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      Trip Report - Plans meet reality, 4 southerners visit the BWCA     



member (8)member
07/01/2017 07:38PM  
New Trip Report posted by OldHiker

Trip Name: Plans meet reality, 4 southerners visit the BWCA.

Entry Point: 23

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07/01/2017 09:24PM  
Very entertaining read. I love your humility. It's all a learning process and I'm sure when you all give it another shot things will go way smoother. One thing to do is make checklists so as not to forget anything. I will go through the list after I load the car. There's so much going on in our heads the week before a trip the last thing I want to do is forget something. Thanks for the pics and write up!

distinguished member(7209)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
07/02/2017 12:29AM  
great first trip story. many lessons learned and refined on this first trip! how did the dog like the trip? Alabama IS a long way from Ely so your idea of staying and extra day or two is a good one, maybe pre and post trip. wish you could get back earlier than several years from now! keep those young boys interested!
member (16)member
07/02/2017 07:35AM  
Love the story! I think our trip my go similar to yours since we are also hikers and not canoers.
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
07/02/2017 11:23AM  
Thanks, great report!
distinguished member(1100)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/02/2017 05:08PM  
Fun read! Glad the set-backs didn't ruin the trip.
The right attitude can sure get you through a lot.
07/02/2017 08:27PM  
Thanks, enjoyed your trip report! It takes me back to my first trips - a hiker who didn't know much about canoeing or portaging. As TomT said, it's a learning experience and gets smoother.
07/03/2017 03:38PM  
Nice report. First truism always fun. You picked a good first first couple of portages too. Lol.

Nothing wrong with traveling "heavy" if it increases comfort, within reason of course. My $.02.
distinguished member (397)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/05/2017 01:59PM  
I love it when people add things they learned after a trip. It was wise of you and your group to adjust your travel plans as you encountered the realities of the trip. It is amazing how much more efficient a group becomes after a coupld days of practice.
07/05/2017 05:55PM  
I enjoyed your report. Thanks for sharing. I think a very important trait of a trip leader....especially when kids are along is to be flexible and you definitely have that down. You adjusted on the fly well and had a great time even though it wasn't what you had planned.

The things we learn on our first trip are priceless ;) My first trip was 4 college age guys that had never been to the bwca before. We were nothing short of a 3 ring circus. Sack of potatoes, big cooler etc... 25 years later I still learn new things on each trip that help me on the next one.

07/06/2017 09:44PM  
Nice report. It sounds like the family will have a lot of great memories of working together. It's the miscues that help refine your tripping style. Enough gear to be comfortable is the difference between a good trip and a miserable one, especially important with kids. Just keep good lists and edit out stuff that you didn't need, and buy the lightest equipment you can afford. I'm not an expert on fishing, but I think you mostly caught bass because you were fishing for bass. We caught nothing but walleye with a simple set up on the bottom. I read somewhere that they don't like leaders, so we cut off a piece of line and tied a swivel on the line with a small clip on aluminum pinch weight above and attached the mono to the swivel. Then tied a hook to the mono and used a rubber leach with a flippy tail in white or black. Fished next to a wall or drop off near shore. we just let it sit on the bottom for a while and moved it if we didn't get a bite after 4 or 5 minutes. They quite often grabbed it when we started to move it. We came up with this technique when we realized we got the most bites while fixing a backlash. There were a lot of them near logs on the bottom next to the wall. We never got a bass though, so I think it's not as effective on bass or pike.
member (16)member
07/07/2017 07:43AM  
Thanks for sharing. I definitely have some entertaining miscues from my first trip...and more than there should be from my next few. I believe the canoe chase that you're referencing is from Last of the Mohicans. Great movie.
distinguished member(1469)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/07/2017 01:59PM  
Great report. Very well written and pretty typical of the first time experience. I have 2 pointers that I noticed when looking at your pics.

1. The cliff where your kid was jumping was a very good spot to look for your walleyes instead.

2. You need to get the deep fried cheese curds. The raw ones are pretty nasty.

Good to see you had fun!

member (8)member
07/08/2017 02:39AM  
Thanks everyone for all the kind words and encouragement. We're not sure where we're going next, but have faith that the boys will be growing up outside as much as in. Also, sorry about the photos, I'm going to try and fix the orientation of them as soon as I'm done typing this.
tonyj - YES! It's totally the scene from Last of the Mohicans.
jamotrade - Think we had fished there the day before, but we may not have given it enough time. And they make deep fried cheese curds? Now I know we have to come back!
07/12/2017 01:38PM  
Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed reading it.

I also noticed how you were able to change plans rather than forcing things just to stick with a plan.

I am also hoping to catch my first walleye on my upcoming trip.

The part about cliff jumping was funny too.

Which portage, between which lakes, was the heart break hill portage?
07/20/2017 02:23PM  
Dear Hero-

What a fun and fantastic story! This will inspire me to go ahead and write one for my 12yo son and I's first trip just last year. So many of the same themes about learning as you go played out for us too.

We are leaving in a week on our next attempt. Except this time we are bringing three first timers with us; a father and two sons, 11 and 13. I say attempt in jest, we are all looking forward to it, and all are far less green then the two of us were last year. More hands will make portaging and camp chores much easier too!

And in the meantime, my now 13yo has grown 8 inches and is going to make a MUCH larger contribution when it comes to paddling and portaging!

It was amazing to see how much a few days in the wilderness can change a person, and especially a young person. It almost broke him; but he persevered and definitely learned he was stronger than he thought.

Congratulations on a memorable trip!

Oh, and don't fix the pictures. I thought the upside down one fit perfectly with the story line :-).

All the best!
member (18)member
07/20/2017 03:25PM  
Great read, Old Hiker!

As one who is blessed to actually live in MN and be only hours from a BWCA trip, I'm so glad you were able to experience and appreciate it, despite the difficulties along the way!
distinguished member(670)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/28/2017 03:37PM  
Holy cow, that's a massive dog to haul in a canoe!

I wish my dog was low key enough to take one canoe trips.

My buddy and I learned the same lesson you did after our first trip to the BWCA. We also had an extensive backpacking background and thought, "hey... the canoe will do most of the work, this is our chance to bring the gear and food we've always wanted on a backpack. We can pack Lots of Stuff™." After all, our two river trips showed us that packing a cooler full of ice and Coke and beers and hamburgers makes for awesome camp dinners.

We also thought we could single portage.

Both myths were dispelled on the first portage and lesson learned.

I also learned that I preferred hauling the canoe to the backpacks, and my buddy preferred the packs, so I get one hard trip and one easy trip per portage, and he gets two moderate trips. It works out.

I could feel your anxiety as everything seemed to be going wrong before the boats hit the water, even on the first day of paddling... but once you put that behind you and allow your spirit to take in the surroundings and not worry about everything else, there's nothing like the Boundary Waters. I've spent many more nights packing in Colorado than I have in the BWCA, but I think if given the choice, I'd select BWCA 9 times out of 10 now.

I'm glad you pushed past your obstacles and got to enjoy the trip.
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