Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park Artery Lake to Donald Lake (Molly & Paul)
by SunCatcher

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/29/2011
Entry Point: Other
Exit Point: Other  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
SunCatcher (Paul) and Molly the Lab 2nd Solo.
Part 1 of 3
Molly and Paul

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park Red Lake, Ontario Canada Solo Canoe Trip with Molly the Lab Fly in, Paddle & Portage and Fly out 7days and 6 nights in the Bush

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park - (WCPP) 1.2 million acres of Boreal Forest and Water 700-750 folks visit this place a year

Bell RockStar Solo Canoe Kevlar 32 pounds Molly the Lab 65 pounds 1 Sawyer Beavertail paddle, 1 Kayak paddle, 1 crazy creek canoe chair, portage yoke, life jacket, fishing pole, 2- Nalgene’s full of water = 6 pounds 1-55 lb equipment pack & 1-33 lb food pack & 1 Thwart Bag (6 lb) Mollys Pack 6 lb July 29, 2011 – August 8, 2011

Portages:   Portages on Map – 17 (actual distance of portages is 2 miles)   Portages not on Map – 5 do to low/no water   Total distance I portaged because I did the portages 2x – 3x was 11.66 miles Total.

Lakes: Started by Flying from Red Lake, Ontario into Artery Lake, down Bloodvein River East to Barclay Lake, South onto Simeon Lake, South Simeon Lake, Simeon Creek, Dunstan Lake, The Enchanted Portage, Royd Lake, Kennedy Lake, ending on Donald Lake, and flying out from a private dock at Wamserville on Donald Lake in a float plane back to Red Lake, Ontario.

Outfitter: Red Lake Outfitter’s Harlan Swartz Red Lake, Ontario

Float Plane: Cessna 185 for Trip out to Artery Lake       1959 DeHavilland Beaver for Trip back to from Donald Lake to Red Lake

Other Pertinent Gear: Garmin 400T GPS, Topo Maps, Park Maps, Compass            Satellite Phone


  The real planning for this trip , more then likely started when I got home last year from my first solo trip. I had thought about maybe teaching “Molly the Lab” to learn how to behave in a canoe, so she could join me…. (Which I did get accomplished in early summer.) I spent some time mulling over Maps of WCPP (Woodland Caribou Provincial Park) and decided to call a man named Martin Kehoe. He spends a fair amount of time in the park soloing, and knows the in’s and out’s as good as anyone. I told him how much time I had and we talked about flying in and out as a possibility. He suggested the Route, I ended up taking, do to the nice quite waters I would be on, the beautiful lakes, and the pictographs (Indian Paintings on Granite Walls) along the way. Martin Kehoe, was my inspiration for ever going to the WCPP in the first place. I heard him talk at Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin about the Park…and had to go there and experience it for myself. So, I Thank Martin for the promotion of such a beautiful place.   So the plan was in place, the route, the topographical maps ordered, I visited with the Outfitter Harlan Swartz of Red Lake Outfitters. He is sensational! I rented a satellite phone from Harlan and he lined up my flights. I dehydrated a boat load of food, hamburger, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, red peppers, green peppers, black olives, etc. I was ready for weeks ahead, like a kid in a candy store raring to get my hands on the candy!

So the story begins…………

  Last year I dedicated my first solo in memory of my Father Don Kolterman. He is still deep in my thoughts often, but this year I dedicate this trip to my wife and best friend Charlene. (aka Piddle Paddle). She is a sensational women, VERY understanding, we have been through thick and thin together. She “allows” me to live these dreams and adventures, and is by far the best thing that ever happened to me! So here is to Charlene the Love of my life for 31 plus years. The only person in the world who would put up with me that long! Thanks for being my partner, and putting up with my notions, dreams, and adventures! Love, Paul

Day 1 Friday July 29th, 2011  and   Day 2 Saturday July 30, 2011 (The Drive Up)

