BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 22 2017

Entry Point 50 - Cross Bay Lake

Cross Bay Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 45 miles. Access is thru the Cross River with two portages to Ham Lake and a 24-rod portage to Cross Bay Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1670 feet
Latitude: 48.0760
Longitude: -90.8222
Cross Bay Lake - 50

Cold Reception at Cherokee Lake

by Boppa
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 11, 2011
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This trip was born on a whim that my Bow Partner, Bette, had some 3 years ago. She, after looking through a section of the Dan Pauley book, "Boundary Waters", said “That’s a lake I would really like to visit someday” (Cherokee Lake). This is the only specific BW lake request I have ever heard her mention. What we often do when a whim takes us into a particular tripping direction is to create a folder where any information gathered on said lake/route can be collected for future use. So it was done with Cherokee Lake. Since then we, as many others as well, have had to deal with the unexpected and cruel intrusion of cancer into our lives. Bette was diagnosed with Uterine Sarcoma in June of 2010. Shortly after surgery we found ourselves in a chemotherapy room at a cancer center in Hartford, CT. In looking around at the room’s awkward attempt to be pleasant, Bette spots a large framed lake picture and says “that looks just like the Boundary Waters”; I concur after getting up for a closer look. Indeed, the frame identifies the print as “Moon over Cherokee Lake, Boundary Waters”. We look at each other as if this is an omen to be taken seriously. This coincidence is a bit eerie, because in Connecticut very few people have heard or know of the Boundary Waters, never mind Cherokee Lake. We promise our next canoe camping trip to the BW will be to Cherokee Lake. At home the folder was found and pushed to the top. A year has passed in which a string of medical attempts and disappointments, along with a reoccurrence of the cancer, has made it difficult to remain positively focused. Finally our wonderful but frustrated Oncologist tells Bette about a trial drug at Sloan-Kettering in NYC that Bette may consider applying for. Bette does apply, is accepted and offered a spot, which she accepts. After 8 weeks in this new drug trial we receive good news, the tumors are at the moment shrinking. Although Bette has had waning strength and stamina while on this trial drug, she still says “let’s get to Cherokee”. On this particular trip we have had to make a number of changes, such as dates, direction of travel, where to start/ finish, to give us the best chance of getting to Cherokee while staying within the guidelines of Bette’s trial drug protocol and addressing her limited strength. This is where you all at BWCA.com have helped immeasurably. Whenever we have had to change or reset our criteria for the trip or overcome some other problem, you were there with options and suggestions. Whether we gleaned information from trip reports or received great information directly from a number of you, you helped. We are indebted to you and thank you! Looking back, we realize we underestimated the trial drug’s continued weakening effects on Bette’s physical abilities. The downward spiral of her strength and stamina was offset by her desire to try and do her share of the physical work involved. This comes from a lot of years of conditioning and the fact that she has always been able to physically commit to giving her all. Now as she reached deep inside to portage, paddle and do camp set-up chores, she pushed too hard and eventually found herself unable to do little beyond walking the portage and paddling as best she could. Please be assured we have no regrets. She/We got it done, not quite how we envisioned but for us it was a victory over the cancer, it could not keep her from Cherokee Lake. She is one tough paddler. ~~~~~~ THIS IS HOW IT WENT: ~~~~~~ Bette and I had a wonderful drive from CT to MN. It is our first time driving to the BWCAW and we prefer it over flying; although a long drive (23 hours) it was at our pace and much less hectic than what flying has become today. Going through Duluth by the port and shipyard gave us an awful lot to take in, it was fascinating. Taking our time on Route 61 was enjoyable, we got to stay and enjoy both the Chateau LeVeaux and Thomsonite Beach Inn, great locations with spectacular views of Lake Superior. We capped off our final night in Grand Marais by going to the talk and slide presentation at Stone Harbor presented by Ann and Natalie on their Hudson Bound Trip, a very enjoyable evening. A big advantage for us driving was being able to bring all of our own tripping gear with the exception of the canoe and food, both provided by our outfitter, Rockwood Lodge and Canoe Outfitters. Using our own gear is a big plus, both from a weight savings and familiarity with equipment factor. We had secured a Sunday, 9/11 entry date at #50 Cross Bay River and drove into our Outfitters parking area by the Rockwood Lodge on Saturday, 9/10 and quickly spotted the owners, Mike hauling canoes and Lin coming from the outfitter cabin. It was a warm and special welcome as we reunited with them both. It is extra special as this is our first meeting with them since Lin’s recent stroke. She is doing well, with the loss of speech transfer (not being able to say the word which she is thinking) the most difficult part of her recovery. She is in line for two operations to correct amount of blood flow in veins on each side of her neck and head, so strokes should not reoccur; in fact, her first procedure was scheduled for that Wednesday in Duluth, while we would be out tripping. Their adult son Mark was due in to provide them with a hand while Mike took Lin in to the hospital. Mike looked thin and fit from all the extra hours that Lin’s absence from the business required of him. While Lin has been able to reassume most tasks in the set up work of canoe tripping, Mike was required to be around to answer customer questions and concerns till Lin’s speech is hopefully rehabilitated to again handle this part of the business. They are a great study in courage and team work. The canoe is chosen (a Wenonah Spirit II, Outfitters Edition) and put on our car rack. The food pack gone over and tweaked to meet our needs. We unpack our travel cases into the bunkhouse, load the car up for a quick morning departure and then head over to the Trail Center for dinner. The Trail Center has changed its greeting/waiting area a bit. We like it, as it gives more room to move around. We have a 15 minute wait till seated so head to the back outside bar where the casual feel of this area continues to contribute to the relaxed feel I have in the BW area. Dinner is salmon for me and filet for Bette, done nicely, as always. We talked with the cashier and mention Tiffany, from Jamaica. The cashier indicated that she was unable to return this summer as she had limited out her work visa; too bad, as she is a nice and special person and we had enjoyed our interactions with her at the Trail Center the past three years. Back to the bunkhouse, we note that we are apparently its only quests tonight and set our alarm for 5:00AM to meet a self imposed 6:00AM departure.

