Day 1 of 9
Sept 3: We wake at 4am. Laura showered while I took frozen items and put them in the cooler and loaded the car with our overnight bags, everything else had been packed the night before and the canoe was already tied down. After her shower I shut off the water and the air to the house and we were on the road at 4:40. Construction closed several on ramps to I-90 so I had to take a bit of a detour, but after that it was smooth sailing, listening to a killer mix list, stopping briefly for breakfast around Eau Claire about 9am, we were in Ely by 1:30. We went directly to Williams and Hall outfitters to get checked in, and then headed back into town to do some shopping, visit the Dorothy Molter museum, and eventually get dinner. The museum tour was great, and Laura really liked the root beer. In town we picked out souvenirs including a woodpecker ornament since Dorothy M. liked them so much, and it was our vacation tradition. I also picked up a BWCA sticker for the Subi and one for my dad’s truck as he had been asking for one. For dinner we went to Sir G’s pizza and we really liked the Sir G’s special, so good! So filling! After dinner we made some quick calls to our folks and then headed back to W&H. I was exhausted after the long day, but managed to stay awake until dark. Sleep came poorly due to being hot and maybe a little excited to get our trip going.
Sept 4, 2015 Day 1: We were up at 6:30 and Laura took one last shower. After she was ready we went down to breakfast at 7 and had the world famous Williams and Hall pancake breakfast, with bacon, fruit, and coffee. WAY too much food! Dave gave us some tips on fishing and campsite recommendations and then we were about to get ready to load gear into a shuttle truck, when Blaine asked if I minded driving to the Lake One entry, and they would pick up my vehicle a little later that morning. I didn’t mind at all and it saved me from unloading and loading the gear again. The parking lot was pretty full, but we unloaded the gear and got it ready at the water’s edge off to the side. I then found a parking spot, hid my keys for Blaine, and walked back to snap a few pictures before hitting the water. We were on the water at 8:45. Despite lots of reading on BWCA.com and advice from Blaine, I didn’t go left at the put in. It REALLY looks like a dead end, but after consulting the maps and my GPS several times, we paddled to the left and found a way through. Ooops! It was a very warm morning and we had another 2 groups putting in as we pulled away from the landing. One group was a guy in his mid 40’s and his elderly father on a day trip fishing. The other group was 7 guys in 3 canoes from Colorado. They paddled like mad as they went down Lake One. The itch to fish overtook me soon after lake one opened up a bit and I started trolling a small shadrap. Going through a narrow channel I hooked into a small walleye. I was pumped, but with it being so early in the day I let it go and we continued on. The wind was starting to pick up at this point, which was a little concerning considering we were tossing around the idea of going all the way to Insula today and Laura wasn’t a marathon paddler. The wind was in our face, which was a little worrying since we were heading east and the wind doesn’t usually blow from that direction. At the first portage there was quite a traffic jam. The large group had stuff everywhere, gear, canoes, people, and didn’t seem to know what to do, since many people were just standing around. As we floated waiting for an opportunity to land, a solo guy came from the other side of the portage and had nowhere to put his canoe and gear. We exchanged smiles and watched as another couple around my age paddled up behind us. We were eventually able to land, pulled everything out of the way and headed across with our first load. On the other side we found much the same as the first side of the portage, disarray. Fortunately we were able to find a spot for our canoe, but the large group was now crossing for the 2nd portage before we could hit the water. We had to wait again, but traversed this portage a little faster. I felt bad for the group behind us, as they just had nowhere to put their gear, despite Laura and I keeping everything next to the canoe and single portaging this time. Once we hit the water we paddled for a bit and I noticed it was already noon, this isn’t good. Its taking a very long time to go a very little ways. We stopped for lunch and had cheese, sausage, and crackers with some Gatorade. After lunch we battled the wind up Lakes 3 and 4 until we were exhausted. I was paddling a canoe of 2 solo for quite a bit as Laura was too tired. After looking for a campsite on Lake 4, despite the Pagami Creek damage, we finally found one. It wasn’t great, but any port in a storm right? I wanted to just fall asleep but knew we had to get camp set up as there was a good chance of rain that night per the weather report before we left. I fished from shore with no luck. Then we gathered firewood, which was about as easy as breathing due to the fire damage. Soon it was time to make dinner as we were getting hungry. Tonight it was venison tenderloin and mashed potatoes, with Milky Way bars for dessert. I didn’t use the wind screen on my MSR dragonfly and really paid the price with cooking time. It took FOREVER to cook. Finally it did and I surprised Laura with vacuum sealed packets of A1 (a must for her for any steak). She was happy and we both agreed the tenderloin was awesome. I made a small camp fire and then we went to bed. I was exhausted. Since rain was coming we secured all the gear and the tent rainfly, but that made it SO hot and stuffy in the tent. The rain came later that night, but was gone by morning.
