Day 1 of 8
Friday, August 14, 2020 I wake up a year older. Thankful for another opportunity to go to the Boundary Waters with family and friends. 3 of my 10 year old nephews are joining the adventure this year. My older brother Matt and his son Noah are rendezvousing at my house. With them, are a couple of friends. One of which has never experienced the greatness of the BWCAW. As I say my goodbyes to my wife and young daughter I don't feel near as much nervousness as prior years. This year I have a garmin in-reach. The Covid situation and taking 3 ten year olds finally was enough reason for me to spend the money to have the ability to know how our families were doing and vice versa. Anyway, 7 souls made the trip to Orr, Mn. We ate some Dam decent food at the Dam restaurant after checking into North Country Inn. The Inn seemed quite clean, friendly owner, and the hummingbird feeders on the windows of the rooms are a nice touch. We wanted to fish from their dock but a fierce T-storm moved through that evening. We were thankful we chose the 15th as our entry day.
Day 2 of 8
Saturday, August 15, 2020 The real fun begins. We head for Crane Lake and utilize Zup's for a tow to Snow Bay. Zup's were thankful for our business and we were thankful for the tow. We left Crane lake around 7:30 am. We had our canoes in the water and loaded in Snow Bay LLC at 9:30 am. It was a beautiful day with a tailwind so we wanted to get somewhere around the Lady Boot Bay area for a few days. Two ten year olds sat side by side in a our WeNoNah Seneca and one ten year old sat on the yoke of our Sundowner. The boys were eager to fish. We rigged up 3 poles with a deep diving Berkley shad rap of their choosing. Somewhere around 41 and 27 island on LLC their persistence produced the first fish of the trip and it was a beauty! After a nice fight my nephew Brody landed a nice 26" walleye. After spending quite a bit of time trying unsuccessfully to revive the fish we decided to cook it with our steaks for supper. By the time we reached our campsite all the nephews had hooked into at least one fish trolling (Average smallmouth and northerns). We beached our canoes on the North side of campsite:150 @ 2:30 pm. Campsite is as described by others. There is plenty of poison ivy to note along with plenty of traces of humans (nails in trees, live cuttings, table bound together with paracord and nails, a decent sized steel artifact submerged in south bay). We had two tents and 2 hammocks set up here. The boys played and fished on the south side of camp. They noted seeing a snapping turtle. We then cooked up some fish appetizers before having steak with mac and cheese.
Day 3 of 8
Sunday, August 16, 2020 Ate a quicker style breakfast after everyone was up. We usually have the option of oatmeal, cliff bars, wraps with your choice of PB, Jelly, and/or Nutella. Got out fishing around 8:15 am for a few hours. Caught some smallys, northerns, and at least one walleye. Kids enjoyed the beaches the site had to offer. They again noted seeing the snapper. We ate a bunch of spaghetti with 2 lbs. of meat. The boys fished as we cleaned up camp to head out in search of some lake trout. While doing dishes, my nephew Noah casted a Berkley Flicker Shad within striking range of the turtle. "Turtle on"...Matt scolded him a bit initially as we hurried over to the action thinking of how best to extract a hook safely from the old snapper. Either way the fight was on. As the snapper entered the shallows the hook came out immediately when the snapper opened it's powerful mouth. Turtle man Travis got a quick photo op with the beast. Noah was stoked and it made for a good story and good laugh. Went out fishing and did have some luck, but no lake trout. Enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we headed back to camp for the night. Hot chocolate for the boys and crown royal apple for myself when we returned. I reccomend at least a 750ml for 6 night trip.
Day 4 of 8
Monday, August 17, 2020 Fishing again around 8-8:30 am. We worked our way east towards fish stake narrows and took a break around 11 at campsite 167. We fished our way back to camp and arrived a bit before 2pm. Ended up keeping a couple walleye and a northern to eat. Threw back a few northerns and bass. Had a relaxing day at camp with fish and chili to eat. We cleaned up camp and utilized the last couple hours of daylight fishing for a LLC laker once more. My brother managed to hook into a nice fish in deeper water but got off before we could catch a glimpse. No LLC laker for us. Did catch another nice sunset though.
Day 5 of 8
Tuesday, August 18, 2020 I woke up around 6am and started packing up to head towards Finger Lake. 8:30 am we were fed, packed up, and canoes loaded. Paddled to Pocket Creek / Pocket Lake around 10am, Finger Creek / Finger Lake. The lake was vacant of other humans so we opted for island campsite 107 @ about 1130 am. We've stopped here for a break on a previous trip and were hoping to have the opportunity to stay at this site. Not a lot of good tent pads. Ended up sticking the kids tent right next to the large boulder with the hand prints. The boys had a good time fishing and swimming. They were up for awhile talking and laughing. The last time I strolled over to their tents to tell them to get to bed I heard some talk that really disappointed me. I made it real clear that the conversion was over and it was bedtime.
