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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 14 2024

Entry Point 24 - Fall Lake

Fall Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 7 miles. "Access is a boat landing at Fall Lake. Several trip options to Newton, Basswood, & Mud Lakes with additionalportages." This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1324 feet
Latitude: 47.9527
Longitude: -91.7213
"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.

The Ribbon Rock

by TuscaroraBorealis
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 25, 2012
Entry Point: Moose Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 7

Trip Introduction:
The genesis of this trip took place last fall. Upon completion of our trip to Big Moose lake we made (at least for us) the obligatory stop at Piragis. I always enjoy perusing their bookstore section. A new book about Dorothy Molter caught my eye. It was titled, "Dorothy Molter ~ The Root Beer Lady" by Sarah Guy-Levar & Terri Schocke. It's story line is quite similar to that of the Bob Cary book of the same title. But, this version includes several documents and intimate interviews & photos that the Cary version is lacking. Of course, there were photos of Ribbon Rock. (Undoubtedly one of the most famous rocks in all of canoe country.) Being the rock hound that she is, upon seeing these photos, Vickie was immediately smitten with the idea of visiting such a wonderous and beautiful rock. So a trip was planned around visiting the Isle of Pines & Ribbon Rock.

Day 1 of 6

Friday, May 25, 2012

Got rollin' about 9:00 this morning. An uneventful drive north was only punctuated by a short stop at the Kettle River rest area to change - then feed - Aurora. While the rest of us (Vickie, Hannah, & Hannahs' friend Morgan) took turns getting out to stretch, use the "facilities", & grab a cold drink. Traffic didn't seem to bad? Considering it was the beginning of a holiday weekend.[paragraph break]

Stopped in at my parents before continuing on to Ely. Unfortunately Mom had several errands to run, so Dad was the only one around. After a short visit we pressed on. [paragraph break]

I had called ahead and learned that the Dorothy Molter museum would not be open today. As the director would be helping out with graduation in town. An unfortunate circumstance considering the nature of our trip. But, there are plenty of other things to see & do in and around Ely.[paragraph break]

We grabbed some last minute items & browsed at some of the local shops. My brother Ross & his daughter Megan were to meet us at LaTourell's Outfitters. They were still aways out. So as we headed out of town we decided to kill a little time on a side trip.[paragraph break]

The Kawishiwi Falls Hiking Trail is just off of the Fernberg Trail right before the Fall Lake campground. A easy hike back is rewarded by a breathtaking view of this spectacular drop. Further enhanced by all the recent rains the area has gotten. Hard to believe that a fire was threatening Ely just a week, or so, earlier.

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Not being exactly sure how far along Ross & Megan were, we headed to LaTourell's Outfitters without further delay.[paragraph break]

Bob & Missy warmly greeted us upon arrival. Ross & Megan pulled in shortly there after as we were finishing up the details of our outfitting package. I feel compelled to divulge an instance of unsolicited generosity. Not only did they waive Auroras' tow fee. But, since one of their heated bunkhouses was unoccupied, they offered that for us to use along with the yurt we had reserved at no extra charge! Also, we really appreciated LaTourell's practice of using a large booklet to quickly cover the LNT ethics. IMHO a much more efficient presentation than having to sit through the video first. Still achieving the same end result. Really an all-around top notch business.[paragraph break]

Bob lead us up to our accomodations, showed us where, & how everything worked. After getting settled in, we went over the game plan for tomorrow with everyone then wandered around awhile. Afterwards, everyone came together for a game of Apples to Apples which served as our nightcap. [paragraph break]


Day 2 of 6

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our tow was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Everyone was up & ready to go with plenty of time to spare. We had stopped at Subway before heading out of town last night. So, everyone had a ready made cold sandwich for breakfast.[paragraph break]

Soon enough it was time to load up. After returning to the dock from having parked the vehichle, I recognized some familiar faces. Ho Ho, David, & Banksiana were getting set to head off on their own adventure. I introduced myself & chatted very briefly, as our tow was ready to go. Always nice to meet fellow'ers[paragraph break]

I would surmise it had been about a dozen years since I had last headed up the Moose chain. So, essentially I was seeing new territory like everyone else. It seemed that in no time at all we were at "Indian Portage" & unloading our gear. [paragraph break]