Day 2 of 9
Sept 5 2015 Day 2: We were up at 6am, but were slow moving. Neither of us slept well due to the heat last night. We had Blueberry granola for breakfast, but something was making my stomach feel sick, not sure if it was nerves from being anxious about getting going and how the trip would go, or if I was legitimately sick. We had been eating the same foods so I don’t think I was sick. We were packed up and on the water by 7:45 which wasn’t too bad for a first day of packing and traveling. We had 4 portages ahead of us. The first 3 weren’t too bad. Hudson Lake was a very neat lake and must have been beautiful before the burn. It was the hardest hit and it showed. We got to see 4 loons VERY close to our canoe, but they didn’t seem to mind us at all. We also heard a bear or a moose in the woods, as there were some pretty loud noises of trees being pushed over/crunched. Then we hit the 105 rod portage into Insula. It was getting warm now as the clouds had blown off and the sun was shining. We met two organized groups there, one single portaged and flew past us, and the other was on a day trip but was taking their time. Both were friendly and the latter gave info on fishing. We guzzled water at the end and zipped our pants into shorts and stowed long sleeve shirts in the day pack. We trolled after we hit the water and I caught a small mouth, and missed 2 other fish as we trolled. We decided to release the small mouth because we still had about 3 miles of paddling to reach our campsite and towing him that long would likely kill him. We stopped at a small island for lunch at about noon. Sausage, cheese, and crackers again and we chowed down. Back on the water and see the group that single portaged. Laura mentioned she thinks they mentioned staying on Insula as well. We decided not to troll anymore and just fight the wind and paddle to reach our intended campsite, which was not far from the Insula rock (what a joke that is). We reached it and set up camp. It was an OK campsite. Laura gave it a 7/10 and I gave it a 6 because of the limited tent pads. It did have a good spot to swim from and a massive sun bathing rock, not to mention a good view of the sunset, so maybe a 7 is better…but seriously there is like one tent pad and its kind of exposed. We set up camp, I fished from shore and Laura did too. After losing a spoon and a few jigs on some snags just off camp we decided to head out and try to catch some dinner. We trolled and dragged bait rigs, but couldn’t catch anything. The wind was really hampering us as it was blowing us extremely fast and I had a hard time controlling the boat and fishing and jigging seemed to be out of the question. No fish ? I brought some back up meals I prepared and bought for nights without fish. Tonight was chili mac I made at home. It was good, but bigger helpings would have been a good idea. We went without dessert. The weather forecast said a high chance of rain tonight, and sure enough it did, which meant another night in a hot stuffy tent. The storm came with lightning which put on quite a show.