Day 1 of 8


The Cherokee Lake picture found in Bette's treatment room.

Ann and Natalie's canoe outside where they talked about their adventure.

Where we always enjoy our dinner the night before we enter the BW.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

DAY 1 – The alarm goes off and all goes smoothly; we are at Cross Bay at 6:30AM. There are about 8 cars in the lot but we feel that we are first today. It is going to be a sunny, warm, beautiful day. As I take the canoe down to the dock area, a young lady is sitting with camera in hand. I instinctively slow down to be quiet as I think she is trying to capture a wildlife photo. She bids me a good morning and says she is there for the sunrise which indeed is only minutes away. My Bow Partner and I continue our canoe loading and shove off. Our early morning photographer graciously wishes us a good trip, we smile and thank her, and she goes back to viewing her reason for being there. We paddle to our first portage and it is as difficult a landing as I remember, compounded by the seasonal low water levels, just so many rocks to avoid or work around. The first portage is over and although an average walk it is one we just don’t care for, due to those types of landings. The put-in at Little Ham is far easier IMHO. The truth is, these portages are really met with enthusiasm, as the realization that the trip that has been anticipated for so many months is truly underway.

Bette paddling on a Cross Bay River turn - the trip is underway.

Low water is very evident at first portage rock garden.

Waitin to be hauled.

A familiar landmark on Ham Lake.

The portaging and paddling continue; we pass by the marker from Ham Lake to Cross Bay Lake indicating we are now in the BWCAW. As we shove the canoe off, now officially in the BWCAW, we note with a silent fond remembrance, Amok, then tip our hats and cross paddles. He was a good spirit who left us all too soon.

Steep portage steps from Ham Lake to Cross Bay Lake.

Ahh, back in the BW we finally are.

