BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
February 25 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1324 feet
"This trip will be taking off from Fall Lake up through Newton Falls portage onto Pipestone Bay campsites. 3 day, 2 night trip into the wilderness.
First Quetico Trip... The Epic Journey
May 28, 2004
Number of Days:
Inlet Bay (Basswood Lake), Bayley Bay (Basswood Lake), Burke Lake, ? Lake, North bay (Basswood Lake), South Lake, West Lake, ? Lake, Shade Lake, ? Lake, Grey Lake, Yum Yum Lake.
We decided to save some time and get to Prairie Portage early by taking a towboat across Moose lake and we did. We arrived at the put in at about 7:15 and were at PP around 8. As if on-Q the black flies made their presence known to use with a warm welcome into Quetico. This was our first trip to Quetico and we were not sure what to expect at the ranger station but all in all it only took about 20 minutes per group to get through. We managed to get about 5th in line so we didn’t have to wait long. By approximately 9:30 – 10:00 we were on our way.
The weather was nice, and strangely the wind was at our back seemingly pushing us into the depths of Quetico. In the past, nice weather and wind at our backs was an omen of tough travel ahead. The trip across Inlet bay and Bayley bay was pretty uneventful besides the larger waves and speed we made it across. One smallmouth was caught and released right before the portage. After we got the first portage under our belts we were flowing fairly smoothly. At end of the portage onto North Bay we decided to do lunch at the island right there. Mmmm meat and Cheese. We then decided to take the northern rout to Kahshapiwi for two reasons… Possible pictographs on Shade Lake… and we were told to avoid the portage from Yum Yum to Kahshapiwi… So we had to see why… LOL. After lunch the wind continued to push us north and the sun continued to shine through south and west lake, an unnamed lake, and into Shade Lake. We paddled over to where the pictograph is marked on the map but were unable to find it (That doesn’t mean it’s not there, we might have missed it). This was the last time we saw other people for a couple days but up until the next lake there were several people around at all times.
We headed over to another unnamed lake and then a portage into Grey lake. We ran into a little trouble here. When we got down to the lake and put in, the map indicated an island that we couldn’t see. I was taken for another loop after looking at the compass and north was in the opposite direction. We managed to come back to the same lake we just came from about 50 yards south of were we took out. I was a little disturbed but what could I do, I was just following the guy in front of me…. So, we took the portage again with a little more searching and found the correct rout, through a bog of probably bottomless muck of course. That made the 128rod portage a little more than 128rods. After that little bit of confusion was over we made it into Grey and Yum Yum lake just fine.
That night we ate hearty meal of Yum Yum lake soup and a whole watermelon. The idea of packing a watermelon has been a running joke with the foodbag guy since January. When the Cookie showed up late Friday before the trip with a watermelon it was only natural for some late night shenanigans to get the watermelon into the food bag. By Yum Yum lake the foodbag guy wasn’t about to carry it any farther. In fact, he suggested stopping an eating it about every time he had a chance to. At about the time I got into the tent and laid down on a therapeutic root and/or pinecone, the rain started and fatigue put me to sleep.
Yum Yum Lake, Kahshahpiwi Lake, Keefer Lake, Sark Lake.
Day two was overcast and chilly right at the start. We broke camp and made our way to the “Don’t use this” portage and started on up the hill. This portage was rough from the start with quite an incline to start, although the topo said the steep part was going to be on the downhill side, it was no surprise. Once on top of the steep part we took off the Kevlar helmets, or canoes as other people call them, and packs and we enjoyed a wonderful view from a cliff over a cedar swamp and caught our breath. The rest of the portage was not to bad and downhill the rest of the way.
Once on Kahshapiwi Lake it wasn’t long before we caught a lunch of lake trout and a walleye. After catching enough to eat we made a b-line for the pictograph site on this lake. These were not too hard to see. If memory serves me correctly there was a salamander like form, something that looked like a turtle and a couple other images. We took in the sites and headed back north to find a campsite to make lunch. I was definitely ready to eat by then, my feet were freezing and we had a long paddle before we reached our final destination for the day. The water in Kahshapiwi is frigid!. After lunch we paddled out onto the lake to “Deep 6” the fish remains. As soon as I began launching the fish from the canoe we had seagulls within 6 feet of us. Even more amazing than that was that a couple seconds later and eagle soared right over us and up into a tree to wait for us to get out of the way. The rest of Kahshapiwi greeted us with a little wind and rain all the way up and through Keefer Lake.