It was a cool, crisp, overcast morning. But, so far no rain and, more importantly, no wind. Vickie, Aurora, & Myself were in The Black Pearl. While Ross & Megan paired up in one of the silver bullets, while Hannah & Morgan claimed the other. This is a very short, easy portage. Water (on the other side) can be seen from the landing. There are 2 seperate landings on the Birch lake side. There was a couple of guys just coming out of the longer (more user friendly)trail, so we used the shorter trail which has a steeper landing. Soon we were all out on the water heading east. [paragraph break]

Fortunately the wind wasn't a troubling menance today. Still, we wound up waiting a bit for Hannah & Morgan to get their "sea legs." Later this situation was alleviated somewhat by having them swap paddling positions & putting Hannah in the drivers seat. [paragraph break]

As we paddled on - the rapids running in the stream between Birch & Polaris lake could be heard to the north. Vickie commented that she was surprised by the amount of traffic out on the lake. (NOTE: We have usually entered from east side EP's.) Still, we were never crowded at the portages. Even though there was a group in front & behind us the whole way to Knife. [paragraph break]

The paddle across Birch (which figured to be our potential biggest challenge of this day) had went well. We pulled up to "Portage la Carpe" just as the 2 gentlemen in front of us were coming back for their second load. I was well aware of the historical significance of this & the following portages. The early Indians, Voyageurs, and, of course, Dorothy Molter had all traversed these paths countless times. Naturally they were all about as well worn & open as you could hope a portage trail through canoe country to be. The only discernible nuisance was the proclivity of protruding exposed rocks. This first portage seemed to be the worst in that regard.[paragraph break]

Nothing too serious.....but, the wind had intensified as we paddled across Carp. Making the traverse across a bit more challenging. We made quick work of the folowing "Petit Rocher des Couteaux portages." As stated before, very easy portages. But, their frequency tests your patience. All of the portages along this stretch were around rapids. Which were beautifully enhanced by the vast amount of water rushing through them due to the recent heavy rains. Of course the trade off for being allowed to behold such a spectacle as a wilderness, high volume, hydraulic display was that the portage trails themselves were often mini-versions of the rapids and pools that we were portaging around. [paragraph break]

Paddling through this narrow intimate section I let my mind wander. I laughed to myself & thought, if there were a quiet observer along the shores, that we must be creating quite the scene. As we paddled along, Vickie would be singing various nursery rhymes & songs to keep Aurora entertained. I thought about it a little deeper. Actually this was perfect! How many times the Voyageurs must have been robustly belting out one of their "chansons" as they quickly passed through. We were just upholding that great tradition![paragraph break]

Big Knife portage was our last portage of the day. As well as being the longest, it was also the only one that was located on the Canadien side. (That also made it noteworthy in that this would be Auroras first visit to a foreign country.) Auroras' temperment all along the way had been very good. (about what we would've expected from her if we had spent a normal day at home) The lone exception was after each portage. She would throw a fuss when we'd be putting her PFD back on. (had to remove it so she would fit in the carrier to get across each portage) Obviously it was a necessarily evil task. But, she calmed right down once we got backin the canoe. Never the less, like the rest of us, she was licking her chops about getting this last portage behind us & getting to camp. [paragraph break]

Lingered a short while after this portage. Things didn't look too bad out on Knife lake. Very manageable paddling conditions. It looked like it wanted to most of the time. But, so far, no rain today. In fact, the sky even lightened up a bit. [paragraph break]

We were hoping to get one of the campsites in the bay just south of the Isle of Pines. Immediately there was some concern. As quite a few canoes were out & about in the general area. We could see that both sites on the east side of the bay were already occupied. The 2 gentlemen who arrived just ahead of us had claimed the SW most site. There were 2 sites near the portage to Portage lake. The first on the north side of the entrance to an even smaller bay was very undesirable. Since choices were very limited, and we really didn't feel like paddling/portaging much further, we laid claim to the site just south of there. [paragraph break]

At first flash it appeared to be an OK site. An adequate landing climbs up to a small firegrate area. There was an expansive area for multiple tents just behind the kitchen area. Yet, still well sheltered by the numerous birch & spruce trees clustered in the area. The problem soon became readily apparent. With bedrock just under the surface the sparse topsoil had become completely saturated from the recent heavy rains. In fact, there was standing water virtually everywhere that there wasn't a rock surface. The water simply had no place to go. Considering the fact that we would have to travel or portage a reasonably substantial distance to find something better, & that there were people behind us also looking for a site. We determined to make the best of the situation. [paragraph break]

