Gonzos Tackle Three Mile

There is a small 'croo of Gonzos that has been hiking/paddling into the boonies a few times a year (summer/winter) to fix up an old DNR cabin on Three Mile Lake. The big work...digging out, levelling and stabilizing the cabin is pretty much all done...and now we are free to go in there to fish, skate and rappel the 50' cliffs. What?

Historical Overview
Dusan Work Trip, Feb 2014
Scouting Trip #1, Nov 2014
Scouting Trip #2, Feb 2015
Scouting Trip #3, Oct 2015
Scouting Trip #4, Apr 2016
Work Trip #1, Jun 2016
Work Trip #2, Jul 2016
Work Trip #3, Nov 2016
Jacks or Better, Nov 2016
Work Trip #4, Feb 2017
Work Trip #5, Aug 2017
Work Trip #6, Jun 2018
Winter Olympics, Feb 2019
Rappelling, Feb 2019
Fishing Trip, May 2019
Jack Sprat Fishin', Jul 2019
Trail Maintenance, Oct 2019
Window Dressing, Nov 2019
SkipJack Fenwick, Feb 2020
Imax Solo, May 2020
Pandemic Paddle, Jun 2020
Fogey Foray, Jul 2020

Historic Three Mile Warden's Cabin - Jack Saw

I guess this all started a few years ago, when Bernie (Jack Knife) and a few of us were in to this cabin.

It was pretty rough shape. Broken windows, falling over, stove was past its' "best before" date and the pipe was rusted thru, - you are getting the idea. We looked at each other and said "We have the skills to fix this place up"

We checked with DNR and Environment and soon found that the cabin was on the list to be burned down as it had become a liability that the province was not ready to assume. It took a few more calls to get a hold of the person whose responsibility it was. I gave my background and experience and it was determined that we could have a "go" at it. DNR dropped in by helicopter a new stove pipe and pit toilet and 6 of us paddled in one day.

It was Bernie and Gordon in one canoe and DNR wardens in 2 other canoes, and -Only Bernie and I had been there before.

It is always a treat to see people who don't canoe but who have them actually have to use them. I mean canoeing looks so easy when you see Bernie in one but it is not. ----So these two wardens put their heavy 80lb+ canoes and start the short walk into the first put in. ------Bernie and I quickly determine that if these guys determine our speed(?) In we might not get out before dark, so we tell them we will wait at he next portage and show them the way and then we will leave them.

We arrive at the cabin and immediately start to work hooking up the stove pipe. Bernie is absolutely meticulous on getting the pipe plumb and level. ----After some discussion we pick a spot for the pit toilet.

After promising more help the DNR people leave and Bernie and I stay back to take some measurements and discuss a plan of attack. ----We give DNR a list of materials. A short time later DNR drops them by helicopter and we have no more excuses. -A team, Bruce Murphy, Keith Taylor, Bernie and Gordon are assembled. ------- and the work begins.

Of course we now need saws and an axe and hydraulic jacks and shovels and a pick and tape measures and plexiglass, and of course a level, but this we can carry in. -This cabin, once we got down to the real work, was 17" out of level. The far right corner had sunk that far. -We had to dig a 15" deep trench around the building to get rid of the water. -We had 8 - 12' long 8"x8"s to use as beams and posts.

We would work around the building lifting it a couple of inches at a time. Cut another post (thus my name of Jack Saw), Bernie with his handy multi tool knife becomes Jack Knife....Murphy becomes Jack Post as he is the only one of us small enough to get under the cabin and get these posts installed.

Keith becomes Jack Hammer cause when we need some big time hitting or hammering and picking, he is the man.

So the cabin is now level and we have repaired all the windows (one is so deteriorated now we will replace it next visit) . The stove works great. Bernie has rehung the front door so that it now opens and closed and stays shut. -We put steps on the bunk ladder so that one doesn’t kill their feet anymore. -We have reinforced the ramp into the building so that it doesn’t bounce.

The cabin has 4 double bunks, so it can sleep 8 easy, with a bit more room on the floor if you happen to get there with another group.

