Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Adventure=taking your 1 year old and pregnant wife into the BWCA
by mikesstapp

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/16/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake Only (EP 55A)
Number of Days: 2
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Day 1 of 2
Sunday, August 16, 2015

A little backstory: my wife is 7+ months pregnant, we have a 13 month old and we decided to take our 1st trip into the BWCA. I have a decent amount of experience backpacking and paddled outriggers for 8 years, my wife has camped quite a bit growing up and is a pretty solid paddler, our 13 month old slobbers and poops a lot, has a mean high five and has never camped. We talked to our friends who have a lot of BWCA experience and had a mixed group of answers to the question "should we go with a 13 month old and a pregnant wife?" More "you're nuts" answers than yes answers for sure.

We packed up and used had reserved a partial outfitter package. We got to the outfitter and grabbed our gear and permits. We rented a 1 hp, electric trolling motor which I thought would make up for the lack of my wife paddling while she was holding our kid... WRONG.. The 1 hp kicked into high gear was only creating drag as I paddled so we ditched that idea and stowed the motor. As we got through the river and entered into the mouth of the wind devil, ie Saganaga Lake tears flowed from the 2 ladies in tow, I lost my breath and energy and we all prayed we'd live to see another day. (I did research and was well educated into the dangers of wind at Sag beforehand) We had 15-20+mph headwinds with decent whitecaps hitting us as we entered Sag. Our goal was to make it to Red Rock Bay within 3 hours with the 1 hp. Once we entered Sag our goal was to make it alive to somewhere that was vacant, didn't have rabid animals or that was overgrown or trashy. As I paddled our top heavy canoe head in to the waves as hard as I could I wanted to hook a left and head west towards the islands and bays for cover but any movement west would have subjected us to being broadside to the south waves so I paddled harder south to keep a steady pace. We finally got a small break from the wind and waves and made a hard turn west. We caught cover into the first bay by site 361 and got lost for 30 minutes thinking we were further north and west. After realizing our mistake (of taking a 1 year old AND getting lost) we headed back north west. I realized rather quickly that for me to stay married much longer I would need to find a campsite and fast so I paddled to the next visible site which was 364. I paddled hard into the landing with a screaming 13 month old in tow, being out of breath, hanging onto my marriage and happy to be alive. We got into camp after >3:20 of paddling around 6:30. We quickly reviewed the site and setup camp. We were pleasantly surprised by our luck with this campsite. Here's a quick review of the site (364):

Pros:                   -Easy landing with a decent amount of sandy beach -Nice campsite to the north of the landing            -Great fire pit and sitting area around fire -Lots of nice trees for hanging and good cover          -Great hammock trees and view south of landing -BEAUTIFUL view south of landing and about 200 yards south with a relatively steep climb. View of multiple islands with a remarkable sunset. -Trails and paths were kept up quite well.  

Cons:                   -Motor traffic/noise. About 20 times a day -Below average fishing from site. Caught a large mouth after an hour of fishing -Not amazing wind break. Decent amount of exposure -A bear magnet based thanks to the previous campers: A fair amount of trash and food remnants. (Pasta at landing, peppers in woods, a few zip locks in the thicket, other random food strewn about camp) -Latrine was frequented by bears, fresh scat around latrine daily (presumably a mentally challenged bear as this latrine smelled like hell) Latrine was about 150 yards west and uphill. -Outside of kindling, good wood was hard to find close to camp. We had a good time with the views, the site and the access to the islands to the south for Northern Fishing. Caught a number of good sized Northerns (25"+) around the islands to the south (10 minute paddle from landing). I'd suggest camping here if you don't mind some motor traffic and a latrine that smells like death.