Keefer lake was another hot fishing lake and dinner was caught, more lakers and another walleye, which we carried over to Sark lake. I was amazed at the fight in these lakers. (Dragging a weight about 5 feet in front of a spoon). The first fish came in “like a wet sock” until it got near the boat and then BAM! the fight was on… several good runs straight down making the reel scream but eventually the fish began to tire and I managed to get it up to the boat. After that tiring battle I was rewarded with a healthy 5 lb laker in the boat. As soon as I got the fish in the boat and ready to catch up with the other boats I put the spoon back in the water and gave it some line as we began to paddle. As soon as I set the bail the spoon was slammed again! I couldn’t believe it! This fish fought from the getgo and at first I didn’t think it was a laker till it was closer to the boat and started doing the reel screaming straight down dives, then I knew it was another. This fish wasn’t quite as big but 4 lbs or more still. Once in the boat I put the rod down and played catch-up with the rest of the group. At the portage we saw the one other boat had a laker and a walleye so we knew dinner was taken care of.
Once in Sark Lake we made a b-line for the first “out of the wind” campsite we could find which wasn’t to far. That evening was spent warming up next to a fire in some dry clothes after a long cold day. All evening the weather was threatening to pour on us but just kept up with the cool mist. I don’t think it took anyone long to fall asleep.
This is the only day we didn’t see another sole.
Sark Lake, Cutty Lake, Metacryst Lake, ? Lake, Baird Lake, Cub Lake, Cutty Creek, Eag Lake, Cutty Creek, Camel Lake
Another morning welcomed us with wind and mist but we ignored the weather and went about getting ready for another day. The wind wasn’t all that inviting on the lake but not to the point of being undoable so we set off. Once into the narrow bay up to the portage to Cutty lake the wind wasn’t to bad and the fishing was pretty good. Nobody kept anything to eat because nobody wanted to carry fish over the next couple portages but my boat caught a couple lakers, a smallmouth, and a pike. I believe at least one other boat did as well. Near the end of Sark lake we ran into three people in two canoes headed in the opposite direction toward Kahshapiwi, we said our hellos and bided good luck with the fishing. These were the only people we saw on day 3.
By the time we reached Cutty lake the wind had died down and we just had to deal with some non-stop mist that continued the rest of the day.
One thing we’ve all learned about the weather in the northwoods is it can be cold or hot, wet or dry, windy or calm…. and we will deal with it and have fun anyway…. The same also goes for the bugs!
On to Metacryst lake we encountered a moose swimming in the grey mist ahead of us. We all paused and watched as the creature made its way across the lake and onto the opposite shore. Man, are they huge! A moment later it vanished into the forest and we continued on.
After the portage from Metacryst we went to a small pond to the northwest. We tried to catch lunch but nothing was taking so we gave up and decided to eat lunch, build a fire, and make some coffee to warm up a bit. As we sat on the island we could see that there was definitely fish feeding on the surface. I speculate that this was a brookie lake and were weren’t using the correct tackle for them. The island we did lunch on was full of teaberries… at least before we were there…. After lunch we decided to pick up the pace and make it to Camel before we called it a day. That made for a bunch of paddles and portages through Baird Lake, Cub Lake, Cutty Creek, Eag Lake, Cutty Creek again, and onto Camel Lake. Exhaustion was setting in and people were boarder line moody this evening but nerves were settled after a hearty bowl of Camel Lake soup… and some whiskey! We then rested up for, tomorrow was to be “THE TOUGH DAY!”
(I’ve realized time and time again there are issues in larger groups with group dynamics… who’s Alfa male?…. but the group’s been building/streamlining for 6 years now and we’ve dealt and will continue to deal through thick (powwow through the arrow chain PMA) and thin (falling into some swamp and laughing about it)… I’m sure of it)
Camel Lake to Shortcut stream to Veron Lake, Delahey Lake, Conmee Lake first southeast bay.
