Day 1 of 7
We knew we would be getting a late start the first night and going in after people would advise. However, we knew we could easily get a site on Tin Can Mike. We stayed at the last sight on the Northeast side of the Lake. For a layover site we enjoyed it. It offered a great view, an excellent early morning viewing of the stars. There was really only one viable tent pad that I noticed. The landing was quite complicated.
Day 2 of 7
We left early while we could still see stars but knew we could make a lazy 10-20 minute paddle before we would reach TCM portage. We hit Horse Lake rather early by a calm breeze and ever thankful we left early. It was one of those days in which we knew the wind was going to blow. The Horse River paddled quickly. My sons were itching to fish more than ever before and for the first time in my life I said, “what the heck, why not.” So the boys fished the just beyond the last portage on the Horse River. Let me just it must be a spring spot. They caught one snake northern and one 7” SMB. We got it out of their system. Later the boys kept thinking maybe the fishing break was not such a great idea. By the time we hit the Narrows of Crooked we were dealing with intense wind gusts. They battled through it until it came to crossing Thursday Bay. The travel would have been difficult for two men at that point. In addition to the wind we had off and on rain most of the travel day. The boys had moments when they doubted we could reach Friday Bay and even discussed finding an alternative sites. Yet big hearts and the drive to reach Friday Bay campsite prevailed. They were exhausted when we made it to Friday Bay but we made it.
Day 3 of 7
We woke before the sun would consider rising. I happened to somehow pack the wrong sleeping bag which helped to wake me up predawn every morning. It turned out okay because my oldest and I enjoy sitting around the AM fire watching the lake. This is the only morning the lake would be dead calm. My youngest Corban and I decided to try some fishing in the very small bay just to the North of our sight. I rigged him with a bobber and a leech counting on a rogue morning walleye and a few SMB. Still in the water we held our position just beyond sub surface weeds and he through towards the shores. I rigged a deep diver and through beyond the “shallows.” I hooked up almost immediately for the biggest fish of the trip. It was a 38.5 inch Northern. We knew it was big as it worked us around the bay a bit. He slowly back paddled us to keep us away from shallower water weeds. When we got the first glimpse of it we knew we had a “gator.” I don’t know what it weighed. I did bring a small fold Frabill net to assist the boys in shore fishing but it was laughable when we saw the size of the fish. I prefer to land things by hand. Less lure/ net tangles that way equals more time with the bait in the water. We put it on the stringer and slowly paddled back to camp to show my oldest and take a picture of it. They did not like releasing it as they wanted to roast it on the fire. However, they understood why it was important. They boys caught several SMB and 2-3# Northern from the campsite throughout the morning. I am glad I packed the Hammocks as they really enjoyed them throughout the week. I took a nap on day three as I remember taking a nap on just about every day. Still, it was difficult to sleep for more than 30-45 minutes which is a good thing for me. I sent the boys for a firewood and fresh water run on all three days we spent on Friday Bay and on one day they visited the Friday Bay Beach. For basic safety we always had a two way radio on when either I or they left camp for any reason. I sent them on many “deeper” water runs as we used quite a bit and did not use the typical 4-5 gallon water bladder on this trip. It worked out well and I think it is something I will leave home on future trips. We carried a total of five liters worth of water and that was plenty between water runs. Catching plenty of fish we enjoyed fish on this evening as well as others.
Day 4 of 7
We started our day with a late BIG BREAKFAST of potato cakes, bacon, and eggs. We felt like kings in our wilderness paradise. After the always minimal breakfast cleanup we had exploring in mind. They wanted to explore the “Rock Beach” campsite but by this time it was occupied by two large families. It was encouraging to see them and at times hear them all having a great time. We paddled North/Northeast and hit the three small islands and after getting our fill of those we headed over to what I call “pinch point bay.” It is easily recognizable on Friday Bay maps. It seems like it could be a great spot to ambush bigger fish that would move into the bay to feed in the evening. We didn’t get around to fishing it this trip. On our way back they opted to bypass “Beach Bay” as they had already visited it the day before in search of drift wood for burning. We enjoyed a good fish fry for an early dinner and the boys were getting pretty good at cleaning up the dishes when finished. At this point they were becoming far more efficient at dishes than gathering quality firewood.