After checking the sky I am sure our early morning photographer back at the put in has gotten a prized photo, as the day is a beauty; we continue our paddling down Cross Bay Lake, noting its winding charm and variety of views. From large rock outcroppings to low lying marshy moose magnets we quietly paddle, taking it in. The first campsite, while very adequate, is unappealing as it seems to have a tough canoe landing and rock incline to get to the site, better suited, for younger legs. We hear noise ahead and spot a couple of empty canoes then come upon a young mixed gender group of 8 cliff jumping with their PFD’s on. They were having a great time, but we continued on our way not tempted to join them. We passed the 2nd and last campsite on Cross Bay which looks like a very nice spot but in our two times through it has been occupied and we have been unable to check it out. Onto the portage to Rib Lake, nice take out, average walk with one campsite on Rib that looks very adequate; we see an otter and smile at its antics. We paddle to a nice take-out from Rib and portage to a very tough put-in to Lower George Lake, lots of rocks and with the low water I was forced to walk out further than I like on unseen rock (this is however the curse of protecting Kevlar). Lower George is a nice little lake with no campsites to check out and slow us down further, lol. We find the little spur to the portage to Karl Lake with no problem and enjoy this area, as it has character and something different to offer.

An old crib at the portage from Rib Lake to Lower George Lake.

Sunset on Karl lake.

As we are about to put-in on Karl two brothers come up from behind us and we insist that they go first as we know we are not that quick, they reluctantly accept due to our insistence. They prove to be are a well mechanized machine; each knew his tasks and quickly did them without any need for verbal instruction or cues. They were both pleasant and quickly shove off for Long Island Lake; they are gone in a flash. As we shove off I realize I have earlier tweaked the side support of my left knee. I believe it happened when I lifted the canoe over rock which was wet and slippery a few portages back; the knee was letting me know it was time to stop. Coupled with the fatigue concerns surrounding Bette, I am suspicious that our enthusiasm has led us to travel farther than we should have on our first day. We inspect the site on Karl, by the portage to Long Island Lake and it had a wonderful single tent pad area, a decent canoe landing and some kind soul left a lot of piled fire wood. Home it was and a nice one to boot. With tent up, air mattresses inflated, sleeping bags out, food pack hung, we begin to realize we have over done it and just have snacks and water and go to bed early. It is at this point I realize a big error that I have made. I have not transferred my meds from my travel pack to my personal tripping bag. I have two meds that the Docs want me on. Well nothing to be done at this time, I will re-examine this blunder in the morning.

Tent on Karl Lake

 



Day 2 of 8


Monday, September 12, 2011

The morning arrives on schedule (LOL, what else would it do?) but we are a bit late in getting ourselves going. Boy, we must have been tired, I never sleep that much. I let my Bow Partner know of my forgetfulness with the meds, she listens to my reasons to continue and agrees only if we stay put for the day to see if my knee recovers a bit; I agree to a layover day. I read my book and record in my journal and surprisingly do not fish. During the day we had a few small thunderstorms pass through, we easily found shelter under the tarp, but at night it got quite windy and while lying in the tent a couple of branches came crashing down. This spooked me into getting out of the tent and checking them out. I couldn’t find any downed branches; I guess everything sounds huge and close while you are in a tent in the dark. It has been a nice day and comes to an end much too quickly. Since my knee has loosened up we agree to take off for Cherokee Lake in the morning, paddling out of Karl Lake onto Long Island Lake and avoid the quicker portage to Long Island Lake to save my knee. Later on, I believe this will prove to be an error of choice.

