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Boundary Waters trip 2012….
The original plan for this year’s trip was to put in at the Moose River North EP. For some reason there was still one permit available even late in the spring so I snatched it up. From reading trip reports from BWJ and the websites this area looked to have a lot of options and I was pretty stoked to check out this new area. But then the son of one of the boys was having his driver’s test and he and his father decided to cancel. Being a little bummed out I cancelled the permit and decided my wife and I would do something else on our own. However one of the other adults (also known as Dr Z) was not to be deterred and got his maps out, powwowed, and made a reservation at Brule Lake EP. Brule Lake!! That is serious big water!! I had read about major waves and folk being wind bound on this 8 mile wide lake. I had endured my wife’s protests on Jackfish Bay the previous year as we paddled into serious wind. The time frame was moved to go in on Saturday July 21 not earlier in the week as originally planned. That also got me concerned….there could be a lot of traffic on a day like that…Saturday even!! But hey….if the winds were brutal and crowds everywhere…it wasn’t my idea and therefore not my fault…. So the plans progressed from there. We had 6 of us this year….4 adults (big kids) and 2 scouts (including one newbie). Jeff and his son would bug out a couple days early so we travelled with 2 vehicles and 3 canoes….no canoe trailer which helped out gas wise on the Suburban. We left from my house near Kewaunee Wi by 6:15 AM on Friday and headed west on Hy 29 and then North on Hy 53. Road and travel conditions were great and we made good time to Amnicon Falls SP for lunch break. The river was really moving so there was no wading in the water this trip. After lunch and time to stretch our legs we continued north to Superior / Duluth and continued on to Tofte arriving by 3:15 PM. We got things squared up with our permit and continued on to Crescent Lake CG where we had a reservation. Hey….this looked like a neat lake to paddle on even though outside the BW. We didn’t have the time this trip but I could go back there again. Golden age passport….for those of us who have reach 62. It had been mentioned to me early in the spring to check into getting one but I didn’t. Well, if we did we would have saved half the cost of the camping fees but oh well…. There is also an additional charge for a 2nd Vehicle. Dinner that night was sloppy joes which we had made up and froze before the trip, brown beans, and apple sauce….easy and fast. We did the usual packing and repacking for the next morning. There was some cloud action, thunder, and the looks of rain but none ever arrived during the night. Sleeping conditions were pleasant. Crescent Lake CG…nice outhouses and water from solar powered well…a nice place to stay.
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Part 5 of 10
Day 4, Tuesday July 24. Breakfast was warmed up ham slices, hard boiled eggs, and cinnamon raison bagels. We packed up another lunch and headed back to Omega Lake and on to Henson Lake for another day trip. Henson is a pretty lake. Lark and I saw a mink or weasel along the shore as we paddled and explored. There didn’t seem to be as many turtles sunning on logs and rocks that we usually see. Lunch was sausage, cheese curds, chex mix, gorp, and cream cheese on bagels. This would be a nice lake to stay at if one wanted to avoid crowds and wind. No one was game to check out Pillsbery Lake to the north we headed back to Winchell. While the rest of our group headed back to camp Lark and I paddle to the south end of the lake where we had seen guys climbing the cliff face previously. The pictures don’t do justice as to how steep this rock face is. There were more canoes around on Winchell today. We paddled back to camp where the rest of the group was taking advantage of the day to get another swim in. Dinner was Darn Good Chili with dehydrated hamburger, dehydrated sweet corn, shredded cheese on top, large elbow macaroni, carrots, and strawberry cheesecake. NOAA radio says rain is coming.
Part 6 of 10
Day 5, Wednesday July 25. The weather forecast was correct….we had monsoons with some lightning during the night. There were a lot of puddles around the site. Temp was in the 70’s with a little fog on the lake. Today is moving day…heading back to Big Brule Lake for a couple nights. The portages should be interesting. Breakfast was oatmeal, breakfast bars, and granola. Jeff and son Austin went ahead of us again to find a site on Brule. He brought some flagging tape along so we would see the chosen site from a distance. The rest of us could take our time and be careful on the portages. The portages were as nice as a figured they would be…a guy had to take his time or a slip could be painful. We slipped, slid, and slogged our way through that 160r portage into North Cone Lake and met a pair of girls at the end of the portage. One was a teacher from Ruwanda Africa and they had put some big time miles in their trip so far. Unfortunately the front seat on their rented canoe had broken. With a beaver stick and some duct tape we were able to help them out. I wasn’t impressed with the construction of this canoe. The wood looked too light to hold up and that little bit of padding on the portage yoke didn’t look so great. I wasn’t familiar with a brand (Langford Canoe, Prospector 16.6) but could imagine the outfitter having trouble with them… if you plunk a heavy rear on those seats they weren’t going to hold up. Once our good deed was completed we paddled through the Cones and checked out some campsites as we traveled. As we left Cone Bay it wasn’t long until we could see flagging tape and Jeff’s Banana colored tent on the island almost straight south. It was still foggy and drizzly but with no wind and not cold. By 3:30 we paddled up to our new home for the next couple days. Wildlife sightings for the day include some eagle, vulture, loon and babies on Cliff Lake, and maybe some grebes on South Cone. After getting moved in, Dr Z and Alex went out with fishing poles….They met with success and came back with two walleye that they invited to dinner. We grilled them with fake butter (margarine) and lemon pepper. Chicken Alfredo with foil pack chicken and mushrooms was the side dish to go along with the fish. Rasberry Fig Newtons was the dessert. On wet days it is nice to have a nice tarp, a light weight table for the stove, and Roll-A-Chairs. Everything was damp and getting a fire going wasn’t easy. While looking for the ideal tent pad and firewood we came across many fish carcasses. Some slobs just pitched them everywhere and figured the wildlife would clean them all up? During the night the skies cleared and the stars came out.