Day 6 of 8
Wednesday, August 19, 202 Character building day. One nephew got an earful first thing in the am followed by push ups. Every time I was disappointed thereafter during the trip in a nephews comments or lack of listening; push ups were required. It seemed somewhat effective. We then departed for a morning of fishing. No one caught a Finger Lake walleye. I did manage to hook into a 19.5" Smallmouth which was my personal best. Our friends and nephew Noah managed to land a couple pike we elected to keep for lunch. Spent the rest of the day relaxing, swimming, and kids fished around camp. A 3 person canoe cruised passed heading toward Pocket mid afternoon. We didn't think we'd see a lot of people in this area but we knew the wilderness was being visited by many this year, and for good reason. We've read about many first time visitors and mistakes that have been made. Anyway, the wind had come up a bit. We would have been out fishing but a storm was brewing to the west. Two canoes were seen in the distance coming from Pocket but did not come past us. The assumption was they saw our yellow CCS tarp and opted for one of the other open 3 sites on the lake. Awhile later as we were spread around camp hanging out, an unfamiliar "Hello" was heard in camp. We were surprised to see a young man ask if we knew where the other campsite was on the island. We explained that it was toward the north and showed him on the map. We asked if he needed any help, water, or food. He declined and went on his way to rejoin his group taking a trail that continues south west pass the latrine. After a few minutes, out from the woods comes a young woman. She explains that they can't find the other campsite. We pull out a MacKenzie, True North Map, and one other map and pointed out the campsite options. We asked if she needed any help, water, or food. She declined and went on her way to rejoin her group taking the trail pass the latrine again. The boys decided to play some hide and go seek and we tell them to stay within whistling distance. After a few minutes we heard some giggling and back came the boys saying the young man and woman were hanging out just beyond the latrine. The group had asked my nephews to please leave them alone. A fair request if they weren't hanging around our established camp . We then started to wonder why they were not in route to a campsite to set up. A few minutes later out from the woods comes a different woman. She greeted us and explained that they were quite exhausted and didn't think her son and daughter were up to any more paddling for the day. They had been dropped off at Snow Bay on LLC the day before. They were sent on a three day loop. She seemed to realize it was going to be a more ambitious paddling trip then what they must have expected. I offered to help look for and portage their gear to the other campsite. She explained that their tent was pitched for the night and hoped that was OK. She inquired about our lives some and explained that she was active duty military recently back from training out here with her kids. Knowing she had military background gave me some peace of mind that they would complete their journey after some rest. She again mentioned that the tent was set up. They wouldn't be loud and would be quick to bed. She asked how early we'd but up and what our plans were for the morning. We shared our intentions to get up around sunrise and head towards Beartrack, Eugene, Fat, and then to Slim if necessary. Her group was headed west to Eugene then north for a LLC Snow Bay pick up on the 21st. I updated her on the weather report from my garmin in reach. She thanked us for the info. and to the trail she went. We weren't sure what to think of this situation. It reaffirmed the importance of proper planning. Utilizing this website to have some idea of what to expect of your journey and optimal campsites in the areas you are going an essential part of proper planning for us. The rain started with lightning on the horizon to the west. We made soup, played cards, and tried to keep the boys from being loud, so as not to annoy our new neighbors near by.
Day 7 of 8
Day 8 of 8
Friday, August 21, 2020 7am we break camp. We finish the Fat Lake to Slim Lake portage around 830 am. Two adults double portaged. Slim Lake had one group of campers. Slim lake side of the portage to Little Loon was muddy in spots. Muddy as in one spot I stepped in resulted in me sinking to my groin. The Duluth pack had to be taken off me for me to get out. Other than that it went well. The boys were doing great taking smaller packs and miscellaneous items. We were on Little Loon around 915am. A nephew hooked up with a pike trolling. Many campsites were being utilized on Loon Lake. We reached Devils Cascade around 1145 am. The boys did well again attacking the Devilish portage. Finished this off with a couple of us double portaging at about 1230 pm. One group was having lunch there, another was site seeing, and the campsite was open at the time. We forged on veering East on Lower Pauness then headed for the short portage into Upper Pauness. 2 campsites were occupied that we saw along the way. Had a pleasant paddle down LIS River meeting 3 groups a long the way. We loaded up and headed for the showers and a good meal at Voyagaire Lodge in Crane Lake
Another great experience in the Wilderness. I think it helped the boys end their summer/covid break on a high note before school resumed. I truly hope this wilderness is left pristine for future generations. I gain a new appreciation for the information I recieve from this site every year. Keep planning that next trip. Dreams make life tolerable.