August 2008 - Farm Lake up the Kawishiwi River
This trip to the Boundary Waters was a first for Christine, Kyle and I. Forest and Aliece both have experienced the Boundary Waters before. I (Ryan) took some time to jot down some notes as I remember them from our trip. Hopefully my memory served me correctly, if not, I'm sure I'll hear back from the crew. (I think we need a sweet nickname to refer to us by...) Anywho, click the heading for this post to view the journal and a few pics from the trip. More pictures are located at the Photo's link.. duh
After a long afternoon at Sam's Club in Wausau, WI, we had all the food we should need. (maybe more...) We kept the plans for this trip vague, since we didn't really know how far we could go in a day or how far we wanted to go. We would be putting in at Entry Point 31 (Farm Lake) and heading up the Kawishiwi River toward Bald Eagle Lake. Everyone was very anxious to get going and we were looking forward to a great time in the BWCAW. DAY ONE
We had rented a canoe trailer from UW-Stevens Point Outdoor EdVentures so Kyle and I left early in the morning (around 8:00am I believe) to get the trailer. Luckily the trailer has a nice storage compartment in the middle that will hold a majority of our gear.
Forest and Aliece show up at our house and we start packing. The canoes are loaded, the gear packed, and we're ready to go. Gas was somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.60/gallon at the time and we had hoped to get somewhere near 20 miles per gallon. Unfortunately we had a head wind the entire way there and the trailer didn't pull as gracefully as we expected. Our average miles per gallon ended up being about 8 or 9 mpg. As you'll see, wind doesn't play in our favor on this trip.
We stay the night a the Silver Rapids Lodge (SRL) in Ely, MN. We successfully block the driveway, like true tourists, and go inside to get our tent site for the night.
After setting up our tents, we decide to take a stroll to the bar. Having a drink sounds nice after the long drive, but we don't want to dehydrate ourselves before the trip begins, so we pass. We go to sleep and dream of what our adventure might bring. It gets to just above 30 degrees tonight. Alittle chilly, but we are too excited to care. DAY TWO
Lots to do today before we can head to our entry point. Everyone gets up and showers since we may not be able to for a couple of days. The lady at the SRL front desk tells us we can get fishing licenses "Across the bridge." So we set out to find this mysterious bridge. We drive for about 4 miles and decide to turn around, that lady was obviously on something. Luckily the place where we turned around was just big enough to pull a U-turn with a trailer.
The decision was made to head back to Ely to get our licenses as well as some good food. On our way back past Silver Rapids Lodge, we notice that the driveway to the lodge is right next to a bridge. The same bridge that lady was talking about. Why didn't she just say it was right across the street? We get to Ely and get our licenses, both our fishing licenses and a marriage license aparently... Christine and I saved a few bucks by getting a "Couples license" We tell Forest and Aliece about our discovery and they do the same. Kyle didn't qualify for this deal, unfortunately. After we get to the car, we notice that on the licenses, right next to where we signed, it says that we agree that we are "Legally Married". So we got married for two weeks. Could be considered a "Trial run" I guess. :)
Forest knows this place in Ely where he ate once before entering the Boundary Waters. After some searching, we find the place and enjoy an ENORMOUS amount of food. Forest if you remember the name of this place let me know, I'll add it here.
After breakfeast, we go get our entry permits and watch a wonderfully interesting video and head down the road to the entry point. Our directions take us back past the SRL and over that damned bridge. Remember that place we turned around? That little driveway just happens to be the road to our entry point. It even has a nice little roundabout at the end. Would have been much easier to drive up there then turn around instead of trying to whip around on the road...
We hurry and unload our gear. I go park the car and help load the canoes. As we are loading the canoes, we meet a group from Massachusetts. We chat for awhile and end up taking their picture and in return, they take ours. They head out in search of "REAL FOOD!!" We laugh and wonder if we will be the same when we return from our adventure.
The canoes are packed and we are ready to head out. This is the time that I thought it'd be best to tell Christine that I have never paddled a canoe before. Oddly enough, it didn't go over as well as I had hoped. I do my best and eventually we get moving.
Kyle teaches Forest how to read a map and use a compass and finally we are on our way to Kawishiwi River.
Two orange cones mark our official entry into the Boundary Waters. Since we got a late start, we immediately look for a campsite. We find one on the North side of the river and decide to take it. Its a nice campsite with a fair boat landing and ample room for setting up tents. The toilet is alittle bit in the open, but we're all friends here, right?
After setting up camp we decide to go fishing for a bit. We head up river a bit and on my third cast I lock into a ginormous fish. It pulls Chirstine and I around for a bit but I eventually get it in the boat. It's a nice northern pike that measures at 38"! Has to be the biggest fish I've ever caught. I perform alittle fishy CPR and release it back into the river. Another few casts produces a nice smallie that we keep incase we catch some more. An hour or so passes and we decide to let the smallmouth go. We head back to camp to make dinner and sit around the campfire. Tomorrow we plan to head further up river. DAY THREE
Another chilly morning. We get up early enough to watch the fog roll off the river as the sun comes up. Looks like a beautiful day is ahead of us. I snap some pictures of the sunrise and start packing up camp. Bagels for breakfast and we pack some granola bars for the canoe ride up river. Our progress is slow, we fish lots and paddle lightly. The river narrows and the current picks up in some spots, but its in no way innavigable. We have a hard time locating the first portage, but eventually find it back in a bay.
Our first portage is 160 rods. Since there was five of us, we decided that Kyle would use a kayak so we'd have more room for our gear. During the 160 rod portage, we would find out why this may have been a bad idea. KAYAKS ARE HEAVY!! HOLY CRAP!!