After our "floating" camp was setup, Megan grew restless and decided to try her hand at soloing while Ross & I gathered up some firewood. She seemed to handle herself quite well.[paragraph break]

While supper was cooking, Ross decided to try some fishing. As usual, the ribeyes are just the ticket to quiet growling stomachs. [paragraph break]

After supper it was time for some R&R. Aurora is set in her Pea Pod. Meanwhile, the hammocks are claimed quickly. Little did anyone realize at the time. But, this would be one of the rare opportunities that we were afforded the luxury to comfortably use these items during our stay here. [paragraph break]

Night fell before our luck ran out and rain began to fall. The forecast for our trip wasn't very encouraging. So, we were thankful for having been able to paddle & get setup in camp before the rain gods latest offering. Vickie made a Nutella, marshmellow snack wrapped in a tortilla. Then lightly browned & melted together over the fire. This helped to divert attention off the weather, if only for a short while. [paragraph break]

Moose Lake, Newfound Lake, Sucker Lake, Birch Lake, Carp Lake, Melon Lake, Seed Lake


Day 3 of 6

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It rained on & off all night. The rain intensified some as morning arrived. Keeping us in the tent awhile longer than our bladders would have liked. Mercifully the rain finally relented and everyone emerged from their respective sanctuaries to have some breakfast.[paragraph break]

Needless to say our site was absolutely soaked! To adequately define our current state of affairs would be more akin to wallowing in muck & mire vs. camping. Everyones tent had, at least some, standing water in the low corner. Fortunately no ones sleep systems had been compromised. (nor were for the duration of the trip) But, we were right on the brink. And extreme diligence needed to be maintained at all times to prevent this from happening. I think it safe to say that all our tents were on 1-2 inches of standing water & mud. With no way of avoiding doing so. While we did see loons, turtles, beavers, & even a small northern patroling the shoreline out on the lake. It seemed the small animals & birds that are commonly seen at/in most campsites were avoiding this one. I don't recall seeing one squirrel, chipmunk, or any birds while here. What Mother Nature withheld regarding these usual visitors. She made up for tenfold with slugs and the occasional gigantic earthworm. I guess you could say we perservered?[paragraph break]

Under these present conditions Aurora was able to complete, what I believe is, a rite of passage for all young children. I mean what red blooded person hasn't, at some point during their formative years, exulted at the absolute zenith of exuberation while rolling & playing carefree in filthy muck? While their parents spirits plummet to the nadir of exasperation upon discovery of this activity. [paragraph break]

Since we were using the tarp we had brought to lay down for Aurora to play on as our "innie?" Vickie had to be a bit creative when it came to keeping her out of the mud. [paragraph break]

Despite the awful weather conditions. Ross & I decide to do some exploring & maybe fishing. No one else even attempts to feign any interest in wanting to come along.[paragraph break]

In choppy conditions we make our way to the Vera portage. In my estimation Voyageur map is a bit off on the location of this portage. It is located more to the east out in the bay. Not at the narrowing arm as the map indicated. Never the less, it is still quite noticeable once you paddle upon it.[paragraph break]

This is a portage of extremes. It climbs up out of Knife. There are a few spots where obvious improvements have been made. Across these sections the trail is perfectly smooth & flat. As accomodating as a portage could be. Then further along are some nasty hills. Not trying to scare anybody away & by no means impossible....but, I will say that there is a section that has a very difficult rock face to go up/down. Especially in wet conditions as we had. There simply are not alot of good footholds & the exposed rock faced gradient is of such an angle that extra caution & patience absolutely need to be exercised. To add to the excitement. With all the recent rains, there was even a small creek the rushed past in this section. [paragraph break]

Once on Vera a short paddle over to the Trader lake portage. The trail is somewhat obscured, as you actually have to paddle into the mouth of a small stream that runs between the two lakes before reaching the landing. [paragraph break]

Once again, we encountered another cacophony of rapids in the small creek that the trail followed closely along for a good portion of the walk. For the most part the trail was in great shape with only some minor undulation. The landing on the Trader end was less than perfect. It dropped nearly straight down about three feet. Fortunately the water was neither deep nor had any troublesome rocks along the shoreline to stumble on. [paragraph break]