Day 5 of 7
I knew this was going to be our last day in Friday Bay so we had another BIG BREAKFAST. The hunger to discover more was infecting my youngest son more than my oldest. Emotionally we were beginning to wear out our welcome there. In the back of my mind I wanted to get to a point in which we could reach our entry within a few hours. Our plan for the day was to have a grand fish fry. I would say it was about mid-day and we were not satisfied with the amount of fish we had on the stringer. Shortly after we had stopped fishing in the morning an unseen turtle relieved us of two walleye in which we were greatly anticipating. This left us with only two walleye and one eater sized SMB. I had literally been telling my kids how when a snapper finds a stringer he will take the walleye off the stringer first because he knows they are the best…..and so he did. I paddled South of our sight to some downed trees and fished for the rest of our fish dinner. When I returned we began to clean the fish. One thing worth mentioning is that directly adjacent to the excellent landing of our sight was a small opening in between some boulders in which I am sure there was an active beehive. We had to be always conscious of their mood. After fish we all pitched in doing some pre-travel day packing which generally consists for breaking down rods packing reels, packing hammocks ect.
Day 6 of 7
We begin with a granola bar breakfast and hit the water. We portage out of Friday Bay via Papoose Creek way with the much anticipated Wagosh Portage. I knew it was long as they did also. To ease the potential burden of it we walked together and talked a lot the entire way. As far as I am concerned this is the only way to do it with kids. So canoe overhead we took off. I will confess that by the time we reached the end I needed their help getting the canoe off my shoulders. I went back with the boy enjoying the morning and go the larger external frame pack. I prefer to bring the external frame pack as it does not sit directly on the bottom of the canoe thus keeping it dry and much lighter. It was a very difficult day of travel. We faced strong South winds the entire day through the small lakes then Gun, Fairy, and boot. We opted to stay on Boot the next site south of the site directly across from “THE WALL.” It was a good site though the landing was very tough and it lacked good firewood. It saddens me to see how people treat the sights located closer to the entry points such as this one. When we set up camp we got to work fixing the benches around the kitchen area. It is almost as if someone thought they would use the ends of them as firewood. Beyond that you don’t have to look far to see downed tree (cut) in nearly every direction.
The site had several good tent pads which was a welcoming sight as opposed to where we came from. (It was worth it) It had two grassy sites and we slept well. I went out to troll for some Walleye for dinner and caught a few but only one nice walleye at what I would say was 3#. I put it on a stringer with on other smallish eye. We did not get to do a fish fry that evening due to the rain. I believe it was a bit warmer that night and with me having the wrong sleeping bag that was nice. We did an inventory of the food we had left in the pack and decided we were low enough on supply that we had to be very careful with what and how we ate. This was an issue, especially coming off a high calorie burned day big paddling and portaging we came off of. To me the lack of food we had in our pack was very concerning, more than I let on to them.
Day 7 of 7
Skies were threatening as the wind blew. There was no calm of morning today. We all went fishing drifting the narrows but the wind was too strong to drift effectively. We caught only one eater size Walleye. Of course we put it on the stringer and looked forward to a dinner that evening. A three Walleye dinner was better than none. By mid-morning it began raining steady. As we had rain gear this was not a great concern but by 1:00PM it did not look good. Moral was down and we were scheduled to head out early on Day Eight. I decided to join me while I rested in the tent. We wished we had remembered the playing cards. We reflected, journaled and discussed the trip. We finished up reading 1, 2, 3rd John in our tiny New Testaments. These are the passages of scripture we chose for this trip. I planted the idea of a hotel shower/pool and superior meal consisting of a burger and fries. The only thing that really appealed to them was the pool. I had the knowledge that the rain could last for three days straight in the boundary waters but they did not. Considering it was the tail end of our trip I planted the idea of heading out while we would still have enough light to make it to the car. They agreed so we packed quick and wet and shoved off. By the time we had showered at VNO I was really wanting to get closer to Indiana before I slept. It was getting on in the Evening (8:30) and every place with a pool was booked between Ely and Superior with the exception of one. Wow, am I really going to have to go back on my word? I wanted us to have a few things in our stay. A pool, laundry facilities, grand continental breakfast, and a clean room. I know this is asking for a lot but considering all things it was my desire. We ended up at the Holiday Inn Express paying far more than I was comfortable with but it fit the bill. And our great burger and fries meal was downgraded to McDonalds rather than the traditional Virginia Adventurers dinner.