Day 1 of 6
Thursday, August 07, 2008 [paragraph break] I picked up my brother Justin from his flight from Chicago at the Minneapolis Airport at 2:30 and we drove North to meet my sister Kristen and my Dad, John in Ely. We made great time, and had time to stop in at Piragis Outfitters and buy my dad his birthday present. We all chipped in and bought him a Gransfor Bruks Wilderness Hatchet. Justin also found his Breezer hat at Wilderness Outfitters. After we were settled in to our hotel room at the Grand Ely Lodge, we went to the Ely Steakhouse for diner. I do not recommend the Toe Sucker for the night before you hit your entry point. We got back to our hotel room and all had trouble falling asleep. I was pretty excited.
Day 2 of 6
Friday, August 08, 2008 [paragraph break] I woke up at 3:45, and couldn't fall back asleep. Eventually, at 4:30, I decided that sleeping was a hopeless so I showered and started getting ready for the day. We rented a Graphite Wenonah Minnesota II from Piragis, so I drove over and picked it up at 6:00 am. We woke everybody up, and after rearranging some gear and bodies, Kristen, Justin, and I left the hotel at about 8:00. My dad stopped at the grocery store for bread, eggs, and vegetables. We reached Entry point 16 around 8:45. I know it is supposed to be an hour drive, but I have been looking forward to this trip all summer, and that excitement seemed to translate to my right foot. [paragraph break] After some last minute load balancing at the parking lot me began the double tripping of the 160 rod portage. We were ready for our first paddle stroke at about 10:15 am. Our goal today was to make it to Oyster Lake, but we were now on Boundary Waters time, so we were all flexible. Flexibility was important, because traveling down the Moose River in August meant that we encountered 4 places were we needed to step out and lift our boats over damns. Our going was slow. There is a very nice sand beach on the north end of Nina Moose Lake that was great for a much needed lunch stop.
[paragraph break] After the 70 rod portage on the Moose River we were treated to a wonderful BWCA welcoming committee. We were alerted by south-bound travelers that there were two cow moose around the next bend. We all got our cameras ready, and were shocked, and a little nervous, how close they allowed us to paddle.
[paragraph break] At the end of the 96 rod portage on the Moose River we checked our clocks and it was after 3:30 PM. We were all feeling like shooting for Oyster Lake was a little more than we were willing to commit to, so we decided that Lake Agnes would be our stopping point tonight. [paragraph break] 17 out of 17 campsites on Agnes were already taken. When you have two boats and 2-way radios it is a good idea to split up and each boat take a shoreline. We didn’t do that, and proceeded to zigzag across Agnes for what felt like hours only to learn that the last site had been grabbed before 2:00 PM. There were several sympathetic travelers that offered to let us double up, but we elected to push on to Lac La Croix. Fortunately, one of the nearest campsites to the 65 rod portage was available. Our Canoes came to a rest at about 8:15 PM. [paragraph break] Tent went up, dinner went down, and we were out.
Day 3 of 6
Saturday, August 9, 2008 [paragraph break] Good Morning, Erik you are in the Boundary Waters!! I was up and out of the tent by 5:30 am. I worked to set up our tarp, and make a nice cozy campsite for us. The morning light let me thoroughly start to enjoy our wonderful campsite. We had plenty of space for our huge 6 man tent and room to spare for spreading out our covered tarp area. The campsite was on an island, and when we went down to the beach we had a 270° view of Lac La Croix. The beach was a wonderful rock shelf that looked more like a maintained boat landing than a wilderness campsite. I am rating this campsite 5 stars +. [paragraph break] After everyone was up and fed, we decide that our original plan to move campsites everyday was going to have to wait for another trip. Given that we were pretty exhausted from yesterday’s travel, and the wonderful site that we found, we decided to change our plan to a base camp approach and stay here for two more nights. With that decided, we set out to find some fish! [paragraph break] Next time I go to the Boundary Waters I’ll read more fishing blogs and map notes. We dad and I paddled across much of Lac La Croix and for most of the day caught nothing but the bottom of the lake. We did however find one hot spot. Just north of a tiny “island” that is about .5 mile south west of Warrior Hill we caught a few nice Walleye and a 20” Bass. We paddled hard to get back to camp by 7:00 PM, and again dinner went down smooth, and I was out.
Day 4 of 6
Sunday, August 10, 2008 [paragraph break] After chasing fish all over the lake yesterday I woke up slow, and could tell that I needed some down time. I wrote in my journal and took a nice morning nap on our rock beach. In the afternoon I went fishing again, but came home with only the story of the 20" Northern that we decided to let go. [paragraph break] Tomorrow we start our travel towards home, so I spent the rest of the night getting ready for the morning’s departure.
Day 5 of 6
Monday, August 11, 2008 [paragraph break] Note this, it can take much longer than expected to pack up your base camp and move towards home. For us we planned to break camp and start heading back towards Nina Moose by 9:00 am, but we ended up shoving off closer to 11:30. [paragraph break] Kristen and Justin we pretty tired today. Yesterday when I was fishing, they paddled to the pictographs - actually well beyond them - and back again. We made a group decision to take the 115 rod portage route back into Lake Agnes. After being fooled by what we thought was the portage, and discovering it was just a swamp, the rest of the journey was rather easy.
[paragraph break] At the south end of the 70 rod portage on the Moose River we heard some boys that were having a great time sliding down a natural “water slide.” It looked like a lot of fun, and maybe next time I’ll give it a try. [paragraph break] Learning from our last attempt to find a campsite, when we hit Nina Moose Lake, we split up and radioed each other when we found a site. Kristen and Dad found a nice site on the western shore. It had room for two small tents, and barely enough room for our large tent. Again, we were treated to a nice swimming beach and good view of the lake. I would rate this site with 3 stars. We set up camp, filtered some water, went for a swim, and had some dinner. As the sun was setting were blessed to be able take a few nice family photos.
[paragraph break]In the future I need to remember to use the timer on my camera and take a group picture.
[paragraph break] I think Dad, Justin, and Kristen stayed up late and had s’mores, but after the sun was down I was ready for bed.
Day 6 of 6
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Last day in the Boundary Waters . . . So, even though I woke up at 6:00 AM, I didn’t want to face the reality of leaving today, so I went back to sleep for another hour. We were all up and packing by about 7:15 AM. We were getting better at the breaking camp routine, and this time we were paddling towards entry point 16 by 8:45 AM. [paragraph break] We must have passed a dozen boats on our way from Nina Moose to our cars. I guess it was a popular day to enter. Even with the four mini-damns that we had to lift over, and traveling up stream, we made great time. We traveled much faster than our trip in. We dropped our final load of gear at the car at 11:30 AM. We had the canoes strapped to the top of the cars, and we were driving back to Ely before 12:15. [paragraph break] Our first stop was Dairy Queen for some burgers, fries, and pop with ice. As we were lamenting all the things we would have to be re-assimilated to, we found our selves quoting lines from the movie Castaway. “I have ice in my glass!” Our family journey into The Wilderness was coming to a close. We once again had deadlines to meet, planes to catch, and voicemails to return. I can not wait to go back.