On Thursday morning at 8am we piled into "the tank" a 1999 chevy suburban, with our two canoes tied down, a bunch of gear in the back and hit the road. After a stop for breakfast, lunch, gas and a bathroom break we made it to Ely from Chicago at 4 in the afternoon.
We pulled into Williams and Hall outfitters and got our room assignments. We both got "suites" ie one queen bed and bunkbed in each room which was really nice. Then we headed into town to do a little sight seeing, shopping, and grab dinner at Rockaway. That night back at the outfitter's we prepped the gear for the morning, sipped a few beers on the porch and called it a night. I couldn't sleep and I think I saw every hour slowly tick by on the clock.
6am came early and we were up and at em bringing gear down to the dock before breakfast so we could catch an early tow up to Prarie Portage. Breakfast was pancakes and bacon and coffee and fruit and now I'm stuffed. As we loaded the tow boat I suggseted to my girlfriend, Amy, to wear her rain coat b/c it can get cold racing up the lakes.A nice cool tow ride up to prarie portage and we're ready, Amy was thankful for the jacket tip.
We arrived at PP at about 7:50 and already had two groups in front of us. We patiently waited our turn after the gear was brought down to the beach and staged to be loaded into the canoes.At the ranger station Amy and I paid for Chief and Mrs. Chief's fees for the trip as part of the wedding present and then bough our licences. We were all set! We also met a member of this board, I THINK his name was solo tripper or something like that, I belive your name was bob. He also stayed at W&H and was in another tow boat up to PP at the same time ours was. SoBack down to the canoes, load the gear. I remind Amy to not be afraid to get her feet wet now, no sense in trying to keep them dry because it isn't going to happen.
We shove off from the ranger station and its almost 9am, much later than we wanted. We set off for Burke Lake and the Yellow brick road portage, or as we call it "the beach". As we paddle I teach amy how to navigate using the maps and compass. She picks it up fairly quickly after a few mistakes.
Over the portage and head towards singing brook. Burke looks beautiful this time of day, but we're on a mission and paddle quickly through. At the brook we find an open pack, a pair of boots, one paddle, and a sleeping bag, but no people or any other sign of people being there. Very strange.
We go across Sunday and Amy has a problem. She won't drink her water that has been refilled from sunday lake b/c of little bits of tiny itty bitty algae in in, even though we steripenned it. I lead a horse to water.... I try to stress the importance of hydration as we each pop a power gel to fuel up for the upcoming meadows portages, ie Big and Little Agony.
We double portage everything and Big Agony takes quite a while to get over with many breaks. I'm trying to let Amy set the pace, but she is stopping frequently and the day is wearing on. I commend her for doing well on the second trip where we only stop once. Over to Little Agony and we're in the boulder field. Amy does well here being careful not to twist an ankle or faceplant.
A quick paddle over Agnes and we're at the base of the formidable Louisa Falls. Chief and I quickly lay out rules that the girls are only carrying fishing poles, paddles, and the food and day packs up this portage. He and I had both done it before and know it can be tough, not to mention dangerous. He and I each take a gear pack up, then head back for the canoes. We look at eachother and without saying a word each grab the same canoe to bring up, not going to risk an injury trying to bring one up solo.
We finish the first section of the portage, paddle the small creek and FINALLY get to Louisa Lake, its pushing 4:30 in the afternoon and Chief and I are smoked, we have very little left in us after doing the heavy lifting at the falls. We rig up rods for lakers and start to troll up the lake to our intended base camp. No fish. Its also starting to get dark. As Chief and Mrs. Chief hit the island we're staying on I hook up with a 4lb laker. Not huge but it will do with the mashed potatoes we plan on having with it. By the time we reach the island it is essentially dark out and headlamps are required for everything. I fillet the fish in the dark as everyone else gets the other dinner essentials ready.
I congratulate Amy on a tough day and for not complaining or anything even when everyone was tired. She and Mrs. Chief both call it a day and crawl into our tents. Chief and I grab a scotch and mix up fresh Louisa lake water with some Dewars. We watch the stars and breathe it all in, thankful for having made it to camp when we did. We drain our cups and head in, falling asleep possibly before our heads hit our pillows.
Lakes: Basswood: Bayley Bay, Burke, Sunday, Meadows, Agnes, Louisa