Day 4 we got to an early start breaking down camp. The sky still appeared to threaten rain but it wasn’t raining yet. Early in the morning, just as I was getting up, two of the group members ventured on to check out a possible alternative rout off of Camel. Instead of taking the long portage down to Veron, we decided the stream to the east might be an option to travel by way of bushwack. About the time camp was broken down and people were fed the two scouts returned and gave it the thumbs up… they saw an existing “trail”.
We made our way to the start of the stream which we were determined to follow and unloaded the canoes right next to a cool little shoot/falls/waterslide where the stream entered the lake. At the beginning of the bushwack the “trail” wasn’t all that bad especially after the first three canoes had all ready cleared out a pretty good path. This stream proved to be a nice alternative to the portage because there was a lot of canoeable water and all the portages were short and relatively easy for bushwhacking terms. We might have even seen some wildlife as we slid through the swamp had we been able to bushwack a little quieter but that wasn’t the case… by far! Although it took a little more time than the portage would have, I’d take that rout again in a heartbeat. By the time we made it through the worst of it the clouds had broken and the sun was starting to shine. We were all ready for some sunshine by that point!
Once through the stream and down onto Veron the bite was on as one of the other boats pulled in a smallmouth. We started casting then and caught ourselves lunch within a matter of minutes with some hot smallmouth action. I was using a jointed black and gold rapala that’s about 4 inches long. We paddled down into Veron a short distance till we found a good rocky outcropping on an island and had lunch, made water, and dressed for sun. We then packed up the canoes and headed over to Delahey. Just as we were getting to the portage we saw a canoe, which is the first we saw for day 4.
Then we paddled across Delahey to our doom… known as the Conmee Death march (to us) which is a grueling set of 195 rod, then 290 rod, and a 141 rod portages… with a couple puddles in between. About halfway across the portage the group stopped and took a break to eat an orange. It was a much needed stop and a good chance to pick off the ticks we accumulated. We finished the final leg of the portage and onto an unnamed lake before long. By this time the wind was settled and the water was as smooth as glass. It was so calm, in fact, that it was one of those opportunities to take a picture with such a reflection that you might turn the picture upside down and not know which way was right. I haven’t developed my film so I’m not sure how mine turned out yet. One more 14-rod portage and we were finally on Conmee Lake.
We stopped briefly to rest up on Conmee and fish at the base of the rapids but the bite was slow and only a couple of pike were caught…. and released. We started to paddle down the lake in hopes to find the perfect site but when we reached the island we thought would be good, it was all ready occupied by some others… that’s 2 canoes spotted for this day… so we headed south. Another day of exhaustion was upon us. One thing I have to get used to are the campsites in Quetico are not usually marked on the maps so you’ve got to find them. As we searched we passed a couple small sites that didn’t look like we could find a flat spot for four tents so paddled on. At the end of the day with little daylight left, patience wearing thin, and hunger pressing us to find a spot… we reached another point were some of us were not the happiest of campers… At the same time, with the sun setting on the bay we were in, the rocks on shore reflected a brilliant white glow and the glass calm water with perfect reflections making it hard to distinguish any detail on the shore, even more powerful were the lavender colored clouds spread across a sky with a blue to orange sky backdrop… I didn’t really have a care in the world…. I reached my Zen. I can’t believe it took me 4 days to melt a years worth of stress, but at this very point it all washed away.
We managed to find a camp shortly there after that suited whatever people needed to call it a camp, setup the tents, ate some Conmee Lake soup, and enjoyed the calm of the night. This night the full, or close enough to it, moon was beaming down on us enough to cause noticeable shadows. This was also the first night that it was calm enough to hear the sounds of the night…. Loons, frogs, etc…. I slept well that night.
Conmee Lake, Suzanette Lake, Brent Lake, ? Lake, McIntyre Lake
Day trip McIntyre Lake, Paulene Lake, Burt Lake, Paulene Lake, McIntyre
Day 5 started out with the drumming of a grouse very close to camp but never seen. I woke up several times in the morning to hear it’s drumming and even as we were leaving camp it continued. It was decided that this day was to be the “Easy Day” since we had pushed hard for the past 4 days and were right on track. To the best of my knowledge we stayed in the ballpark of 12-16 miles per day. Day 5 was not really an exception due to a side trip but at least we didn’t have much gear with us when we did that. So, we woke up, had breakfast and casually broke down camp.