  I left Norfolk, Nebraska at about 2:30 pm and drove to Fargo North Dakota, Molly was good riding partner, and she was very nice in the pickup. I stayed at a dump of a Super 8, but it was ok. I looked up Tom Nissen, a long time friend of mine and co-worker in Fargo and met his mother. We chatted some and Molly was glad to be able to be out of the pickup. It was nice to see Tom and meet his mother.   Back at the Super 8, I watched tv, but all I could think about was, the wilderness and how awesome it would be. I wandered how Molly was going to handle her first wilderness trip in a canoe (that went through my mind a lot) but the decision was made and she was on the roster, so there was NO turning back with that plan now.   Day 2, I was up I think at 3 am and raring to go so loaded up and headed across North Dakota, got some awesome shots of the sun coming up, and pulled into the Border Crossing about 5:30 am. No problems at the border at all. So now Molly is a “International dog” Stopped at the Manitoba border took a few pics, and picked up some maps. Off to Red Lake. We also stopped at the Ontario border, picked up some maps of Ontario, and took a few more pics. Off to Red Lake. Stopped in Ear Falls, Ontario and purchased a fishing license, and went to the local hardware store and bought some BEAR SPRAY. Never did have any of that before and decided I would get some. Off to Red Lake…. Finally, arrived at Red Lake, Ontario about 880 miles from home. I had a room at the Howey Bay Hotel. Nice enough place, with a bar, and Great Food! I put my stuff in the room and Molly and I went driving down to the Bay of the lake. Red Lake is the name of the town and also the name of the lake at the town. It is a Big lake with several float plane business’s. The bay on Red Lake that comes into Red Lake the town is called “Howey Bay” so Howey Bay is the Bay that comes up to the edge of Red Lake the town and is part of the lake named Red Lake. Float plane’s everywhere, fisherman everywhere, coming and going. It is sort of a busy little town. Gold Mining, is the key industry along with tourism.   I called Harlan my outfitter and he came over with his dog Keto, gave me some idea’s on where to find pictographs, and delivered the satellite phone. It was in a nice waterproof pelican case, and he de-briefed me on the use of the phone.  Harlan told me where to meet the float plane and pilot at 7 am in the morning.   FYI Charlene and I agreed that I would call her for a few minutes every night at 6 pm. No matter where I am I stop and call her. It costs $16/day to rent the phone and $4/minute…so we aren’t long winded on these calls…she gives me the weather report, and I tell her where I am and how it’s a going.   So Harlan was off and I went and ate dinner. I had a Howey Burger and it was GREAT. I also had a couple Canadian beers (Imagine that). Then Molly and I went to bed.

