Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Wind Lake Winter Camping Trip-2013
by GreatBigCubsFan

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 02/04/2013
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I've done many camping trips in the past but never a winter trip. I never even considered it as an option until i read about it in the last boundary waters journal. It set off a great desire within me to learn all about it and acquire the proper gear needed. The folks on the winter camping message board were a wonderful source of information and were always more than happy to share their experiences and knowledge to this I'm very grateful.
This was my 1st winter camping experience and I'm hoping it will be the toughest. Even though I did what I could to learn everything I thought I needed to know before hand, lessons were learned the hard way...

I planned what I thought was a reasonable distance to go in, which was across Moose Lake through a 1/2 mile portage trail then half way across Wind Lake to set up camp. This is approximately 2 1/2 miles. Now I thought this because I run through trails almost everyday, compete in ultra trail marathons and regularly do push-ups. So what's the problem?

I packed my toboggan like it was Santa's sleigh, and almost impossible to pull! I used my running shoes with ice spikes on, another big mistake. I brought my snow shoes and did used them on the haul out.

It took everything I had within me to get my toboggan half way across Moose Lake on a pre made dog sled trail, only to find out that it went north and I had to turn west and start breaking my own trail. I could only move the toboggan about 50ft at a time before my heart rate was getting to high. So I kept moving it and resting until I got it to the portage trail. I looked at the portage trail and it went straight up, and I thought this would be impossible to get my gear up and across to the next lake, so I decided to take 2 trips across to get my gear to Wind lake (which I had to break my own trail). This worked but this got me set up just before dark and I had to go searching for my firewood in the dark.

Some of the weight issues, were that I brought many items that I either didn't need or did not use. I weighed these items when I returned just for fun and the unnecessary items weighed 17 lbs.. The other heavy items were my choice of food, I brought fresh apples and banana( which froze) and hydrated soups and chili. In general I just simply brought way to much stuff.

As far as setting up my camp on Wind lake goes it could not have been better, the lake had no one there all week. I only saw 5 snowshoers passing through. My fishing experience was great I kept a few and released a few including a 35" 10 lb. Northern Pike. The weather was calm and mild as well.

One morning I was fishing and started hearing some howling and yipping. I got a little nervous thinking it was a wolf pack and they were very close by. It occurred to me that I hadn't had my morning coffee yet so I went back into my tent, honestly it was the coffee that I was after; I just happened to be closer to my Survival Knife.

Luckily one of those snowshoers was passing by and I shouted if he could hear the wolves and he said it was a dog sled team, phew....

I kept having trouble with my stove backing smoke up into the tent and it seemed like it took me forever to diagnose that my spark arrestor was clogged. I pulled it off an banged off a soot cake and ended up having to clean this thing a couple of other times. There was a lot of wet wood to deal with.

A couple of the nights the sky was clear and I was able to see more stars than I've ever seen before quite awesome! I'm sure that no one could count them all.

One of the things that I noticed right away that is different from anywhere that I've ever been is the silence that is in the boundary waters. It was a little eerie at times, but mostly peaceful.

I made a plan to get my gear out and I would do it in 2 hauls. So Friday the day before I left I took off with what gear I didn't need for the last night. It didn't seem like a big load and so it was wasn't. I did the 5 mile round trip in about 3 hours.

One of the new things that I did on this trip (besides the trip,itself)is to read a novel. I read "Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand" check it out! I had plenty of time in the evenings since I would not allow myself to go to bed until 10 pm.

The last load on Saturday was still very heavy to get out. By using the snowshoes on the trails that I and the snowshoers made, it was doable, although still very taxing.

In summary it was a very challenging trip, but at the same time fun and rewarding... and there is no way I'm telling you where I caught those fish!

Thanks for reading.

William Boyle

 Moose Lake, Wind Lake

Lakes Traveled:   Moose Lake, Wind Lake,