Ten days of September
Up at 3:30am neither of us could sleep so we headed out early and made for the twin cities, me with my big cup of coffee in hand. After a short time we were at Tobie's in Hinckley and eating breakfast. I tried to talk the waitress into going with me on the trip and leaving CG at Tobies to do dishes. We switched drivers and headed north to Iron Mountain to see Chuck at Spring Creek for some advice on our canoe.
We had bought the MR Borealis the year before and due to poor decision on my part had cracked a couple ribs on a rocky river last spring. Chuck looked at the ribs and said they would replace them and put one more in to strenghten the canoe. We decided we would drop it off after the trip and they could work on it during the winter. I was looking at BB carbon shaft paddles with the wood blade and grip that look nicer than all carbon. Jokingly asking Chuck if he had a demo that I could take on the trip. He smiled and we then walked down to the barn looking for a paddle he and a friend had used on trips during the summer. The number of canoes in the barn is surprising with many different makes and models. There were two MR Expeditions in red and ivory that looked really nice and great designs. Chuck finally found the paddle back in the shop and CG and I were on our way to Virginia to find out if there was still a surplus store. After touring mainstreet we found the store heading north out of town. CG bought a pair of rain pants and we started toward Ely. Heck it was only 10:30am.
We arrived in Ely shortly before noon and stopped at VNO to check in and then to go have lunch at Subway. Lynn and John were gone on a trip, so Kevin was in charge and we spent time talking with him and purchasing a map that covered our route rather than having two maps. Kevin and staff were very helpful. We spent the afternoon reviewing gear and cleaning the eyes of jigs.
We had called Cossack earlier in the day and meet him and Turtle Tracker at WM & WP place and had a tour of the new house. WP does some amazing wood work and we coveted his kayaks. Coss then took us over to the property they had purchased and we talked how the house would be placed and their plans to achieve the dream. Supper at 5:30pm at the Ely Steak House with Coss/TT and TG. Little did I know that I would be blindsided at supper.
The others were already seated when we arrived and Coss came and showed us to the table. This was the first time seeing TG in almost a year and the first year for meeting Coss and TT. Do not order the full rack of ribs on the menu unless you plan on being very stuffed. CG and I both took half a rack back to the bunkhouse for breakfast. We discussed the planned canoe route and other things. It was a great supper and fun to see people from the board. I was then surprised with a piece of birthday cake and card from TG, Coss and TT. Some how TG had found out it was my birthday in a couple days and decided to surprise me. Thank you all for the card and kind thoughts. I am a lucky person for having such friends. We took photos of the group and then showed the others our canoe. Heading back to the bunkhouse we called it a early night and were ready for the next day. We had spent the day driving under blue skies with light winds, meeting good friends. We didn't know it would stay with us the whole trip. 09/09/09 We were up early and headed to the bait shop and get leeches and more fishing information at The Great Outdoors. Jim is very helpful and willing to share his knowledge of the bdub. We were at the Mudro entry point by 7:30am and began to unload gear. There were four guys from Indiana just entering also and they were taking the same route and we would talk to them several times today and during the trip. The sky was a little cloudy with light winds, the standard for the trip and to be repeated for the next ten days. Most pictures on this trip were by CG.
We started the trip with a short portage from the lot to the sandbar without having to portage thru the high grass,but water levels were low. We would dodge rocks all day and more than once need to backpaddle hard to avoid others. Plans were to headed east to Horse Lake and camp there the first couple days. Plans are just that plans and in the bdub those plans change often and daily. We paddled down the creek and across Mudro Lake, heading to our first real portage of the trip.
The portage into Sandpit Lake will wake you up early in the day with a good climb and then down on the east side. We double carried on each portage and quickly fall into our normal routine. We rarely say anything about what comes next, but simply pack and unpack with ease. The guys from Indiana are crossing the portage at the same time. We meet a couple that are tripping with two labs coming from the other direction. Eldon is a great partner and makes portages look easy. Me, well I huff and puff along setting my own pace but getting the job done.
After Sandpit the two portages into Horse Lake were easy and one has a long boardwalk crossing a marshy area.
Close to 300 rods and we were on our planned first stop of the trip. Horse Lake has numerous campsites but all were taken, which we found out after paddling around/across and back on the lake. Well looks like Horse River is being tackled today. The clouds had pushed out and the sun was shining with light winds and temps in 80's. Great for paddling but a little warm for portaging in comfort. The river was low and we took our time walking thru rocky areas and need to do only the three portages. We saw a first also, a red squirrel swimming across the river working as hard as those little legs could go. We finally were past the rocks and headed down the slow paddling grass stretch on Horse River.
We were headed north to lower basswood falls and Crooked Lake for a campsite. CG commented on how scenic the river was and we paddled on. After a half hour of paddling the scenic was starting to wear off and we were just traveling. Shortly we came out to the falls and made our way to the north side and stepped onto Canada soil for the only time this trip. This is the first time for CG on the route and he was taking pictures. We made quick work of the short portage down the rocks on the northside rather than walking farther north to the sand beach. We were on a mission now to find a campsite, knowing that it was later in the day and sites would being taken as we paddled. All the sites at the falls were taken and about a dozen people were fishing.
The first campsite was empty but didn't have a good landing or look very inviting with lots of high grass, shrubs and trees with no breeze. The next site would be across the bay and we decided to look at first and if needed come back to this site. The sun was behind the trees and evening was coming on quickly. The next site offered a single tent site, trees to hang bearbag, some firewood and a rocky, slope landing. But it was to become home for the next two nights. Looking east from camp and tent site.