 



Day 3 of 8


Tuesday, September 13, 2011 We get up to make a nice breakfast and are packed and on the water by 10:30AM; again the day has started off nicely, mild with sunshine. The paddle into Long Island Lake is a pleasant one, where we spot our first eagle of the trip. We then see a canoe coming towards us and it is the two brothers that we met at the Karl Lake portage on our first day. They mention a forest fire and said they could not only smell it but also feel the heat from it and had ash falling in their campsite on Long Island Lake. We noted that would indeed be very disconcerting but we had not experienced anything like that on Karl Lake. We bid each other “Good Bye” and continued on our separate ways. I am a Voyageur Map proponent; I like them, while my Bow Partner prefers Fisher Maps. At this juncture on Long Island Lake you are required to have at least three different Voyageur maps for this section of Long Island Lake. Not practical and in hindsight I should have pieced what I needed off of the Voyageur Map web-site. I didn’t, I passed the map reading chore over to my Bow Partner as her Fisher map has the whole area on one map. While she is an absolute map reading wizard when we’re in the car, we came to realize that the skill does not necessarily pass over to large lakes. Long story short, we were paddling in the wrong direction, heading east instead of west. I suspect the error when I see an old fire line on the left shore. My instincts tell me to regroup, but where? I realize that the clouds have built and darkened while the wind has grown stronger. With the wind building, paddling requires a lot of attention at the moment. I see a little bay, so we slip in and get out of the canoe where I can show my partner the fire line border of an old fire on the Voyageur Map and we should not be anywhere near it. She uncharacteristically utters a few choice words at herself and realizes the error she made. Normally, this is something we have all experienced, but the weather is going to make us pay a big price in time and Energy. We now have to paddle almost directly into a wind that is over am. Let me assure you Long Island Lake can develop scary whitecaps and swells. We paddled hard and slowly made headway; it took us a long time but finally we got to the area where the Long Island River enters and relief is found. I believe if we were not trying to protect my knee we would have taken the beforehand mentioned Karl Lake portage to Long Island Lake and avoided this error, oh well. We sponge out the canoe as a few waves came over and we proceed up the river. We are quickly greeted by a beaver dam, a small one so a quick pull over, another few hundred rods another larger dam, again, a pull over. We then come to a short portage, which had to be expanded due to more beaver activity. We paddle on to the next portage which is handled and we are finally on very pretty Gordon Lake. While we sense that there is wind about, Gordon is narrow enough to escape its fury given the winds present direction. We stop at the one site on Gordon and it is certainly a keeper, we however are on a mission to get to Cherokee Lake; although my Bow Partner sees a dime in the water which I collect, it does not deter her as a reason to stay, so we paddle on. The portage to Cherokee from the Gordon Lake campsite is a short paddle and the portage is easily located and completed. When we finally gaze our eyes upon Cherokee Lake it is indeed impressive. Not only is it large, but its numerous islands sparkle about. My Bow Partner has a smile and satisfaction that I can see.

First beaver dam on Long Island River.

Second beaver dam.

Finally, a well deserved smile.

We begin our paddle to locate a camp site. The first campsite passed is taken, so we cross the lake in an easterly direction, to an island area and I realize that the wind has built up here to a harsh level in the more open water. We have to work way too hard to check out a reputed nice island site and as we finally crawl to the side of the island to view the site I see canvas and realize this site are also occupied. I glance to an easterly spot on shore that looks like it could be a site; I show it to my Bow Partner, and we agree we should check it out. I realize at this point I only need to rudder the canoe as the wind is pushing us right along. Due to the power of the wind I realize we are going to land harder and faster than normal; although I yell over the wind to my Bow Partner to back paddle in an effort to soften the landing, it was a bit ineffective as waves are then coming over the stern. We did miss all large rock and very luckily landed fairly soft. I implore my Bow Partner, well actually I yell so she can hear over the wind to vacate quickly so we can both pull the bow brace and get the canoe out of harm’s way. That is accomplished nicely and a sigh of relief is exchanged between us. The site is thankfully empty (not that we could have gone anywhere for a while). I grab the packs to get them out of the water in the canoe. We feel lucky to have landed on this unoccupied site and realize we are not going back out today, so a campsite is set up. We are semi-protected by an island out front so the wind is partially deflected. We eventually turn on our weather radio which confirms that a Canadian cold front was in the process of coming into the region. Expecting winds and gusts in excess of 35 knots and a low temperature in the high twenties, we are ready to dress differently for bed tonight. The weather for tomorrow is predicted to again be cold and windy with a 50% chance of precipitation. My Bow Partner is wiped out and has to rest from the tough paddling. It has drained her badly of her limited energy. A fire is out of the question with the continued wind, so it is PB&J sandwiches and we hit the bag early, hoping for some energy recovery for tomorrow’s day on Cherokee Lake.

