Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Changed Plans Can Be A Good Thing
by Ozarker

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/08/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake Chain Only (EP F)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
No one from our annual large father/son group north wanted to go with me into the BWCAW, so the Mrs volunteered to go with all of us crusty males and then we would branch off from the group to go on our own. Had good intentions to get some travel in, but sometimes weather has other plans.
Day 1 of 4
Monday, June 08, 2009 We got to the Ely area Sat afternoon with a group of about 25 other guys, mostly father/son, grandfather/son, etc. The group was camping in the group campsite at Bear Head Lake SP and would go out to various lakes in the area daily to fish. My wife, Charlene, and I stayed Sat night with the group. Sunday was spent doing tourist stuff in Ely. Saw that the VFW was having a BBQ fundraiser, so we ate dinner there before going to Voyager North to get our packs and canoe. Stayed in one of their bunk rooms and packed everything. Took a shower and got in bed around 10 PM.

Left VN around 6:15 headed to Moose Lake for a tow up to Splash. I didn't want to make a hard trip for the wife as I wanted her to have a nice relaxing time. I planned to go to the other end of Ensign, base camping either in the north bay or down by the Ashigan Lake portage. 

Weather called for 90% chance of rain and high winds, starting mid morning. I thought if we got an early start we can get to a site and set up before wet weather set in. The wind was picking up as we left the VN parking lot but I still had hopes. By the time we got to Moose lake, the wind was coming from almost due east in the 20 mph range. Whitecaps everywhere on Moose. My first, and only tow so far, was kinda scary as we kept bouncing off of waves and getting air.

At Splash Lake, wind wasn't too bad as it was somewhat protected. Ran into Savage Voyager and crew who were coming off of Ensign. He said the wind was really bad coming directly from the east. He said they screamed across Ensign in record time with the extremely strong tail wind. I told him my plans and he doubted I could get there, maybe I should wait it out. I wanted to be at a camp site before rain starts. We got over to Ensign and I couldn't believe the size of the waves coming in and how strong the wind was, now getting closer to 30 mph. Decision time. I thought about that 1 site on Splash. I asked the Mrs if she would like to stay at Splash and maybe we would move tomorrow and she agreed. So change in plans; turn around, don't drown. Got to the campsite on the NE side of Splash. Set up camp, went out and collected some wood from a beaver lodge and put it under the tarp. Secured everything and fixed a quick lunch of venison summer sausage, cheese, and crackers. Begins to rain about 11 AM, quickly becoming a downpour. It poured and the wind howled all afternoon. Probably rained over 2". We got into the tent and stayed until it stopped, came out around 7 PM. Got out and cleaned things up around camp and fixed dinner, tuna helper. Started a fire around 9:30 or so, but started to rain again at about 10. Went to bed and slept well. I love the sound of rain hitting the roof of our tent while we're staying high and dry inside.