Once we were on the lake the wind picked up a little but once again, it was at our backs and the sun was shining. We only had about 300 yards on the lake before we hit the portage. About midway across the portage to Suzanette lake we saw a geographic marker with the longitude and latitude marked on it. … right in the middle of the path. I didn’t stop to look at it mainly because I was wearing the Kevlar helmet and wasn’t about to stop. I’m sure someone in the group took a picture of it.
At Suzanette Lake we headed toward the portage to Brent Lake, down through a noname Lake and onto McIntyre. As soon as we were out of a little bay and McIntyre opened up we saw one campsite that was occupied to the north so we headed south to an island campsite. We were just starting to unload our stuff when the people from the occupied camp appeared from out of nowhere and pleaded with us to head farther south to the next set of sites. The reasoning was good enough, “So we don’t see another fire at night, and you don’t either.” So we decided to oblige their request. Had we not found a site close buy I think we were all prepared to head back to that site but we were rewarded with one of the nicest sites I’ve camped in. It was another island site with open woods and lot’s of big rocks. The only downfall I can recall is that the skeeters were out in force but I am sure that would have been the same anywhere. As soon as we landed my paddling partner, Cookie, pointed at a giant rock and said “Let’s throw the tent up, there” as I joke, I think, but I did and It was the flattest softest surface around. It was probably the nicest tent spot we had the entire trip.
Once camp was set up, water made, and lunch was eaten we decided to do our side trip. We traveled northeast, less the two rookies, through Paulene Lake and over to Burt Lake to check out the pictograph site. Once we reached the cliff we spotted the pictographs. This site isn’t much more than a couple of handprints and some other unidentifiable markings that have seen years of weather.
The three canoes had previously agreed to push to the pictographs and then fish on the way back to catch some dinner so that’s what we did. Working for fish back through Burt Lake, for my canoe, was unsuccessful so we portaged into Paulene behind one of the other two boats. About midway across Paulene neither of the two other canoes were in sight. As we sat there and watched the portage from Burt lake, waiting for the third canoe, an osprey skirted around the shore and up over the hill into Burt. Later we heard from the guys on Burt Lake, they got to witness the osprey perform a couple of dives into the water…. I’m Sorry I missed that. The fishing on Paulene made up for it though. Soon, the Cookie began to pick up some largemouth’s. So I rerigged my gear and started to catch them too. By the time we reached the portage into McIntyre we had dinner covered. We were using floating rapalas and picking them up on top water occasionally which was a lot of fun. We waited there for the third canoe and when they arrived they added to the dinner menu a pike from Burt Lake.
Back at camp we cleaned the fish and swatted the bugs. By far my favorite dinner of the whole trip was had this night…. FISH TACOS! With rice, refried beans and hot sauce… I wish I was eating one right now! Way to go Cookie!
The rest of the night was shared around the fire passing platys. The lake was calm, the moon was still shining bright. Off in the distance, almost to far to distinguish the sound, was a whip-poor-will crying it’s monotonous song… for hours. The loons also gave a quite a choir off and on the whole night. The rock was we slept on was very comfortable.
McIntyre Lake, ? Lake, ? Lake, Fishhook Lake, Ted Lake, Milt Lake, Newt Lake, Little Newt Lake, Gardner Bay, Crooked Lake, Bart Lake, Craig Lake, Robinson Lake.
Day six started off excellent. I woke up and laid in the tent listening for movement in camp indicating the coffee was being made, but that wasn’t the case, the only thing I heard was the cry of an eagle from across the lake. I ended up getting out and rattling the pots and pans… I mean, getting the coffee ready. We took our time getting up and breaking down camp this morning because we had a long day ahead of us.
Day six was to be the day of unmarked portages.
