Day 1 of 5
Wednesday, September 02, 2020 [paragraph break] Following a similar protocol, the dog (as before we’ll refer to her by her pseudonym Cerberus; the last thing she needs is yet another social media stalker) and I got out of the twin cities at oh-dark-thirty and were on the trail by 10am. [paragraph break] Single portaging into Angleworm is an hour, maybe an hour-and-fifteen’s worth of work. We paddle up this scenic lake, stopping at the eastern campsite deep in a bay. This allowed us to climb a hill and briefly connect with civilization, and to check out some of the artifacts from the old logging camp there. We continued north through Home Lake at a leisurely pace and are on Gull by 2pm – notably with zero Charlie sightings! (DeWormed
[paragraph break] On Gull I am pleased to find a number of Lobster mushrooms – an enjoyable edible, and a fascinating fungus. The wind laid down and the lake was glass for the last hour of light – pleasant to be paddling, but the fish do not cooperate. Cerberus lays siege on the local Red Squirrel population. While she is both patient and fast, they are more patienter and more fasterer.
[paragraph break] It’s a nice campsite - the Eastern one – but I am not totally thrilled with the amount of garbage in and around the fire area. My pack just got heavier.
[paragraph break] Weather is brewing and I know the next day is going to be blustery – I had set up camp deep in the woods, and am glad I did. It started raining just after dark, and it blew 20-30, probably gusting up towards 40 mph through the night.
Day 2 of 5
Day 3 of 5
Friday, September 04, 2020 [paragraph break] Up early; our third day is a travel day. Cerberus and I have a permit to stay in Sundial PMA – Zone 5. Sunday Lake is our target, so this will take us up through Thunder and Beartrap, then river travel on the Beartrap. [paragraph break] We breeze through to Thunder, and pass a few groups heading south. Thunder and Beartrap Lakes are quickly dispatched, and then I pull a bit of a Charlie move. I glanced at the map and erroneously made the assumption that the 1153m (intrepid reader, that’s rods aplenty; 229 to be exact) began at the outflow of Beartrap Lake. Nope! Next bay North… But there is a portage at the outflow – seems to be on the wrong side (river left) but as it’s a decent enough trail by the Canadian standards that I am used to, off we go. This works well enough – let’s call it a ‘shortcut’! There are three quick portages and a beaver dam or two along the Beartrap in this stretch, prior to the point where the Beartrap meets Spring Creek. On the last beaver dam I make a rush job of reentry into the Magic, and find myself much wetter than intended. Cerberus also had her enthusiasm dampened. But it’s a two minute delay, no more, and a lesson for your muddy minstrel.
[paragraph break] Well over an hour after leaving Beartrap Lake, we get to the Spring Creek/Beartrap River junction, and turn North. Another portage is coming up – once again a single portage (931m – okay, 185 rods, but kind reader, I’ll have ask you not to be so picky) on the map; however it is actually 3 short ones, perhaps 500 meters (a CentuRod) in total. The last section of paddling has a couple beaver dam pullovers and is very meandering. We finally enter Sunday lake after about 4 hours of travel.
[paragraph break] Sunday lake is not the most scenic lake in the BWCA – very little exposed rock and not a whole lot of topography. It’s small with no islands and the most mundane of geometries. But on the other hand – solitude! There are two campsites ‘established’ on the lake. The one on the eastern shore was probably nice at one point but half a dozen significant blowdowns have rendered it pretty useless. The other site is small but has a decent landing, nice fire area, and room for one tent. Or in our case, one hammock and a tiny dog tent.
[paragraph break] We delegate tasks: Setting up Camp and Chasing Red Squirrels. Cerberus quickly demands we switch roles and then she puts the fear of Dog into the camp robbers. I was not going to say anything, but her skills with hanging the tarp are poor at best.
[paragraph break] Then a light lunch, but Woe! I find that my gorp (Trail Mix, for the culinarily-challenged) is wet! And, I realize, wet from mucky beaver water. Not good. I was counting on that – not much extra food to be found in my lightweight pack. Rats. But wait – inspiration – or possibly early-onset Beaver Fever! I decide that a little water, plus beavergorp, heated to a rolling boil…ought to do the trick. Luncheon is served. And while this one might not win any awards for a James Beard aspirant Chef, it got me some needed calories. This was to be lunch the next day as well.
[paragraph break] Out for some fishing in the late afternoon – a nibble or two but it’s slow. After dinner, a similar result. The stars are vivid that night; we have a relaxing evening and retire.
Day 4 of 5
Saturday, September 05, 2020 [paragraph break] Up early – the lake is blanketed in fog. Cool! We try again for fish first thing.
[paragraph break] Fished hard for close to two hours when finally! A small walleye is in the boat, and the breakfast menu has changed to include fish fry. Bon Appétit!
[paragraph break] Cerberus craftily negotiates an increased share when my back is turned, and we both then have Second Breakfast as well. I also enjoy some Mocha Latte. Life is good. I shower. There is a nap in there somewhere, a book (Falco series by Davis), Swans, some terrorizing of Squirrels, and when the sun gets low enough we head out to try our luck again; I must say Cerberus is not pulling her weight in the fishing department. It’s close to two hours once again before a walleye, bored to distraction by our inept fishing, commits the aquatic version of Seppuku, and we have a modest eater in the boat.
[paragraph break] I’ve left it late, so it’s quickly cleaned and then we share a fish fry dinner as darkness falls. We also both have Second Dinner – a special chicken-salmon kibble blend is prepared for the other guest and it’s fettuccine alfredo with fish morsels for yours truly. Most would opt for a nice Chardonnay but I prefer a Pino Noir; tragically I am unable to flag down the Sommelier. Dear reader, I am sure you can understand that this will not reflect well on my Yelp review. [paragraph break] This will be our last night, and we turn in sated.
Day 5 of 5
Sunday, September 06, 2020 [paragraph break] Up at 6:30, Cerberus eats but I do not; still feeling Second Dinner. Camp is down and we are paddling in one hour. A strong headwind out of the South is going to make this day a slog…it’s blowing 12-15 pretty constantly.
[paragraph break] We retrace our steps, and stay upright this time – take that, beaver dam. But just east of the Spring Creek/Beartrap Lake intersection, we find the West end of the 1153m portage back to Beartrap. Score! We jump on that and cover it in under 20 minutes – shaving off an hour from my ‘shortcut’ from two days prior. Sidenote – I specialize in those would-be ‘shortcuts’, and in that type of result.
[paragraph break] We fight across Beartrap and Thunder, and have to hug the shore on Gull. Winds intensify briefly, delaying the paddle across Home Lake for a short while, but we eventually launch, portage and then have to dip and duck along the shoreline to make it down the length of Angleworm. I don’t use the double-blade much but it was essential on this day. Back at the parking lot at 1:40 and home by 7. [paragraph break] The exit day was ~4.5 miles of single-portaging and ~8.5 miles of paddling. Without Charlie to keep me company, this was a much better trip. Sunday Lake was great solitude – glad we went - but I do not feel a burning need to go back soon. I think there is better scenery, better fishing and equal solitude in many other places within the BWCA. [paragraph break] As it was throughout this second trip, “Charlie on the MTA” is still stuck in my head. Cerberus as well, as you can see…