Next we headed for Neglige which is part of the Spider lake PMA. My Voyageur map doesn't show the portage. But, older maps, & the Google map on show precisely where it is. The landing was quite easy to locate. It's in the SW corner of Trader lake right where the terrain switches from a swampy boggy environment to more of the typical rocky shoreline. Nothing like the previous landing. But, it was still fairly steep.[paragraph break]

There was a pleasant surprise waiting for us as we exited the canoe. A couple of pink lady slippers were just starting to bloom. Cool beans! The portage itself was easily followed. Lots of overhanging branches were the main deterrrent. The trail was quite narrow & squeezing the canoe through took some nimble manuevering in a few spots. There were no hills per say. But, there where a few short, steep, slippery (when wet) rock slopes to overcome as well. All & all I'd say a very good trail considering this was a PMA.[paragraph break]

There's an interesting story on how Neglige lake got it's name. According to a story in "A Wonderful Country ~ The Quetico - Superior stories of Bill Magie" by Dave Olesen. A young indian girl was murdered and left there, floating on the shore, dressed in a yellow neglige by her jealous lumberjack boyfriend. If you are interested? There's more to this story & there are many others included in this great book. So check it out. Bill Magie was certainly a canoe country legend.[paragraph break]

Explored the entire lake including the old campsite in the NW corner. It had a gently sloping rock face running down to the lake which made for a nice landing. The tent pad located just above was completely saturated. (Glad to see we weren't the only site) Could probably squeeze 2 small tents in there if you had to? There was even a faint trail running up behind camp which provided a marginal overlook of the lake. [paragraph break]

Further explorations revealed another viable site. The small peninusula that juts out from the north & seperates the two lobes of the lake is also home to a decent prospective campsite. Indeed it appears it has been used for just that. A small rock fire pit has been constructed. And there are two small but, viable tent pads. IMHO this would be my preferred camp if I were to spend a night or two here. Being a peninsula, it also offers shore fishing opportunities in several different directions. [paragraph break] There were several spots around the lake that provided evidence that others had been there. Later, when looking at the photos taken of our day here on Neglige, Vickie commented that the weather was much more placid that what they had experienced while at camp on Knife lake. Still we had the occasional shower & the wind picked up now & again. So, it wasn't all roses here either. Just pink lady slippers. :)[paragraph break]

As we started paddling back across Trader lake we could see a couple of canoes headed for the Vera portage. Our arrival at the landing coincided with theirs. Weather dominated the conversation. We all complained but, I must admit, their story of woe easily trumped ours. They had been in for the past week. And gave us a detailed account of their shared misfortune & misery. Finding out the hard way that putting a tarp under the tent really pools the water up quickly. Almost all of their gear was wet & had been for the past couple of days. If there was any doubt of the credibility of this story? The weary, beleaguered expressions written across their faces more than confirmed it as gospel truth. They had aspirations of making it all the way back to Moose lake yet today. (It was after 4:00) In parting we wished each other well & hoped for some sunshine in the near future.[paragraph break]

The weather seemed to worsen the closer we got to Knife. Paddled through some walleye chop on Knife before pulling into our back bay. Supper was already on the grate. Perfect timing! (at least for Ross & I)[paragraph break]

We had put together some foil packs of hamburger with various vegetables. Added to that, was the fresh fish filets we grilled up as well. Megan & Morgan marveled at the orange meat. The finished product disappeared quickly so no one must've had any qualms about the taste of "orange" filets. [paragraph break]

Undoubtedly what saved us from an almost certain mutiny on this trip was the fact that the girls had brought some various electronic gadgets to keep their minds occupied. What with all the cold & rain we had, it's a wonder the batteries held out! Everyone taking time to keep an eye on Aurora, even if just for a short while, was also a tremendous help. And, simply keeping a positive attitude through these trying conditions. While everyone complained about the cold & rain at one time or another. No one did so much so, that they crossed the line & began to drag the group morale down. [paragraph break] Vera Lake, Trader Lake, Neglige Lake


Day 4 of 6

Monday, May 28, 2012

A light drizzle fell as we prepared breakfast. Pancakes with the last of our bacon on the side. [paragraph break]

Since there would be no portaging involved? In our pre-trip planning we thought it would be possible to make it to Eddy falls on a day trip. The weather being what it was, we scrapped that idea right away this morning. Still, we were hopeful of making it out to Thunder Point and, of course, the Isle of Pines & Ribbon Rock. [paragraph break]

Shortly after breakfast the drizzle had stopped & there was very little trace of any wind. We packed things up and headed for the Isle of Pines in two canoes. [paragraph break]

