Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

2015 June Solo, Beaverhouse and Quetico Lakes...
by OldGreyGoose

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/09/2015
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Quetico  
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
Monday, June 8: Came over to Atikokan from Kakabeka Falls (where I had camped) and got the last room at the White Otter Inn, planning of watching the Stanley Cup playoff game on TV. But NBC moved the game to NBCSN, so I was out of luck. Tuesday I breakfasted at the WOI then drove to Centennial Park to look around, then out to Little Falls for awhile. Decided to check in with Canoe Canada a little after 11. Jim asked if I want to go in today instead of tomorrow and thinking I could sleep better anywhere other than their bunkhouse, I said I did. Sheila had the permit changed in about 10 minutes and within the hour I was headed to the Outdoorsman for lunch and then on the road to Beaverhouse. There was road construction between Atikokan and Highway 11 and lots of dust and dirt. Rest of the way was uneventful and I saw a big red-shouldered hawk on the Beaverhouse access road. At the parking lot I met a First Nation man named Ted who had driven the FN "Temporary Ranger" and her two friends(?) in from Lac La Croix. Ted was wearing a Blackhawks cap and joked about his having some long-winded “official title.”
Day 1, Tuesday, June 9:

On the water about 2:30 and was at site "1V" on the west end of an island in northern Beaverhouse about 3:30. Site had a permanent bear pole at the take-out, trash in the fireplace, two metal grills, and the log seating strewn all around. (It's a little large and sprawling for one person, has limited views and bedrock outcrops all over it, but nice for a first or last night.) Had a snack while I pitched my tent, sent my Spot “OK” message about 5:30 then had a freeze-dried pepper steak meal from Alpine Aire. It was pretty good and I had no trouble finishing off the two servings.

The sun came out and stayed after supper and it calmed. It was mostly cloudy and breezier when I got here with scattered severe T-storms around. I think I heard some distant thunder during supper. Two loons swam by and greeted me before continuing on like they were expected elsewhere. (My shortest day ever, in Quetico.)

Day 2, Wednesday, June 10:

Awake around 5AM but seeing it was windy and gray I tried to go back to sleep. Cool in the tent. Out of tent at seven and had some coffee. Packed up and headed for the portage to Quetico Lake a little after ten. Passed a couple of guys heading my way near the portage and they asked about the wind on Beaverhouse, so I assumed the wind might be a problem on Quetico. (It was!)

After portaging and paddling out to the main part of the lake I found the north wind would not let me tack and go northeasterly, so I made for the nearest campsite. ("593") After some snacks and then a SPAM wrap lunch it was still very breezy so I pitched camp again. Fished a little from shore, catching one little SMB and a bluegill. Laid down in the tent until after 5PM. Still windy. Supper was a ramen noodle/chipotle salmon concoction. Fished a little. Sent my "OK" message a little late. Buggy! In the tent the temperature was 77 F. at "sundown" (8:45) and calm. Finally!

Day 3, Thursday, June 11:

Wrote this after lunch swatting horseflies at the Quetico Lake campsite near the portages to Kasakokwog and Cirrus Lakes. ("82"): "Great views, crumbling firepit and one huge tent pad but leaning twin pines nearby. Could to to a grassy area but it's too exposed. Tent is up, tarp is not. Mulling "limited options."

Up early and underway today around 6:30 in the calm! No breakfast, just jerky and a breakfast bar. Kind of a drag across the calm depths to the "wind tunnel" pinch point. Cooked up some Via coffee on the little gravel beach there. (What's up with the circles and poles? See pics.) Checked out the "chute" area then made for the pictographs. Found all of them, I think, including a cross I'd missed before and the last one, a caribou? After this, I'm paddling in "new territory."

Paddled close to the north shore, and took my time and then checked out some northeast Quetico Lake "Legacy" that could work, then a close-by 4-star, and a so-called 1-star with a "poor landing," which seemed overall okay to me including the landing...then seeing a tandem canoe not too far away, I decided I'd better start thinking about picking a site and that's how I ended up here...

After I claimed this "3.5-star" site with it's hill climb, a kayak and two canoes came by from the Kasakokwog direction around 2:30. By now the clouds were stacking up after having been clear with hot sun and slight west breeze all day. Caught a small walleye, lost a small SMB and saw a 24" pike that missed my lure, while fishing from the sloped rock shoreline. Laid down in the tent from 3-4PM and thought I heard some distant thunder.