Day 3 of 9
Sept 6 2015 Day 3: We awoke to overcast skies, but a chance at better weather. This was a layover day so we had pancakes and bacon for breakfast. After breakfast Laura said, let’s go fish. We were on a mission. We headed out trolling a wally diver and a shad rap. As we trolled along I saw an underwater reef on the depth finder that was just off the mouth of a channel between two islands. It was stacked up with fish, with the depth going from 30 feet to 10 feet. My rod bent and I had a fish on. I get it up near the boat and it was a 30” northern. Laura was thrilled as she loves to eat Northern despite the bones. I got it on a clown colored wally diver that I had put on sort of as a joke in hopes that Laura would be catching the fish. I put it on the stringer and we made another pass and this time Laura’s rod goes off, but she misses the fish (she’s a complete rookie fisherman, but she was doing a REALLY good job on monitoring her rod). We turn around and make another pass, her rod goes off again and this time she connects. An 18” walleye comes up and I net it and get it on the stringer too. Woo hoo! Lunch AND dinner today! We made a few more passes over the reef and I picked up another smaller northern. After another pass with no hits we decided to try jigging it. We were going along slowly drifting and jigging. Laura quickly caught a tiny walleye which we released and she was wondering WHY I’m catching all the northern and she’s getting all the walleye. I wondered too as Walleye are my preferred fish and visa versa. Then it happened. I got hung up. I jerked the rod and it wouldn’t come free. A slight breeze blew us over the snag and I was pulling back at the same time, putting way too much stress on the rod. The drag didn’t release any line to ease the tension and SNAP. My rod was broken clean in two. I reeled up and eventually was able to break the line and threw the broken rod behind me in the canoe. Well, no more jigging for me! I only had a medium heavy baitcast rig set up for trolling and Laura’s jigging and trolling rods. I’d make due. I didn’t get mad though, I just wanted to keep fishing. Laura was getting bored with not catching anything so we decided to find new hunting grounds. We went back to trolling and paddled around as I watched the depth finder for any hidden reefs. As we went around the tip of an island my rod bent hard. At first I thought I was snagged until the “snag” started to move. The fish stayed deep and I was thinking it was a walleye, but it had some weight to it. After a decent battle I got it to the surface and saw it was a nice walleye! I netted it myself and Laura took pictures. I got out my tape measure and he was just shy of 24”, a personal best! I was so happy I forgot all about my broken rod. I let the fish go and we paddled around some more. After no more fish we decided to head back to our first reef and try jigging just a little bit more before lunch. While Laura jigged, I cast around with the wally diver, but didn’t get anything. Laura got hung up and handed the rod to me, I think in fear of breaking her rod too (hers was about $25 total in gear, mine was a ways north of that) but that wouldn’t have bothered me. I got it free and asked if I could use it for a bit. She didn’t mind and I made a cast. Lift, fall. Lift, bite, and set the hook! I had something small on. I got it up to the boat and it’s a snake northern. I didn’t get the net because it was so small and Laura had a peeved smile on her face as she snapped some pictures. Just as I was about to grab the fish the 6 lb. line snapped and off it went with a new piercing hanging from its lip, ha ha. Laura got the very moment the line broke on camera. With that, we paddled back to camp and got ready for lunch, friend northern pike! Laura’s mouth was watering before we even got on land. I quickly filleted it, but did a bad job of removing the Y bones. I then put in Southern Style fish breading from Zatarans and put some butter flavored Crisco in the frying pan. As soon as it was good and hot I put the fish in. It smelled heavenly and I think if I had left it alone Laura would have eaten it out of the pan despite the hot Crisco. It turned a beautiful golden brown and I served it up with a lemon squeezer. That was hardly needed, it was amazing. We gorged ourselves on the fish, picking out bones, but enjoying the meal. That was one of the better fish fry’s I’ve done despite the bones, and the combination of Southern Fry and butter flavored Crisco was a winner. The rest of the day we swam and made a sun shower. After the temp read about 102 I hung it up using the bear line and pulley system. Laura loved the shower and said she felt clean again. I’ll admit, it did feel good to wash off a bit. Once the shower was done and put away we organized camp because a big storm was expected to roll through and the clouds were already starting to form up. Once camp was secure we made fish chowder for dinner with the walleye which was pretty good, but a little on the peppery side. As I cooked, Laura snapped pictures of the clouds and lightning as the storm started to slide south of us. However as I started to add the fish it began to rain so we moved under the rain fly where we ate. We cleaned up and then got into the tent where we played cards for a little while and then went to bed, as lightning and thunder and rain and wind dazzled the night and lit up our eyelids as we tried to sleep, despite the wind and rain the temperature remained warm.