Day 3 Sunday July 31, 2011 The Fly Out to Artery Lake……

  I awoke at 4:00 am took a shower, and went through everything one last time. The Howey restaurant opened at 5:30 and I was ready for a big hot breakfast. After Molly’s lunch, headed over to Viking Outpost’s whom Harlan lined up to fly me out. No one was there, it was about 6:40 am so I weighed all my stuff on a platform scale they had out there. Then Harlan showed up at 7 and called Hugh the pilot (co-owner with his brother Craig) and he showed and we moved the stuff down the road a bit to another hanger/dock. Hugh tied on the canoe front and back on some cleats on top of the floats, and also used ratchet straps to secure the canoe in two places. The plane was about a 1977 Cessna 185 with Floats, and it was a very nice plane. Hugh is a good guy and was wandering how that dog of mine would do in a float plane? I said well Hugh, she will be fine. He said “ has she ever been in a plane before” and I said “well NO, but she will be fine….and He said” I hope so, I am not to fond of dogs ……( I prayed she would be good) Turns out…she was an angel on the flight.   So we say goodbye to Harlan, and Hugh, Molly, and I taxi out of Howey Bay on Red Lake, and get ready for the take off. It was AWESOME. The feeling of doing this long awaited trip was finally here. I was elated, and really happy. I felt very blessed to and fortunate to be able to pull this off again, and was really looking forward to this adventure with Molly.   Saw some forest burning as we made the trip across WCPP, and flew basically following the Bloodvein River. It was a real treat, and an awesome experience. The beauty of the wilderness and vastness, really set’s in when you are in the air and can see just how Big it really is!!! We landed on Artery Lake, I am guessing about 50 minutes later It was roughly 10 am. Hugh was very accommodating and we landed on a nice sandy beach on a point. Hugh said, I will pick you up on August 7th on Donald Lake, find me a sandy beach to land on. I said “ok” and away he went. I watched him taxi and take off. It was neat. I prepared the canoe. And the first thing my dog did? Went Swimming!!! Who cares, she was having fun, and she deserved it. So I was supposed to head Straight East up the Bloodvein, (The BloodVien flow is from East to West across Ontario and into Manitoba, and dumps into Lake Winnepeg.) I decided to go WEST opposite of my plan to go look for pictographs, Harlan had pointed out. I immediately ran into a couple less than 500 yards from where I landed. They were in a Red Bell Alaskan canoe (Royalex) and from Madison, Wisconsin. They had just broke camp from their first night out. We shared a few comments, and off I went to look for picto’s. Five minutes in the wilderness and I run into someone! Haha… I paddled 2.25 miles and found one picot that was very difficult to distinguish and never did find the other one. I decided I better go back East and get started up the Bloodvein River on Artery Lake. All in all I paddled about 4.5 miles in search of pictographs the opposite way of my destination, but enjoyed the paddle and I was smiling from ear to ear, just to be here!   Next after some paddling I came to a pictograph along the South Wall of Artery Lake. It was faint but I could make out a Moose or Caribou and a stick man with a bow and arrow. It is about 50 yards WEST of the Mural of Pictographs on Artery Lake and would venture to say a lot of folks miss that one. I thought it was awesome.  

  Then I came to the “Mural” a huge pictograph about 30 feet long and 4 – 6 ft high. One after the other. Seeing these gives me such a curious feeling. Who did these? Why did they do them? I wander how there life was? How old are these? What are they trying to tell us? Thoughts like these go through my head. I took many pictures (not near enough, if you ever come onto to these take 3x more then you think you should) They don’t all turn out as you hope for. I was there maybe 30 minutes or so. Then it was a short paddle to my first Portage ( A portage is where you carry all your stuff, canoe, packs, etc from one point to another. Usually from one lake to another) and what you are carrying it around (portaging it around) is usually an obstacle like a rocky creek, waterfall or something of that nature. I call em a “hike though the woods” but trust me, some of them are more like “boot camp through the woods”. ? It was a nice spot and easy portage. You come off of Artery Lake onto the Bloodvein River. The Bloodvein is a wide River with some area’s of tall stands 60-70’ high of Birch trees. They are thick stands and beautiful. It is a wide, winding river, I am paddling against the current but it is not a big fast current. Also, the water level’s are down 2-3 feet. Which made some area’s of the Bloodvein shallow and muddier then normal. There were lots of stands of wild rice, and ducks, and merganser’s, and beaver huts, and geese, and Bald Eagles, everywhere! The sun was warm and sunshiny, and the skies were a brilliant blue. It was a great day of paddlin. The wind was now at my back, so I decided to push myself the first day.    A few minutes before six o’clock (time to call Charlene) I was looking for a place on the river to call and rest, I spotted a long rock, a little island so to speak, about 30 ft from shore and started paddling over there, and a MOOSE came out right where I was headed. Into the water she went, thrashing her head back and forth. They are powerful animals and huge!! I got the camera out. Molly was asleep in the bow of the boat, and I snapped some pics and shot some video. She finally spotted me and off she went in the woods. This was like a 3 -5 minute ordeal but was awesome. I then pulled over and called Charlene. Told her, I hadn’t picked a camp site yet but would be ok. She said it was supposed to be hot tomorrow (It was 91 the next day).   I headed up river till 8 pm and pulled into a bay just before Barclay Lake. It was an awesome point. All Rock about 4’ out of the water. Got camp set up, Molly rested on my sleeping bag and mattress. She had a rough day. I was so glad to have her along, she was the greatest dog in the whole world as it turns out! I had purchased a Purcell Trench Grill, before I left. Wow what a nice grill. I brought some FRESH pork loins that I had frozen and seasoned and Made three of them, along with some Hashbrown’s cooked with Ghee (clarified butter). Molly got one and I ate two. Propped the grill up over a rock on one side and a log on the other over the fire, cooked and watched the Sun go down. Nothing like fresh meat your first night in the wood’s. I was beat, went over 18 miles of paddling (My record in one day). I did have a small fire, and turned in about 10:30 pm. I read a devotion from the Lutheran Prayer book portals of prayer, (The lesson for the day was, What’s Bugging You, hahahaa) and went to bed.   I had to kick Molly off my sleeping bag! I did bring her a woven rug to sleep on though. I thanked the Lord for protecting me and giving me the opportunity to do this, and asked for his guidance and protection for the rest of the trip.

