EP36 - Hog Creek / Perent Lake
My son Jesse and his friend Garrett decided to join us, each have been to the BWCA once before. Ronnie did some canoe trips when he was a camp counselor, but it had been years, so I took over the planning process, which included, of course, more than one trip to the bwca.com forums :)
My first step was to go over my trusty master list and start packing, marking off, and making a new list for things to buy and borrow. I've also been making a wish list over the years, and timing couldn't have been better, as Father's Day was around the corner. My wife & kids bought me almost everything on my wish list, which included a new Katadyn Base Camp water filter. The thing works great, so much easier than pumping water.
We all met at my house in Proctor on Friday morning, loaded the truck, and were on the road at 8:30. At the Ranger station in Tofte, Paulette was wonderful! We watched the video, Paulette joked around with us, and we left with Permit in hand. After a stop at Holiday in Tofte for bait and a few other things, we were on our way up the Sawbill Trail raring to go.
While loading at Hog Creek, we met someone that was going in for a day trip. Super nice guy, and we chatted about his new Bell Magic canoe. It was a beauty! After carrying the Alumacraft down the steps, I figured I needed to add one to my new wish list!
The portage on Hog Creek came up pretty quick. There, we met a family on their way out who told us about the site they just left. Island site, lots of cedar trees, plenty of room, SOLD!
The gentleman we met a the landing caught up with us at the portage, so we let him go ahead of us. After he was done, he came back and helped us out. What a stand-up guy! Hog Creek was just as I remembered, lots of turns. In fact, Jesse and Garrett counted 99 of them on the way out! paddle, paddle, rudder, paddle, paddle, rudder. However, the water was high, so no need to get out and climb over beaver dams or high spots.
We kept on the lookout for wildlife and saw turtles and a crazy snake that swam alongside us for a while. Managed to get a pic of the snake, but the turtles would dive in before I could get the camera out to snap a photo.
We made it to Perent Lake around 2pm and the wind was at our backs as we headed to the campsite. When we found the one we were told about, a really cool green dragonfly was there to greet us. It even posed for a picture on Ronnie's canoe paddle. The site had three different spots to land the canoes with nice views of the lake, three nice tent sites, and an additional area to put up a screen tent. The screen tent was one of those things we went back and forth on about bringing. We brought it for the mosquitoes, but didn't really need it for that, as we had a constant breeze. It worked very well for our gear as a shelter from the rain, though. As for bugs, the mosquitoes were ruthless in the woods, making trips to the latrine very quick! I'd definitely suggest a head net for the trip.
While setting up, Jesse and Garrett got the fire rolling and Ronnie cooked up some fire-grilled steaks. Nothing like a good meal after a long day of paddling and portaging. After eating, we went out fishing for a bit, caught some small walleye and northern, but had to head in with only one keeper when the rain started coming. Very thankful for the screen tent at this time, as it kept everything dry and we had a place with lots of room to change into rain gear and grab supplies needed. Jesse and Garrett gathered more wood and got the fire rolling again while I made sure everything was secured from the rain. Once the rain was done, we enjoyed the fire and each ate half a walleye fillet. We could now say we had a fish fry, in case we didn't catch anything the next day :)
It rained overnight, but had pretty much stopped when we got up. Only casualty for the night was some of Ronnie's trail mix that a squirrel had gotten into the evening before. We had put it in the garbage, and the squirrel came back for more overnight. With trail mix cleaned up, Ronnie cooked a breakfast of hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, and egg in a bag. New to me, egg in bag worked out quite well and made for lots of laughs throughout the day! I made a pot of highlander grog, and we all headed out to fish.
Ronnie caught a northern casting from shore, then we headed out for a day of fishing. The morning and early afternoon were overcast, but warm. Then, the sun broke through the clouds and it was beautiful out, which gave us all a bit of sunburn since we forgot the sunscreen. We had talked to many different groups we met along the way, and every one of them said they had only caught a few small ones, so we weren't expecting much. We picked apart the lake and tried different depths with help of the depth finder. Very glad I brought it! We ended up catching walleye in 5-6 FOW near the reeds on jigs and crawlers while moving very slowly. Once we found them, we had no problem catching keepers. We also caught northern and perch, as well. In all, we kept 11 walleye and 2 northern, enough for a nice fish fry and some extras to bring home. Biggest walleye was about 16 inches.
While out fishing, Jesse and Garrett collected firewood from around the lake. After filleting the fish, we had a nice fire, ate some fish, and told stories. We turned in for the night once we heard thunder and the rain started.
Saturday night brought just enough rain to where we had to wipe down the tents before packing up. Because of the screen tent, everything was nice and dry while packing. A quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, and off to Hog Creek. We were going right into the wind and whitecaps on the way back, which made for an interesting paddle. Jesse and Garrett trolled on the way in, and Jesse picked up a keeper walleye on a rapala. Worked out perfect, since none of his from Saturday were keepers, and he didn't want to leave until he got one! On Hog Creek a storm went by us just to the east. Heard lots of thunder, but just caught a little rain. We finally caught a picture of a turtle right before the landing. There were three on a rock and two dove off while I was getting the camera. This guy stayed and posed for a pic :)
Every trip I go on, I learn more, and can't wait to use my newly learned skills on the next trip. I'd like to do two more trips this summer/fall. One lighter pack, longer portage trip. I'd also love to do an easy trip and bring my 9 year old daughter with. Still working on getting my wife to go!