To get there, some paddle portage from Aerotech Park behind the airport. ---In the winter you use the same route and walk on the ice. Some travel in from North Preston either across the ice or a trail along the eastern side of the lake. ------We haven't yet found this trail, probably because we haven't really looked. -Some have bushwhacked from Aerotech park straight in and some have come straight from Waverley. Better be good with a compass.

Bernie was back in this past August (I was a little out of the game) and since that weekend there have been 13 visits into this cabin.

So the Four Jacks decided that this past week was a good time to go in and use "our" cabin. When we arrived this time the cabin was spotless. Quite an improvement over previous visits when there was a bag of garbage left just in the stove alone. --People are taking pride in it and leaving more firewood than when they arrived.

So this trip, I cut firewood, Jack Knife rappelled down a couple of 60' rock faces, Jack Post spotted him, and even though Jack Hammer wasn't first he did get skating on Three Mile Lake under the moonlight.
It usually takes about 3 hours to paddle/portage in and about the same time to walk in over the ice. -----It took us just over 2.5 hours to go in on Tuesday as the ice was in great shape. It took 3.5 hours for the return on Wednesday as there was now 4" or 5" of snow.

First documented skater on Three Mile Lake ?

Jack Hammer had his skates and thought that this might be a first.
  • No such luck. Someone had actually skated 1.5 hours.
  • Someone else has actually rode in on a fat tire bike.

Of course we had the Three Mile Lake crib championship, an event between Jack Knife and Jack Saw. I think Jack Knife needs a bit of practice.

The food was of course out of this world. Jack Post had lamb stew, Jack Knife had beef stew, Jack Hammer had beef stroganoff and I had a 16 year old (Left from the AT) cheese pasta dish with SPAM. Wow I almost forgot how great Spam tastes. ---Jack Hammer had chocolate covered mangoes for dessert, then Jack Knife ups the ante with cheese stuffed sausages in buttered hot dog buns with mustard fried up in the cast iron frying pan. ----The next morning after breakfast we had 3 hard boiled eggs each.

The trip out was uneventful except the freezing blowing snow added a little spice to the whole journey. Thankfully the wind was behind us going in and coming back out.

Jack Saw

Dusan Work Trip - Feb.15, 2014  

Dusan and a 'croo of volunteers heads into the wilderness to work on the old DNR Warden's Cabin on Three Mile Lake, setting off a chain of events that has turned that cabin into the Salmon River Wilderness Hilton.

These pics provided by Dan Hutt. You can check out his Flickr account.
Dusan and his 'croo
The Ice Trail
The proper way to transport bricks
Dave Y. clears portage with gusto
Chopper delivered siding
Sean and Dusan cutting firewood
Well earned relaxation

Scouting Trip #1 - Nov.26, 2014  

Day trip just to see the camp. Group this trip, three canoes, Keith Peggy and Joey, Doug Archibald and friend, Bernie and Gordon.
Those Marathon Canoe people...always pushing...
Colourful 'croo
We'll be back...

Scouting Trip #2 - Feb 20-21, 2015  

Gordon and Bernie snowshoed in, stayed over night just for fun!
Bernie's Rock Summit
The only times Bernie does a one-carry portage...

Scouting Trip #3 - Oct.28, 2015  

Gordon, Bruce M, & Bernie via Levy Cruiser. Day trip, scout out cabin's under structure and possibly measure cabin for required material. Oh yes, and scout out my cliff!

Nice, quiet commute
An orthodontist's nightmare
Salvageable? Do you know Gordon & Bernie??
Obviously Bernie likes this cliff. Must be planning to rappel down it

Scouting Trip #4 - April 06-07, 2016  

Gordon and Bernie, stay over night, measure up smoke pipe etc. Cove frozen coming in and thicker the next day going home.
The cabin..older than you. The man...ancient.
The coffee The marshmallows in the don't want to know.
Sunrise in the boonies
A special place
360 View Of The Site
Almost Work Party Time

Work Trip #1 - Jun 21-23, 2016  

Not sure when this took place , have no pictures, but sometime after April 6, 2016, and before June 21, 2016 the following took place. But not while I was at Kenduskeag, or Ontario, or Hattie, or while having a visit with some of the Grays, etc. A DNR Helicopter did a supply drop, Gordie, Bernie, some DNR people went into Three Mile, two hydraulic jacks got delivered in a bucket I think, we replaced the smoke pipe and elbows, installed a heat shield, put together and installed the thunder box, possibly some other stuff.