Statistics: 1 portage 170 meters

Day 4 Monday August 1, 2011 (The day my canoe seat broke)     I awoke at 4 or 4:30 am. Slept fairly well (on rock) For breakfast, when I am tripping I have Instant Oatmeal 1 packet plain and 1 packet Apples and Cinnamon with Dehydrated strawberries that I add, two cups of Hot Cocoa and a shot of Butterscotch Schnapps. Molly didn’t eat her breakfast. Packed up and was out of camp at 8:30. Had a nice paddle across the corner of Barclay Lake, and over to the Bloodvein River. Stopped and played fetch with Molly on a sandy beach, and rested for a minute or so. Then It was about noon and I heard something tearing under my butt, and it was my woven seat on the canoe. I reached back behind me and felt that the seat board on the back side of my seat was snapped in half. I thought it was my weight at first (? NOT) But later figured when the pilot ratcheted the canoe on the plane he cracked it, and it broke on me then later, positive this is what happened) Anyway, I had duck tape I had packed so pulled over and fixed it. I then cut a nice 3 inch diameter piece of Canadian tree and jammed it between the floor of the canoe and the underside of the broken board for support. I figured, this will get me by. It wasn’t a major catastrophe (yet) and never did turn into one. I did have to portage the little log with me everywhere to jam under my seat, and I left it at a portage once and ended up making a new one…I have it with me at home now and will keep it for a keepsake. The log and duck tape saved the day. (lesson from Boy Scouts – BE PREPARED)   So it was noon, and after fixing the canoe, and putting all the stuff back into the packs I had to dig out to get at the fixin materials, we had LUNCH! Then it was off to Simeon Lake. After lunch and a short paddle, I saw smoke billowing out of the forest, a forest fire…I was not scared just a little concerned, as that is the way I was headed. Never been in a forest fire, and wasn’t cherishing the idea a whole lot. The more I paddled the closer the smoke got, and the bigger the plume. It looked like the cloud of an atom bomb at time’s bellowing out of the forest tree tops.   As I turned South onto Simeon Lake, I happened onto a calf moose and her mommy. Molly saw them also, this time, and she listened real well. They were getting ready to cross Simeon Lake and the calf was down in the water about 6 ft from shore, the Cow was snorting and grunting and not a “happy camper” that we were there. She called tha calf back and they meandered back into the woods. IT was a Really neat thing to see!   So about 5 o’clock we ended up down on the south end of Simeon looking for a portage. (Long Story) I never found it!!! Looked for 3 hours!!! Was pissed!!!!! Tired!!!! And disappointed!!!! At six I called Charlene and told her Hi, she gave me a weather report, and I told her I was looking for a portage for an hour. So at 8 pm it was getting time to find a place to camp. I paddled out of the bay I was in, and around itnot the next one. I bet I saw 10 beavers working down the south end of that bay. I found a crappy place to pitch a tent on an incline on a point but now it was 9 pm and I had to camp here. (Lesson: Quit Earlier Dumby)   I set up the tent, and got water, and got the sleeping pad ready. Molly was beat and so was I. Made some Terryaki Chicken and Rice and it was delicious. NO FIRE, as I was in the middle of the woods and not a safe place to have one. No devotion, just a quick prayer and off to slumber land, went to sleep about 10:30 pm. Lots of thunder, lighting and little rain, but it got after it with the wind and thunder and lighting. Oh, almost forgot, I did see a solo paddler today on a point but to tired to go talk to him! He was a way’s off.    