After camp was broke and we were out on the water we headed to the northwest corner of McIntyre. Instead of taking the marked portage to the unnamed lake to the west, we headed south on our first unmarked portage into another unnamed lake. This portage, once we found it, was up a fairly steep incline and on an older, less used path. We attempted to keep the group within sight as we crossed the portage so nobody would get lost. I’m not sure we accomplished this but I did stop on occasion to let the person behind me catch up. I distinctly remember a couple things about this portage. The first thing I remember, and the others would most likely recall is that once we reached the rock outcropping on top of the hill we were going over… we weren’t out of the water yet. We all though it was odd that we still had to worry about knee deep mud on top the hill as much as we did down in the swamps as we walked over logs in mud. The other thing I will not forget is that, while waiting for the foodbag guy behind me to catch up, I peered down to my clothes and notice ticks. We typically reserve the “tick check” for the far end of the portage so I didn’t stop to remove them but instead, waited till I reached the lake. By the time I reached the lake, breaking trail the whole way, I had accumulated 15 “accounted for” ticks…. That set a new personal record for me… I was so excited! (insert sarcasm here)
The next unmarked portage was easy to find as were all the others. The portages where exactly where you would think they would be. The trails were in rough shape but not so bad that you had to put down the canoe to get through.
At the next portage I spotted my first buckbean flower. That might not be a big deal to many people I just happen to be into bog flora and fauna a little more than the next guy (Depending solely on who the next guy is of course). Buckbean flowers are bunched together similar to a hyacinth but white and fuzzy. I’m not sure how they smell though. The next lake was small and fishing was slow so besides waiting for the others to catch up, we didn’t spend too much time on it. Once onto “fishhook” lake we checked out a campsite on the east side for a note jar that we had heard was there to no avail then continued on our way to Ted lake. The portage into Ted Lake was kind of neat because it follows the stream from “Fishhook” to Ted lake. The stream had some nice secluded and seldomly seen rock faces and waterfalls that made the portage just a little bit easier to tolerate.
Once down onto Ted Lake, a very clear lake, we made our way over to the pictograph site. My memory of this site isn’t that vivid but I do recall there were several images that were fairly easy to make out including a drawing of a moose and possibly a bear. So far on the trip this was the most impressive of the pictograph sites. After viewing the pictographs we paddled over to a rock point and made lunch… Szechwan Veggie Noodles!
We still had a long day ahead of us so after lunch we packed up and were on the water in no time. We breezed through the portages and paddles of Milt, Newt, and Little Newt lakes till we were on Garder Bay. Once we reached Gardner bay we took a breather and did a little fishing with only one pike to show for it. We also saw our first group of other people for the day. We continued south through Gardner Bay to the portage into Crooked Lake. We knew instantly we were back on the marked portages and main travel rout. This portage was like a highway compared to the past five days portages but nobody was complaining. Once we were on Crooked Lake we sat and waited for the others to catch up and just peered around the lake. We saw at least 4 other canoes on the water but more discouraging than that was the front coming in from the west. Once the group was together we high tailed it to the portage into Bart Lake. Once across Bart Lake, Quetico threw us for another loop. The portage wasn’t where it was indicated on the map. We must have spent half an hour trudging up “possible” paths till I decided to paddle south to where the stream flows from (or to) Craig Lake. It wasn’t long till we spotted the portage. We then turned back to get the others, who were just about to start bushwhacking into the forest. Craig lake was a nice clear lake with blue-green waters and a sand/gravel beach at the portage to Robinson Lake, that I would have liked to explore a little more but the front was closing in on us, so we pushed on. As soon as we hit Robinson Lake we headed east to the first campsite we could find, which was also marked on the map.
It was a long day but some of the others still joked about pressing on… I thought I had brought them to complete delirium but with so little light left in the day… I didn’t take them up on the offer.
As we setup camp and took care of the evening chores the front shifted its direction enough that it passed us to the north leaving us dry for the night but the wind continued to threaten to bring on the rain. This night dinner wasn’t all that good, so I apologize to the foodbag guy for this (If he reads this anyway). We insisted on bringing split pea soup against his will. We did have one treat that night that was worth wow. We had packed some “southern cured” bacon that was vacuum packed. It’s a little saltier than normal bacon but it’s still bacon. That night the sky was patched with clouds that would occasionally pass in front of the still present excessively bright moon. Another picture perfect scene to end the day.
Robinson Lake, Tuck River, Moose Bay, Basswood River, Through Upper and Lower Basswood Falls, Basswood Lake to Canadian Point.