On the second trip of this portage we see an older man laying in the trail on his back. He looks to be 65 or 70 years old. Luckily he was okay, just resting. We find out that the group he was with was actually looking for the 10 rod portage, not the 160 rodder... poor guys. We see them resting at the end of the portage getting ready for the trip back. 320 rods for those guys... all for nothing.
Our lovely girlfriends Christine and Aliece decided to make us lunch at the end of the portage so when we got finished with our last trip, we had good food to eat. Very refreshing.
The portage brought us to Clear Lake. Its a smaller lake and shallow in spots. There is supposed to be a cool island campsite that we think about taking. Someone else had the same idea, the campsite was full as we went by. Continuing on, we fish some more on Clear Lake and slowly head toward our next portage. As we look for the portage we find a creek that, after navigating through some rocky spots, winds through a marshy area and takes us to a beaver dam. We soon find out that we have found a shortcut and our next portage will be about 20 rods instead of 70 rods! It was well worth the scratches on the bottom of the canoe!
The end of this portage ends up being really muddy and mucky but we make it out and head up the river some more, now looking for a campsite for the night.
The second campsite we find looks to be a good one. Its located on an opening in the river, along the east side. It offers a great view of the sunset and has ample room for our tents. There is also a dropoff right out front that heads straight into 7+ feet of water. Great for swimming! (insert Forest's swimming noise here)
We go for a swim, help eachother wash up in what we call a "shower" and then Forest and I go to collect some firewood. Food is cooked, stories are told, and we head to bed. DAY FOUR
Today we sleep in. There's no reason to get up early since today will be a layover day. We go fishing close to the campsite with not much luck. We go swimming again and hang out around the campsite.
We head to bed, but are woken up soon by the sound of Kyle viciously slamming his "Bear bangers" together in his tent. He stops the commotion and tells us that he heard a bear sniffing around his tent. Forest takes charge and boldly exclaims that he has never dealt with a situation like this and we are all going to go help him scare the bear away. We scurry out of our tents only to find Forest weilding his Spongebob Squarepants pajama pants. The bear could only laugh us to death.
We start hollaring and chucking rocks at trees to make sure the bear gets scared away far enough so he wont come back. It seems to work as our sleep is not interrupted again. That is, it's not interrupted after we finally get to sleep to the sound of Forest and his strange obsession with zippers... Kyle, Christine, and I cuddle in the same tent for the rest of the night. DAY FIVE
Even though we had visitors last night, we decide to stay at this campsite another night. Today is cloudy and it looks like it might rain. The weather radio is stuck in its endless loop of 30% chances of rain for the rest of the year.
Kyle, Christine, and I head to the West to fish, while Forest and Aliece head South. Kyle hooks into a nice norhtern and a real nice smallie. Christine gets some action with the northerns as well. It seems they are more active with the pending storm. We wonder how Forest and Aliece are doing. We meet back at camp and when Forest and Aliece arrive it looks as though they've had as much luck as we did. I filet some of the fish for dinner and it is delicious.
Forest and Aliece decide to play cards tonight in their tent. It sounds as though Forest is winning and we find out why when Aliece exclaims, "Forest, you can't have five f*ing Aces!" Forest turns to Kyle to get approval that, "If its in the deck, its a legal play." He later finds out that he was playing with a penuckle deck. That explains the "Crazy good hands".
That night it rained hard. It was raining all night from sundown to sunup. We decided to put our gear in Kyle's tent and he spends the night with us again. I get a surprise awakening in the middle of the night when Kyle grabs my shoulder and mumbles something. He then lays back down. Christine wakes up also, probably from me jumping. We ask Kyle if he's okay and he says very unconcerned and still sleeping, "Yep." Christine and I laugh and go back to sleep. We'll be sure to tell him about that in the morning. DAY SIX
Today we get up early and try to dry off our gear before we head out. We get the camp packed up and we're ready to go. It looks like it could rain this afternoon as well.
We muscle our way through the two portages, remembering the shortcut to Clear Lake. As we get back on the Kawishiwi River, the wind is right in our face. At some points, the wind is so harsh that we are not even moving. We paddle as hard as we can and duck behind islands when we need rest. Around 2:00pm we arrive at the boat landing and pack up the car. We are extrememly tired, but happy to be on our way home to "REAL FOOD!!"
We realize that nature is still after us when we miss our exit after the bridge connecting Duluth and Superior. The only way to get to the exit is to cross the bridge, turn around in Duluth, and cross the bridge again.
Its starts to rain... hard... as we head back toward the bridge. The wind picks up and then it starts to hail. As we reached the center of the bridge, the wind was howling and the hail was about the size of quarters! It was very nerve racking and if we wouldn't have missed the exit, it would have passed right behind us. Luckily we make it to Duluth alive and turn around and follow the storm into Superior. This time I am sure to make the exit. We pass the storm after Superior and it follows us the whole way to Watersmeet, MI.
It gets close to catching up around Ashland where we ran into construction, and even closer when some old lady from North Dakota was looking to go shopping at every intersection. She was a little old kuckle driver going about 10mph down the road. Someone help me remember what store she finally pulled into...
We spend the remainder of the weekend at Christines' parents' cottage in Watersmeet, MI. It was nice to sleep indoors again :)
We had lots of fun times and some not so fun times, some scarry, and some exhausting, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we can't wait to go back.
Next time we will know more of what to expect and maybe I'll know more about how to paddle a canoe :)