Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Be careful what you ask for!
by bbrown6057

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/23/2012
Entry & Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
It has been almost 20 years since I've last been to the BWCA. Where do I start. I've been wanting to get back up there for years and it finally came to fruition. My girlfriend Daphne agreed to go with me since I went to the Kentucky Nascar race with her last year. We were looking for trip partners and ended up going with someone with whom she works with. I didn't personally know them very well but have visited with them on occasions and figured how bad can it be. Let me start off by saying that our trip partners were Bob and Lisa, husband and wife. Before I go any further, I must say that they are both nice people and this will be our first time doing anything with them as far as a vacation goes. The original plan was for us all to ride up together in my truck from St. Louis together. 2 weeks before we were to leave, Bob and Lisa decide to change their minds and want to drive up separately. At the time it kind of irritated me a little but we didn't say anything. We'll find out later that this was a blessing is disguise. Lisa is very quiet and quite polite. Bob on the other hand is one of those people who talks non stop but does not listen very well and is always right. We had reserved a bunkhouse at Rockwoods and the plan was to stay the night there. Change number 2! They decide to drive all the way back to Grand Marais and spend the night and meet us in the morning for our trip. Now onto the trip report.
Day 1 of 4
Monday, July 23, 2012

The plan was for Bob and Lisa to be at the outfitters at 7 a.m. sharp so we could begin our trip. It seems as though they can't keep time very well, they decide to make an appearance at around 7:45. Mike has already went over the gear with me prior to them arriving and I was chomping at the bit to leave out. Mike @ Rockwoods goes over how to portage the canoe with us both. I knew how to pick up the canoe but Bob has never done this before. After Mike shows us the first words out of Bob's mouth were "can you just leave your gear in the canoe and carry it over the portage loaded?". Mike already has his fill of Bob the day prior with his "yackety yack" and told Bob in no uncertain terms that if you do that, you will owe me a canoe and showed Bob how thin the sides on the kevlar canoe were and explained to him what would happen. A half our later we finally get to load the canoes and head out for our adventure.

We start out on Poplar lake, which by the BWCA standards is a relatively small lake. Daphne isn't very fond of water and gets sea sick fairly easy so before we even started we agreed to hug the shore as best we could so that she wouldn't freak out on me. The wind wasn't acting up so the lake was fairly calm and we made our way over to the Lizz portage. We kind of got a little temporarily misplaced and stopped to take a look at the maps. It appears that not all of the islands were marked on the map. We finally find the portage and here is where the fun starts!

Daph and myself carefully pull up to the minefield of rocks in the water that they call a landing area and take our time unloading the gear from the canoe. After we get ours all unloaded, I look back and Bob and Lisa are trying to lift the boat and all of their gear out of the water, doing exactly what Mike told them not to do! Did I mention that Bob is always right and doesn't know how to listen? Anyway, I was in a hurry to get portaging and in my hurry, I forgot to help Daphne load a pack so she could take off. Instead I threw the canoe over my shoulders and took off. This was to be my first portage and I was looking forward to seeing if I could do this.

A little about myself. Both Daph and myself just turned 50 this year. She's a teacher and I do GIS work for the county we live in. In a nutshell, we both sit behind a desk. I quit smoking 6 months prior to this trip, using that as motivation to get my fat ass back into shape. I start the portage and as soon as I look up from underneath the canoe, I notice a rock filled hill. I think to myself that "this is going to be fun" and start my climb. At around 50 rods this portage was pretty tame . I made the carry to Lizz without setting the canoe down. I made the walk back to the other side with my chest pushed out like a King I was so proud! When I reach the other side I find out then that I goofed when I didn't help Daph load up. Daph and I made another trip across the portage and I told her to stay with the packs and I would get the rest. On my way back, the 3rd time mind you, here come Bob and Lisa carrying a fully loaded canoe. Unreal, I'm thinking to myself. We finally all make it to Lizz lake with all of our gear and make the short paddle up Lizz. Daph loved the size of this narrow but long lake. I'm guessing it took us about 15 minutes of paddling to reach the Caribou portage.

Both of our group unload and start this 70 rod portage. I manage to make it about ¾ of the way and I'm sweating like a man on death row eating his last supper! I laid the canoe down and rested for a couple of minutes and let Daph go ahead of me. I told her to wait for me at the end and we would walk back together and enjoy the trail together. We meet Bob and Lisa on the trail at about the half way point and actually pass them up on the way back to the end of the portage. I took one look at the 2 of them and knew they were done portaging any further. Our plan was to make it to Horseshoe lake but that has now changed. Caribou it is! They finally make it to the end and I tell them the good news. I ask if they see the site across from the portage and they say yes. I say, well it's your lucky day! We are staying here for the trip. You would of thought I was Santa Claus by the looks I got from them.

We both took our time setting up camp and getting everything organized. Daph and I were completely outfitted while Bob and Lisa only rented canoes. Bob and Lisa brought enough gear to outfit an army. Queen size air mattress, 4 man tent, six (1) gallon jugs full of water, 2 boxes of wine, and who knows what else. Needless to say, they brought way too much stuff, irregardless of what I advised them to bring. Did I mention that Bob doesn't know how to listen?

We got all of our chores out of the way finally and at around 3 it was time for them to partake in one of those boxes of wine. Daph and I decided to start a fire in the grate and commence to make dinner. We had fresh steak and tators and got all done eating. I had some bacon going on the grill that we were cooking ahead of time so we could eat it the next morning. This is when things start to go bad. Bob proceeds to jam as much wood into the grill as humanly possible. Looking back on it, I should have said something, but I was there to relax and didn't want to cause any stress between us. Well five minutes later we have a fire that they could have seen from Ontario and up in smoke went my bacon and the skillet (lid).

One skillet down, Bob uses almost all of the firewood that we had collected and it wasn't even close to being dark yet. We make another wood run and enjoy the fire, somewhat that is. About this time the alcohol has kicked in and motor mouth decides it is time to start trying to be funny. Well of course everything he says is funny to Lisa and the two of them are having a ball. Meanwhile Daph and I are just looking at each other with this WTF did we get ourselves into look. We all finally decide it's time for bed and Daph and I play a game of Farkle in the tent. I'd say about ½ way through our game, I hear this noise coming from their tent. It sounds like 2 hippos over there fighting over territory. I've never heard two people snore this loud. She would stop, he would start. It went on like this for hours and poor Daph and myself finally fell to sleep sometime around 2 a.m., give or take 3 hours.