Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First BWCA Fish Dinner!
by alpine525

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/27/2012
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
We’ve been canoeing and camping in the BW for almost 20 years. Over the last several years we have base camped due to some physical limitations. This year we chose an area we have never seen before and got a permit to enter at Moose Lake.

After getting feedback from other members, we selected Williams and Hall as our outfitter. Great place and great people! We were very happy with our experience at Williams and Hall, and will definitely use them again.

We took off on Monday morning, August 27th on a tow boat up Moose Lake. Our tow boat driver’s name was Buck – and he seemed very competent winding his way through the islands on Moose. In no time we were at the portage.

We carried our gear over the short and easy portage to Splash. Over the years we have paddled mostly Souris River canoes. This year we rented a Wenonah Champlain canoe. It was a big canoe and very wide. All of our gear easily fit, including our new “luxury items”, two standard size folding/camping chairs. So off we went across Splash.

Exiting Splash, we walked the canoe through the water into Ensign – very quick and easy. Now we were on our way to finding our dream campsite on Ensign. There was a bit of wind and the water was choppy – and we did not like how the Wenonah Champlain handled. Although it is a very stable canoe, when fully loaded it felt like we were paddling a bathtub! Next year we will try the Minnesota II.

We paddled along and soon enough we found the campsite we had wanted – and it was vacant. Hurray! We would be here for a week – and we really wanted a site where we could hang our tarps and our hammocks.

We found the perfect site with an easy canoe landing and plenty of space to move around. We couldn’t agree on the place to pitch our tent – so after a lot of discussion – we finally agreed on a place that was a bit closer to the fire grate than we wanted. It worked our perfectly - no problem with sparks from our small nightly fires.

When we were finished setting up camp, we noticed something unusual. There was a 3 foot piece of log into which a carving had been made. It was a carving of a feather - and the initials "CC" were there as well. I don't know who did this, but it was beautiful work. We took some pictures of it and left it for the next campers to enjoy.

First night’s dinner was steak and potatoes. Used non-stick aluminum foil to cook the steaks and the potatoes. Worked like a charm. No pots to wash!

Each night after dinner we had our red wine – and chocolate cake. We buy small boxes of wine and have Weight Watchers chocolate cake (very small pieces, individually wrapped). It’s a great way to end the meal!

After dinner we cleaned up and stashed our blue barrel. This was our first trip using the blue barrel – and it worked out well. No nighttime visits from pesky bears.

We found a great way to organize our food in the blue barrel - very inexpensive laundry bags from Walmart. Had one for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. These zippered sacks kept things well organized in the barrel.

Next morning we started to explore Ensign – paddled around and looked at some of the other campsites and did a little fishing. Spent the afternoon in the hammocks and did a little bit of reading. After dinner, we sat on our camp chairs near the water and watched the beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, August 29th started out very warm and it kept getting warmer and warmer. We later learned that the temperature reached 88 degrees that day. We stayed around camp – went in the water to cool off – and spent the afternoon playing cards. The blue barrel works perfectly as a small table for cards.

That afternoon, hubby was fishing from shore and he caught some Walleye. Normally, we ‘catch and release’ – but on this trip we were determined to have our first “shore lunch or dinner” in the BW. Well what can I say – the fish was absolutely fabulous! We fried the fish in a small amount of oil, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Why did we wait so long to try this?

Wednesday night was so warm we slept with the tent fly open (we never do that) and on top of our sleeping bags. It was even too warm to use the liner. My idea of perfect canoe country weather is 65 degrees during the day and 45 degrees at night. This year temps were in the high 70’s to 80’s during the day, and probably around 60 at night.

Thursday was a day for exploring. We paddled through Ashigan Lake and on to Cattyman Falls. We had a blast. The weather was still very warm – and we were hot and sweaty. The falls were beautiful and the temperature there was much cooler. We stayed for a long while – met some other canoers – and took a lot of pictures.

Friday brought another beautiful, warm and sunny day. Our plans included a trip to Vera Lake. We found the views on the portage between Ensign and Vera to be stunning. Took lots of pictures. We met a party of women who had been out for a week – they entered at Lake One and were taking out at Moose.

All too soon our week in the Boundary Waters was over. We took a tow back down Moose Lake and had a long, hot shower at Williams and Hall!

After our canoe trip we spent the next few nights in a cabin on Bear Island Lake. We thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of running water and a real mattress!