Day 4 of 9
Sept 7, 2015 Day 4: We were up early and had granola for breakfast, this time we were on the water by 7:30. A short portage into Kiana Lake, followed by a quick paddle across. We started noticing the wind picking up as we approached the 180 rod portage into Thomas, what a haul! We popped energy gels as we hit the landing and had a bite of granola bar as well, slammed some water and started across on our first trip. We have been taking the larger packs with hand carry stuff like the tackle box and paddles on the first trip so we can acquaint ourselves with the portage before I bring the canoe over and Laura carries the food pack and day pack together. This system worked well for us, and Laura was doing great on this long portage. It wasn’t especially steep, but just seemed to keep on going as we went across it. Once onto Thomas we pounded more Gatorade and then rigged for trout. I had two deep diving crank baits on, with different wobbles and colors to see what the fish would like. We moved our way up the lake and noticed the campsite we had hoped for was taken, so we took the next available one because we were fighting a healthy wind blowing down the lake. No fish despite seeing some hopeful pockets on the sonar. The campsite wasn’t great, despite having a good view of this portion of the lake. It was high on a rock face and was getting pounded by the wind; however, just inside camp it was quite hot as the wind went up and over. We hung the hammock and set up the tent and let things dry out from the night before since we had to pack up the tent wet in the morning. We tried going out fishing for a while but the wind was getting intense. I tried fishing from shore but nothing was biting. No fish YET AGAIN. We decided on Jambalaya for dinner, which was pretty good, except the rice didn’t cook all the way, a lesson for the next time I make it. Milky way bars for dessert, and then popcorn next to the campfire. The popcorn was a first for me; I put a little Crisco in the pot, added the kernels and then just shook the pot with the lid on. This worked really well and soon we had a nice kettle of popcorn to munch on. While we munched Laura looked across the lake and said “look at that!” I looked over and saw it. The Aurora Borealis. It started with just a faint shimmering pillar of light. That soon gave way to rolling sheets of dancing green light, and then I looked up and there was a halo like effect with ribbons of dancing light coming down from it. It was absolutely awe inspiring, majestic. Words can’t quite state how beautiful it was. We tried taking some pictures and video of it, but I don’t think they were showing up very well, the video wasn’t showing anything at all. In our minds though, it will always be there. It was a very special moment for us that I will cherish for years to come. We watched for quite a while, eating popcorn and taking it all in. Later that night I poke my head out of the tent and it was still going! What a show!
Day 5 of 9
September 8, 2015 Day 5: I woke up early, really early and went fishing. Big shocker, no bites, despite seeing a few fish hit the surface and me casting with the fly rod. (an item that will no longer be making trips, as it is so rarely used). After walking down a fair stretch of shoreline with no results, I headed back to camp and started the water for coffee. I let Laura sleep as long as she liked today, but soon the smell of coffee brought her out to join me for breakfast. A slight mist hung over the water and we took some pictures that looked neat. I made pancakes and bacon again for breakfast, with the last of the bacon being used up on this meal. Laura asked if we should fish first thing and I said, no sleep in the morning babe, you’ve earned it, we can fish later. Big mistake. We finished breakfast about the time the wind started to blow. By the time we got the canoe rigged and loaded, maybe 15 minutes later, the wind started to really blow. We trolled down the lake and I planned on jigging any bait balls I saw on the depth finder but the wind soon had other plans. We had to fight hard to turn the canoe and finally did as we blew closer and closer to a rocky shoreline. We fought our way back to camp and called it quits. Laura did catch something though. A perch about the size of her lure must have gotten snagged as she reeled up. I laughed and took the poor fish off and let it go. Once back in camp Laura laid in the hammock and I was frustrated so I started working on fixing my broken fishing rod. While setting up camp on Insula, we bent a tent stake (first one bent in as long as I can remember!) so I broke it where it had bent and used the two pieces as a splint for the rod. I then took some superglue I brought along in case a rod tip broke and glued the rod to the stake, and then duct taped the whole assembly. After letting dry for several hours I made a few casts and it seemed to be working well, until on one cast the rod broke in two again. I thought maybe the tape let go or something, but upon closer inspection I found that there was another break, several inches up the rod from the previous fracture. I figured it must have happened on the original break and a few casts let it separate completely. So I went back and repaired it again and let it rest. I also decided to tie an anchor bag out of parachute chord. As I worked on these projects I snacked on trail mix and the venison slim jims. Once that was complete, Laura helped me clean up camp and get ready for dinner. Yet another night of no fish, which was starting to concern me since I only brought 5 back up meals for the 8 nights we’d be there and after tonight we’d only have one left! Tonight’s meal was a store bough dehydrated meal of Jamaican jerked chicken and black beans with rice. It tasted good and we made apple crisp for dessert which was a little more involved then I had hoped, but tasted pretty good. Later that night, I was in for a rude awakening. It felt like my guts were on fire and I quickly rushed out of the tent to get to the kamikaze box before I needed to change my pants. Something in my stomach was VERY not right. After a safe trip I returned to sleep but fought nausea the whole night.
