21 Waters - 7 days
7/27/2013 Breakfast at the outfitter (The Historic Clearwater Lodge). Our group had 3 newbies this year, all women. We had 5 women and 3 men this year. Starting out in what was suppose to be our easiest trip thus far, we put in on Brule Lake, paddled towards the 10 Rod portage heading to South Temperance Lake. The rain caused this small portage to trip a few of us up, slick rocks and shoe sucking mud puddles greeted us. Feeling like a newby myself, I found myself sitting legs dangling down on the apx 45 degree wet rock landing and the 60# food barrel weighing me down on my back. From South Temperance we hoofed the 55 Rod portage to North Temperance and decided to sit up camp due to the rain fall. With the rain not really letting up, we decided to stay in camp 7/28/2013 as well and make up the ground the rest of the week. Initially we intended to spend 6 nights on the water with our destination the first night being Cherokee... but the extra nights built into the trip allowed a lot of needed flexibility with bad weather. The previous nights were cold and we were using body heat and hand warmers to stay toasty in our tents.
7/29/2013 (Monday), Broke camp fairly early this morning and headed across the 105 Rod portage into Sitka Lake and another 140 Rod into Cherokee. The 140 Rod should be a bit respected on this trip due to the mud, rocks, and wet ground. We found a few in the trip were unable to carry as much as we anticipated due to various injuries or limitations, so this caused others to carry more and do a few extra trips across the portage. We took the 13 Rods into Gordon Lake (lunch at the 1st campsite), 28 Rod into Long Island River, a paddle through a 5 Rod portage into Long Island Lake (a nice paddle through) and a secured campsite at the Southwest corner of the only island located on the lake with 2 sites on it.
7/30/2013 (Tuesday) Biscuits & Gravy started our day to a treacherous 20 Rod portage of ROCKS and DOWN TREES to a beaver dam landing then a 4 Rod lift over got us to Muskeg Lake. This was followed by the 185 Rod portage to Kiskadinna. Admittedly I fell on this portage twice (one of these spills included going belly up like a turtle in the stream that ran through. It was there we came across a Forest Ranger who assisted in my recovery and readjustment of my 51# pack. We then learned that this portage should not only be respected but is listed as one of the top 3 hardest portages in the BWCA... After traveling it three times, I believe one should consider this before attempting to go this route.
We then paddled the length of Kiskadinna and took the 35 Rod portage to Omega Lake and another 20 Rod to Henson lake in hopes of finding a campsite. Henson Lake campsites were less then desirable and we found none that were suitable for three tent sites...so we opted for another 80 Rod portage to Gaskin...now getting a little later in the day then we like to be on the water and a crew that is looking a bit tired from the hard portages. We were in luck to find the 2nd campsite on the North.
7/31/2013 (Wednesday) After a few more rain drops, a quick prayer was in order... (prayer: Less rain, good weather, sunny days, dryer portages, a Moose sighting would be nice). We had noticed that several blogs mentioned how bad the mosquitos were this year and the black flies were suppose to be the worse people had ever seen. From our experience it wasn't that bad. Last year we were covered in mosquito bites and we could have carried our body weight in bug dope. This year I walked away with a total of 10-15 mosquito bites...not bad... probably the best we've seen. A few did day trips and came back with 4-4 lunch baggies of raspberries. This made for a great raspberry pancake the next day. Around 4:30 pm, sitting at the camps water edge one of our members found herself face-to-face with a mother moose and her two baby calves. She had been walking along the water's edge with a passing by canoe at her back side looking for an entry point and would have taken our campsite entry had she not come face-to-face with one of us. Most of us heard the commotion in the water and thought our friend had fallen in, simultaneously she was calling us... A few nice pictures of the family swimming away are added here for a great memory. This prompted a search of our area to see where momma moose may have entered.
During the moose search, we came across some foundations that look to pre-date the BWCA. WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS OLD FOUNDATION FOUND AT CAMPSITE ON GASKIN IF ANYONE HAS ANY KNOWLEDGE OF IT.
8/1/2013 (Thursday). 102 Rod to Horseshoe for an easy paddle to the far side, west tip of a peninsula north of the portage entering Caribou Lake. Breakfast at this campsite was wonderful using the raspberries from the previous day's find. A crew member mentioned an extensive day trip... so ALL IN... we headed out for the following: Horseshoe Lake, 50 Rod portage to Allen Lake against a strong headwind, 95 Rod to Pillsbery Lake, 93 Rod to Swallow Lake, 110 Rod to Meeds Lake, 21 Rod to Caribou and 20 Rod back to Horseshoe.
8/2/2013 (Friday) Last day on the water started with Blueberry Muffins and Bacon. A hot cup of coffee, a check of the Leave No Trace campsite, and off through the 20 Rod portage to Caribou Lake, 73 to Lizz Lake, 51 Rod to Poplar and out at the Trail Center for a few beers and a nice BURGER that we enjoyed while we waited for Clearwater to pick us up.
Kudo's to Roger our Grubmaster for the wonderful homemade dehydrated meals that included but were not limited to the following: Porkchops + Baked beans + Stuffing BQ Pork, cheesy bake taters Fet & Spgti, meat crumbles Lentle soup (Compliments of RIPPLE in the Recipe Forum **Camp hit) Beef & Noodes *My personal fav* Bisc & Gravy Baked Ziti (Compliments of RIPPLE in the Recipe Forum **Camp hit) Beans & Onions Shrimp Fet Pancakes & Bacon and for the fishing efforts of bass and northern pike... fantastic eats!
GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS: CCS Guide pack - Huge, be careful not to take too much gear. Performed great, even at 51 pounds.
CCS Custom barrel pack we had made (similar to The Quad Pocket Pack) was outstanding. It was great to have a place to store the fuel cans outside the pack.
CCS Tarp / Lean: Another great item. A great place to hang out and gather during rain or to escape the flies/mosquitos; however, I would not sleep in it. Tested in the evening by another team member overnight, it was not bug proof enough and that member ended up inside his Bug Bivy in addition to the lean.
SAWYER Gravity Water Filters: Fantastic ease of water filtering system. See photo below for the combination of two Ultra Light Tree Huggerz. Gradually we improved this system to filter straight into our MSR Dromedary bags. We never ran out of filtered water. (Tree Huggerz, extremely great customer service. They thought they took too long to provide our order and shipped us an extra one. This came in handy to use in our new quick system.)
JELLO-MOLD OVEN: Thank you DogwoodGirl for the great tip. We use this over our MSR Whisperlite Stove. It makes great biscuits and muffins. Cooks super fast and even heat. Works best with one package of "just add water mixes" per batch. Completed in less then 10 minutes. Use lots of Crisco. (See photo below, Blueberry Muffins and bacon breakfast.. This golden ring of goodness was a camp hit.)