Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Chad and Matt: 2058 rods of portaging in one day
by richierch4

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/28/2005
Entry & Exit Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
We're 32. Out of shape. Overweight. And we traveled seven hours through 11 portages before being forced to take the longest portage in the BWCA a total of three times.
By the time my friend Matt and I had arrived on Paulson Lake (formerly known as Jap Lake), we had taken 11 portages. We had traveled hard for seven hours, leaving from Round Lake at about 8 a.m. and arriving on Paulson at 3.

To our dismay, both campsites on Paulson were full.

Either we turned around and went back four portages to Bingshick Lake, or we pressed on to Seagull. The only thing standing between us and Sea Gull was one of the Boundary Water’s longest portages, a 515-rod monster.

We’re both 32 years of age, out-of-shape and overweight, so we took the only logical decision: Sea Gull and the big one.

By this time of the day, we were both whipped. There’s no way we could take the portage in one shot with all our gear. We’d have to double-trip it.

The entire thing was a mistake.

Within the first 100 yards of the portage, we were met with two cliffs we had to climb. We crossed a stream about five times, hiked up, then down, then up, then down. And we were about halfway. After finally making it once and dropping our first load of gear off, we took it back. Even without gear, the portage is tough.

Finally, we made our second trip with our gear and were paddling again on Sea Gull.

We found the first available campsite and set up.

Sleeping was not a problem Thursday night.

We had portaged a total of 2,058 rods in one day.

Early Friday morning, July 29, we awoke and I made the strongest cup of coffee ever. We ached all over.

We fished Friday on Sea Gull and had some luck, catching some pike and bass.

We had really hoped to get to Paulson to fish lake trout, so early Saturday morning, July 30, we got up and got moving. We hit the portage, again decided to double-trip it. The elevation changes were just too much to take with 100 pounds of gear on our backs.

By the end of the first trip with our gear, it had started to pour buckets of rain. Cracks of lightning startled us as we slogged our way through the portage. By the time we picked up our second load of gear, the portage was nothing more than a creek bed. And, with the weight of the rain, our packs took on all kinds of extra weight.

We finally made it, again, meaning we took the Paulson/Seagull portage a total of six times in two days. Turns out, we missed all the excitement on Seagull. It was that day, Saturday, July 30, that the wildfire starter. That didn’t surprise us, as the lightning was pretty impressive.

We dried off and set up camp on Paulson’s island campsite. The sun came out, and our gear dried out quickly. We managed to catch one lake trout Saturday and one on Sunday. Talk about great eating.

On Sunday, July 31, we were treated to what was the best night in the Boundary Waters that I’ve ever had.

After a day full of fishing, relaxing and no portaging, we dined on fresh lake trout around the campfire. In the distance, we could see a thunderstorm forming. While Paulson was still as could be, we watched in the distance as a lightning storm lit up the sky for three hours. We sipped on some Crown Royal and were in awe as the night lit up with stars. The stars were so bright and the lake so calm, we could see the reflection of the stars on the lake surface.

The night was one of those classic BWCA nights – one of those nights, I think, made possible only because we were so physically exhausted. That exhaustion has a way of clearing one’s head. Once clear of the day-to-day crud, we were both able to think about the real stuff. Matt talked often of his kids, and his desire to be a better father and husband (althought I must say I think he’s the perfect Dad already).

I talked often about December; that month, my wife will give birth to our first child. I had them both on my mind.

Round Lake, Brant Lake, Japanese Lake, Sea Gull Lake

Lakes Traveled:   Round Lake, Brant Lake, Japanese Lake, Sea Gull Lake,