Pops and Iz 2015
As it had been a while, we selected an easier course, electing to enter at EP 47. We planned on base camping on Horseshoe and then doing daytrips out to other lakes and doing some fishing.
We arrived at Gunflint Lodge, went through our orientation, got acquainted with our gear, and demonstrated that I could pick up the marvelously light kevlar canoe. We did our final pack and went down to the lodge for dinner, it was Izzie's 9th birthday and she was surprised by the wait staff with a song along with some ice cream and cake, she was very pleased. Returned to our bunkhouse and had a good nights sleep, got up early had breakfast and hit the road to Poplar lake, oh yeah, it was snowing. We met a very nice couple Sheryl and Steve who gave us some great advice and coaching.
Loaded our gear in at the public landing on Poplar and headed out. Going into the trip I had been concerned about the potential for large waves on Poplar, fortunately things were fairly calm and we made our portage into Lizz without incident. One of the best things I did was to buy a double paddle going into this trip. I'm not the strongest stern man and the double allowed me to keep us on track and get us moving at a fair clip. The learning curve for Izzie was a bit steep, but she did great.
The portage from Poplar to Lizz was a breeze, we did triple portages all the way in, and I tolerated it well. I'm normally go-go-go, but for some reason whenever I get up on the GFT I seem to take my stress level down several notches. I deliberately left all timekeeping devices locked in my car, I figured it was going to take as long as it was going to take to get to where we were going. It was very refreshing.
Canoeing Lizz was a breeze, the portage to Caribou sucked (both literally and figuratively). Wet and muddy pretty much throughout, it was a good teaching opportunity for Izzie to show her why we continue to walk through the mud and water instead of sweeping around to the sides. Even with the conditions this portage was not all that rough. It was great to come out on the Caribou side and see that wonderful beach.
Canoed around Caribou for a bit and then hit the Horseshoe portage. Rough landing area, but very short, dry portage. Slide into Horseshoe feeling great, we where having blast and we set about finding a campsite. Horseshoe seemed busy, saw a bunch of canoers, and all the campsites we passed were occupied. We hit site 674 and jumped on it. What a beautiful site, nice northern exposure, big warming rock, and good food prep area. We were discouraged to find small items of trash strewn about along with freshly cut trees in the campsite. Made an excellent lesson for Izzie and was easy to leave the place better than we found it. The trees were so freshly cut that I was glad I had not brought a axe/hatchet with me, very sad to see though.
We set about getting camp in order right after we had a little lunch. Izzie was a great help with the tent, thought about a dining fly but passed on it as the weather was great and expected it to continue. Took a complete stock of the food and talked about what we wanted when. That settled we started fishing....with no luck. We did however get some reading in and several hands of crazy 8s. Had a delicious supper a cup of red wine, and turned in early.
Woke refreshed and a bit chilly, resolved to wear my long johns the next nights, (Izzie had and was very comfortable). Started making breakfast while Izzie fished....with no luck....but we did see a cow moose and her calf come out from the opposite side of the lake and swim directly in front of camp, very exciting! Spent the day exploring around camp, set up the hammock and lounged a bit, got in some more crazy 8s, read a bit and did some canoeing. We ate some more wonderful food for supper and turned in.
Next morning, woke up much warmer, ate and fished a bit, caught a nice little smallie which we filleted and Izzie ate, as well a little 2-3lb northern, (which I threw back as I hate cleaning them). Explored by canoe a bit, but pretty much stayed around camp. Izzie was really in her element and it was very enjoyable discovering things with her. The weather had been great, clear skies and light variable winds. Our last full day was also our hottest, so of course we went for a swim...a very cold short swim...but refreshing.
Woe up the morning of the 2nd (my birthday), to wind and thick clouds. Got Iz up, had breakfast and broke camp, we were heading in. The reverse trip was pretty uneventful and just as beautiful as the trip in. We only double portaged out, which was nice. Our only trouble came on Poplar, we had been fairly well shielded from the wind by islands, but we had to cross about 200 yards that were fairly rough. We got blown about a bit and had to take a couple of runs to make the bay, but make it we did, very exhilarating.
Izzie loved the trip and wants to return. I, ofcourse, was very happy to spend time with my daughter in the woods teaching her some woodcraft. We also looked forward to returning home to the rest of our family.
We were picked up at Trail Center, Izzie made friends with the Rottweiler, upon returning to Gunflint Outfitters we ran into Steve and Sheryl. We shared our adventures and parted ways. After checking out at the outfitters, we returned to Trail Center for a tasty lunch then headed to the Mangy Moose in Grand Marais and then to My Sisters Place for some nice greasy pizza and a beer. Izzie and I talked about our trip and kind of had a little chuckle as it started raining while we were eating. Both of us made some great memories that I hope stay with her for all her days. I also hope to take her up again soon and see how she does in less than ideal weather. This was a great first father/daughter trip!