Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 23 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.

Five Monkeys and Four cat herders maiden voyage

by vnzill
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 15, 2015
Entry Point: Moose Lake
Exit Point: Lake One (30)
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 9

Trip Introduction:
Maiden Voyage into the Boundary Waters with five young kids, four adults, two canoes, and a sense of adventure. 53.9 miles of paddling, 9.4 miles portaging, 63.3 total miles, 21 portages, 25 lakes.

Day 1 of 11

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

(Note: This includes some time before July 15)

This Boundary Waters Trip first started in my mind when I was about age 12 reading Sam Campbell books and the desire was sparked to undertake a long wilderness canoe trip into the North Country. Years went by and in 2015 at age 37, I finally was able to take my first canoe trip into the Lake region of northern Minnesota. This trip was originally going to happen in 2014 but one month before the trip I shattered my left leg bone at the ankle which required surgery and internal hardware, and obviously killed my dreams for a canoe trip that year. That trip was going to include my wife and our three children, my wife's sister and her two children, and my father-in-law. The kids were visibly upset about missing out on the canoe trip due to my broken leg but one good thing about the one year delay is that it helped spread out the expense of equipment purchases for the trip. This year I invited the same people that missed out on a 2014 trip and they were all able to make it. Our group of nine was myself, my wife, my daughter age 10, my twin boys age 9, My father-in-law, my sister-in-law, and her two kids age 12, and 7.

Prior to this trip I was able to obtain with the help of my father, two Souris River Quetico 18.5 canoes which I had decided was the canoe of choice for me. Not only did I want a couple canoes for paddling local lakes and rivers near my home in West Virginia but I wanted a canoe that would work for an extended wilderness trip. Other equipment purchases were: 60L barrel for food along with a carrying pack for it from North 49, two 30L barrels for food along with a Red Rock super pack for carrying them, Battle Lake Grand Portage Pack, four Battle Lake under seat canoe bags, three Cooke Custom Sewing Bushcrafter Rucksacks for my three kids, four canoe seats/backrests from Spring Creek outfitters, a Boundary Waters Journal cast aluminum frying pan, two Boundary Waters Journal anchor bags, two Mitchell 7 degree bent paddles, two straight Bending Branches Espresso paddles, two 14 degree bent shaft Bending Branches Espresso paddles, three Bending Branches twig kids paddles, five Sea to Summit eVent waterproof compression bags for sleeping bags, Open Country 10 quart covered kettle, a whole bunch of Bungee Dealee Bobs, head nets, Thermacell, Permathrin, and various clothing and other items. Everyone in our group has extensive backpacking experience but most of that is for short trips lasting four days or less.

In February 2015 I obtained an entry permit for #25 out of Moose Lake for July 15 entry. Then in the spring we made the decision to buy a different house. We finally closed on the house on June 29 and on July 6, the sellers moved out of the house we just purchased. Changing the date of the canoe trip was not an option for us with our schedule and so we decided to move before the canoe trip. We got enough stuff moved to the new house to live there about the time my sister-in-law and father-in-law arrived from North Carolina on Monday July 13 late in the day. We were planning to leave very early the morning of July 14 and arrive somewhere around Duluth in the early evening grab a hotel, and then get an early start on our entry date and be on the water before noon. Well we had been so busy with the moving that all the packing pretty much happened the night before we were set to leave and we got to sleep about 2am after we were about as functional as a five wheeled unicycle. We were still trying to dry Permathrin soaked clothing the night before leaving as well as packing food packs and deciding what to take. In addition to our family's mad rush to pack, my father-in-law's back was in severe pain as he has back problems and had just returned from a long mission trip building project in Ecuador. In the morning of the 14th not one of us could get up early and it was 11am before we finally started driving leaving Parkersburg, West Virginia.