(Note: weather forecast is the bi-lingual version here. At the western Quetico campsite it was just English. 30% chance of rain with scattered T-storms tonight.) Supper was a MH chicken and rice meal with some added peas, corn and mushrooms from home. Yum! Today was a HOT but overall good full day in the Q. Took some pain meds and got in the tent around 8 and dozed for awhile, then slept soundly...

Day 4, Friday, June 12:

Condensation on the sleeping bag. A new experience. Not sure what caused it unless it was the very cool temps last night. Slept in. 8AM? Onion, bacon, potato skillet meal. (What a delicious mess!) Went fishing and lost a probable 20" SMB near the Cirrus portage. (6# Trilene Sensation...never again!) Looked for the alleged (Jim Clark) campsite near the portage, but only found an old fire ring on the rocky shore. Mink spotted though! Very cool. (See picture.)

Back at camp my watch said 79.8F. in the shade of some cedars near the fireplace at noon. Breeze switching all around today...first S, now N or W? Sent my "OK" message early since I am staying here again. SPAM lunch.

Long afternoon. Re-hydrating. Resting. Laid down in the shade for awhile. 85 F. in the tent. 2PM...two canoes came by that and I think they were hoping my site was open. 4:30...took a "bath" by the canoe landing. Guessing today's high was high 80s. Fished a little from shore before small SMB. Supper: Thai curry--very good. Debating leaving here tomorrow...maybe paddling instead of another long hot day here? 8:50: sun is down and it's cooler already. No see-ums! To the tent! 76F. Goodnight.

Day 5, Saturday, June 13:

Written at noon: "Sitting under my tarp (floated) at one of my favorite sites ("48"), at the Quetico Lake chute to the Cirrus portage. Was up at six and left about 7:30 and got here around eleven. Eagle perched in a burnt treetop on the way here along the southern shore. Breeze from the south and paddling was really easy. Breezier now with some gusts straight into the campsite. Saw no one else until here then three canoes heading towards Cirrus and a tandem fishing nearby. Lots of shade here..."

"...Water level is lower than the last time I was here. Landing is different and the chute is harder to paddle up. Pollen stacked up getting a bucket of unpolluted water. Trash in the firepit. Need to put up tent and eat lunch. First tent pad is mildly threatened by a birch tree; pad two is primeval and breezy..."

Wasn't as hot this afternoon, plus there's the shade--almost too much. About 70F. on the tent floor when I napped in mid-afternoon. Pleasant. Now, near 6PM it's 77F. by fireplace. (Cleaned it out this afternoon.) Supper was a three-bean "On-the-Go" meal with Jacks Links stick pieces added-- a good tomato chili-like mix. Easy cleanup! Wind still puffing from the south so I probably won't fish. (Almost impossible to fish from shore here.) Big black ants here. Last site had red ones.

Day 6, Sunday, June 14:

58F. in the tent. Woke up around five, feeling crummy. Up at six and a good breakfast and coffee got me feeling good. Went fishing. Breezy, S/SW. Fished from about 7:30-11:30, but all fish were caught 7:30-8:45 at the flow-in from Cirrus. One 19" walleye, three 12-15" SMB. One 24" pike. Nothing real big but lots of fun and tough fishing in the current. Lost 4-5 jigs...chartreuse with chartreuse curly tails worked best.

(A note about the portage to Cirrus: after a shore stretch and snack I walked it for the first time. It's primeval--old cedars --not giants, but dense, plus dense scrub firs, etc. making it dark. Path is twisty and narrow and partly on a tilt, duff-covered, narrow and little used. Loved it!)

Written at 1:30 after lunch: "82F. in the shade of camp. Sitting in the butterfly chair in the shade, hydrating, wind is now westerly. Saw no one so far today...on the way back from fishing I saw a mamma duck and her brood near the end of the "chute." Supper is picked out and I may try fishing again this evening..."

Clouding up at 2PM so I got into the tent with the weather radio and took a nap. 4:30...sprinkling...out of tent...better eat early...another MH meal with added peas...chorus of frogs during supper...tarp not draining right...fixed it...took some stuff to the tent for tonight...6PM: NOAA says "rain ending overnight." Long evening. (No fishing.) Longer night...

Day 7, Monday, June 15:

Amazon-like wetness! But sun! Coffee and oatmeal breakfast testing the "white box" stove. (Don't like it.) Followed the old adage "When in doubt, go fishing!" Fished the Cirrus in-flow again from about 7:30-9AM. Bottom line: 3 pike, 1 BEAR. (YES!!!)

