Day 1 of 5
Thursday, August 01, 2019 My husband has done many trips prior to meeting me and we have gone every year together since. This was the first year we brought all 5 (we made the rule of age 9 to come). To add to the chaos we had 5 seasoned BWCA goers and 4 new comers. We drove up from Iowa in 2 vehicles and set camp on Flour Lake the first night, explored the town, ate out and got our feet wet with some fishing. That night we had everyone do a gear check and get there packs situated (straps fit to each person and divided the common gear up). We went over the route with everyone, discussed the "tentative plan/route" and goals while out. Please try to picture our group in your minds and you may understand the chaos that was about to ensue the next day! We had a 41(seasoned), 40(new), 37(seasoned), 15(new), 13(seasoned), 12(seasoned), 11(seasoned), & two 9(both new) year old's along with a 7 month old german shepherd pup(new). We discussed the plan incase we couldn't find a campsite (happened the year before) and what our options where so that we where well prepared and no one was surprised with a change of plans while on the move. Of course, just as the night was falling my 9 year old daughter ended up with a bee sting on her hand. We settled in for the night with excitement in the air and sleep on the mind.
Day 2 of 5
Friday, August 02, 2019 Morning, came fast and the crew did a great job of being quick and efficient with getting the tents/hammocks packed up, stay bags packed in the vehicles and go bags ready to roll. A hearty breakfast of sausage, pears, bananas and home made banana bread with fresh coffee to start out the days adventure. We loaded up and headed to Clearwater Outfitters, gathered the paddles and the 2 rented canoes and began dividing gear and pairing groups up. The year before our 13, 12 and 11 year old's managed their own canoe and intended to have it that way again. So they went in a 2 person kevlar with a drop in seat, their 3 bags plus the fishing gear bag, leech container and fishing net. They settled into there canoe and patiently waited for the other canoes to get loaded and settled in. Next was my cousin, his son and one of the 9 year old's, their bags and some more fishing gear. They got settled in and paddled near the kids canoe and waited for us. Now, things seem to be going great EXCEPT our pup is going crazy seeing her "kids" out on the water with out her. We loaded our bags, the food barrel and the dogs back pack into the canoe, loaded the 9 year old into the middle and attempted to load the dog in front of the 9 year old. Big mistake, she tried to jump out and nearly tipped the canoe before we even got started! We quickly retreated from that plan, gathered our bearings and tried again, this time I got in then took the dog in front of me.....damn near tipped again! There was a crowd on the shore now, watching and invested in the outcome of our departure. I swear one guy was on the ground rolling in laughter at the site of us trying to not tip before we even started! At this point, I was getting frustrated with the dog, irritated with my husband and annoyed with anything that moved or talked! Third time was a charm I suppose, loaded the kid, myself and the dog...again in front of me. This time I covered her eyes so she would have to be still and use her sense of hearing and smell to gain understanding of what the situation was. My husband was able to load up in the back and we , shakily started paddling toward the other two awaiting canoes. As long as I kept the dogs eyes covered it went well, but the minute I uncovered her eyes, she was whimpering and trying to jump out to get to her kids. We later found out that as long as we where in the front leading the pack she was perfect, but the minute either canoe attempted to pass us she was not having it!.. We paddled the length of Clearwater Lake with the decision to portage to West Pike Lake or Caribou Lake. We went with West Pike Lake for the least difficult portage considering the crew we had. We had not seen an open campsite yet, once we hit West Pike Lake we decided it was best to take the first available campsite to avoid a repeat of last years fiasco! I am glad we did, because when my husband and cousin went on ahead to scout out the other sites there where non available. This site was spacious with plenty of options for our hammock tent and plenty of tent pad sites. The down fall was the view was obscured by the trees. We all settled into our roles of setting camp up, the kids worked together to get the tent set up, the older three started looking for firewood and the dog scared off any possible squirrels or chipmunks to keep us safe! As the night started rolling in, another group stopped in and asked if they could share camp with us as they where not able to find an open site, we did declined and they continued on to caribou having no luck as they ended up camping on the portage of West Pike and Clearwater. My daughters hand was now swollen from the bee sting she got the day before. We wrapped in a hanker chief and had her hold it up to reduce the inflammation.