DAY ONE, WEDNESDAY 7/15/2015 - 2.6 paddling miles, zero portages Moose Lake Entry, campsite #1306

At about 2am on July 15 we finally stopped driving in Eau Claire Wisonsin at Antler Inn and slept. I woke up about 7am and started waking the others. In our haste to pack I put all of our clothing in the packs that were for the canoe trip, forgetting we need to wear something on our entry date. So I had to pull all the packs out, dig through the clothing, and then repack. My father-in-law's back was even worse and so we found a chiropractor in town that could see him that morning. It was late morning before we were finally driving, and we arrived in Ely, MN at the Kawishiwi Ranger Station at 4:00pm, 30 minutes before closing. We were utterly exhausted and decided to grab a hotel for the night and start paddling the 16th instead of the 15th. However I forgot about the cancellation deadline for the entry permit and when told it would cost us $104 to switch days, we decided to just enter in the 15th as originally planned and hope to find a campsite. There were permits open for the same entry point for both days and I thought it a bit nutty to have to pay again when no one needed the permit I reserved to begin with. The Ranger compared it to booking an airline flight and I did not argue with him. The Ranger warned us that water temperatures were in the mid-50's as the skies had been cloudy and the sun had not been warming the water up. That worried me some as hypothermia dangers were one reason I planned a July trip.

We found the public launch at Moose Lake with no trouble and began unloading gear and figuring out how to pack the canoes. I had planned on making sure all the stuff would fit properly before the trip but never got the chance with the move and our busy calendar. It was 7:38pm before the canoes were all packed and we began paddling. I recall numerous advice on the BWCA forums advising finding a campsite by 2pm and knowing how busy Moose Lake is, I was worried about campsite availability. We paddled along the eastern shoreline of Moose and discovered that all three of the first eastern campsites were open and so having our pick, decided upon #1306 tucked back in a small bay. We went to work pitching tents, building a fire, and other camp duties. We also quickly learned that the Ranger advice on water temperature was completely wrong as the water felt like it was in the high 70's. All too soon the Mosquitoes began their kamikaze attacks upon us and long pants and shirts were quickly donned to ward off the hungry foes of all mankind. It was dark before everything was done for the evening and supper was picked up. Sleep was very welcome as at least the adults were exhausted. Not the best way to start a trip.

~Moose Lake    


Lakes Traveled:   Moose Lake,

Day 2 of 11

Thursday, July 16, 2015

DAY TWO, THURSDAY 7/16/2015 - 11.3 miles paddled, 1.5 miles portaged, total miles 12.8, 4 Portages, 1 Rapid walked, Moose, Newfound, Sucker, Birch, Knife, Campsite#1247.

We woke up kinda tired from the previous several days of go go going and gradually picked up camp for a day of paddle. We were not sure just how far we wanted to go today but we definitely wanted to get beyond the motorized traffic on Moose. With four adults to fix breakfast and pack gear for nine people, nothing happened quickly. My family stayed in our Marmot Limestone 6P tent which was a recent purchase we greatly enjoyed on this trip. My sister-in-law and her two kids stayed in an Eureka Timberline 4P tent I had used numerous times for our family of 5 but felt was a bit too tight for this long trip. My father-in-law brought his Hennessey hammock for sleeping in. We finally got the canoes packed and started paddling around 2pm and paddled toward the Canadian Border. We decided to skip the short portage from Sucker into Birch and instead paddle around the point of land. We were loaded heavy with 200 pounds of food and we were certain portages of any length would slow us down quite a bit. We ate lunch at I believe campsite #1288 on Birch Lake which we found to be beautiful with a nice canoe landing. The kids quickly started exploring and then swam (with lifejackets on) to a nearby island. We decided to paddle further and perhaps camp at one of the sites at the eastern end of Birch Lake before the five portages into Knife Lake. We were a happy crew and we soon passed a full campsite with a couple of ladies who asked where we were headed. My reply was "East" to which she laughed and informed us that there was one open site on Birch and she would advise against trying to make it further. We pressed on and every campsite beyond those ladies was full. So we quickly decided that backtracking was not part of our genetic disposition and onward we go. We saw one canoe with two men come to the portage landing from Carp Lake into Birch Lake and they slipped their canoe in the water, slid a couple packs in, and started paddling all within a couple minutes. I was envious for I knew our progress would be a far different story. 