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Part 8 of 10
Day 7 Friday July 27 It was a quiet night with no rain or wind. It looked to be a beautiful sunny day. Jeff and Dr Z went fishing while the rest of us did little as possible. I brought some 5 minute grits and prepared them along instant oatmeal for breakfast. Being a northerner I don’t know much about them but with pancake syrup, cinnamon sugar, and butter they aren’t half bad. Add hot water to them, stir, and cozy them up for a time to get stiffened up. I see they have flavored instant stuff that one can get in southern stores and plan to check them out. They may work along with oat meal and cream of wheat for a hot quick breakfast. Watching Undercover Boss we found the Cream of Wheat is made with Cinnabon flavor so we plan to try that out for next year. After Jeff and Dr Z returned we broke camp and loaded up the canoes. As we were leaving paddlers showed up and claimed the site. This Friday seems to be a lot busier than last weekend. These guys were paddling serious heavy weight canoes, multiple coolers filled with ice, and stuff one sees in car camping. It looked like this was a far as they planned to go. With those coolers, I wondered if their mission was to fill them with fillets adding to the piles of carcasses strewn in the back. By 11 AM we were back at the Brule Lake EP. There were a whole lot more people here today…. It reminded me of Lake One EP. We got vehicles loaded up and drove to Sawbill Campground. Jeff, Austin, and Alex took showers, visited the store, and said goodbye as they headed back home. Dr Z, Lark, and I picked a nice site close to the lake with nice large pines and tent pads. We got the feed bag opened up and did lunch. After we got the tents set up we went out to paddle around Sawbill Lake. Dr Z fished while we looked for wildlife along the shore. By 5 PM we were back and took showers before they got turned off for the day. After visiting the store we went back to our site and made a dinner of rice brocolli and chicken. I had the batter ring baker in the car and used it to make cheese garlic bread. It turned out decent. Dr Z procured some beer at the store which tasted way good. There were quite a few people in the campground but quiet, clean, and well maintained. The sites are so that one doesn’t feel like he is in a KOA campground. This is a great place for families or just folk that may want to day trip. Tomorrow we want to try the Kelso River toward Kelso Lake. Lark and I had seen a moose there a few years ago and got some great pictures and were hoping for a repeat.
Part 9 of 10
Part 10 of 10
Day 9 Sunday July 29 Today we head home. It has been a fun trip. We pack up and head to the store to pick up some last minute souvenirs. I purchase a moose covered apron for my moose loving wife. I now call this the ‘magic apron’ because when she puts it on magic things happen in the kitchen. It was certainly worth the price. Jerry Vandiver’s CD (http://www.jerryvandiver.com/Home.html) was sitting on the counter so that was added to the pile of goodies. Check out him on youtube…especially his Camp Coffee song. After all purchases were made we headed down the road toward home. We made sure to stop at Tofte to pick up ‘dem Golden Age passports. We would have saved some bucks if we had had them. We also stopped at Two Harbors where another moose was added to my wife’s collection. The trip home was good and uneventful. Monday would be back at work….. Summary and lesson learned…. -My fears about BIG windy Brule Lake never materialized. -We usually go in on a Weds rather than a weekend when there seem to be less large groups…For some reason this place was real quiet until around Tuesday. -Crescent lake CG is a nice camp ground to visit…would like to paddle that lake someday. -I packed too much food again….but if we didn’t have those two fish dinners and got wind bound for an extra day we would have been screwed. - Dr Z brought some wonderful elixer (“Canadian Mist”). I haven’t partaken of hard stuff (was partial to blackberry brandy) since college days 40 plus years ago after getting violently ill from too much of the stuff. He shared his little plastic bottle with me as a night cap….it was way nice. -Gotta be careful on the portages on this side of the park…seems easier to trip over rocks and roots. Portages seem to be a bit more rugged -There are a lot of trip options from Winchell which in itself is a nice lake.
Thanks for reading this...dr bob