Day 7 started off without a glitch. The weather was already wonderful with a slight breeze and a sunny sky, which continued throughout the day. As breakfast was made and camp was broke we had a rather curious visitor in camp in the form of a bird. Being that I’m also into birds, I kept a vivid picture of the bird in my memory for later identification. It was the yellow bellied sapsucker…. Really!
As we got onto the water we agreed that we would fish our way down through the Tuck River into Moose Bay and meet up at the pictograph site on Basswood River. I didn’t fish to hard on Robinson Lake and headed directly toward the river. As we winded down the river fishing was slow and the river was shallow but the scenery was nice enough to keep it entertaining. We managed to creep up on two different deer as we made our way to the two sets of rapids we had to portage. As soon as we landed at the portage around the rapids/falls we grabbed our fishing poles and walked down to the middle section of rapids. It wasn’t long before the Cookie had a fish on. After about 15 minutes we had landed about 5 smallmouth, which we put back in the water. He was using a floating rapala and I was using a jig with a power leech. By now the others had caught up to us so we grabbed our stuff and made the portage to the bottom of the rapids/falls. At the base of the rapids we fished a little more. I only caught snags but the others managed to land a couple smallmouth.
The paddle through Moose bay was fairly uneventful due to no moose being in the bay… Oh well. As we passed through the narrows before Basswood River we did manage to see a pair of mergansers chasing each other or fish, I couldn’t really tell what they were doing but, non-the less, they were entertaining to watch. As we made our way down the Basswood River we saw our first canoe of the day, but there would be many more after that.
The pictograph site was one of the highlights of the trip. There were several panels of drawings. Some of them were much higher than I expected and can only speculate how and why they were up so high. Some of the drawings I distinctly remember were a canoe with several passengers and flags, some pelican looking birds, the great lynx Missipeshu, a fish in a net?, a moose with a calf, and my favorite, a moose smoking a pipe. Unfortunately we had some miles to cover so we didn’t stick around all that long. If I ever pass by the area again I will definitely go out of my way to visit this site again.
We paddled down to the base of the lower Basswood Falls and did a little fishing in the fast water. The Cookie managed to catch a walleye right off the bat but that was the only walleye caught there so fish were not had for lunch. Just about the time all the canoes were landed at the base of the falls, one of the others landed a nice pike but that was also released after pictures were taken. We ended up making lunch there at the campsite/portage. The lunch consisted of dried fruit, the remainder of our snack food, and my soon to be famous potato pancakes… which still require a little tweeking… but they were an improvement over my past attempts which turned out to be my famous hot energy paste. The occupant of the campsite also joined us for a little lunch. A pine squirrel that has no fear buddied up to us for a little bite. We had to keep an eye on our food bag or I think he would have just packed himself inside.
The paddle through the Basswood falls was almost grueling. They are definitely nice to see but the fishing was slow unfortunately, although it was high-noon, and just about every time we put the canoes back into the water we had to take them out and do another portage. There are some shortcuts we could have or should have taken but we didn’t. Oh well, live and learn. We managed to make it through anyway.
At this point we were on Basswood Lake. We had arranged a tow the next day from the narrows between Lincoln and Washington islands so we wanted to get fairly close to them to ensure we didn’t have any issues getting there the next day. We paddled and fished through Basswood Lake to the tip of American point occasionally checking for campsites on the Canadian side to no avail. On one of the islands we checked my map had a marking on it with a square and a dot. When we checked out the island, I found what that indicated. There was metal spike in the rock with the same number punched in it as a reference marker. The water was calm so the paddle wasn’t difficult. I didn’t fish to hard on the lake but others had picked up a couple of walleye. Had I known that they were picking up fish I might of tried a little harder.
Another late day paddling put us on the rush to find another unmarked campsite along Canadian Point before the sun went down. When we were about to give up and make a site, the spot we chose had a fire ring. As we settled down for our last night in Quetico we enjoyed a hearty bowl of spicy Basswood Lake soup and then the platys were passed to finish them off. I struggled to stay awake and enjoy the time as long as I could but soon the exhaustion of a long day’s paddle set in and I was off to bed.
Point on Lincoln island………. Wind bay, Wind Lake, Moose Lake.
