Day 1 of 8
Friday, June 22, 2012 We left Russellville, AR at 7:30 on June 22 and drove for 12 hours to Owatonna where we spent the night. Only two stop during that 12 hour drive, one north of Kansas City to re-fuel the F250, and the other a quick stop at McDonald's to re- fuel us!
Day 2 of 8
Saturday, June 23, 2012 We got up early to get to Cabela's at 8:00 when they opened as we were supposed to meet Jan (Kanoes), Brad (Mooseplums) and Gary (Savage Voyager) for a mini- wing breakfast. We pull up and park and the first two people I see are Jan and Gary, both grinning happy to see us. Kinda hard to miss with the Arkansas Plates, and the SR 18.5 strapped on top with BWCA.com Old School Sticker on it! Brad is not there yet due to work but he shows up soon while we are eating, and we all have a good visit! Thanks guys for meeting with us and having a good time! After the visit is over we grab a few things (Thermarest Pillow, medium for me) and we head north not really knowing what to expect due to the flooding and road construction. However, the drive north was uneventful, other than our stop at Gordy's Hi Hat which was great as always! [paragraph break] We get to Ely, stop at Zup's to buy cheese and ribeyes for the first night's dinner, and head to V-north to get our room for the night and put the steaks in the freezer. Once that is done it is out to downtown to shop for everyone back home... mainly the grandkids!! T-Shirts and trinkets bought we go back to V- North and buy our leeches and a Leech King baitholder. I put them in the fridge and finish a few small packing touches while talking to another person in the bunkhouse who is heading in LIS as well. [paragraph break] Then all of a sudden while talking about spending our afternoons resting in hammocks... I remember that I did not pack them! Kim looks at me and says... "you better find someplace to by a hammock!" So it is off to VNorth office where they do not have the hammock she wants. So then it is hop in the truck and drive to Piragis and buy two ENO Hammocks and back to the bunkhouse! Now it is time for sleep!
Day 3 of 8
Sunday, June 24, 2012 3:45 comes early, Kim is up and showering while I carry everything down to the truck and get it loaded, at 4:15 we go next door to the 24 hr gas station for breakfast and we are on our way! By a little after 6:00 we are on the water paddling. It is foggy and cool! Our hope to possibly see wildlife is unmet the whole trip. A total of 5 portages and about 16 miles of paddling is on the agenda for today. Wind is out of the north which means it will be a cross wind and in our face for the last two-thirds of our journey. We reach Devil's Cascade and complete it by 9:30, me double portaging and Kim single for the most part. Now just 10 miles of paddling and Beatty Portage is between us and Snow Bay. [paragraph break] We stop at Beatty and have a granola bar, it is 11:30 and I am getting tired and I know Kim is! The paddling is wearing on her and she feels it! Five more miles or a little less into a 7 mph headwind... we make it the island we want to camp on which is unoccupied at a little before 1:30 pm. Total travel time was 7 hours, we averaged almost 3 mph paddling and 1.4 mph portaging, overall average was about 2.2 mph. Not too bad, I say for the conditions! I was very proud of my wife Kim, who hung in and made it! [paragraph break] Once at camp the first thing I told her to do was to hang her hammock where she could rest after we got the tent up and ate a bite of summer sausage, cheese and ritz craclers! The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, me going out solo in our AR 18.5 to get water, and then having those ribeyes grilled to perfection. We went to bed early as the mosquitoes were making their presence known!!
Funny story for the day... as we were paddling toward Beatty Portage there is a bay on the US side that has some large rocks sticking out of the water. On each rock was is a sea gull that claims it as their territory. As we were paddling toward one, battling a side wind from the north as we were paddling west, the gull on it turns toward us and takes flight coming toward us. When he gets about 30 feet over us directly over my wife in the front of the canoe... he stops mid-air and drops a load of poop! The only way it missed her was because the wind was blowing 7-8 mph from the side, and with his height it missed her by about 15 feet to her left side. The gull was telling us to stay away from his rock! I had never seen anything like it!
Path: Little Indian Souix, to Upper Pauness, to Lower Pauness, to Little Indian Souix, to Loon Lake, to Lac la Croix. Distance 15.8 miles, time 7 hours.