First about the fish...walleyes and bass weren't biting, but pike were. Biggest was probably 30" and the other two around 24". All fought like crazy, in the current, then wore out. The big one gave a couple of baths before I got him to the canoe. None were actually boated...I unhooked two while they were "resting" by the canoe and I "played" the other one--with slack--until he shook free.

The black bear was probably an adult and I could see it's head and tan muzzle clearly as it crossed the shallow stream just above the rapids about 50 yards. It moved at a steady pace, not seeming to notice me sitting in the canoe. It seemed to be "on a mission." By the time I got my camera out of my pocket and turned on, it was gone. Naturally after that I was eyeing the shore for awhile and trying to fish too. Nervous? Who me? Ha!

Back at camp the weather radio said the wind would change from north to west by late morning and I decided that meant "easy" paddling south towards the beach on the southeast corner of Eden Island. ("3P") (Thinking about a nice swim or bath.) So I packed up and headed out. I had paddled about two canoe lengths when I missed my paddling gloves, so I turned around and headed back.

I climbed the hill to the main area looking around for my gloves and a deer is standing in the "front" tent pad looking up at me! Then it was gone in a flash. Turns out my gloves were in the canoe, not left in camp, and I have now seen a deer at that campsite on two visits a couple years apart!

Because of geography, I had to fight a little "west" wind on the way but made it to my Eden Island beach about 12:30. (I know, short paddle, but nice site for a change of scenery and "staging" for heading out to Beaverhouse tomorrow?) Saw about 4 other boats on the way or after I got there--it's a busy area--but the several campsites in the area all looked open. No real lunch today...jerky, trail mix and a protein bar.

Got tent and tarp up pretty quickly. Ditzy breezes and 80-90% scudding clouds filled the skies all afternoon. Got all cleaned up in the shallows here and changed into some clean clothes then sat in the sand on the beach and wrote in my journal, hydrated and watched the water and clouds. Remembered a couple things from this morning...the merganser on the rock at the in-flow and how pike had badly bent two of my jig hooks...

At 8:30, in the tent for the night I wrote: "Early supper of 'Good To Go' Mediterranean pasta with foil tuna added..very good...Small fire to burn junk sticks from around the main camp area and piss off the bugs...Beach walk...Rocks...Ant hill...Wolf or dog and deer tracks on beach...No--zero!--log seating here? Why?...In spite of this I call this site a 4-star..."

Day 8, Tuesday, June 16:

Slept poorly. Awake at 4:15. Packed inside of tent and was up and out about sunrise. No breakfast. Going early because of past problems I'd had exiting Quetico. (winds) Under way by 6AM, eating a protein bar. Southerly light breezes. Easy paddling, then even smoother water in the west end. Very rare! Paddled close to the "peninsula" shore taking a few pictures of where folks camp on this long "beach." Stopped at the short portage to West Bay and walked over it hoping to see a moose or something...nada.

At the takeout for Beaverhouse a family of mergansers--by far the duck that I have seen the most in Quetico-- were all sitting on a rock near the portage. Took a few pictures before they were scared off. No one at the portage (again)--that's unusual too--made the long carry because of the water level, getting pretty wet in the process and paddled out into Beaverhouse.

Written after 3PM: "Camp set up now. (Same site as first night.) Moved the tent after it was up because of a widow-maker. Got dried off, had lunch and a nap. Gathered some firewood. Beautiful, not a cloud in the sky AM turned to 'cloudy bright' as they say. Haven't seen a soul today so far, NOAA says cooler weather ahead with one night getting down to 39F. Brrr. Have two shirts and a vest on now with less sun and more breeze. Good to have long johns in reserve!"

Sent my okay message around 4:30. MH breakfast skillet and a tortilla for supper...a lot for one person, but I managed. Two men in a red canoe camped late at the small island SW of me, so I guess it is a "campsite." Straightened out things in the tent. Enjoyed my last evening in Quetico with a small fire.

Day 9, Wednesday, June 17: (No notes were made on this day.)

I had lost parts of a large filling in one of my molars early on this trip and by this time the tooth was bothering me a lot, so I decided to head for the take-out. After packing up everything and making sure I left the site better than I found it, I headed in. It was a beautiful day and cooler than any other day. I wished I was just starting out.

In the creek before the take-out I sat for perhaps twenty minutes while a group of men/boys messed with their stuff at the landing. I was in no hurry. Finally they cleared the landing and paddled past me and we exchanged "hellos." I saw no one on the portage to the truck and no one on the road going out. About 5 or 6 dumb spruce grouse were on the road though. Back in Atikokan, I showered, settled up my bill and headed to the Outdoorsman restaurant for a post trip meal. A great breakfast!!!