Day 3 of 5
Saturday, August 03, 2019 We woke early to get some fishing in before the sun came up, and had some catches. We stayed out for about 2 hours then headed back to camp to start coffee and breakfast. The dog did her daily round of keeping us out of danger from the squirrels and chipmonk's. We discussed our day trip plans over chocolate oat pancakes, coffee and sweet pine tea. The plan was to paddle across West Pike, to the trail head that led up to Gogebic Lake. The plan was to hike to Gogebic Lake then hike the border trail and back down to camp for an early supper and more fishing. The hike up was fairly easy and short and once up there the view was worth it. Gogebic was a small lake with tattered path around the edges and sharp rocks leading into the lake. Our pup cut her paw on one of the rocks while she was playing in the water. At this point, the two 9 year olds and the 11 year old wanted to head back to camp and the rest of the party wanted to hike the border trail. So the three younger kids and myself headed back down the trail to West Pike Lake where our canoes where resting and the rest began the hike on the border trail. We made it back to camp and went for a cool swim on a warm day and where surprised when the rest of the group came paddling in less then an hour later. Apparently the border trial was not accessible due to several downed trees on the fading, unkept trail. The rest of the day was spent paddling around West Pike and fishing various spots, lounging in the hammocks, napping and exploring the shoreline. Supper time crept up on us and everyone did there part to prep for supper, the boys found fire wood, the girls started the fire and the rest began dehydrating and prepping the food. By now my daughters hand was swollen, red and hot to the touch but she was not going to let that stop her from having fun and experiencing the outdoors. I am a nurse was getting nervous at the size her hand was and how red it looked. We continued to keep it wrapped and had her soak it in the cold water to help with the swelling. Night fall came and we finished the day up with stories of failed trips, successful trips and funny moment memories.
Day 4 of 5
Sunday, August 04, 2019 We woke up this morning with the decision to pack up camp and head back to Clearwater Lake and try to find a campsite, set camp and day trip to Johnson Falls. That was a hefty schedule for a large group consisting of mostly kids. We did, successfully pack camp, get loaded, portage and luck had it the group on the best site on Clearwater was leaving as we where re-loading our canoes. We sent a canoe of kids and bags over they snagged it, and we paddled over shortly after. This site was AWESOME, aside from the leaky toilet. Lots of views from every direction, tree coverage from the wind, and plenty of tent pads and trees for the hammock tent. Not to mention the little bluff on the far side of the campground that the kids had fun jumping off into the water for a thrill. We day tripped from Clearwater to Caribou, then to Little Caribou, to Pine Lake, stowed the canoes and hiked to Johnson Falls. Well worth the trip! The falls hike was busy though as its a popular day trip option. We paddled, hiked, swam, hiked and then fished our way back to Clearwater that day. I highly recommend visiting the falls! We ended back at camp for some bluff jumping/swimming and supper. Before bed my 9 year old ended up throwing up, we thought maybe she drank some bad water. Everyone settled in for the night.
Day 5 of 5
Monday, August 05, 2019 What ended up being our last morning out, started off typical, quiet, slow...coffee brewing and great sunrises to watch. We had one more night scheduled before our trip was to come to an end but that morning my 9 year old crawled out of the tent, vomiting, fever and a very swollen, hot to touch and painful hand. We had to cut the trip short and seek medical attention. The older kids made breakfast while the rest of us packed up camp, loaded canoes and cleaned our site up. The first canoe set out and took their time fishing there way back to Clearwater, this consisted of my cousin, his son and my 11 year old. The second canoe set out right behind them which was our 13 and 12 year old daughters with the dog. We loaded up what was left and took both the 9 year old with us. Despite cutting the trip short, we had a great time!