BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 02 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1406 feet
Crab Lake & Cummings Lake - 4
Girls on Slim
September 29, 2011
Number of Days:
We had a couple pre-trip planning sessions, and gear was exchanged and packs were fitted. We selected the Souris River Quetico 18.5 as our canoe of choice for three people (otherwise known as "Snot" or "Relish" or "Water Moccasin" depending on who you ask).
At last, we 3 "girls" set out on a Thursday night after dance class for a wilderness adventure. We picked up Subway to fuel us, and thought we were headed north. Someone approached us at a stoplight and gave us dh's keys that were on the bumper of the truck - uh oh! A detour back home to return them, and we were off! The wind was CRAZY strong, and I worried the whole way if the canoe would simply crack in half with the pressure. I was glad to get protection from the trees the farther north we drove, but the wind was brutal the entire drive. In between worrying, we giggled and talked and texted our way to Ely, where Voyageur North had a bunk room waiting for us. Last call for electronics before they are banned for the rest of the trip :)
We passed a firefighter's jacket in the kitchen area and retired to our beds. "C" was hoping to meet a firefighter and tell them that her dad was also in that line of work. They were all sleeping when we got there after midnight, but it was cool to know they were resting up for another day battling the Pagami Creek wildfire.
Morning brought more giggles and uncontrollable urges to laugh. We packed the last odds and ends, picked up our permit at VNO, and headed off in search of breakfast. The Boathouse was the diner of choice for this meal, and we ate our fill. We circled back to VNO to grab a pack liner. I had a brilliant idea to take our indoor fleece sleeping bags along just in case the nights were too chilly for our regular bags. One liner bag (under $5) inside a mesh laundry bag we had along, and that would suffice for this trip. The day was sunny and cool as we drove up the Echo Trail, enjoying the dips and curves on the road we had to ourselves. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Yesterday's wind had returned by the time we reached Slim Lake, and we had to paddle like the dickens to go where we wanted to go. dd1 soon relinquished the bow to "C" who had more energy for paddling. The wind was against us, and it took a while to figure out how to work together to go in the direction we wanted to go. The lake was surrounded by splashes of brilliant color. It was all familiar to me from my trip with ds in late August. We passed the campsite where I stayed with him, and it was occupied by a couple with a dog. I was hoping for a 4-lake day, but the wind and the girls convinced me that maybe we could just stop at the northernmost site on Slim. So with promises of a 4-lake day trip the next day, we set up camp. The site was on a point designed to catch all the wind possible (for those sunny summer days with bugs). We nestled our tent back in the brush a bit and made the best of it. Soon, it felt like home sweet home. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Next, came a huge surprise for me... teenagers nap!! We got everything set up, then just snuggled right into our sleeping bags and took a nap. What fun! We woke up just in time for supper. Only problem was that we weren't very hungry. "C" had brought enough candy to stock a Halloween cauldron, and maybe it was the sugar high-fall that sent us into our comas... [paragraph break] [paragraph break] With "barf" and "canned dog food" jelly bean taste still fresh in my mouth, I made us some Mountain House lasagna using the water the girls collected and purified. We could barely finish off the 4-serving packet before thinking of bed again. So we stashed the new "Bear Vaults" of food, and a portage pack of extras, and went back to sleep. [paragraph break]
Though we were toasty in the 25-degree night (thanks to the extra sleeping bags!), we were awakened several times by DD1. DD1 heard a bear, and tried hard to make sure the rest of us heard it too. Alas, "C" and I kept falling back to sleep. Just for extra security we did tell the bear very sternly that there were 3 strong women in that tent! The bear snuffled off eventually and we got a decent night's sleep. In the morning, we saw that the bear had rolled over our kitchen logs, but all our food caches were totally untouched - yay! Bear - 0, Women, 1. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Come to find out, the girls spit the nasty jelly beans out in camp (since I wouldn't let them burn them or toss them in the latrine). I hope the bear got a stomach ache from eating some "skunk spray" candy! [paragraph break] Saturday dawned nice enough, with mist coming off the lake and relative calm... [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] but by the time we sat down to cook pancakes for breakfast, we needed a wind screen something fierce. We set up a makeshift kitchen farther back in the woods - the campsite was on a point and was perfect for picking up summer breezes, but we needed a bit more shelter from that piercing wind. Pancakes (and candy of course) in our bellies, we set about napping and reading and playing in hammocks all day. The girls set up one hammock for the both of them and I had my own that they eventually stole, ha. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] It was a relaxing day of doing nothing, because fighting that wind all day on a day trip was not anyone's idea of a good time. There were whitecaps all. day. long. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] We started dinner earlier this evening and made some pita pizzas (and candy, what else). [paragraph break] [paragraph break] My turn to cache the bear vaults this time, watched a spectacular sunset, and we retired to bed and books. [paragraph break]