Portaging was our biggest challenge and took us a long time. In the canoe I was paddling we had three CCS Rucksacks for kids packs, a 110 pound double barrel food pack that had only my name on it, the Battle Lake Grand Portage Pack, a small daypack with snacks and misc small items, my fishing tackle box, a waterproof Pelican case with first aid items, four fishing rods, our Marmot 6P tent, and a larger black Pelican case with my DSLR camera, solar charger, flashlights, and other must-stay-dry items. The under-seat bags contained a bailing sponge, a homemade bailer, a NRS Rescue throw rope, and an anchor bag with 200 feet of parachute 550 cord. Other items also slipped into the under-seat bags such as water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, and in my bag, the Secchi disk kit from the State of MN. Each adult had a set of maps for the trip with the stern paddles using McKenzie maps, and my wife using Voyageur maps, and my sister-in-law using Fisher maps each within Seal Line map cases of either large or medium size. The tent loose in our canoe I had planned on strapping to the top of the 60L Barrel but no one but me could carry that when the barrel was full so it was carried loose mostly. The canoe my father-in-law was paddling had his pack, my sister-in-law's pack, packs for their two kids, a 60L barrel pack, two loose sleeping bags, a loose 4P tent, tackle box, fishing poles, and a small daypack with snacks. The loose 4P tent I had planned on putting in the double barrel food pack but they wanted it loose for a kids backrest.

The shorter portages we simply handed the kids paddles and their packs and told them to start and they would make several trips before we had the canoes completely unloaded. Once unloaded I would either carry a canoe plus pack over or just the canoe, or help load the canoe on one of the ladies shoulders. We mainly double portaged but sometimes one adult would single portage and perhaps another adult would triple portage. It varied based upon portage landings, wind and water conditions, length of portage, and how my father-in-law's back was feeling. We would often ask the kids to hold the canoe in the water at the portage landing while we loaded or unloaded it. That did not work in difficult conditions though.

We progressed through the portages and came to one portage around some rapids and decided to try and walk the canoes upstream against the rapids instead of taking the portage. The youngest boys and grandpa stayed in the canoe and the rest walked up the center of the rapids with hands holding the boy of each canoe. The water at times was almost waist deep on me and very swift but the length of the rapids was very short and a nice body of open water at the base of the rapids reassured me in case someone slipped and a canoe broke free. The kids especially enjoyed this exciting experience. I decided it would be a rapid not to attempt to paddle down, at least not with a fully loaded canoe. The 75 rod portage at the eastern side of the Big Knife Portage gave us all an appreciation for carrying very heavy packs/canoes 1/4 a mile. We set forth from that series of portages and darkness was closing in. We held to the southern shoreline and thought to check out campsites inside the first bay on Knife Lake before progressing further. Fortunately the first campsite we found on Knife was open and large enough to accommodate our large group. We unloaded canoes with headlamps and flashlights on, set up tents and used stoves for cooking some supper. Supper that night was tortillas with reconstituted beans with seasonings, some cheese, and they tasted wonderful. The wind was blowing some and finding good tent stake locations was difficult in the very rocky terrain, an issue we discovered many places. Sleep came easily that night.

~Newfound Lake, Sucker Lake, Birch Lake, Knife Lake


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

Day 3 of 11

Friday, July 17, 2015

DAY THREE, FRIDAY 7/17/2015 - 6 miles paddled, 0.3 miles portaged, total 6.3 miles, 1 portage, Knife to Bonnie, campsite #1452.

We gradually woke up and Grandpa that morning hooked a smallmouth bass from the shore and soon all the kids wanted to fish. The kids had no luck but were having fun and Grandpa caught one more fish, keeping none however. Of course when fishing with kids is taking place, all other activities for me are put on hold while I untangle line, change out lures, and so forth. Once again we got a late start. Paddling Knife Lake was interesting as the wind had whipped up in the afternoon and waves were building. White caps were on the wave tops and the wind was coming at us from the stern and starboard side. A couple of waves came within about an inch of the rail but I really was not too worried. Worse case in that weather was to flip or swamp the canoe and then head toward a shoreline. All packs were lined with heavy duty contractor garbage bags rolled down and tucked in and inside of those packs sleeping bags were in water tight bags and clothing was rolled up in other heavy duty garbage bags. Each canoe also had the water tight barrels and almost all other items were tied into the canoe. Sinking of our gear was not going to happen and the water was warm so life would be ok no matter what.

