Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Piwi Goes to Piwi
by Ho Ho

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/18/2012
Entry & Exit Point: Quetico
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Piwi the pup visits Piwi the lake . . .
Day 1 of 9

The plan for this summer's Quetico trip was inspired by the puppy David and I adopted last February. We named her Kahshahpiwi, or Piwi for short. Piwi was part of a litter of eight puppies born at the Ely Vet Clinic after their mom was abandoned there when she was pregnant. The awesome Ely vets found good homes for the mom and all eight puppies. In fact, all had been claimed by the time we asked about adopting one. Fortunately for us, one prospective owner dropped out before the puppies were ready to leave mom, and we were first on the waiting list. As a result, we met our little pup for the first time on the day she was ready to take home. She charmed us immediately - no doubt because she is the best dog ever. Here's a few pictures from the day Piwi came home, at about eight weeks old.

"Are you my dad?" -

Romping -

Sleepy - with toys -

From the start, we wanted to make sure Piwi grew up to be a proper canoe dog. So we began taking her on short canoe rides as soon as the ice was off the lake. We also took her on an overnight paddling trip to a nearby USFS campsite. Now it was time to seal the deal by taking her to Quetico.

We figured that Kahshahpiwi Lake had to be the entry point for Kahshahpiwi pup's first Quetico trip. Beyond that, we wanted a trip with lots of rugged portages to tire out our tireless puppy and counterbalance the stretches when she had to sit (relatively) still in the canoe. After studying the maps, we were drawn to a roundabout loop from Kahshahpiwi though some of the lesser traveled lakes to Sarah and back.

Aside from bringing Piwi along, we tried a couple other changes this trip. First, we decided to spend less time taking photos. Over the years, the fun of documenting everything was starting to seem a little more like a chore. In retrospect, I think we pared back too much a few times, and there are some gaps in the photo record that were disappointing when we got home. I guess we still need to pinpoint the "happy medium" in picture taking.

I also brought along a GPS for the first time this year. I didn't use it for navigation (with a few exceptions). In fact, I made an effort to navigate purely by memory in areas we had been to before. But it was fun to use the GPS to record our route and mark points of interest. I also used it to make the maps in this report.

And with that introduction, we are off . . . .

Day 1 (Saturday, August 18, 2012) -

We opted to get a tow from Moose Lake to Prairie Portage this year. It would be asking too much for Piwi to sit still in the canoe for seven straight miles at the beginning of the first day of her first real canoe trip. It poured on us at LaTourrell's as we were transferring our gear from the Jeep to the towboat. But the skies cleared and we made it up to Prairie Portage without further mishap. After checking in with the rangers, we posed for a "group picture" before setting out in the canoe around 10:40-

You can see in the picture above that Piwi had grown a lot in the six months since we adopted her. She's also wearing a CFD (canine flotation device). We kept it on her whenever we were traveling (even when we didn't wear our PFDs), if for no other reason than that it has a handle on the back that helped with loading up and out of the canoe.

Piwi sat in front of me in our Champlain's huge stern compartment. Even with all the room, her head could interfere with my paddle stroke when she sat up. And that's what she did for most of our hour-long crossing of Inlet and Bayley Bays after we left Prairie Portage. Despite having been out paddling during the summer, Piwi had never done it enough to get bored and just go to sleep. We hoped she would learn to do that during this trip.

I couldn't blame her for being a little squirmy. With the drive, tow, and initial paddle this morning, the poor pup had not gotten any real exercise so far today. So she was happy to jump out of the canoe and snarffle around when we got to the Yellow Brick Road Portage from Bayley Bay to Burke Lake –

Given her age, Piwi was already good obeying voice commands. But she sure was not perfect. And with all her pent up energy, she was a little wild on this first portage. There was an older couple going the other way, and the woman seemed not too fond of dogs, so we resorted to putting Piwi on the leash for our second trip across with gear. That's not something I'd like to do too often. Fortunately, it was the only time it was necessary on the trip.

When we finished the portage we paddled to the nearby campsite island at the south end of Burke Lake for lunch. After eating, we climbed up to the top of the steep island and took in the view to the north -

Another shot without me in the way -

Then we paddled in that direction up to the end of Burke Lake. Just as we got there, we were met by a group going in the other direction with a really adorable Golden puppy a couple months younger than Piwi. The two puppies frolicked together while the humans loaded and unloaded the canoes at the portage landing. This is one of those times that I kick myself for not pulling out the camera on this trip - the puppy play was so much fun.

After the other group headed south, we continued along the familiar route to North Bay. The weather had been decent after it stopped pouring on us back at LaTourrell's, but the sky opened up again when we were crossing the short but rough second potage into North Bay. I stayed dry under the canoe I was carrying, but David got pretty wet during the short haul to the end of the portage. Then we donned our raingear and went back for the rest of our stuff, soaking puppy in tow. By the time the we finished the portage, the rain had stopped.

But the skies darkened ominously again as we paddled across big North Bay. We thought for a moment about pressing on, but wiser heads prevailed after a brief parlay and we pulled up at a nearby island. It was a good decision, because the squall hit pretty hard after we landed. We took shelter under pines in the campsite on the island, which we had stayed at our first night out a couple years ago.

Luckily the little storm did not last long. Here's a view to the northwest as the sky began to clear -

Here's another shot around the same time. The grassy area in the water just beyond the canoe was dry land when we were here in 2010. The water level on Basswood Lake was much higher this year -

A lot of water had gathered in the canoe during the short downpour. After bailing, we continued our course across North Bay.

Our destination for the night was Lost Bay, a secluded cove separated from the rest of Basswood Lake by a long narrow channel. There are several campsites on Lost Bay, but David thought we should stay on an island for Piwi's first night in Quetico, just in case she was not as sedentary as we hoped. So we headed for same island campsite we stayed at the one other time we camped on Lost Bay, in 2005.

We got to the island at 4:00, set up camp, cooked first-night steaks over a campfire, and otherwise enjoyed our home for the night. After all the chores were done, we had time to relax -

Ho Ho and Piwi -

Late-evening sunlight flooded the opposite shore -

Piwi decided she wanted to be a lap dog when the humans sipped their Maker's Mark -

We crawled into our big, dog-ready tent as night fell. Piwi had her own corner with a doggy bed pad (which she loved) and blanket (which she never made use of). She's a good tent dog, and stayed sleeping in her corner all night long.

Total distance traveled on Day 1: 11.8 miles (including all trips across portages).