Day 4 of 8
Monday, June 25, 2012 I arose early as is my habit at around 5:30-6:00 and make coffee. I then sit next to my Thermacell wearing my permethrin treated clothes and eat two of the best bagels I believe I have ever eaten! Thomas was the brand name and they were fresh and good! Cinnamon Raisin and a plain one with cream cheese and strawberry jam! I sit around camp getting the fishing stuff ready until Kim gets up a little after 8:00. A fresh cup of coffee and a bagel get her ready to go fishing so we head out at 8:30. Pictures of what happened during this time is shown below... needless to say she kicked my butt!! Her Trifecta and my teeny effort!!
By noon the fishing was over, it was hot and the hammocks were calling our names after a nice lunch of carne asada tacos! Sleep in the hammocks came easy after that. We went out later in the evening to fish a little more and look around some... Kim continued where she left off in the morning catching more fish than me and bigger fish! Dinner that night was fresh caught walleye and wild rice! You can guess who supplied the fish...
Stupid story: I bring a small Fiskar's brand hatchet to chop or split wood for the fire, I also bring a Gerber folding saw. For safety reasons I was using the saw to cut some smaller dry limbs 1-1.5 inches in diameter for the fire the first evening to cook our ribeyes. I thought I was being careful but the next thing I know I have a dual set of cut across the very tip of my thumb from the two teeth offset on the saw blade. No big deal... but then it started bleeding, and bleeding and would not stop! My hand was covered, it was running down my arm, I had dripped all over the fire pit area as I walked to get a paper towel. It would not stop! Finally got a bandaged on it, and the only way I could keep a bandage on it was with Duct Tape! So I had a nice big Duct tape thumb on my left hand for two day until it healed enough to stop bleeding every time I hit it! Remember, saws really are safer than hatchets!
Day 5 of 8
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 Windy this morning when I wake so, I try to sleep in a little but without success, I am up at 6:00 making coffee and having my morning bagels. The little squirrel which showed up yesterday shows up again, but doesn't stay long or bother anything which is good. The wind lays a little so decide to take the canoe out and see if I can redeem myself and beat my wife fishing... since she is not with me I stand a better chance! I manage to catch a smallie close to 4 pounds and various smaller smallmouth before I head back to camp as the wind picks up more. There I feel somewhat better in my ability! As the winds blows for most of the afternoon I spend time looking around the island and gathering firewood. I notice some plants that have leaves that looks suspiciously like posion ivy... but here? on an island 1/4 of a mile from Canada? It had no vine! Just a stem with 3 leaves... couldn't be!![paragraph break] Kim wakes at about 9:00 we have coffee and she has breakfast. We decide to try and get behind a couple of the islands out of the wind and fish some. We drift leeches and manage to catch more walleye for dinner, and plenty of smallies for fun. Around noon the action stops again so we head back to camp for some quality hammock time. I tie out our walleye that we kept, while Kim heads for her hammock. I am not too tired so I decide to do some exploring. While looking around I find a huge pine that has sawdust all around it. It gets me wondering what the heck has happened. I look closer and see ants! Carpenter ants I guess coming out of holes in the huge old pine and dropping bits of sawdust as they chew tunnels to move through and live in the tree... Sad!
Then back to camp and into the hammock for a snooze! A little later I notice a canoe passing in front of our cove, then another! Looks like 3 teens and an adult looking for a site! But they continue on. Around 4:30 I decide I am hungry, so it is up and take the walleye to the backside of the island to clean and then pans sear him with a little butter and oil, add a little sea salt, plate him up with some wild rice and dinner is served![paragraph break]
The winds of the day finally lay about 7:00 and the mosquitoes take full advantage of no wind! We quickly shower and head to the tent. The warm shower felt good! We are ready for sleep and it is only 8:00! One thing I notice is an itching sensation around my ankles, on the top of my left hand, and my right forearm. I contribute it to the active mosquitoes... Wrong!
Day 6 of 8
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 I awake around 5:00 but don't get out of bed until 6:00. (still itching some) Finally the call of a strong cup of coffee lures me out of the sleeping bag and tent, fighting to keep mosquitoes out so Kim can continue to sleep! The coffee and grilled bagels this morning are exceptionally good! Take the grill, put a little squeeze Parkay on the bagel, toast it, put cream cheese and strawberry jam on it... ummm good! I wake Kim up at 8:00 and ask if she wants to go fishing and exploring with me and she says yes. She is up, has coffee and breakfast and is ready to go by 9:00. She brings her good camera for taking pictures, and lunch for us as well (beef jerky, gorp, granola bars, etc)
We start by heading to North Lake and looking for the huge beaver dam that used to separate North from LLC. We find it finally, 2 feet under water! I knew LLC was high, but not that high! That is why we could not find the picto's as we passed the bluffs near Beatty Portage! And why the Forest Service table on the other site was much closer to the water. LLC had to be at least 6-7 ft higher than when we were here two years before! [paragraph break] We fish and explore all of the bays of Snow Bay, taking pictures of Loons, Eagles, and fish we catch.