On this first Work Trip...Keith, Peggy, Joey, Bernie and Wendy spend two nights. Paddle the length of the Three Mile Lake, measuring 2 1/2 miles by my Garmin. Catch some nice fish, ago swimming and enjoy many fine meals. Keith and Bernie actually put in the first jackpost to start the raising process, as can be seen in the photos.
Joey...the ultimate outdoor dog
One of these is the record holder. The arguments continue...
Chez Three Mile
Too nice for work just yet
Making room for footing rock and jack
Setting jack
The Original Jack Post
The Girls
The reason why the old footings rotted
Good fun was had by all
This doesn't happen unless everyone carries their own weight...
Ahh, water!
We'll be back...

Work Trip #2 - Jul 12-14, 2016  

Gordon and Bernie work on levelling the cabin
Our first new carrying beam in place, Day 1
Jacked and ready to be measured for first lift Jackposts
Fishing time...
Day 2, back to work after a breakfast of trout.
Uncovered the sunken end that was 17" lower than the front left corner.
Digging trench to drain back corner
Lunch time....
Back to work..more jacks and posts
Good for now!
Accessing South side for next trip in, when all four Jacks show up.....
Farewell for now

Work Trip #3 - Nov 22-23, 2016  

This trip is the genesis of the Four Jacks as a cohesive force. It was always obvious that Jack Knife and Jack Saw were not playing with a full Jack Hammer and Jack Squat have been co-opted to join the work party...until it is FINISHED!

Jack Squat gets re-named Jack in the only one dumb enough to crawl under the cabin and sets jacks to stabilize the floor.
The Four Jacks are on site, ready to work...
The Four Jacks can shovel it...
Looking better
North side jacked up more and spacers added
All sides stable and ready for winter
Leaving cabin looking good!

You Don't Know Jack - Jack Post (Fall 2016 visit)  

A few of the 'croo were playing Poker (Jacks or better to open) at the Clubhouse when the call came in. We were being assigned to a death-defying, hush-hush gov't job. There were four of us there to answer the call and we all whopped it up pretty good. Keith's (AKA Jack Hammer) yelling woke up his dog, Joey (AKA Jill), who was dreaming of romping thru apple orchards with her buddy Bruce (AKA Jack Post)

Turns out, the Feds had already been persuaded by Gordon (AKA Jack Saw) to do a helicopter drop of supplies at the secluded site, but because the operation was now considered covert, we had to go undercover. Bernie (AKA Jack Knife) decided we would stay stealthy and go in canoes.

We hauled in tons of supplies...canoes are the camels of the lake system. Enough clothes to start our own Patagonia store. paddles that cost more than your father's first car, some illicit alcohol and even fresh eggs. Obviously, this 'croo was not still wet behind the ears....and liked its comforts.

On the first "Jack" operation, we consumed a lot of tea, hot chocolate, a few bags of dried mango, some Irish stew and kgs of pasta. The winner of the "Are you serious?" award was Jack Saw, with his 16-year-old hot chocolate. The little marshmallows didn't seem to mind the wait. The winner of the "OMG" food award was also Saw...with his freshly boiled eggs.

The winner of the best new gear award goes to Knife with his solar-powered LED camplight.

Bedtime was 8:00 PM, which might seem early. Come out on the next operation and see if you can do better. For sleeping, Squat chose the 10C floor, Knife and Saw stayed in the bunks at 20C and Hammer toughed it out in the 30C attic ( I exaggerate...the attic was more like 40C).

All in all, a very enjoyable and productive trip. Hope I am part of the 'croo when the operation is signed off and the heroes' identities made public.

