becomes a thick shallow marsh at its southwesterly end. I frequently encountered the muddy bottom and dense submergent vegetation in the Endeavor area, which greatly impeded my upstream progress. Emergent vegetation consisting of bulrushes and cattails bordered the shallow stream and there was no dry land in site. With storm clouds quickly approaching from the west, I was lucky to find some high ground on the LDB a few miles above Endeavor. I pitched my tent with the aid of a flashlight and entered my lair just after it started to rain at 9:00 p.m.

Sunset on Lake Puckaway.