We stay out all day until evening! It was a great day! The sunset was beautiful that evening.
We get back to camp late, I prepare Stove top Stuffing with Foil pack chicken and gravy for dinner. We eat dinner, shower and head to the tent as the mosquitoes start swarming and their hum in the air in audible! It is a hot night, and I lay on my sleeping pad, sweating and itching (I now realize I have poison ivy for real) even though I have medicine on. It is 1:30 am before I am able to get into my sleeping bag and fitfully sleep until 4:30 when I have to get up! I can't take the itching any more!
Day 7 of 8
Thursday, June 28, 2012 Once outside I take water and heat it until it is almost hotter than I can stand, and pour it on my hand, arm, and ankles to kill the itch! (it is the only way I have found to totally kill the itch for several hours) I dose up with Ivy Dry that Kim has brought and realize I can not stand another night like that! [paragraph break] I start breaking down the rods and reels for travel. I take down the tarp and pack all of the things I could pack before waking Kim at 5:30 and telling her we are leaving! She stuffs the bags, and rolls the pads, and gets everything in the tent ready before she comes out for coffee and breakfast. By 7:30 we are leaving our cove and campsite...
[paragraph break] The first 5 miles to Beatty Portage was quartering into a southwest wind, it takes us 1.5 hours to get there. I still had my leeches left over from fishing so I give them to the portage keeper's son ( who really liked my Bait King leech keeper, but he was not getting it!) They tell us the wind is supposed to blow hard that afternoon out of the west, which was good for us! But until it changed we had another 5 miles to paddle into a SSW cross wind to LIS River! [paragraph break] We reach the beaver dam below Devil's Cascade and decide to try and paddle through the wider breech in it! I tell Kim to paddle hard, and we accelerate and get almost through it before the rapid shallow water makes it difficult to paddle and keep our momentum. So we had to back out and then we tried a smaller breech to the right of the large one. Same problem, with more rocks! Now with a bunch of energy expended we paddle over to the left side and pull over. Much easier and smarter! On the way out I let Kim carry the much lighter food pack instead of the heavier main pack and single portage. Once across Devil's Cascade she had time to take some good pictures!
We finish the final 5 miles or so with the west wind blowing hard at our backs, blowing us easily against the current of the Little Indian Souix River. It takes us a little under 7 hours to get out, so we are back at the truck by 1:30. Once there we open the 4 doors, start loading things up, and take our time! Then when we try to start the truck... it doesn't start! Battery is dead! Kim walks out to the main road, saying a little prayer on the way, and in less than 5 minutes she stops two guys from Illinois who come give us a jump and we are on our way to Ely![paragraph break] Once at VNorth it is hot showers and cold beverages! Then to DQ for burgers, fries and a cold root beer for me (for some reason the foam on the LIS river below the rapids made me want rootbeer?) The after topping off the fuel at Cloquet and stopping for milkshakes at Gordy's we drove to Owatonna and got a hotel room for the night! Needless to say Kim paid the mosquitoes back for biting us in the BWCA on that drive! The next morning there was not a square half inch of my windshield that did not have bug guts on it! [paragraph break]
One final funny story! As we crossed Beatty Portage, the portage operator was working outside and had a headnet on for protection from the deer flies. once we were across, Kim ask me, "do you have any headnets"? I say yes, the same one I bought 7 years ago for you and have been carrying with me every trip you come on in case you wanted one... She puts it on, and when we finish the trip she wonders how she ever lived without it!! Here's a picture of the her in the headnet with deer fly patch on her hat! (thanks Adam for the patches)
Day 8 of 8
Friday, June 29, 2012 We get up at 6:30 am, eat breakfast at the hotel and then fuel up at Fleet Farms, (spending 10 minutes cleaning the windshield). Then it was 12 hours of driving to get home with stops in Kansas City for fuel and food. It was 8:15 when we got home! The trip was cut short, but we had a great time! [paragraph break]I think our next trip will be a little different. We want to go tot Ely, find a place to stay that has a kitchenette, do some day trips and visit some of the local attractions for a week. That way we can hopefully get to know Ely a little better and meet some more people!
Bruce and Kim