We decided to paddle between the island on Knife and the shoreline about 3/4 a mile before approaching the portage into Bonnie Lake. That turned out to not be a good route as the water passage was not clear and thus we paddle against a headwind back to the open water in Knife and continued on to the portage going into Bonnie. This portage side tracked the kids a little bit when blueberries were discovered. I discovered that the kids were berry hounds and could find them where ever they were hiding. We brought a book on edible wild plants which my daughter spent quite a bit of time reading and pointing out edible plants. While unloading canoes at the portage landing at Knife Lake we discovered the very friendly nature of leeches and how they want to become blood brothers with all mankind. This dark flat hungry sucking machine had found her way between my flip flop straps and was in the active bonding stage with my foot just above my right big toe. I tried pulling her off with no luck and then my wife took a rock and scraped her off. She seemed more worried than me but my foot was bleeding pretty good from that sucking zone. We first paddled to campsite #1452 on Bonnie and then finding that site slightly less than ideal, Grandpa and I and two kids paddled over to site #1453 with a two-way radio to let the other group know which site was better for us. It was felt that our original site of #1452 was better for our large group and so we communicated that and paddled back. Paddling back we saw two beavers swimming and plotting the most efficient method of cutting trees and building dams. Seeing those beavers was a highlight for me. We could have paddled further that day but with Sabbath soon upon us and greatly needing a break, we called the site good enough and began setting up house. Eating supper and having dishes cleaned up before dark is a wonderful thing. That evening Grandpa tried out placing two Stearns square float cushions on either side of him and making a makeshift raft to fish from. At some point I paddled out on the now windless lake Bonnie and freed up a stuck fishing lure and just enjoy being on the water. Paddling with just me in the stern of the canoe with zero gear was a ton of fun when the wind was down and my wife grabbed a beautiful shot of the sunset and the canoe on Bonnie Lake. Grandpa caught a small Northern Pike and a Small Mouth Bass after supper and decided to just leave them on a stringer for breakfast which in hindsight was a bad idea. The Northern ended up deciding to cut short his days of chasing minnows and funny colored lures and died on the stringer. Then crawfish started their assault like Patton's 3rd Amy against the Nazi's. I had never seen such military precision from little crustaceans! We ended up rescuing the Northern and placed him in my 10 quart pot in the lake, strapped the lid down, put a large rock on it and tied the pot to the bank. The small mouth was then left on the stringer and appeared healthy and happy waiting for breakfast to appear. Hammocks were placed all around camp and as the Mosquitoes began their formation flying exhibits with sharpened spears and guidance missiles, we began our unorganized retreat to the land within netted walls. ~Bonnie Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Bonnie Lake,

Day 4 of 11

Saturday, July 18, 2015

DAY FOUR, SABBATH 7/18/2015 - No portages or major paddling. Bonnie Lake

Sometime in early morning a giant turtle decided that life was boring elsewhere and that the small mouth on the stringer was misplaced and lost and its correct destination was the turtle's stomach. Grandpa woke up first and saw the canoe trying to embark on an expedition without us. The stringer had been tied to the canoe and a giant turtle swallowed the whole fish and had the stringer playing tonsillitis inside of him. Mr. Turtle was trying to escape but could not. However before the rest of the human life forms awoke and saw what was taking place, Mr. Turtle somehow managed to spit out the end of the stringer and make off with his bounty like the pirate he was.

Every meal on this trip was prepared by my wife and her sister for which everyone, except maybe the two of them, were extremely thankful. Three people were eating gluten free diets which makes cooking for a group more difficult since some items were naturally gluten free such as lentils or vegetable soup while other items like muffins, pancakes, or pasta had to be prepared separate. Today was spent relaxing around camp, paddling around the lake a bit fishing, and giving back rubs to some very tired muscles. My son Nathan got his fishing lure stuck in a tree near the water's bank while we were fishing from the canoe. The lure dropped down into the water while the line was still tangled and all of a sudden a small mouth bass was hooked. He was so excited and we paddled over, freed the fishing line, and brought the fish in. That lake was very shallow but must have some decent size fish for Grandpa had his fishing line take off then break, possibly from teeth. He had brought no leaders to prevent fishing cutting the line and so I gave him one of mine. I did not care for my leaders' design but used them anyway. That day saw some fried Northern and Small mouth bass in some cajun style breading mix.

Ever since the leech became friends with my foot the kids were all very hesitant about standing in the water to help load or unload the canoe. It was almost comical to me but at times frustrating at how much they wanted to avoid the leeches.       


