BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 07 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Moose Lake - 25
Introducing the Kids to the BWCA
July 27, 2011
Number of Days:
Packing for this trip was wildly different than any other I’d taken. Packing not only for myself, but for my wife & two kids. Luckily, like most of you, I have a surplus of old/outdated gear (especially packs), so I didn’t have to borrow anything. Except another canoe. After doing the math, it seemed like renting was the way to go, so rent we did.
Our drive north was uneventful. We pulled into LaTourell’s around 1PM for my first time renting a canoe, a nice 18’ Kevlar that I was looking forward to trying out after all the years in my Old Town. Loaded up with no accidents or dunkings, my wife, Molly, & Ann took the 16’ Old Town, while I took the girls in the Kevlar, under the theory that if something went wrong, I wanted my the girls with me & my experience. Good call, it turned out later.
We paddled northeast away from LaTourell’s & turned north past the first big island, headed for the portage into Wind Lake. As a greeting for our girls, we had the pleasure of watching a pair of loons frolic in the bay leading towards the portage. Then a young loon showed up & the parents took turns feeding it, a show I hadn’t seen before. Great fun.
The portage turned out to be a relief. The Kevlar was light enough that the women could carry it – yippee for me! The girls took their small packs & whatever they could easily carry, & we double-portaged across to Wind. By 5PM we were snuggled in & set up on site 1664, a nice site overlooking the northeastern bay with a great, gentle, sandy drop into deeper water for swimming.
Which we did. Swim. Fish. Catch a smallie & a few pike. While Molly & I fished, a troop of grouse invaded the campsite, & the girls had a blast taking a lot of pictures as they nosed all about the campsite. Welcome, indeed! We settled in for a quiet night of cards. At nightfall, the skeeters descended, much worse than normal for late July, & we beat a hasty retreat into the tents. The girls were asleep quickly. And so were we. Moose Lake, Wind Lake
The day dawned warm & quickly turned uncomfortably muggy. By 8:30AM we were all in the cool waters of Wind Lake. Ahhhhh.
A day trip was in order, & Washte Lake to the south seemed perfect. Paddling across Wind, it wasn’t too tough to find the old portage, which wasn’t on our most recent maps. A quick hop & we were on Washte, a nice if non-descript lake. Hoping to have an early lunch on the island, we were disappointed that it didn’t even have a place to land, much less eat. We pulled up & stood around in the shallows, girls cavorting, & munched & drank. The water felt good, & shade would have felt even better! It was about then the flies came out. Millions of them. One could not cease moving for more than ten seconds before a fly was biting any exposed skin. This led our younger daughter, Leah, to begin doing the “bug-go-away” dance. The flies did not seem the least bothered by the stiff breeze that sprang up as we paddled back to camp, either.
We spent the early afternoon fishing, swimming, & trying to keep free of flies & heat. I had a big pike hit a smallmouth alongside the canoe – a bit of canoe country fun I’d read of but never actually seen! And later I went out in the swirling winds by myself & managed to knock my paddle overboard while landing a pike, & had a moment of panic: out of shouting range, in 15+ MPH winds, my paddle having floated several feet away. By getting low & paddling madly with my hands, I managed to grab the paddle. My heart is thumping, months afterwards, just thinking about it. Idiot!
Just before dusk we took the girls on a circuit of the big island we were on, through shallows, lily pads, bays, & a magnificent sunset. They were enthusiastic about everything. A late evening dinner of pasta was followed by the traditional dash to escape the bloodthirsty bane of canoe country.
Another hot dawn that woke us very early & fried us in our bags.
Decision time, & it was quickly made. The girls were itchy, sun-burnt, hot - & having a ball. It was exit day, & we decided that with the oppressive heat, we should go while the feel-good lasted. And we did.
The paddle out came in a rising wind out of the west, which we rode to the portage to Moose & we hid from in the lee of the mainland & islands. However, the last stretch to LaTourell’s was unprotected, & I had to ask the girls to dig. They did. And we almost made it! But about 2/3 of the way across the open channel, a gust blasted the canoe & I lost control, the front spinning to face the eastern shore. With young muscles up front unable to help keep the canoe straight, I didn’t fight & we glided into the boat landing, where I disembarked & led the girls by path back to LaTourell’s.
Of course, my wife was in full-on panic mode. She knew we’d been right behind them the whole way, & suddenly we were gone. No faith in her experienced paddler husband! Which was why I’d wanted the girls with me the whole time. Going to retrieve the canoe with Ann, I marveled at how all you need up front in a canoe that big is strength – even with her inexperience, it was zero trouble to keep the canoe straight in that wind now.
Overall, this was a fantastic trip. Not only did we get to spend a couple of days straight with our kids, but they were troopers - & loved canoe camping. Which was the whole point. Summer 2012 will bring another trip, maybe just another two nights, but here’s to hoping that by the time they’re teenagers, I can bring them bushwhacking & looping & all the other kinds of madness that we enjoy so much.