Day 6 of 9
Sept 9, 2015 Day 6: At first light I got up, despite horrible sleep from my stomach issue. Getting dressed I had to run out of the tent and puked, but nothing came up but bile. I was in a bit of trouble. I sipped a little water and my mind started thinking I had contracted giardia. We packed up and I tried to have some breakfast, a carnation instant shake. Laura had granola but I couldn’t even stomach the idea of that. Thankfully I was able to keep everything down but I was struggling. We loaded up the canoe and headed off. It was a cold clear morning, and Laura wasn’t warm as we paddled with a slight breeze. Every paddle stroke made me feel like I’d lose my cookies again as we headed for Ima Lake. On the way we headed down a creek, and despite seeing a portage, and knowing that you should ALWAYS take a portage, we continued down the creek. It was tight and full of boulders, but only about knee deep and the water volume was manageable. We would float/paddle as far as we could, then hop out and line the canoe. Laura was LOVING it, and somehow my stomach was starting to feel better. After repeating this several times we couldn’t go any further, the irony being that we were almost at the end. We back tracked slightly and found a path some other adventurous souls had used probably in this same scenario. We quickly carried everything through the very dense brush and popped out on the other side, all smiles. A quick paddle down a lily choked stream and we had one more portage. At the end of the portage we were blasted with wind. Crap. We hunkered down and paddled across, not even attempting to fish. I had wanted to stay at the campsite near Alworth Lake, but there was a solo paddler headed that way. The island site was also taken so we headed north and took the western most site on the north shore, a string of 3 campsites. It was a large campsite with mature pines everywhere which was nice change of pace. The landing was decent too. We ate PB&J on the rocks which tasted so good! I vacuum sealed individual packets of jelly and one massive packet of peanut butter, all of which was put onto saltines, which had sadly seen better days and were prone to crumbling. Laura was exhausted and I could tell she had had enough for the day. We slowly set up camp and I tried fishing from shore. Nothing. GREAT. I explored the campsite some and found that there were trails that led to more openings for possible tent sites which was neat. It also led me back to a small bay which looked REALLY good for fishing. We decided to give it a go and paddled over to the bay. Nothing. Casting, jigging, no joy. We battled the wind back and Laura wanted to rest and asked me to get a sun shower going. I filled the bag and let it sit on the big rock face as I threw just about everything I had in my box again and again from the shoreline. Still no fish. As it got later in the day (we arrived around noon) the clouds came back in, so no sun shower. Laura didn’t mind as it got cooler without the sun out. Thankfully, the wind started to die down as well, so we went out and tried some more fishing. Several passes over areas I was marking fish and no bites. Frustrating. Laura eventually got cold so we headed in. We made the remaining chili mac for dinner, again with small portions. As we waited for it to rehydrate we played cards by the camp fire and it started getting COLD. After we ate and cleaned up we went straight to bed. Laura said it was the best campfire yet.
