Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Falls Chain
by rr

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/11/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Quetico
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
I retired from my teaching job when I was 62 in the year 2000. I also retired from long canoe trips at about the same time. In the ten years since then, the only trips I’ve done are base camp trips in Saganaga. I had done many long trips with my son, Ted, when he was growing up from about age 10 to age 25. He’s 40 now, and he talked me into doing another one. We left on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2010 and returned the following Tuesday.

It was hot and mosquitoey for the first two days, but, fortunately, we had light winds. The mosquitoes disappeared after we got through the Falls Chain to Kawnipi. We spent three days there fishing in my favorite lake before returning. The fishing was excellent, as it always has been up there. We had many fish meals, northern, walleye and small mouth, even fish breakfasts.

The wind started blowing and the temperature dropped Sunday morning as we started back. It was blowing from the west, so we mainly hugged the west shore of Kawnipi going back. We made it through all 7 falls chain portages in one day on Monday before battling the waves back to the Ranger Station in Cache Bay where Janice, the very kind and long-serving Ranger there, called a tow so we didn’t have to fight the waves through Sag going back.

I’m glad I went. This trip proved to me there is life beyond 70, and it should encourage many of you younger canoeists that you can expect many more years of good trips to come. The pictures are in my default folio, if you want to look at them. I plan on going again next year, but will go through Prairie Portage to Agnes and up to Kawnipi this time.

A note to anyone going the Falls Chain Route. When the water is low, it’s best to portage Canyon Falls over the Rocky island in the middle. And Kennebas Falls is just a lift-over. Coming back, we did these shortcuts, and it took two hours off our travel time. Also, at low levels (as they were this summer, almost historically low), you only have to do the first third of the portage at First Falls. The Falls Chain is very beautiful, but it’s a difficult route. Silver Falls is a long, up-hill (both ways) portage, the long one at Canyon is difficult. You have to go down a steep slope and across a creek on the way in. And Coco is also long and grueling with rocks, roots, mud, and rock faces to traverse, and also a long steep slope with a 90 degree turn going in, which, of course, is a long hill with a 90 degree turn going out. Nevertheless, I’ve done this trip 12 times now, and I still love it.