The wind had continued howling all night long, so by morning we all voted to head for "town" and maybe bunk in Ely and see some sights. We had tried phoning VNO with some spotty cell service, but never confirmed with Lynn what we were looking for - finally gave up and just decided to take our chances. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] We packed up, paddled out (just as the wind was dying of course), and headed for the Chocolate Moose for pancakes! Alas, they had just put their pancakes away for the day and "C" had to get noodles instead. The pictures show that no one went hungry!! [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Then, the girls did some shopping while I changed and read a book. I met "Brent" from bwca.com due to my flying moose sticker on the Water Moccasin - fun! Then, we hit the Bear Center and got up close and personal with three bears because their enclosure was having some repairs made. It was sad that Hope had just been killed by a hunter because she came to his bait pile at the wrong time... :( We hung out there for hours and still didn't read or see everything. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] The girls picked out some stuffed bears as their souvenir, and we headed for VNO to see about a bunk. Once again, our timing stunk - VNO closed early because it was now FALL hours (after October 1). We checked to see if a key was at the gas station for us, but it wasn't... so we headed for a campground outside of town. Little did we know, Lynn left a key there about 30 minutes after we checked. Just our luck! [paragraph break] That turned out to be a blessing in disguise - Birch Lake Campground was a gem and we had our pick of sites. What a nice way to end the trip... on a beautiful lake, with our own beaver cutting yard nearby and lots of chewing all night long :) It may be "Pine Lake Campground" soon, ha! It was a fabulous fall day, with record temps over 80 degrees. A few pesky skeeters had come back to life, but overall it was ideal for a camping trip. The sunset over Birch Lake was amazing, and we soon set up camp and made the last of the pita pizzas. "C" started a blazing bonfire, although we got tired quicker than expected and ended up dousing it and going to bed. [paragraph break]
We woke and went to see what damage the beavers had done. The night before we visited their cutting yard and placed our hands on the huge tree they were gnawing from the water. We could hear their chewing and feel the vibrations of the action, but the beavers were mostly hidden in the dark. The wood chips were HUGE! It was very cool to see the finished work (for the day anyway) from the beavers. They surely do earn the description "busy beaver"! [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Then it was time to try for the Chocolate Moose pancakes again. Alas, the Moose was closed on Mondays now (it's Fall remember?) so we hit another local diner called Britton's and boy those cakes were worth it! Overflowing platefuls of pancakes for the girls... wow. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] I had wanted to actually SEE the Pagami Creek fire impact somewhere, but alas all roads were blocked to anywhere near the fire (which was still actively being fought). So we did the next best thing and stopped at the ranger station to get some information (aka education). A ranger official told us of her personal experience with fire (losing her Isabella home as a young teen) and of her recent flyover. She said people were already reporting grass growing and animal tracks, etc. Frogs were out again! We stopped into the information office and saw the current map and some videos of planes and copters scooping water and dumping it on fire areas. I can't wait to go back when the fire is over and see what the land looks like. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Then back down Route 1 to the North Shore - we all wanted to see the BIG lake in the fall. It was a nice drive with a stop at Kawishiwi River campground to see where dd1 puked last summer on her Angleworm trip with dh. We arrived at Tettegouche sometime after lunch and realized we wouldn't be able to do any hiking or sightseeing if we wanted to be home at a decent time... [paragraph break] So, off we went to Palisades for a look at Shovel Point from afar. Then on to a rocky beach for a farewell to Lake Superior. I sat and snoozed briefly in the sun while "C" hunted for rocks and dd1 wrapped up some homework. An uneventful drive followed and we were back in town by around 7pm. Whew, what a day. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] All good things must come to an end. So did this trip. I still haven't paddled past Slim Lake, we missed out on a second night at the VNO bunk house, we never did get Chocolate Moose pancakes, nor did we get to go to Listening Point, the Dorothy Molter Museum, the Wolf Center, the Piragis Outlet store, etc. etc. So? We must go back... we left plenty of things undone and hopefully a thirst to return. [paragraph break] I had an absolutely delightful time with dd1 and "C". We worked well as a team and compromised for group enjoyment. The girls are full of life and good humor and they were both good sports. [paragraph break] "C" was a joy to have along. She entertained us chopping firewood over a rock, and sent us to the moon on candy sugar-highs. The whole town of Ely knew her by her glowing red furry slippers she wore around town shopping. Her smile lit up the days. [paragraph break] dd1 entertained us with texting on the way to Ely, and hammock tricks in camp. Her bear story will live on over the years. Her irresistible smile warms my heart. I will be eternally grateful for these memories we have made and the times we have shared the wilderness together. [paragraph break] I look forward to reliving this trip and others around a campfire for years to come. Thank you girls. You are both beautiful, inside AND out!!