Even if a person had no prior knowledge. If they passed by the Isle of Pines in the springtime? The presence of the blooming lilacs around the perimeter of the main island would immediately indicate that it is a unique, special place. And, for my money. If there is a more pleasingly aromatic scent in the realm of botanical fragrances? I have yet to run across it. [paragraph break]

I like to think that the lilacs were an unintentional final lasting salvo by Dorothy in her longstanding battle with the Forest Service. They may have removed the cabins. But the lilacs stand as sort of a symbol of Dorothy thumbing her nose at the Forest Service from here ever after. [paragraph break]

As we rounded the northern shore there before us, in all it's glory, lies the very object which Vickies' mind had been transfixed since last fall. Anyone who has actually been to the Isle of Pines & seen the Ribbon Rock first hand, might be surprised to learn that it was not always located here. It was, in fact, brought to Dorothy as a birthday present. There is a great story about how the Ribbon Rock came to rest at the Isle of Pines in the book, "Dorothy Molter, the Root Beer Lady" by Sarah Guy-Levar & Terri Schocke. [paragraph break]

The following is an excerpt taken from that book: - One of the most memorable instances of mischief involved a unique birthday present for Dorothy. On the Canadien shoreline, just a short distance from the resort, there was a large boulder that consisted of a banded iron formation. It's beautiful ribbons of magnetite, jasper and chert made it quite a sight to see. It was unlike the other rocks present in the area, and was probably carried to that location by a glacier ten thousand years before. Dorothy had always admired the rock, so the boys (her nephews Jay & Steve) decided to bring it to her for her birthday. [paragraph break]

There was one slight problem. As the boulder consisted largely of magnetite, it was heavy, about three hundred and fifty pounds per cubic foot. The rock was at least four feet square. At a minimum, it weighed twelve hundred pounds. The boys were undeterred. Using a pry bar they lifted the rock up, inch-by-inch, shoving small rocks underneath to create a large crevasse. Then they stood the boat on edge and rolled the rock into the boat with a shove. Steve explained what happened next, "It rolled in beautifully, except it was too far back in the boat and the boat sank!" This meant they had to start over. They managed to move the rock toward the center of the boat, and they positioned two guys in the front of the boat, for counterbalance. After bailing like madmen, they were able to float the boat and began heading for Dorothy's camp. Because of all the holes they'd put in the boat, they had to bail all the way back. They just made it back to the camp, when Dorothy confronted them. Steve still remembers her standing there with her hands on her hips crying out, "What did you do to my boat?!"[paragraph break]

Realizing the heartfelt intention of the gift, Dorothy forgave them, but got her revenge by making them move and turn the rock a few times until it was placed just so. Fortunately there happened to be a group of tourists around to help them in the process.[paragraph break]

As for our crew. Not fully realizing the significance of this location, the girls were less than enthralled by Ribbon Rock. "That's it?!" "It's just a big rock!" Aurora took this attitude to the extreme for her first visit to Ribbon Rock. [paragraph break]

Everyone kinda did their own thing while exploring the Isle of Pines. Hannah & Morgan found some top notch skipping rocks that kept them entertained. Ross & Vickie wandered down the myriad of trails. But, it was Megan who stumbled onto something of a find. [paragraph break]

Presumably it was a cap from one of the bottles of rootbeer that Dorothy made. If nothing else? It was a cool keepsake & momento of the trip.[paragraph break]

It was still overcast but, still no wind or rain. So we paddled east down the lake to Thunder Point. Before the ascent, we stopped to rest at the landing & fed Aurora, change her diaper etc. [paragraph break]

Obviously the climb up is quite steep. But, there are always neat things to see when walking through the forest. As we worked our way towards the summit, a stunning phenomenon was occurring right before our eyes. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.....The sun was actually beginning to pop out!!!! [paragraph break]

Once on top we enjoyed the incredible vista. [paragraph break]

I had read a few threads on about archaeological sites (ancient Indian workshops) here on Thunder Point. So while everyone headed back down, Ross & I poked around a bit further. [paragraph break]

An unfortunate consequence of the sun being out, was that the wind had picked up as well. Out on the lake there were some decent waves coming down the lake from the west. Normally, without Aurora along, we probably wouldn't have given them a second look. There was some deliberation about our course of action. I determined the narrowest point to cross was straight south from our present position. So, to maintain the closest proximity to shore before commiting to the traverse across, I initially headed west. Then a short distance out from shore spun around & headed SE into the South Arm a bit. At this point, still near shore, we swung around yet again and paddled in a SW direction quartering the waves as we targeted the campsite on the point.[paragraph break]

