Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Portage Clearing-or should we say Ice clearing trip-May 2008
by Bogwalker

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/03/2008
Entry Point: Stuart River (EP 19)
Exit Point: Mudro Lake (EP 23)  
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
This started out being a trip with two large groups doing portage clearing along two different routes. As it became obvious that many lakes would still be ice covered the crew quickly dwindled to two hardcore paddlers (ok maybe fools is a better word). Portagekeeper aka Joe and Bogwalker aka Steve were those two hardcore fools.
Day 1 of 8
Friday May 2nd

I took the day off from work but I still needed to take my wife into her work at 5:00 am. After I got home from dropping her off I finished packing and learned that I still needed a couple of things so I stopped at Wal-mart (only thing open at 7:00 am) to get some white gas for the stove and a new armless umbrella chair. Got some snacks for the road and stopped back home to pack the fresh food in the cooler and to say good bye to the dogs as everyone else was either at work or school. I left home about 9:00 am.

Arrived in Ely at about 1:30 and stopped at Subway for a chicken teriyaki 6” sub. It was pretty tasty. Not much activity in Ely yet as too many lakes still had ice on them. I really was not concerned.

Cruised over to VNO and talked to John and the staff as they prepped the minnow tanks for the incoming bait for next weekend’s fishing opener. John’s Forest service ice reports from a fly over of Stuart were not encouraging. He said they claimed the ice was still shore to shore and opaque white-not looking very black yet. He did make a bet with Joe and I that Stuart would be open at least to the island site with the current from the falls and being so close to shore. I accepted the bet hoping Joe and I would lose.

I drove over to Cook to see Joe who was going to arrive home from work at about 3:30. We did a little repacking and discussed our options if we encountered too much ice. We were both committed to going and knew, if nothing else, it would be an adventure to remember.

Went back to Ely and met Kevin who was going in for a solo trip on Lake One. Had dinner at Sir G’s and then we hit the sack at the lower loft at VNO. It was a cold evening and I knew not much ice was going to be melting tonight. I think we were one of only a couple of paddlers spending the night in Ely. I do love the solitude.

I should mention here about the change in plans. Originally my partner Josh and I were going to enter on Saturday with Joe and the rest of the group arriving on Monday and meeting us on Stuart Lake. Josh lives in Illinois and the thought of driving that far not knowing if a trip was even possible was not an option. I could not disagree with him. Others who were traveling a long distance also decided against going. Joe and I discussed just canceling but we were determined so Joe arranged to go in with me on Saturday. The route would be Stuart River EP up through Fox, Rush, Dark to Iron and Crooked and south through Friday Bay, Niki, Chippewa, Wagosh into Fourtown via the Moosecamp River and out at Mudro.