Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Quetico 2005 Bushwhackers Jamboree
by hexnymph

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/11/2005
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Quetico  
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 6
Trip Introduction:
Our Second trip to Quetico through Prairie Portage
Day 1 of 8
Saturday, June 11, 2005

Basswood Lake - Sunday Lake - Meadows Lake - Agnes Lake - Louisa Lake

The day started off early with a tow to Prairie Portage. Our team of six, Greg (pghportager), Chad, Mike, Brian, Nate (the rookie), and myself, unloaded our gear and waited in line at the ranger station. It is always tough to hurry up and wait but talking with the others in line can often get you some good information. Once done with the checking in we got into the canoes and started the paddle across Basswood Lake. 
I got paired up with the rookie, which was probably a good thing for me. The whole trip we got along well. He was willing to listen to/tolerate my constant bits of naturalist information, of which the others are probably sick of by now. (This flower is… you can eat this… this plant eats bugs…that birds a...) He was also new to fishing so I was able to guide him in the right direction for how to fish, what to use, how to handle pike and so on. I felt pretty good about that after he managed to catch smallmouth, pike, and walleye. The only fish he didn’t land was a laker but that had to do with a poor knot which even the more experience fishermen has been known to tie from time to time.
It was a slow start as every bend we rounded across Basswood Lake there were more people heading in what seemed to be the same direction. But, the weather was calm and the water was flat and would remain that way all day. 
We headed through “North Portage” onto Sunday Lake and seemed to leave the other people behind. On Sunday the fishing rods were rigged and we fished our way across the lake. On the way across the lake we were presented with the loons being loony, chasing each other around the lake, picking fights, and being very vocal which is always fun to watch. On the other side of Sunday Lake I managed to catch a couple smallmouth and bring one pike to the boat (which now has my lure). My fishing skills were beat when Chad pulled to the portage and had a walleye and a laker.
On Meadows Lake we headed south to and island to eat lunch, which included Laker and Walleye. It was during this lunch that Chad thought he had forgot his tent. A wash of fear came over me as he tried to convince us we’d be OK sleeping under the tarp. I shuddered at the thought and the fact that he was becoming convinced the tarp would work. I could almost see myself three days from now twitching, low on blood, and without sleep, claiming, “I know there’s a tick on my face, but he’s fighting off the mosquitoes”. I contemplated dropping the gear and racing back to get the tent. We tried to figure how three stinky people could manage in two man tents. Finally we convinced him to check his pack again…. He found the tent!
After lunch we headed north to the clear waters of Agnes Lake. We paddled over to Louisa falls and searched for the portage. (One thing I always bear in mind is that on McKenzie maps, the white, blue, and topographic lines are legit… but that red ink isn’t always were it appears on the map. This goes for picot locations, portages, and camp sites) I’m not convinced we found the portage to Louisa but we did find a trail that scrambled up the right side of the falls. We managed to get up that cliff with no problem but I wonder if that was the actual portage.
On Louisa we dropped the lines again rigged for Lakers and the canoes split up to fish as we worked our way to the portage onto Arp Lake and the campsite at the portage. Several of us were able to land Lakers on the way. This is the lake the rookie lost his laker. Once we decided we had enough fish for dinner we made a mad dash across Louisa. Louisa is a pretty lake and the fishing is decent but a lot of the area on the lake has apparently been burned down and a lot of the shore was devoid of most trees. We reached the portage and the beach campsite and set up camp. It was here, while filleting the fish that we found what insect was to be the most annoying of the trip… The No-See-Um! These little suckers would fly up your pant leg and shirtsleeve at any chance they got. They also seemed to find the holes in the DEET defense without a problem. Still, they didn’t dampen our fun.