 



Day 4 of 8


Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - We awaken and notice frozen droplets on our tents outer fly, cold seems to be an understatement. The wind appears to come and go and is very squally in its behavior. I put up a second, vertical tarp to fend off some of the wind, it helps, yet the day has all kinds of surprises. We start with cold wind driven rain, it suddenly shifts to accumulating sleet at two different times.

Hail coming down.

Starting to collect around camp.

Then it started snowing so hard I could not see the West side of Cherokee Lake, all the while my thermometer never reads above 47’ for the entire day. This is not impressive nor is it what we came here for. We survive the day (thank God for fleece) and I never once see one canoe being paddled; I do however notice some of the largest cloud formations that I have ever observed. Basically traveling from West to East, I hope the picture I took does it justice.

Clouds (?) in the distance.

It ends up being the plume from the Pagami Fire

I can see in the distance another campsite, what is humorous is that at various times the sun will briefly shine through and I all but run to the rock by the water’s edge to capture as much sunshine as I can with my black rain suit on. Each time I run to the rock I see a body come down to the water at the other site in the distance, obviously with the same idea, Warmth! The wind makes a fire impractical and dangerous; I would feel uneasy tending it. Bow Partner spends a lot of time in the bag staying warm and trying to gain back some energy. The weather radio calls for another sub freezing night, less precipitation and more sun, less wind and 5 degrees warmer. When I go to tell my Partner the good news she looks at me and I know by the look that she is hurting. We will start out in the morning to get her back in, with smaller travel increments each day to less strenuous conditions; she has pushed beyond her limited strength. It is disappointing that we are cutting our time short on Cherokee Lake by one day; it is not going to get much better weather wise so the decision is easily accepted. We do regret being not being able to explore this gem of a lake more than we were able.

Tarps feel something new.

 



Day 5 of 8


Thursday, September 15, 2011 We awaken and YES, the wind is down, my thermometer reads 30 degrees, it is quite gray, everything is wet and frozen. Hot oatmeal with raisins and coffee for breakfast and a quick pack up of the gear is how it begins.

Loon on Cherokee Lake.

We load the canoe and head to the portage from Cherokee Lake to Gordon Lake; once there, we meet two gentleman from the South (yes, the accent was unmistakable) they had come out of Sawbill and had gone up Weird, Temperance, Brule, Davis and Kiskadinna Lakes. They indicated that they hit the Kiskadinna portage after the snow and it was an interesting walk. We bid them a warmer day and we each continued our separate journeys. We did not dilly dally and made our way to Long Island Lake in decent time.

Second portage back to Long Island Lake.

I mention to Bette that we could push and be out before dark but she thought it would too much for her to handle in one day. This time paddling across Long Island Lake the wind there is a gentle breeze, the sun is out and the lake shows its beautiful side. We paddle leisurely to the Karl Lake portage which is easily found and done. We spot our 3rd Eagle of the trip and note the abundance of Loons we have seen on both Cherokee and Long Island Lakes; we’re impressed and pleased, as we love their nightly vocal presence. Immature Loons on Long Island Lake

Long Island shows some beauty.

Karl Lake portage in the distance.

Resting before portage to Karl Lake.

Once on Karl, the site by the portage is again available, we claim it and have the tent up quickly; supper was Backpackers Pantry Spaghetti, a tad spicy for me but it was warm and tasty. My concerns about my Bow Partners strength are making the trip into a less than enjoyable time. We have over done her exertion limits. Her resolve is incredible and her desire to go and get it done is unbelievable. Whatever it will take is how hard she is going to give. We did have a SPOT with us for daily OK messages and tracking, so in a dire situation we had our backs covered. One nice report to give is that our sons received every SPOT message we sent as well as the tracking feature. We continue to be pleased with this device.