Day 5 of 11

Sunday, July 19, 2015

DAY FIVE, SUNDAY 7/19/2015 - 4.0 miles paddling, 2.1 miles portaging, total miles 6.1, - 5 portages - Bonnie, Spoon, Pickle, Kekekabic, Strup, Wisini Lake, campsite #1471

(Note: Writing before this was weeks or months after the trip while I am now in March 2017 trying to recreate from memory the events which should have been recorded earlier)

Today was probably the most exciting for the kids. We saw a bear on Wisini lake's shoreline that was a light brown. It was quite a distance from us but it sure looked like a bear from our view. We paddled toward the south western campsite on Wisini and set up camp there which easily accommodated our group. That evening Grandpa started fishing from shore and almost immediately hooked a fish. From there it was a mad scramble by the kids to get their fishing rods out and start casting. My nephew Aiden caught several bass, my boys each caught one or two bass, and my daughter was not having any luck. I took her out in the canoe near shore and soon she also caught a very impressive largemouth bass. All the kids are fishing novices and so this was very exciting for them. Unhooking fish, changing out lures, netting fish, putting them on a stringer, and untangling lines occupied my time. I am not a very experienced fisherman and so it was exciting to me also. We had plenty of fish to eat for supper that evening.    ~Spoon Lake, Pickle Lake, Kekekabic Lake, Strup Lake, Wisini Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Spoon Lake, Pickle Lake, Kekekabic Lake, Strup Lake, Wisini Lake,

Day 6 of 11

Monday, July 20, 2015

DAY SIX, MONDAY 7/20/2015, 6.3 miles paddling, 1.3 miles portaging, total distance 7.6 miles, - Three portages, Wisini, Ahmakose, Gerund, Frasure, Thomas, campsite #1182.

I had hoped to travel on our trip to go from Frasure due east leading into Boulder then Adams into the Kawishiwi River into Alice, then along the numbered lakes to the take out point 30 at Lake One. I also had envisioned being able to be in the Boulder area by the end of day three. With our slow start and pokiness on portages it was becoming apparent that to go that route would be cause for mutiny as we would not have as much relaxing time. When planning this trip I knew there were a few ways to shave off some time and miles if we so chose, and so we rerouted from my original plan.

I thought the passage from Frasure into Thomas was a really cool paddle with a narrow passageway although we scraped a rock or two that was hiding on the Thomas side of the passage. Paddling into Thomas it appeared a storm was brewing as dark clouds began forming in the distance. Up until this point we had no rain. At this point in our trip we had decided to find a nice campsite to relax and play for more than one night and so we were being picky on site selection. We headed west to check out the two northern campsites battling a strong headwind and then headed toward the lee side of the middle islands on the eastern side. The wind was whipping hard from starboard and it began to rain lightly. The island site was either occupied or not to our liking, I forget which, and so we then headed toward the western shore where the campsites would be protected from the wind. We eventually found a perfect site on a peninsula with a small sheltered cove in front of it. The kids soon claimed this spot as theirs and began their ritual of finding forts and exploring everywhere. In a light rain my daughter started a fire with one match. 

~Ahmakose Lake, Gerund Lake, Fraser Lake, Thomas Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Ahmakose Lake, Gerund Lake, Fraser Lake, Thomas Lake,

Day 7 of 11

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DAY SEVEN, TUESDAY 7/21/2015, Dunking, Chillaxing, Fun times

One of my goals on this trip was for the kids to earn their Pathfinder canoeing honor. My wife and I are club leaders and this was a fantastic opportunity for the kids to add another honor to their sash. I recalled my experience as a boy living near Brainard, MN going to North Star summer camp and earning my canoeing honor. I took my two anchor bags, tied float cushions to the rope, and created two points in the middle of the cove for the kids to practice their paddling skills. It was quite fun watching successes and failures in paddling skills.

Part of our time we spent flipping canoes with the kids and then righting them and attempting to paddle them again. I must say that trying to flip the Souris River 18.5 Quetico is not easy if the kids are trying to keep from tipping. To make it flip I ending up grabbing the thwart bar near the railings and just lunged out of the canoe. We had another canoeist fishing via trolling nearby and he kept looking at our antics probably wondering just what on earth we were doing. The kids looked like submariners under the overturned hulls.

We also saw a momma Loon and her babies in our cove and all around it was a delightfully delicious day.