Squat (AKA Jack Post)

Work Trip #4 - Feb 27-28, 2017  

Jack Post, Jack Hammer, Jack Knife, Jack Saw, and Jack Rabbit take a winter hike in with snow shoes
Note Jack Knife, always sharp and ready with throw bag
Wouldn't you know Jack Hammer goes through the ice
Cleaned out the stove, people still think metal will burn
That looks better
Removed old stove, metal bed springs, old pipes, etc and put in large debris bag, that Jack Saw toted in, for DNR Helicopter pick up
Re-adjusted the door latch
Heading out
Gift left behind for Helicopter pick up

Work Trip #5 - Aug 8-9, 2017  

The Four Jacks return and finish leveling the cabin.
Fishing was very good this trip, and we ate well
Addressing the back south west corner first
That looks great
Great day for working
Could this be the last Jackpost?
Sure looks that way...
North side level
Looks level to me...
South side level!
The Jacks are happy, they think they're done, all four sides level...

Work Trip #6 - Jun 26-27, 2018  

Engineer Jack Saw can't leave as is, must improve, must try to keep jack post dry at all times. Major cause of original posts failing was because its foot were always in water, aka trench foot. Jack Saw floated the idea to the other Jacks, who realized they were up against a stacked deck, so decided to go along with the new plan. Saw made his chopper call and before you could say Jack Frost the concrete blocks were on site and the Jacks were on the trail.
Blocks are 7 1/2 inches high, so if we remove the existing posts and cut off....
7 1/2 inches, then put them back in place, that should work.
1. Jack Saw takes turn    2. Plexiglass that Jack Post portaged in
Perfect, no more trench foot!
South side done
And backfilled
The Jacks are happy...
Time for fishing
Could this be the new record?
Job completed, ready for inspection.
Ahhh, water!

Three Mile Winter Olympics  

With the cabin all fixed up, what challenges were left out there? Turns out, everyone but Jack Post had an itch to scratch, so a winter overnighter was planned out to Three Mile. Jack Hammer...he wanted to maybe be the first person to skate on the lake (OK, maybe the first that week). Jack Saw wanted to prove that his new parts were Gonzo-worthy and Jack Knife had decided that it was time to rappel down 2 of the 50' cliffs on the lake that had been taunting him for a few years.

Jack Post still trying to adjust to the fact that the other Jacks are crazy...

The look of a man intent on getting the cliff rappel done
Yesterday, all fun & The Slog out in a storm
Ice Canyoning
Ice Fall-Thru recovery
Jack Hammer on Skates! (from fifty feet up)
A Slog!

Rappelling the Three Miles Cliffs - Jack Knife  

Rappelling down granite rock face, 50 ft or so. Been on my bucket list since I discovered it behind the thunder box we installed at the Historic Warden's Cabin on Three Mile Lake. I had aggressive boot grippers on because of icy conditions and they impeded my descent. Much thanks to Bruce Murphy (AKA Jack Post) for descent support, and Keith Taylor (AKA Jack Hammer) for camera work and for helping to make this happen.

Jack Knife

First Descent
Second Descent onto Lake

Three Mile Fishing Trip...May 02-04 2019  

A Picture's worth a 1000 words!
No fish though Some breaks that's all. Had a very good and relaxing visit.
The trek in was as grueling as ever, with lots of rest stops!
I restored a Coleman stove to have our own in there.
Gordon and I bushwhacked into Frying Pan Hole. Mayfly hatch was taking place but on breaks.
We hiked into Birch Lake and with Target Hill in Back ground. Checking for animal scat and tracks. (coyote with tooth in it, deer)
Dusan we missed you, but found evidence that you may have been here before but we're not sure were we are?
We paddled the full length of Three Mile, fishing the few rises we saw, cut some fire wood, did some trail work, putting in stone steps in one location on the portage from Three Mile to North Red Trout Lake making it easier to get up a 2 ft + rise.
Till next time

Three Mile Fishing Trip with Jack Sprat...July 18-20 2019  

Ethan Levy and 2/4 Jacks. The weather was perfect, well could have been a little cooler coming out Saturday, 30 c. As far as I know we had a first on Preeper Big Lake when Gordon spotted a large White Tail Deer on the way out. We all got to see the three foot tail go up and off it bounded, very cool.