Day 7 of 9
Sept 10, 2015 Day 7: We were up at 6:15 and quickly got camp down. We made oatmeal because it was cold along with hot chocolate. That helped get us going, but it was a chilly morning, even I was wearing fleece gloves and a winter hat now too. We were on the water at 7:40. We had 5 portages ahead and Laura wasn’t looking forward to that at all. We had two of them done by 9 and were at the 5th and final one by 11:30, I thought we were making decent time on our way to Ensign Lake. We stopped at Cattyman falls and took some pictures. Laura was happy to see a waterfall. At that portage we met a family in two heavy PVC canoes that were stuffed to the gunnels with stuff. I think they had a rifle too. They were pleasant, but had stuff all over both ends of the portage. We cruised out of there to our last portage, 105 rods. It wasn’t bad going in our direction, but going the other way isn’t fun, especially heavily loaded early in a trip. Laura even took some video as we portaged. Once on Ensign, it was like a different day. It was blowing hard and the sun was covered in clouds. I could also see a very large group across the lake at a campsite. We hit the water and fought the wind. Laura was pretty tired so I was doing most of the paddling at this point. As we went by campsites I had circled on my map, they were all taken. We moved further and further West on the lake, through the narrows and still all taken, canoes were everywhere. This wasn’t wilderness anymore, this was a recreational lake. We kept paddling and finally found a site. Laura was wiped. We got to shore and had lunch, tuna salad and some trail mix. As we ate we noticed quite a few ground squirrels running around. After lunch we felt like the wind was dying down so we loaded up for fishing. We trolled around looking for reefs but I didn’t see anything. I did bring the anchor bag with a large rock this time and we paddled into a narrows between two islands. I gently lowered the anchor and we began to jig. I used slimers and Laura used gulp 5” leaches. After a few casts and jigging I felt a bite. I set the hook and up came a small northern! Woo hoo! I put it on the stringer and we kept fishing. No more bites and the wind was picking up again. No matter, we had dinner and Laura was thrilled it was a northern, but miffed she didn’t catch it. I caught it on my repaired rod too, which made me happy. I got turned around a bit as we paddled back, but we soon figured it out. Back in camp we made wild rice and fried up the pike, apple crisp for dessert, yum! It started getting cold so as soon as the dishes were done and our teeth were brushed we went to bed. I wrote for a little while and then succumbed to sleep after a very long day.
Day 8 of 9
September 11, 2015 Day 8: We woke early to a cold morning, but surprisingly there was no fog. A quick breakfast of oatmeal and coco and then we headed out with a mission of fishing. We went back to where we caught the fish the night before and jigged for a bit. I had a small fish on, but lost it before it got near the boat. We tried several more locations but no bites. The wind started to pick up so we went back in and had lunch. Our last lunch on the trail was fry bread pizza. I had vacuum sealed pizza sauce and pepperonis and we had some baby bell mozzarella cheese we cut up. I fried the bread, then we put the sauce, cheese, and pepperonis on and I used the pot as a lid for the frying pan that fit perfectly over 1 pizza. After just a few minutes the cheese was melted and it was served up, I then repeated the process. It worked great and tasted amazing, and was VERY filling to boot. We lounged in camp for a bit afterwards. Laura read in the sun, but was still bundled up due to the temperature and the wind. I sawed up and broke firewood. Around 2pm we headed back out to try our luck (and our patience) once again. Not far from camp I found a reef, so we anchored and started jigging. After giving the site a chance, we decided it was time to move so I went to pull up the anchor. It wouldn’t budge…uh oh. I pulled as hard as I could and tried to move the boat to pull from different angles but no luck. After trying to free us for a while I had to cut the rope, our anchor was gone…NOW how were going to jig? I wasn’t happy that we were now free to drift in the wind again after jigging had given us our only fish on this lake. Angrily, I paddled back to where we fished this morning and had hooked up the night before. The wind was blowing so I paddled up the channel between the islands further than usual and told Laura to drop her line and commence jigging. I started working my jig as well as we blew quickly out of the channel. I paddled us back into the wind and even further up the channel this time and again we blew quickly through it. Then, the wind pushed us around the point of the