Day 8 of 11

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DAY EIGHT, WEDNESDAY, 7/22/2015 - Thomas more playtime

Another beautiful day and we decided to try our hand at canoemanship again. Today we decided to try using a second canoe to help right a swamped canoe. We concluded that the best way to right the canoe is certainly with a second helper canoe. That was the only way we could remove all the water from the swamped canoe without bailing or swimming the canoe to shore.    

The kids also created a weapon barter shop with my daughter creating designs with colored thread and giving them to the boys if they provided her with additional stick weapons for decoration. Some fishing was successful using a spinner along with some artificial soft grub looking thing. Sir Walleye and his friends thanked us for eating them that day. Mosquitoes as always were a problem in the evenings and I am unsure if any of the repellant really works besides long sleeves and netting. I must say that a head net takes getting used to especially when you want a sip of hot chocolate and forget there is a net between your lips and the cup.  


Day 9 of 11

Thursday, July 23, 2015

DAY NINE, THURSDAY, 7/23/2015, 6.7 paddling miles, 1.9 portaging miles, 8.6 miles total - Two portages - Thomas, Kiana, Recline, Lake Insula, Williams Island snack, campsite #1333

We hated to leave our cove on Thomas and ended up packing up in a light rain under my 15'x15' Cooke Custom Sewing tarp. That is a very cool well made tarp. We could have headed into Alice but we decided to shorten things by going to Insula instead. At every turn to go deeper into the wilderness further from civilization, the group chose the shorter route which to me was a bit of a downer. My grand ideas met reality but I was certainly far from unhappy, just wishing we had more time. The kids really did not want to leave that site.

A Bald Eagle was hanging out near one of the portages which was always a pleasure to see although my camera lens was not enough of a zoom to really do it justice. The 185 rod portage into Insula was a bit of a kicker even with lighter food packs. I believe it was on this portage that we met an Outward Bound group headed the opposite direction who had either been in the BWCA for 30 days or were going to be in for that length total. I thought to myself that would be a fun experience. Kids were hungry and we stopped at an Island campsite after a windy paddle but it was occupied. The guys there were real nice and we broke out the Snicker Bars we had been saving as a reward to the kids for the long 180 rod portage we had just done. 

We paddled around Insula looking for a good campsite and eventually found one North of the burn zone at the southernmost point of a large island. Right off from our camp site was a passage between major portions of the lake and it seemed that fishermen hoped to snare a few toothed submarines in that vicinity. Insula is certainly a windy lake. Shortly after landing at our new campsite a couple of guys fishing caught a large pike and could not seem to bring it into their canoe. So they paddled over to our beach and we gathered around to ooh and ahh over the Pike. After that the kids all grabbed fishing rods hoping for a big fish but did not catch anything.

We planned on just one day at this site. Lake Insula, unlike other lakes we had been on had a number of sandy beaches which was very nice. The kids enjoyed wading with sand under their toes. The guy holding the pike was the fisherman and not one of our group.

~Kiana Lake, Recline Lake, Insula, Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Kiana Lake, Recline Lake, Insula, Lake,

Day 10 of 11

Friday, July 24, 2015

DAY TEN, FRIDAY, 7/24/2015, 9.6 miles paddling, 1.6 miles portaging, 11.2 total miles, - Four portages, Lake Insula, Hudson, Fire, Lake Four, campsite #1498?

We posed for a group shot minus myself and then loaded up canoes. It was windy and getting worse and somehow in my hurry, my sunglasses slipped out of my lifejacket most likely when loading canoe gear. By the time I realized it we were a good half mile away and had been battling a strong headwind. So if anyone finds some floating sunglasses with a fish symbol on them, enjoy. I must say that paddling against a strong headwind makes one feel slow. We tried staying on the lee side of the land but we concluded that the wind would change direction just to torment us. We decided to take the narrow passageway north into Fire Lake to enjoy calmer water and that was a far better paddling experience.

The narrow passageway really made us wish that more of our trip had been on similar waterways instead of larger lakes. Next time we come, we told ourselves, we will look for rivers a bit more.