I took my Grandson Ethan, one of Ben's sons, on this trip. We fished, had a swim and hiked over to Frying Pan Hole, plus helped Gordon with lifting and such as he replaced the wooden bridge going into the Cabin. We spent two nights there, bugs were pesty at times.......... We built a smudge fire which worked very well, Gordie was pleased, "Just like that , no bugs".

Ethan (JackSprat) with the day's catch.
Details for the anglers, we caught 4 trout, 8 3/4 - 9 1/2 inch range.
Two on spinner & worm and two on wet fly.
Happy to be here.
Look what the helicopter dropped in!
JackSaw at work.
More work and Ethan on clean-up.
Smudge fire working.
Finished product! Custom made, with NO power tools.
JackSprat and JackKnife after exploring, note gash on my leg!
Until next time!

Trail Maintenance...Oct 08 2019  

Autumn Maintenance. Jacksaw and Jack-knife did an in and out trip to do some trail work.

Beautiful time to be in the woods.
Gordie tries out his new saw.
That's a better location!
Plus here...
...and here...
...and here.
Then we went into Three Mile Lake for the view.
That was fun.....
Next the tough portage out of Three Mile.
Our stone stairs still in place.
Best spot to stop after the steps.
Fall Colours.

Window Dressing...Nov 13-14 2019  

Fall Retreat. Stephen Rand (Randy Jack) and Jack-knife went in middle of Nov for a retreat from life and to replace window.

Old School Scout, with External Frame Pack and new Plexiglass window.
Very high water as you can see from this portage, normally mostly dry. Cool weather with a little snow. You know it's cool when you leave your PFDs on portaging.
We were about three hours going in, with some blow downs impeding our way.
The Journey is always worth it, view the next morning.
We were Poo Jacked by a Jack Bear. Wednesday I took a stroll some time after dark and came upon this mess.
I had noticed the last time in that things were getting pretty full, so I folded back the pee shield over things and covered it all up with ground from new hole. Moved the box 7 - 8 ft up and to the right, a better spot I think. Re-purposed the Plexiglas from the old door window and made a new pee screen with it.
We made pancakes, restocked the wood pile.
Tried out the new hand-forged roasting fork.
Replaced the window left of door.
View out new window.
Another great trip. Until next time.

Skip Fenwick visit...Feb 26-27 2020  

Latest trip into the Historic Three Mile Lake Warden's Cabin in the Waverley-Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area. Due to priorities we had a late start on Wednesday Feb 26th, leaving Aerotech Park at 2:00 pm. Gordon, Skip (Greg), Keith and Bernie headed in on a very warm +8 afternoon. Lakes were solid but a little slushy at times.

Shedding some layers and having a snack break as we step onto Preeper Big Lake.
With a few breaks for trail maintenance we arrived around 4:30. Gord had some trouble opening the door latch but did manage to do so! Seems like some past guests had to go in through upper bunk window. Had heard from Dusan that perhaps some guests couldn't find or didn't know there was a toilet, so we installed signage.
Just in case you were wondering if this existed.
Our afternoon/evening was spent with cozy fire, thanks to Keith, tea, snacks, supper of various kinds, cooked on various stoves, drawing water, reading, counting cards, cribbage matches, making up bunks , and stories............. Up around 7am, making our own breakfast from home made porridge to bacon and eggs. All augmented by Gordon's, now traditional, dozen hard boiled eggs, three each. Thanks again Gordon. No Cabin Fever here.
All had a happy visit including new-to-the-camp, Skip. Funny story, showed this picture to my 92 year old Mom. She points and says that's Gordie and then to Keith, "this guy looks a lot younger". I laugh, " yes he's younger than me by only 4 months". Mom says, "Must be your eyebrows......"
Went out in 1:59, 6.67 km, elevation gain 54 m. -1 felt like -5 tail wind most of the way. No wild life spotted excepted a lone spider crossing the lake that Keith pointed out!
For the stats Gonzos. From left to right, the flat sections are, Three Mile Lake, North Red Trout Lake, Preeper Big Lake and King Lake.

