Steve and Steve's Boundary Waters Odyssey
Our odyssey, an epic quest to reach the fabled shores of Little Saganaga, began at Kawishiwi Lake on Saturday, September 20th, in the year 2014 A.D. We departed under a dark, angry sky and threatening forecast. We conquered all obstacles thrown in our path by angry gods, nature, and man himself, as well as overcoming our own inherent human weaknesses and personal failings, but only with the help of The Wizard. We reached those fabled shores on the third day of our journey, weary from the struggles of the trip, and rested there for a day and night before resuming our travels. We eventually exited at Sawbill Lake on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 A.D. The people there were unaware of our epic journey and there was no fanfare. We experienced many strange and wondrous things on our trip - the ghosts of voyageurs on the portages, strange and fearsome bellowing from the dusky wilds, and a magical visit from The Wizard disguised as a snowshoe hare.
The rest of the story follows… but first: Prologue: We began our journey on September 20th, 2014, but the seed of its genesis was sown at a lunch meeting in September of the previous year. The question of trip plans was raised and plans were shared. Steve had none and further inquiry revealed that his usual trip partners had turned to other interests in recent years. He had no interest in doing a solo trip. I mulled this situation over during my September 2013 solo. Steve needed a Boundary Waters trip - a multi-day trip far from the madding crowd. I invited him to join me in 2014. He accepted and the planning began in earnest. The Plan: The route: We would enter at EP #37, Kawishiwi Lake and exit a week later at Sawbill Lake. There were two route options – one shorter, easier one across the Lady Chain from Polly to Sawbill and a longer, harder one north from Polly to Little Saganaga and down to Sawbill via the Zenith-Lujenida portage. Our quest was born. . . The Sirens’ Song would lure us on to Little Saganaga and the wild emptiness north of the Phoebe River. The equipment: We would rent a Wenonah Adirondack Kevlar tandem canoe from Sawbill Outfitters. We decided to take my Taj3 tent, which we thought would be slightly roomier than Steve’s Eureka, at about the same weight. We would also take my CCS tarp and my gravity water filter. We would each bring our own TP, personal items, PFD, clothes, sleeping bags and pads, and headlamps. We would also each be responsible for our own food, fuel, stove, and “kitchen”. Steve was intrigued by the simplicity of my food system – dehydrated foods rehydrated in a “cozy” and eaten out of the bag with no dishes to clean beyond “licking the spoon clean”, no heavy food pack to hang, just a BearVault to set a little way out of camp, and requiring only a minimal amount of fuel and time to prepare. He decided after some discussion, question-and-answer sessions, research, and experimentation to emulate the system using vegetables from his garden and other items which he vacuum-packed, along with a couple of foil packs of meat, and miscellaneous other items. I would bring my Garcia Backpackers Cache for him to use. We would hang whatever wouldn’t fit in it until we could get everything in the BearVault and Backpacker’s Cache. Pre-trip: I began the long journey to Duluth, MN, from Morgantown, WV, in the foggy early morning hours of Wednesday, September 17th. I arrived in Gaylord, MI, in time for dinner. I left Gaylord, MI, early the next morning after a quick breakfast in the room. I stopped at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent a couple of hours hiking and taking pictures on a beautiful autumn day. [URL=http://s1229.photobucket.com/user/steveboone/media/BWCA%202014/DSCN0132_zps915cb37f.jpg.html]
[/URL] It was late when I arrived in Duluth and I quickly headed off to Pak’s Green Corner Café for dinner. Steve had given me the tip on Pak’s, which was close to my motel. I enjoyed some very good Thai shrimp and vegetables in red curry coconut milk. Friday morning I had breakfast at Duluth Grill and headed off to meet Steve at Flood Bay. We headed to Iona’s Beach[URL=http://s1229.photobucket.com/user/steveboone/media/BWCA%202014/DSCN0158_zpsd50de35c.jpg.html]
[/URL] after rendezvousing at Flood Bay, and then had lunch at Lemon Wolf Café. The herring was good. We hiked around Oberg Mountain after lunch. Then we headed to Sawbill Outfitters, picked up the permit and canoe, transferred my things to Steve’s car, and headed for the Trestle Inn for dinner on the way to his cabin. While we were innocently engaged in these simple activities, malevolent spirits were gathering to oppose us. The weather continued to deteriorate and the forecast for tomorrow was an 80% chance of rain with possible thunderstorms. We did our final packing at Steve’s and then it was off to bed and a fitful sleep full of dreams and anxieties. Tomorrow our struggle against the dark forces arrayed against us would commence…