island instead of straight out. As we rounded the island, Laura thought she had a fish. She had announced this just about any time her jig or lure contacted a rock, weed, or maybe even plankton. I encouraged it every time though, since it meant she was feeling things through the line. I ask her if she still feels it and as calmly as can be she says: “I have a fish”. I look and her rod is dancing as she reels in. I quickly grab the net and as soon as I see the fish it is scooped out of the water into the safety of the canoe. The fish is a small walleye, but it will be big enough for dinner, though a 2nd one wouldn’t hurt. I’m pumped we get a walleye fish fry tonight, though Laura is bummed it wasn’t a pike. We try a few more passes but nothing bites. We paddle in and I quickly start preparing for dinner. The entire trip we’ve been cleaning up in the dark and eating at dusk. Tonight I’d like to be done a little earlier. By 5pm I have the fish filleted when I notice a young couple just up the shoreline from me looking at their map. Just before I paddle back to camp I see them again they and ask if there are any open campsites. I tell them I don’t know of any, but if they can’t find one we have plenty of room at ours and that we would be leaving in the morning. They thank us and paddle away. I don’t see them again, but can’t blame them for not turning around if they didn’t find a site on Ensign, they would have had to fight into the wind to get back to our site. Back at camp I fried up the fish and we scarfed it down with ample helpings of mashed potatoes. Laura still says Pike is better…OK…For dessert we had pistachio pudding. With how cold it was, getting the pudding to set up was a breeze. We devoured the entire pot. By now its starting to get pretty cold and I’m wearing gloves and winter hat. We tried to play cards for a while by the campfire but it was getting too cold. As we sat we heard/saw a couple across the lake catch a fish and give a victory ‘woo hoo! With the paddle raised above his head…and then bash it in their aluminum boat. Soon after we decided to head into the tent and play there instead. Before going to bed we packed up miscellaneous gear to be ready to roll in the morning. Soon we were going to sleep because it was getting down right cold.
Day 9 of 9
September 12, 2015 Day 9: We woke at 6am and were met with cold air and everything soaking wet in dew. Looking out at the lake was a dense fog. We packed up and hot chocolate and hot granola for breakfast. It was getting really foggy out now and we headed off into the abyss. We took some neat pictures in the eerie stillness as we paddled for the portage. After quickly portaging we made some casts in the stream hoping to get Laura that elusive pike. I was having her cast here and there with no success. At one point I cast to where she had previously cast and of course came up with a pike. Laura continued fishing and I stopped entirely, acting as a guide for her, maneuvering the boat and calling out likely fishy looking spots. At 9:15 we called it quits…no pike for Laura. At the last portage we found a traffic jam. There were people EVERYWHERE with gear strewn further beyond everywhere. We waited for a spot to open up and then quickly unloaded and brought the boat and 2 packs across. I stowed the boat IN the stream leading out of the lake and put our packs off to the side out of the way when the tow boat operator asked me if I had any more people coming across because he was trying to get his guys on the water. Really guy? Your guys have stuff everywhere and are causing problems for people going the other way, but somehow I’m in your way? The mess of people is finally gone and we sit for a little while taking pictures until Blaine showed up. He said it would be a cold ride back to the outfitter and he wasn’t kidding. We were dressed in almost everything we had with us, including our rain gear but eventually the wind started to creep in. Thankfully, we pulled up to the dock of the outfitter before freezing in place. Once we unloaded the boat we met up with Charlene who gave us clean towels and a beverage. We talked awhile about how things are at home (they used to live not far from where Laura and I now live) and how their season was. After cleaning up and taking a warm shower we drove into town for lunch. We were surprised by the Harvest Festival that was going on in town, so we walked through that first. Lots of neat things on display and being made, along with some traditional Scandinavian bands and dancers in the band shell. Laura got a big bag of kettle popcorn and then it was lunch at the Boathouse, then on the road to Eau Claire for the night. Dinner that night was at the Northwood’s Brewpub, a traditional stop for me when staying overnight on the way home. The next day we pulled into our house around noon.