Part 1 of 5
The Boundary Waters group is back. 4 of us went: Rita Lewandowski, Tom Adams, Jim Depree, and me (Joni Carter). We also took Rita's Australian shepherd Bendi and Tom's schipperke (a small fuzzy dog) T-Bone.
Rita and I paddled tandem in a canoe, Tom paddled a solo canoe, and Jim paddled his kayak.
Part 2 of 5
It was gorgeous up there!! Clear water, evergreen forests, island-studded lakes, moss-covered boulders, ferns, white-barked birch trees, and more species of evergreens than I knew existed. The woods smelled like a Christmas tree lot in December. There are so many shades of green that Sherwin Williams could base a paint line on the place and call it the Boundary Waters Collection. As a group we saw a moose, otters, beaver, loons and other water fowl and birds, and a few pesky mice around the campsite. We had no bear entanglements but we did see a fresh track on a portage trail. Weather was mixed. 60's and mostly sunny on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday with lows in 40s. Windy (around 25 MPH), cold (below freezing at night), and rainy on Tuesday until mid-day. It was rainy Thursday again so we came out a day early, before a cold front moved in that we heard later was bringing snow. The weather is very changeable there with little warning.
Part 3 of 5
We managed all the portaging very well. It wasn't as bad as we had imagined it would be and was an integral part of the experience. We rented ultra-light Kevlar canoes that weighed about 40 pounds each. Once you got them on your shoulders and balanced, they were pretty easy to carry. We did double-portage though, carrying the boat first and then the gear. When you can manage a look at them, the portage trails are incredibly beautiful but some are better than others.
The area got a lot of rain before we arrived so one portage trail turned out to be up what amounted to a knee-deep, fast-moving boulder-strewn creek. Fortunately, that was on a day trip with no gear, just boats.
Part 4 of 5
We outfitted through Rockwood Lodge Outfitters near Grand Marais and paddled in off of Poplar Lake, entering the wilderness at entry point 47, Lizz Lake. We paddled through Caribou Lake and portaged into Horseshoe where we base-camped. On Monday, we did a loop trip from Horseshoe through Allen, Jump, and Gaskin Lakes and back to Horseshoe. On Tuesday, the winds, rain, and cold kept us in camp. On Wednesday, we paddled into Vista Lake, my personal favorite, and explored its coves, fingers, and islands thoroughly.
We walked the portage trails to Misquah and Jake lakes without boats. We then paddled a little way down the South Brule River before returning to camp. Thursday we paddled back out the way we came in, but in the rain.
Part 5 of 5
After going, I understand the draw of the place and why people go back, year after year. It's the beauty and the solitude, the pleasure of the paddling and the pain of the portages. We paddled 50 acre lakes with one campsite, 200 acre lakes with 3 campsites spaced so far apart you would never know there was another camper for miles. We did see some people in canoes on Horseshoe Lake where there are 5 campsites and on some of the portages but on other lakes, it felt like we were the only people on earth. The quiet is amazing. I just wish it were closer so I could go back again, year after year! And did I mention the Trail Center? What a cool place with great food for a pre- and post-trip celebration!