On I believe the 105 rod portage from Insula into Hudson my daughter took a bit of a tumble and bumped her head on a rock. She wanted to take it pretty easy for a bit after that experience and rested in the canoe during travel. On that same portage we met a few folks headed the opposite direction. I decided to help them carry some gear on my return trip for a double portage for which they seemed quite thankful. It was quite humorous to me that the pack they called their heavy pack seem extremely light, but I guess it is all relative.

Sometime during the trip the waist buckle on the 60L 49 North barrel pack broke most likely from the barrel laying on top of it. That same pack also had a shoulder strap start to tear at the top of the shoulder. All of our gear held up well except that particular pack. The shoulder straps were a faulty design with poor material at the top.

In our canoe with five people, the kids would take turns sitting or laying on the seat they called the "HuckFinn" seat. They all loved that spot as no paddling was done there normally.

We found a campsite in a burned out area but it looked like the forest service had protected the immediate site from fire as it was green where the actual campsite was. This site had a nice solid rock dock that made a nice fishing spot and a few wild strawberries were discovered also. The fire weed was beautiful as well. It was getting late as normal for us by the time we got camp setup. Our routine seemed to be leave late, arrive late. Certainly not the best for making long distances but for our group, I thought we were doing wonderful. My daughter certainly was a big help and was hauling more weight on portages than any of the boys. She is one tough cookie.

~Hudson Lake, Fire Lake, Four, Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Hudson Lake, Fire Lake, Four, Lake,

Day 11 of 11

Saturday, July 25, 2015

DAY ELEVEN, SABBATH, 7/25/2015, 7.4 paddling miles, 0.7 portaging miles, total miles 8.1, two portages, Lake Four, Lake Three, Lake Two, Lake One, EP#30 takeout, then a memorable drive.

We relaxed today, got up slow, swam a bit in the lake, and watched quite a number of paddlers coming and going in front of our tip of a peninsula campsite. A school of rabbits decided to start running through our campsite I suppose hoping we would chase them so they would have something to laugh about. Those crazy rabbits ran through our site multiple times during breakfast which was the craziest thing we had seen. We made good use of our canoe seat cushions from Spring Creek Outfitters as camp chairs which we used at other sites as well. A few thistles en route to the odiferous fiberglass throne met the demise of stick swords, but nothing seemed to get rid of the hawk sized mosquitoes that loved to inhabit the inside of the latrine. The ladies started spraying a bit of repellent inside the latrine just before parking their caboose which evidently seemed to make some difference. 

I had brought along a 10 watt solar charger with two USB ports (Mercury 10 from instapark) and it did a great job keeping cell phones charged up for pictures and GPS usage. I was using the app Backcountrynavigator Pro with offline maps downloaded along with an overlay of campsites and portages. That was very useful for tracking mileage traveled and to sometimes help settle disputes between exactly where we were. It certainly is important to always know where you are on the map or it would be very easy in some locations to get mixed up and relying on electronics is not something I recommend.

I found in the stern that I did not like a 14 degree bent shaft and much preferred the straight if having to make a lot of turns. The 7 degree I also liked pretty well in the stern and the ladies in the bow did well with the 14 degree paddles.

My wife often carried one canoe and I carried the other one although each adult at some point carried a canoe. My father-in-law's back complained about twisting so generally he stuck to packs. The kids packs weighed about 25 pounds give or take and they very well. I would normally carry a light pack of perhaps 50 pounds along with the canoe then do a separate trip for the two barrel food pack. The fewer loose items to carry by hand the better. The Astral paddling PFDs made in Asheville NC worked well for my wife and I.

Thank you to the cooks!

Well eventually we got to the last portage and so took a group shot while eating a short snack. Then we paddled out to EP#30, and two people took the vehicle we left there and picked up the other vehicle over on Moose. Loaded up and then to Subway in Ely for some fresh veggie subs. We thought we would grab a hotel in Ely but we called all over the place and nothing seemed available. So we drove on and called other places along the trip south and no place had vacancies. This became the night that never ended. We ended up stopping at some roadside park and took a short nap in the cars then kept driving. We never did find a hotel that night. We kept driving the next day, stopped at Lake Michigan where the water was freezing, toured Jelly Belly, and found a hotel I believe in Indiana someplace where everyone crashed. I had never seen motels booked up so solid in all my life as I had north of Chicago.

This trip was certainly a wonderful memory and we are looking forward to another trip but not another drive home like we had the first trip. It was great having lots of help and information from the good folks at     


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