Another cold night is forecast but with the wind finally down I make a nice fire to warm the body and the spirits. It does, sleep comes quickly and deeply. Sunset on Karl Lake

 



Day 6 of 8


Friday, September 16, 2011 Finally we awaken to no evidence of frost. However, it is still cold and provides us with incentive to move along. Another breakfast of oatmeal and we are paddling by 10:30AM. My partner may be hurting but her mind is still in the trip as she makes two astute observations; First, we haven’t seen a soul in over 24 hours and we are on a very popular route. Where is everyone? I laugh it off as a weather thing and note how freezing temps, sleet and snow cause a lot of people to reconsider tripping plans. Secondly, we have not as of yet seen a large animal and this would be a first as we have had a lot of luck in this regard with multiple moose, bear and one wolf sighting while in the BWCA. We continue on through Lower George, (where is Upper George?) to Rib Lake (that is one tough take out at Lower George in low water). We paddle up the entire way through Rib Lake (very pretty), the wind is there but behaving overall, the sun is out and you can feel it, things just feel better. I then remark to my Partner that it is now odd that we have seen no one coming in, or leaving for that matter, as we are not tough to pass.

Another dock crib.

Resting before getting to Cross Bay Lake.

I know there were a number of permits issued as I had to keep checking permits as our entry date changed due to medical appointments. Where could everyone be? As we got to the end of the portage to Cross Bay Lake we saw that the last site on Cross Bay Lake was most likely available. We paddled over to confirm and yes it was free and open to us. It is a neat site with a number of rock levels and a good tent pad. We claim it for the night. No rain forecast for tonight or tomorrow so no tarp needs to be set up. We have camp set up and then have Richmore’s Stroganoff and Beef for dinner, it a good meal. My Bow Partner takes a walk to one of the rock outcroppings while I busy myself with hanging the food bag. She calls me over as she hears a commotion in the woods to the North. Low and behold doesn’t a big racked bull moose emerge, swims by our camp (75 yards) and promptly gets out and walks very noisily into the woods. We could hear him minutes later; he wasn’t running or sneaking up on anything, it was his home, his backyard. Just awesome. Unfortunately not enough light for a good photograph to be taken and shared. Another warming fire was enjoyed tonight and a special day it has become due to our last minute visitor. We note the clarity and sheer numbers of stars and then are quietly off to bed. Sunset on Cross Bay Lake.

Stayin warm on Cross Bay Lake

 



Day 7 of 8


Saturday, September 17, 2011 Ice droplets have formed once again on the rain fly of the tent. We are leaving the BWCAW today and can pack wet as I can dry gear back at Rockwood. We have granola bars for breakfast to speed us along but it doesn’t work as my body knows it is tired after two days of travel. We are finally off by 10:15AM. The day has some gusty wind, but on our backs some nice sunshine to make us feel warmer, a decent day to call the trip over. We paddle down Cross Bay, the first site is still open and now we have not seen another person in over 48 hrs, on a popular route, weird. As we get to the portage to Ham Lake we finally see a soloist, he says” hi”, and we exchange pleasantries and he says, you are the first people I have seen in two days, we laugh and say that is the same for us. Off he goes and we follow him into Ham Lake. Every site is empty there as well. We are crossing Ham Lake when I realize I am not wearing my PFD. I ask my Bow Partner if she has seen it and she remembers that she used it as a seat cushion back at the portage. Back we go and sure enough it is there. Recaptured, we again head to the portage from Ham Lake to what I have heard Forest Service Personnel call Little Ham Lake; it is a tough put-in, in low water. We work down to the steps to Cross Bay River and start our last leg to the dock.

A neat rock showing a lot of stratification lines on the portage.

Aster that survived hail, snow and 3 below freezing nights. Now that's tough.