Oh, the last day of the trip is always a melancholy one for me. The voices in my head tell me to turn back but the grip of impending reality pulls me back to the mainstream. If I could just have slept longer maybe I wouldn’t have had to deal with the last day but I just couldn’t fall asleep again. As I got up and out of the tent, the others were all ready moving about and the coffee was just about ready. The sky was covered in clouds, it was raining in the distance, and wind was over the water. We got camp broken down and moving on the water earlier than we needed.
For some reason, the desire to get out of the wild moves some people quicker than others. It’s been par for the course that we do this “mad rush back”. I can speak for the Cookie and I that we were in no rush to return but return, in fact we did mention turning around more than once that day but I’m not sure how serious we were.
About halfway from camp to the “pickup point” the rain hit us. It wasn’t so bad though, as the rain moved in, the wind died down. We made it to the “pickup point” in no time. Possibly poor planning on my part or I’ll call it “error on the safe side” got us there hours before the scheduled pickup time. Sitting on a rock point for hours was not how I intended to spend my last day. After sitting, standing, and pacing for hours, the time of the pickup was finally at hand. Every motorboat that passed perked our ears and we would get anxious and shuffle around some more. Fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes past our pickup time and we started to wonder… Did they get everything clear for our pickup? The guy who we dealt with… was he on top of his game? The others started to panic a bit, as they believed the distance out would not be achievable if we waited much longer. After about 40 minutes I started to get the itch to. That’s when the conference took place… Do we wait or do we head out? We voted to head out. I had previously planned a rout out before the decision to rent a tow boat was made… I wasn’t too worried because we didn’t really have far to go to get out. Deep down inside I think/know most of them thought I didn’t really reserve a tow out and this was all part of my diabolical plan. The only defense I had for that was one of the others was there with the outfitter when he was calling about the tow.
I know that the Boundary Waters, jealous girl that she is, took offense to our combustion engine cruise through her on our way in… She wasn’t about to let us just cruise on out of her in the same fashion… No… She had to get a piece of us also and she did. She was the one that got us hooked on this land in the first place so I wasn’t offended.
After an hour passed, we jumped into the canoes and started out. The wind was calm and the rain had stopped. We paddled south into Wind Bay and portaged on the highway of a portage (not only are they less muddy and thick in the B-Dub… they smell better too) into Wind Lake, across Wind Lake and portaged to Moose Lake and to the landing. At the landing our equipment was collected and we packed the vehicles and headed off.
My canoe was all ready working on a diplomatic resolve to the issue of the lack of tow before we made the landing. We had to get to the outfitter and resolve the situation before one of the more boisterous others got there. That’s just what we did. As soon as the boats were landed we sent the Cookie to go make sure they didn’t close and knew we were on our way. I was the second to arrive and the outfitter was all ready very apologetic and ready to refund our money and offered perks if we used them again. We even squeezed in eight free showers to top it off. I don’t know for sure how this will affect the decision of who we use next year, but I’m sure it will weigh in.
After the showers the group gathered again at the Chocolate moose for some Moose Drool. Cookie informed the waitress to get five straws and cut one short. When she returned we drew straws… I’m glad to say I belong to “The order of the Long Straw” and will not be carrying title of “Foodbag guy” next year. I assume the position of “Cookware guy” till that day comes or someone else wants that title.
We then enjoyed dinner and each other’s company for one last night in Ely. All in all it was another wonderful trip and I’m happy to report not one single fatality so far. Quetico offered some different obstacles but we prevailed. I’m not bothered by the humbling experience of digging cat holes. The portages were in “less used condition” but we didn’t find anything too troubling. The unmarked camps made for a sharp learning curve that we will be better prepared for in the future… I hope.
Finally, the bar has been raised on several accounts.
The first account is that it only took us two hours to get from the supposed tow pickup point back to the boat launch… when we want to or need to we can fly through some miles!
The second and by far the best,for sure, is that a 67 year old man and another of “unknown to me age” made the trip… Either we aren’t pushing hard enough (hee hee hee) or that we still have many years ahead of us in which we can do this. They were two tough old men that never complained once and I wouldn’t bat and eye if they wanted to go again. It was an honor having them.