Bernie Levy solo 3 day visit...May 06-08 2020  

Since my last trip in, in February by snow and ice I've been looking forward to a early spring fishing trip. Well... Covid-19 put a damper on that trip, although looking at the log book it didn't stop everyone. When I heard they opened fishing season the first of May allowing fishing from shore or boat I quickly planned a trip in. Not able to entice Wendy to a getaway trip to a Cabin in the pines on a lake, I was on my own planning a three day, two night solo trip. As the trip day got closer, the forecast got worse but still had sun for going in and coming out, middle day not so good.

Got an early start on May 06, started the first portage around 8:45, taking 3 hr 22 min to cabin. Being solo added extra things to carry including paddles, PFD, throw-bag, bailer, sit-upon, normally carried by my partner. Carry in weight 100 lb plus.

I had very good weather going in with a tail wind, North wind. Some more work done on the wet spots on two of the portages, which really improved these boggy spots. Lots of wild life sightings this trip, Buffleheads, Merganers, Blackducks, Redwing Blackbirds, Kingfisher, Canada Geese, and squirrels. Found the cabin neat and tidy.
Someone was in with a chain saw and cut lots of fire wood.
Always nice to see people keeping up the firewood supply.
One of the main reasons for this trip was to see how the fishing is in early May. I was not disappointed, although the wind was strong and I had to anchor to fish, caught three trout for meals and caught and released 3, plus several on for a short time.
I ate well.
Thursday was an overcast, rainy, cold day so spent most of the day in the cabin, sleeping in, keeping fire going, making meals, some cleaning up, reading stories of Jedediah Smith the trapper, and Davy Crockett's Great Tennessee Bear Hunt. In late afternoon and evening, fixed up a cooler box from a old fridge cabinet, put on northeast side of cabin, with 2 x 6 frame surrounded by rocks covered with moss. Should be good for to keep perishables cool overnight.
Some pictures of why we come into Three Mile! Always a surprise to see the hidden away cabin come into view.
Beautiful view, taken from 45 ft cliff just south west of cabin, looking down Three Mile Lake.
NOT Poison Ivy! Ask me how I know....
Difficult and remote portages.
On the way out I did a little trail maintenance and created a canoe resting spot on portage between Preeper Big Lake and King Lake, just north of the barren. This portage is 0.9 k and I needed a rest.
Get out there, eh!

Pandemic Paddle...June 16-18 2020  

It took my best debating skills plus a small bribe to get Wendy back into the Historic Wardens Cabin on Three Mile Lake. After getting stuck in “the Boot Sucking Bog” on the third portage going in in June 2016, she was adamant that she was not going in again. We were in with Keith and Peggy, and Peggy came to her rescue, supporting her while Wendy extracted her boot from the bog.

From the archives...June 22, 2016.
We took just over 3 hrs to camp with just one stuck boot, mine this time. The portages are improved some with corduroy type sections in real wet areas. I slipped of one of these logs. The weather was perfect for what we had planned.

Do some fishing....
Get our June paddle in...
Build a ladder...
Repair the leaky roof...
Do some cross stitching...
Have Bernie share in the cooking...
Relax, forgetting about Covid 19 for a few days.
Bonus Beauty Benefit.
Good reason to return!

Fogey Foray...July 09 2020  

The "Lure" is too strong; we just can't stay away. Jack Saw and Jack Knife proved once again they still have what it takes to get in and out in the same day. With almost 145 years of experiences between them, they portaged and paddled into the Historic Warden's Cabin on Three Mile Lake. As usual that last portage is a doozy, only 0.35 k but a steep uphill for 150 meters and then a steeper 200 meters down.

Ain't so bad, just up and then down.
Half the Jacks were in to confirm roof measurements, finish bushcraft ladder, measure up for a new chimney, and assess what was all needed for September reroofing project.
Even had time to make hooks and hang new ladder.
Until next time, Jack Saw and Jack Knife, over and out!