Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Return to My First Trip Area
by Arkansas Man

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/19/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Lake One (EP 30)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Every other year my wife goes with me to the Boundary Waters. This year after she had had a shoulder replacement surgery in March I picked what I thought would be an easy trip with good fishing. Back to the site of my first trip 15 years ago, Lake Hudson.
Our trip north was uneventful except for getting turned around trying to follow the I35E Detour in St. Paul! We got to Ely around 4:15 Saturday the 18th and barely made it to the Ranger Station to get our permit before they closed at 4:30. After the guy gave us the traditional speech and ribbing about being "late" we got our permit and left to go get steaks to freeze for the first night! We checked into V North and spoke to Lynn, then prepared to enter the next day. As always, we leave at the crack of dawn or at least right after the bait shop opens so we can avoid the wind during paddling. Wise decision this time! Rather than do the traditional Trip report I am going to do a summary, and then a list of good things, bad things, things I learned, and equipment reviews.

The trip in was fine, slight wind in our face, made it over the two portages with no problems. Once we hit Lake Four we started looking for a campsite, and all were taken with the exception of the last one before portaging into Hudson. Which was the one I was wanting so we were lucky there! Site was nice, good tent pads on grass or in the woods. We chose out in the open in the grass. Trees for hammocks were limited in the open area. Campsite was clean except for sunflower shells, and pistachio shells everywhere. Bad thing was there were several small firs cut down back in the woods... don't know why there was plenty of fire wood with the burn area near by. Once camp was set up the wind started blowing 20 - 25 constant with gust up to 35 or more. It stayed the same way until Tuesday morning.

Storms Sunday night brought rain and more wind but nothing worse than what we had had so far. All we could do from Sunday until Tuesday was relax in our hammocks, or explore the huge island campsite we were on. On Monday while exploring I found the remains of an old cabin, some huge old logs were used to build the 16 ft square cabin. All that was left were the bottom 3-4 rows of logs.

Tuesday morning broke with no wind so we decided to go fish the Kawishiwi River where it runs into Hudson from Insula. One of my favorite spots! We get there and fish for 35-40 minutes before the wind starts again. While I love my SR Quetico 18.5 when it is loaded and paddling into the wind, it is not fun unloaded in a high wind. We have a very difficult time getting back across Hudson to the portage lakes where we are somewhat sheltered from the wind. When going across the lake trying to maintain the nose into the wind was virtually impossible being unloaded with a lot of freeboard. We were blown across the lake to the windward side of the lake three differnt times before we were able to get close to land on the north side to be in the leeward side of the wind. Very exciting times!!

Once we get back to camp Kim checks her phone and she has one bar of signal, she checks the weather and sees that the wind Wednesday is supposed to be out of the east. All day I contemplate what to do, leave with the favorable wind? Or fish tomorrow and try to paddle out Thursday or Friday. I finally make the decision at 7:00 pm and tell my wife Kim we are leaving in the morning, early. So everything is made ready, and we depart at 6:45 Wednesday morning. On the way in on Lake One I see two men in a canoe fishing, we paddle over to them and ask if they are using leeches, they say yes and I give them almost a pound of leeches that we don't need.

Needless, to say the wind comes up a little and we are blown a little more before we get to the Entry point. Trip is cut short, but we are safe, Kim's shoulder is sore but okay. And there is always next year... I hope!!

Good Things: Equipment Review: 1. MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter for water. How did I ever live without it!! 2. Thermarest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot: My wife wondered why I had not purchased this for her before! No really, she said she had the best night sleep ever on this cot with a thermarest pad on it. With her shoulder replacement I wanted her to be comfortable and she was. 3. Thermacells: Once again, when the wind did not blow the mosquitoes were out in force to make up for lost time. These were very effective! 4. ENO Hammocks: Having to spend many hours in these over the course of 3 days was very relaxing, which we needed. 5. Eureka Timberline 4XT: at 11 years old it is still doing the job in the rains of the northwoods!! 6. The new and improved Bivy, with the lid! Much better my wife says!! 7. New portage pads made this year worked great!! 8. Solar Shower: Made my wife a happy clean person! Me Too!!

Good Things: 1. Spending some quality time with the spouse! 2. Rest and relaxation. You never realize how much you need it until there is nothing else you can do! Being wind bound is not all bad! 3. Zup's Ribeyes. Still very tasty cooked over a bed of coals! 4. Wild Life. Wife had more fun watching the mama ducks and their babies! 5. Meal at Rockwood's was good!

Bad things: 1. People cutting small fir trees and leaving them in the woods behind camp! What happened to leave no trace? 2. Nut shells scattered around camp. Foil in the fire pit! 3. No portage knowledge! 6 canoes all from one group obviously tying up a portage for over 30 minutes. Kids sitting in the aluminum canoes on the rocks, not helping load or unload. Trying to scoot the canoes off the rocks into the water while loaded, and sitting in them. (I know the rule is 4 canoes and 9 people) but there guys were all together. 4. Person(s) in camp prior to us, using coal to draw all over the logs...? 5. Wind, Wind and more wind! Big gust hit me when taking the canoe up on my shoulders, like not to have been able to hold it! Ended up having the wing nuts from the portage pads slice through my forearm and rip up about three inches of skin through my shirt as I was able to keep it from blowing away.

Things I learned: 1. If you are entering and have a lingering sinus infection, take plenty of medicine with you. Particularly if your spouse is getting a sinus infection as you are entering. She had it move to her chest and get sicker, and mine still is not better! 2. Learn to relax, it's okay if you don't get to fish! (not really, but you do what you have to do) 3. When you plan an easy trip, it usually is not easy! 4. Learn to accept the small blessings as you get them! 5. Learn to appreciate the big blessings when they happen! (ie... getting the last open campsite, making it back through a tough wind) 6. Have the knowledge to do what you have to do. Make informed decisions, communicate with your partner or spouse expectations of what to do in a storm, or in high winds!

I love the BWCA, It is my release place, my escape from the stress of being an assistant principal at a high school of 1100 kids. We will be back!!