To many people, our over thinking of the situation may have been overkill? But, if something did happen we wanted to make sure that we had covered all the bases beforehand. And, we discussed what to do if something did happen. No doubt our Pine lake experience last year showed us how fast weather can come up, & greatly influenced our strategy. [paragraph break]

Well, I'm happy to report that we made it across without incident. Since the campsite on the point was occupied, we paddled past into the bay to the lee side of the small island just SW of there to catch our breath. While resting we noticed a loon on it's nest. Wanting to minimize our disruption, we continued paddling over to the large point straight west before getting out to take a short break.[paragraph break]

This was a great open spot, & looked like it was a campsite at one time. I think everyone was grateful to be able to finally be able to absorb some of the suns heat & energy? [paragraph break]

The western winds persisted as we headed back towards camp. Kept it close to shore most of the way. Encountered a wide variety of waterfowl along the way. Some with young ones in tow. Once we reach the Robbins islands area, we figured to use the islands as wind breaks until we made it to the western edge of the lake. Speaking of breaks....we decided to stop at the Isle of Pines again. [paragraph break]

The sky had almost completely opened up by now and basking in the sun was a heavenly delight. Funny how everyones mood was instantly transformed. Even heard a few laughs. Aurora was even awake for this visit & seemed to enjoy herself immensely. The record early thaw this year meant that the water temperature, even in Knife lake, was already tolerable. [paragraph break]

The wind had completely died down. So we paddled off for camp. For the most part everyone had done an admirable job of keeping things from getting soaked. But, once back in camp everyone took this opportunity to dry things out completely. I finally got to spend some time in the hammock with Aurora. [paragraph break]

The girls even waded out in the lake to clean up a bit. There was alot of big talk but, I don't think anyone made it in past their equator? [paragraph break]

Chicken fajitas for supper. Afterwards I did a brief bit of exploration. There was a trail running up a rise to the north. There was a nice view of the bay at the top. Could also see the camp to the north across the bay. Looked like the berries were gonna do alright as well. [paragraph break]

Ross & Megan decided to head over to Portage lake & check that area out. Even though the sun was still out, a good soaking rain began to fall just as they reached the portage. They toughed it out. I guess by now we had all grown somewhat immune to the rain? :)[paragraph break]

For awhile it looked like the sun wanted to stay out. But, the rain persisted on & off for the better part of the evening. At least we had gotten everything completely dried out before the latest soakings. [paragraph break]


Day 5 of 6

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today our goal was to move camp somewhere near Indian portage on Birch lake. In that way we would only have one very short portage tomorrow on our way out. With the way the weather had played out so far & the miserable condition of our current site. I think everyone would've been happy just taking our chances with most any other site regardless of location.[paragraph break]

Of course it was still overcast this morning. Initially, at least, it wasn't raining. That came as we started to tear down camp! Motivation was easy to come by as everyone had grown tired of this site & were eager to move. [paragraph break]

Knife lake was still slumbering, so we had an easy paddle over to Big Knife portage. Here we met the only 2 people we would cross paths with on portages today. A couple of fishermen headed for Knife. The portages were even wetter this time through but, they went by quickly. [paragraph break]

Soon we were back at Birch lake. Since Hannah & Morgan were our weakest paddling tandem, we had been making a point to get them loaded up & on their way before the rest of us. There was some chop developing on Birch lake, so we gave them instructions to stay fairly close to shore in case things suddenly worsened. [paragraph break]

Ross & Megan were off at essentially the same time, while Vickie, Aurora & I finished loading up the Black Pearl. Once out on the water, as we neared the eastern point of the large SW orientated bay, we had to deal with something of an emergency. [paragraph break]

A ways off I noticed that neither Hannah or Morgan were even attempting to paddle. They were about 30-40 feet out from shore. They had gotten stuck on a large log just under the surface. Of course it started raining as we pulled up alongside. I tried tugging them free. To no avail. In something of a risky move. We positioned ourselves so Morgan could hop over to our canoe on top of our Duluth Packs. Then, Hannah was able to easily back paddle off the log. We both drifted into shore so Morgan could reverse the process. [paragraph break]

