Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Poobah with kids
by fishdr

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/02/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Quetico
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
I wanted to introduce my younger two kids to canoe tripping and the chance to catch some fish (my oldest had to stay behind for sports). I am lucky because my mother and her sister share a cabin on Crane Lake, and I have been vacationing there ever since I was a kid. I do not have a lot of canoe tripping experience, but have been into Beaverhouse/Quetico/Cirrus as well as Wolseley/Bearpelt, and three years ago took my 3 kids into Batchewaung for a 3-day trip. Living in NC presents significant logistic issues, so I enlisted the participation of my Uncle John, an experienced tripper who lives in the twin cities. We signed up for full outfitting and a tow from Anderson’s to the Maligne River entry. Based on our location and several recent trip reports, I decided to give Poobah a try, hoping for relatively short portages but good fishing and maybe even a shot at a grand slam.
Day 1 of 5
Sunday, August 02, 2015 We arrived in Minneapolis at 1000AM Friday, 7/31, and, after waiting an hour in line at the Hertz place, drove north to Crane Lake, arriving at the cabin around 4pm after a stop at Target in Virginia, to pick up a couple last minute items. After a good dinner (thanks Mom) and night’s sleep, we stopped in at Anderson’s to review details for our pickup on Sunday. John had already been there to review the food and packs. I picked up a pack for our stuff and spent the afternoon packing up the fishing gear (including my new 6’6” St. Croix/Pflueger President) and our clothes. After another good dinner and good night's sleep, we were up early and ready to go. The towboat arrived a little later than expected, around 0750, with a group of 4 already on board. We loaded up quickly and off we went to Canadian Customs on Sand Point Lake. This was uneventful and we headed up the Loon River and across the two mechanical portages, which the kids enjoyed, into Lac La Croix. The first group unloaded at Beatty Portage headed for Nina Moose, and we continued down LLC to the Ranger Station, where we quickly picked up our permit. We were at the floating dock near Bell Island by about 1030 (an hour later than we hoped), and we set off, with John and Katie (9) in one canoe, and David (13) and I in the other. As we headed towards Twin Falls, we realized we were on the wrong (North) side of Lou Island, and had to backtrack around to the South side to find the portage, which we quickly negotiated. As we were planning to basecamp, we took our time and triple portaged. We got loaded back up and pushed off above Twin Falls. It had rained heavily the night before, and there was a little bit of current. We got away from Twin Falls along the left bank without much trouble, but a little further upstream there was another rapids, and John had to get out and pull the canoe upstream with Katie in it. She got out to walk part of the way, but ended up doing a belly flop and by the time we started paddling again she was shivering, so we found her dry sweatshirt and got her warm. The current and a shifting wind made going a little slow initially, but we made it to Tanner Rapids around 130 and had a lunch of turkey pita sandwiches, apples, chips and M&Ms. We had brought several liters of water from the cabin, and I was hoping this would last a good part of the day, as my steri-pen was packed away . I planned on making it to Poobah all in one day, but had a “plan B” of camping on Tanner if we were struggling with the wind, or moving more slowly than anticipated. Given how well the kids were doing, we didn’t think twice about continuing on and we set out across the top of Tanner, and the wind shifted and pushed us straight into Poobah Creek, which we found easily shortly after 3pm. We were optimistic we would be on Poobah by dinnertime, with plenty of daylight to find a campsite and maybe even troll a little on the way in. The kids were doing great, enjoying the journey and anxious to see what the campsite would look like. We found the first portage easily and got reloaded and set off, and the stream quickly became impassable again. However, we struggled to find the second portage, which the map showed as being along the north shore. Eventually, after parking the canoes and walking upstream for several minutes, we found the trail along the South side of the creek, and portaged all our gear, repacking and setting off again, hoping we had just one more portage to go. By now, Katie was (very reasonably) asking “Was that our last portage?” and “How much further?”. Needless to say, after paddling only a short distance, we did locate the portage along the North shore, and once again we unloaded, triple portaged, and reloaded. By this time it was late afternoon, and we were really hoping we were close to the lake itself. We rounded a short bend in the creek and were met with another impassable rapids and portage, the 6th (and last!) of the day. We got going again, emerging through a pinch into the long, narrow Western arm of Poobah Lake, still optimistic we would get to camp in time to have a late but relaxing dinner. We paddled hard, reaching the long, narrow island at the entrance to the lake itself, and at this point it was really getting late. I had hoped to reach the island campsite in the south central portion of the lake, but given the time and proximity, we decided to head due East for the islands, knowing that there should be at least two possible campsites there. As we crossed the upper part of the lake, we looked to the South, trying to see if there was a potential campsite along a visible point on the mainland, but it was difficult to see in the waning light. At this point I was realizing what a mistake it was not to have written down the coordinates of the various campsites on the lake, or at least to have marked their approximate locations on the map, as I was relying on my memory of the approximate locations. We hit the islands around 8pm, and turned South, hoping to see a campsite, but not until we rounded the southern tip and headed back almost to the top of the island did we find a beautiful site next to a shallow bay, with a great landing area and several tent sites. By this time it was almost 9pm and getting dark. The kids never complained once, and didn’t seem the least bit worried, but John and I were quite relieved to have arrived. We jumped out onto shore and quickly set about making camp. John got a fire going and opened the food pack, while the kids and I got the 5-man tent set up and the thermacell going. I got out some trail mix for the kids (and adults). We got the thermarests and sleeping bags set up while John grilled two of the four steaks we had. I dug out my steri-pen and purified some water. With a good fire going and some protein in our stomachs we all felt much better. As soon as dinner was over, we brushed our teeth and collapsed into our sleeping bags. The kids were asleep in minutes, while John and I tossed and turned a little, eventually dozing off. We were fortunate that ultimately things worked out fine; it would have been a long night had we not been able to find the island campsite. Thanks to the last party at the camp site for leaving dry firewood and birchbark, which enabled us to get dinner going quickly upon arrival.