    Statistics 0 portages

Day 5 Tuesday August 2, 2011 (The day from HELL, the Creek I was on dried up!!)

( I did not see another soul for the next 3 days and that was ok with me)

Awoke at 4 am, (traveling breakfast) Hand fed Molly her food, she was under a little stress I am thinking, but she was still waging her tail. Packed up and out of camp at 8 am. Off to find that darn portage….again. After an hour I found it, that is another story. I got out my axe and “Blazed” the tree real good, so the next smuck could find the darn thing…It wasn’t that bad and it was where it was supposed to be, but with low water just hard to find. I ended up tromping through 30 ft of boot sucking mud to find it, and when I did I was elated!!   This portage runs up a hill about 70 degrees and down a hill into a meadow which would normally be spongy bog or wetland, into a little creek that runs down to South Simeon Lake. The creek is six feet wide and 6 – 18 inches deep and full of grass and such. Water levels are 2 -3 ‘ low so this is starting to bother me. Lot’s of work Pulling the paddle through the muck and weeds (not real paddling) But at least there is some water in this creek! Then you come to what normally would be a beautiful waterfall. With a short little portage around that. It was a great place to clean off and have lunch. Lunch on the trail consists of Jerky, Wimmer’s Little Meaty Beef Sticks, Sunflower Meats, and Honey and Oats Granola Bar, and some fruit snacks. Usually, Gatorade to re-hydrate. (Molly enjoys the jerky and beef sticks also)   Now from this waterfall I am now on South Simeon Lake. This is a really nice lake, lots of granite and some islands and just a nice paddle. Short Paddle across South Simeon and off on a 150 meter portage and then onto Simeon Creek. Well here is where the trouble begins!! I am paddling along in shallow water on Simeon Creek in a valley, Granite or forest on one side of me, and forest on the other. NO wind as it is in a protected valley, by the forest. It’s about 1 – 1.5 miles of creek and about a third of the way or so the creek runs out of water. “So now I am up a creek without water” the map says “shallow water” and “Rock Garden” That is an understatement. So from here on I only snapped two photo’s of this ordeal…I ended up from 3 pm - 7 pm portaging up a valley, in what normally is a bog/wetland following game trails,etc through the brush and crap, to get to Dunstan Lake, my next destination. It was 84 degree’s out and I was exhausted. It by far is the toughest thing I have done physically in YEARS!!!! Like boot camp only I am out of shape. Let me just say “I will NEVER forget it”, nor will Molly.   The greatest site in the whole world was the trail/portage into Dunstan, I knew my trouble’s were over and I was spent, and so was man’s best friend. So we paddled out into Dunstan lake and found an Island. I called it Molly’s Island. It was 70 yards long and 30 yards wide. ALL ROCK. This is where we laid our heads and set up camp. It was about 8 pm. Oh yea, I did call Charlene from “Death Valley” and let her know I was ok” ?  We had Goolash for supper, and it was a welcome meal. Molly ate her supper. She was limping some, I think her hip was sore, and I know exactly how she felt. I prayed the Lord to heal us both up, and prayed we not have another day like that again. Off to bed (Great Weather)

Statistics 4 portages on the Map 125m, 20m, 150m, 70m, and 60m(and one long portage up a dry creek ¾ mile done 5x and rock garden now called “Death Valley”)

Day 6 Wednesday August 3, 2011

Woke up about 4:45am had the usual breakfast, broke camp early. Had to paddle south across