Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Brule bay baby
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/24/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Brule Lake (EP 41)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 6
Day 2 of 5
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aurora handled her first night in the woods like a champ. She slept very quiet & peacefully. And when she did wake up (for the second time) it served as my alarm clock. I took that opportunity to shuttle one of the canoes to the Brule lake landing while everyone else had breakfast, then packed up. It was a very misty morning and I was hoping to see some wildlife on the drive. I ran across a couple of grouse on The Grade, and seen a doe on the Brule lake road.

I ran back to Crescent lake to pick up the other canoe and the rest of the gang & gear. The sun was starting to pop out and it made driving around some of the corners on The Grade something of a leap of faith. As I went totally blind on a few occasions from having to stare directly into the sun. Never the less we made the Brule lake landing in good time. Joel took the Prism out for a spin in the bay to get acquainted with the nuances of a solo canoe as best he could in the time alotted him while we loaded up the other canoes. Along with the Black Pearl, my buddies "Silver Bullet" completed our fleet of water faring vessels. I gave him some blueberries we had gotten on our last trip in trade for borrowing us his canoe.

We outfitted the Black Pearl with a redneck sprayskirt. Taped a piece of tarp over the front of the canoe so Aurora would be out of the sun for our paddle. It looked goofy, but it was cheap & effective.

With the experience we had on Pine lake earlier this year, our biggest concern in preplanning this adventure was how Mother Nature was going to treat us. Specifically wind & waves, but also heavy rain. We were prepared to pull the plug on this trip if any of these conditions reared their ugly heads at the outset. At first flash Brule lake would seem to qualify as one of the last BWCA lakes you'd want to try and paddle with an infant. But we chose a NE route up to Brule bay. And quick inspection of a map readily identifies an almost river like route between the islands along the eastern shoreline. Really there was only about a one mile stretch of open water to contend with. So we felt confident in this approach. All our worries became moot as the day was idyllic in every way.

Apparently the water was almost too calm? As Aurora cried when water wasn't lapping at the sides of the canoe. There was ever so gentle of a breeze, but once we passed behind the islands we were cutting glass. Vickie surmised that Auroras' PFD was also possibly irrritating her a bit. She fussed on and off as we paddled along, but nothing too serious.

Meanwhile, Joel was getting the hang of the whole solo canoe thing. And soon he was clipping along at a good rate. Past the large island he started pulling away, saying he'd go on ahead and scout out potential campsites.

This being only their second trip, (and first where they weren't paddling with someone more experienced) Hannah & Colton were making slow but steady progress. We waited for them awhile near the NE point of the large island while trying to surmise if the campsite located there was indeed vacant as it appeared to be from the lake. Just in case we needed to paddle back and grab it.

The narrows leading into Brule bay was fairly shallow and required attentive paddling as there were some sunken logs and rocks that needed to be avoided. As the bay opened up we seen Joel beached at the first site just to the north. It was an above average site that had plenty of room for our larger group and was well shaded but didn't afford much of a view. In researching for the trip on's map section Vickies' target site was the one located on the southern shore. Joel & I hopped back in the Pearl to check it out. It was occupied by a father & son from (we found out later)St. Paul. Very friendly folks.

We laid claim to that western most site in Brule bay where we initially stopped. Mommy & Aurora were happy to have found, and gotten, home setup. 10:30 and we were comfortably in camp & setup. Nice.

Shortly there after Joel headed out to do some fishing. His efforts were immediately rewarded with a nice 18 walleye. He wasn't overly thrilled with the Prism as a fishing vessel. Saying he'd missed several other legitimate bites as he was more concerned with not flipping the canoe than getting a good hook set. But was encouraged by the fact that he had good action in the middle of the day.

Colton & Hannah were quickly making themselves right at home. Both found a hammock and began devouring their respective books.

By no means happening intentionally; but the hammocks were setup where there seemed to be just the right combination of shade versus sunlight. And mosquitoes were essentially a non-factor for the duration of our stay. (Though we would later find out the ankle biting flies meant business.)

Aurora, not to be outdone by her older siblings, was also able to settle in and relax.

Her little "pea pod" was an absolutely invaluable item on this trip. Essentially it was her mini-tent complete with it's own sleeping pad. It allowed some airflow & kept her away from the bugs without having to use any chemical sprays. We brought it inside of our tent at night. She behaved so well using this that Vickie, half joked, "we should put her in here when were back home?!?"

Having had a chance to relax a bit and since it was still early afternoon? Joel & I decided to scout out the area for some future explorations. We paddled for the Vernon lake portage. Since the wind never really picked up all day the waterfall could be heard all along the trail. About 2/3 down the portage there was a trail branching off to the left (east). It is easily followed but, is fairly well overgrown and slippery in spots. Not quite as well worn and open as the trail to Johnson falls is. But a very beautiful spot none the less.

I had heard good things about the campsite on Vernon near where this creek comes out. We went to check it out as well. There were alot of neat things along the trail too.

The site was as advertised. Very open with several tent pads and a great view of Vernon lake. The creek washed out just west of the landing. The tub was right there as well. Looked like a nice place to cool off.

We returned to camp to find we had one happy camper enjoying herself immensely.

Loops on our CCS tarp were put to an all new use of hanging Auroras' various toys. She was really taken with being outdoors full time.

For supper this evening Joel had brought some venison sausage. Vickie also prepared some potatoes & onions wrapped in foil.

While we were standing around the firegrate waiting for the food to cook; Hannah matter of factly exclaimed, "Dude, there's a snake right next to your foot." Sure enough I look down and there is a garter snake not 6 inches from my foot. I must say I'm quite proud of my response to this development. Or, more correctly, lack of a demonstrative reaction as I'm not a big fan of snakes.

Headed out fishing after supper. We picked up a few small walleyes to supplement the one Joel had caught earlier. Later we enjoyed a lovely bug free evening around the fire. Joel & I had a few ice cold beers as we actually brought in a full size cooler complete with a couple blocks of ice. We were able to keep our filets cold until we needed them. Everyone benefitted from this as we were also able to have ice cold drinks throughout the length of our stay. A real wilderness treat.

Brule Lake, Vernon Lake