We have made it. I can see that it is our car and a Forest Service vehicle in the lot. I bring the canoe up and as I return for our packs I see caution tape all around the kiosk; as I walk close to it I see that Entry #50 has been closed since Tuesday. The Pagami fire has been a major concern creating a lot of issues all over the Boundary Waters and beyond. Now we know why we haven’t seen that many people. That huge cloud formation that I viewed on Cherokee was actually a smoke plume created by the fire. All of this is of minor importance in the face of our accomplishment - we made it to Cherokee and better yet made it back to Entry 50 intact.

Entry kiosk shows closure.

This certainly explains our found solitude.

We unknowingly were in compliance.

Back at Rockwood Outfitters, Mike tells us that Lin’s operation has gone well. He then asks how we hid from the forest service as they have been kicking people out all week from our entry. He expected to see us back at Rockwood from Tuesday on. I of course tell him that we are such great paddlers that they probably tried to catch us but couldn’t. Ahhh delusion, I love it. Mike is no fool as he quickly notes that seeing how slow we were they (FS) figured we didn’t have a chance anyway. Why do I feel like Rodney Dangerfield?

Back home at Rockwood Lodge.

Our home for nearly two weeks.

 



Day 8 of 8


POSTSCRIPT:

The trip was a good one despite Bette’s fatigue and the cold windy weather. We are very pleased and proud to say we got to Cherokee Lake. While by itself it is not a major accomplishment it was a momentary victory over the cancer and all the intrusions it was brought into our lives. Every trip teaches us something so we can become better trippers, which I wish to. I learned a bit more than I wanted to about my physical limits. By triple portaging to help Bette conserve her strength I found a good gauge to plan future trips. My first portage trip was with the canoe and food pack, with the canoe add- ons,(map cases, Crazy Creeks) it totaled about 85lbs total, 2nd portage trip- Bette’s pack and my guide pack, about 65lbs total , 3rd portage trip- my pack about 50lbs. On day 1, I put in 720 load carrying rods; this left me with little energy left to set up camp, collect firewood, food bag hang, fishing, water collection, etc. Losing Bette’s help on each of those tasks is felt quite a bit. I will shorten the number of Rods to no more than 500 load carrying rods max. a day. Build in one layover day after each move day that totals over 250 rods. Bette’s ability to help and assist with chores varied greatly day to day. It is her nature to “get her done”, it just cannot be counted on while she is on the treatments. If multiple maps are required for a particular day’s canoe tripping, piece them together ahead of time. Good grief I have Voyageur maps on-line, waterproof paper and a laminator, what’s the issue. We were covered for a range of temperatures and we had them from about 80’ when we went in, to the high 20’s at night thrice. Layering was key and having multiuse gear, like raingear very helpful. Not sure how to prepare for high winds other than have some paddling skills and knowledge and if on big water build in a holdover day or two. Meeting BWCA.com friends gives the trip out to MN greater depth. We met up with Boonie (Steve) and OneMatch (Jerry) for lunch in Grand Marais and had a great time. They are special people and we enjoyed sharing our tripping passion with them. We really wish we were closer to share time with more of you. Meeting up with BWCA.COM friends at The Gunflint Tavern. Left to right, OneMatch, Boonie, BowPartner, Boppa.

An iconic image to a great area.

Lastly, if we are able to trip next year it will be a much kinder and gentler journey, you can be assured. Thanks for reading. Boppa

UPDATES: After our trip and upon our return to Sloan-Kettering we learned that the trial drug’s effectiveness has stopped. The cancer has re-emerged. While this was extremely disappointing, we knew the trial drug had begun to take a bigger toll than the cancer upon Bette at this time.

We are presently back in Hartford, CT where traditional chemotherapy treatments are being administered. Bette is stronger as she is off of the trial drug and its tough effects, but unfortunately the traditional chemotherapy isn’t doing much. The search for a treatment is still part of our hope for the near future. We do laugh however, as Bette is upset that she may lose her hair yet again. She knows I don’t care; she is still the prettiest woman I know.

Yes, we are planning our next BWCA trip, we cannot help it.

 


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