It was just one of those flukey things. I believe it would've happened to anyone paddling that line. Being overcast, windy & rainy made it very difficult to see anything below the surface. Fortunately we were behind them & were able to give them a hand.[paragraph break]

As we continued west down the lake, every so often there was a tantalizing glimpse of better weather. Alas, that would be about as good as it got today.[paragraph break]

We paddled to the sites just south of the large islands before deciding to pull off for a short break. Got out, stretched our legs & had a snack. [paragraph break]

After our brief respite we were back on the water. But, not for long! As we came around the point just past the last (western most) campsite south of the large island, Birch lake opened up and revealed that she had whipped herself up into a tempestuous froth.[paragraph break]

It appeared there was a decent landing & trail on the shore. I surmised it must be the backside of the campsite we recently paddled past. Vickie got out & confirmed my suspicion. We hadn't traveled quite as far as we had hoped. But, not knowing how long it would take for the wind to die down, It was determined that this would be home for the night.[paragraph break]

We ended up having to portage our packs a short distance back to the actual campsite. Vickie then pulled some "real" snacks out of the barrel. Having recharged our batteries, we proceeded to get camp setup.[paragraph break]

Compared to our last site, this is the Taj Mahal! In reality, I'd say it was above average (3.5 stars) Most importantly, the tent pads, though a bit rocky, were dry. The wind continued with frequent gusts out of the north which made getting the tarp setup more of a chore than it needed to be. Also, the wind had more bite to it than previous nights. Apparently things were cooling down even more? (Vickie later verified that Ely reported it's overnight low as 35) We were just happy not to be sloshing around everywhere we walked. Cold, without the rain, was easier to deal with. [paragraph break]

Buffalo chicken & rice wraps for supper. Spent a good deal of time gathered around the fire. Ross was relieved to find out that the sizable animal he had heard thrashing around in the woods while he was setting up their tent, turned out to be just a rabbit. As we monitored the evening sky there was the unmistakable hue of crimson present. We hoped the old sailors tale would hold true. "Red at night sailors delight." [paragraph break]

Seed Lake, Melon Lake, Carp Lake, Birch Lake


Day 6 of 6

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sunshine! Glorious sunshine! It remained mostly overcast. But, we were treated to a brief, fleeting glimpse as we woke this morning. Across the way there was a rainbow. [paragraph break]

All told, staying at this site probably only cost us an extra 15-20 minutes of paddling this morning. After crossing over Indian portage the navigational instructions were quite easy. Just paddle to where you see the motor boats coming from. [paragraph break]

By no means unbearable. But, it was one of the colder mornings of paddling I can recall having to endure. We wound up waiting for Hannah & Morgan on a few occasions. (as we wanted to keep them within eyeshot) Along with the steady stream of motorboats, we passed a number of canoes headed in the other direction. There were no real rest stops taken along the way. Just a slow steady pace as everyone was anxious to get back.[paragraph break]

I'm sure not soon enough? The LaTourell docks were within sight. We paddled up and ended our travels, via watercraft, on this vacation. [paragraph break]

After loading up, buying Hannah a sweatshirt, & thanking Missy for everything, we headed for the Ely Steakhouse where it was Bucky Burgers all-around. Much to the delight of everyone.[paragraph break]

Obviously, as most anyone would assume, this was a very trying trip. I thought everyone did a stand up job keeping their important gear dry. In fact, I don't recall anyone complaining that they were uncomfortable because they didn't have warm clothes/gear etc. But, the cold temperatures & persistant rain really kept us in (or close to camp) far more often than we would have liked. Couple that with an absolutely crummy campsite. (soaked & much too small of a kitchen area for our larger group) Looking back, I can't say enough about how well everyone handled these tough conditions. It would have been very easy, and quite understandable, for someone to totally lose it at some point. I guess the silver lining was that there were no bugs? [paragraph break]

Of course this will always be a memorable trip for alot of the wrong reasons. But, I think, we were still able to squeeze some fun & adventure out of it as well? And, Aurora probably handled it all better than the rest of us? (Ignorance is bliss!) At the very least we learned alot about ourselves & abilities to handle some extreme conditions, while still managing to enjoy ourselves enough to prevent a minor (if not total) trip implosion. [paragraph break]

Birch Lake, Sucker Lake, Newfound Lake, Moose Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Birch Lake, Sucker Lake, Newfound Lake, Moose Lake,

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