Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Mrs. Goby's first BWCA trip
by Goby

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/04/2015
Entry Point: Lake One (EP 30)
Exit Point: Moose Lake to Prairie Portage (EP G)  
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Route: Lake One, Insula, Thomas, Ima, Ensign This was my wife’s first trip, so I chose a route that wouldn’t be too demanding, but also giving me some new water to explore, as well as the opportunity to see some unique things. The route ended up having negative consequences for us later in the trip.
Day 1 of 9
Sept 3: We wake at 4am. Laura showered while I took frozen items and put them in the cooler and loaded the car with our overnight bags, everything else had been packed the night before and the canoe was already tied down. After her shower I shut off the water and the air to the house and we were on the road at 4:40. Construction closed several on ramps to I-90 so I had to take a bit of a detour, but after that it was smooth sailing, listening to a killer mix list, stopping briefly for breakfast around Eau Claire about 9am, we were in Ely by 1:30. We went directly to Williams and Hall outfitters to get checked in, and then headed back into town to do some shopping, visit the Dorothy Molter museum, and eventually get dinner. The museum tour was great, and Laura really liked the root beer. In town we picked out souvenirs including a woodpecker ornament since Dorothy M. liked them so much, and it was our vacation tradition. I also picked up a BWCA sticker for the Subi and one for my dad’s truck as he had been asking for one. For dinner we went to Sir G’s pizza and we really liked the Sir G’s special, so good! So filling! After dinner we made some quick calls to our folks and then headed back to W&H. I was exhausted after the long day, but managed to stay awake until dark. Sleep came poorly due to being hot and maybe a little excited to get our trip going.

Sept 4, 2015 Day 1: We were up at 6:30 and Laura took one last shower. After she was ready we went down to breakfast at 7 and had the world famous Williams and Hall pancake breakfast, with bacon, fruit, and coffee. WAY too much food! Dave gave us some tips on fishing and campsite recommendations and then we were about to get ready to load gear into a shuttle truck, when Blaine asked if I minded driving to the Lake One entry, and they would pick up my vehicle a little later that morning. I didn’t mind at all and it saved me from unloading and loading the gear again. The parking lot was pretty full, but we unloaded the gear and got it ready at the water’s edge off to the side. I then found a parking spot, hid my keys for Blaine, and walked back to snap a few pictures before hitting the water. We were on the water at 8:45. Despite lots of reading on and advice from Blaine, I didn’t go left at the put in. It REALLY looks like a dead end, but after consulting the maps and my GPS several times, we paddled to the left and found a way through. Ooops! It was a very warm morning and we had another 2 groups putting in as we pulled away from the landing. One group was a guy in his mid 40’s and his elderly father on a day trip fishing. The other group was 7 guys in 3 canoes from Colorado. They paddled like mad as they went down Lake One. The itch to fish overtook me soon after lake one opened up a bit and I started trolling a small shadrap. Going through a narrow channel I hooked into a small walleye. I was pumped, but with it being so early in the day I let it go and we continued on. The wind was starting to pick up at this point, which was a little concerning considering we were tossing around the idea of going all the way to Insula today and Laura wasn’t a marathon paddler. The wind was in our face, which was a little worrying since we were heading east and the wind doesn’t usually blow from that direction. At the first portage there was quite a traffic jam. The large group had stuff everywhere, gear, canoes, people, and didn’t seem to know what to do, since many people were just standing around. As we floated waiting for an opportunity to land, a solo guy came from the other side of the portage and had nowhere to put his canoe and gear. We exchanged smiles and watched as another couple around my age paddled up behind us. We were eventually able to land, pulled everything out of the way and headed across with our first load. On the other side we found much the same as the first side of the portage, disarray. Fortunately we were able to find a spot for our canoe, but the large group was now crossing for the 2nd portage before we could hit the water. We had to wait again, but traversed this portage a little faster. I felt bad for the group behind us, as they just had nowhere to put their gear, despite Laura and I keeping everything next to the canoe and single portaging this time. Once we hit the water we paddled for a bit and I noticed it was already noon, this isn’t good. Its taking a very long time to go a very little ways. We stopped for lunch and had cheese, sausage, and crackers with some Gatorade. After lunch we battled the wind up Lakes 3 and 4 until we were exhausted. I was paddling a canoe of 2 solo for quite a bit as Laura was too tired. After looking for a campsite on Lake 4, despite the Pagami Creek damage, we finally found one. It wasn’t great, but any port in a storm right? I wanted to just fall asleep but knew we had to get camp set up as there was a good chance of rain that night per the weather report before we left. I fished from shore with no luck. Then we gathered firewood, which was about as easy as breathing due to the fire damage. Soon it was time to make dinner as we were getting hungry. Tonight it was venison tenderloin and mashed potatoes, with Milky Way bars for dessert. I didn’t use the wind screen on my MSR dragonfly and really paid the price with cooking time. It took FOREVER to cook. Finally it did and I surprised Laura with vacuum sealed packets of A1 (a must for her for any steak). She was happy and we both agreed the tenderloin was awesome. I made a small camp fire and then we went to bed. I was exhausted. Since rain was coming we secured all the gear and the tent rainfly, but that made it SO hot and stuffy in the tent. The rain came later that night, but was gone by morning.