Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Ensign Lake
by daporter

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/03/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake to Prairie Portage (EP G)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 5
Trip Introduction:
I try to get to the BWCA each year. My wife hasn't gone for a while but this year my daughter, daughter-in-law and 2 year old granddaughter were going, so my wife joined us.
We entered on July 3rd. I was anxious about hitting a lot of wind on Moose Lake with our two year old paddler, so I opted to have Canoe Outfitters provide tow service for us (we outfit ourselves). As an aside, they were GREAT to work with. We portaged all our gear and heavy canoes (mine is an 18' canvas/wood canoe which I love despite it's weight--I was glad to have it's cargo capacity this trip!) and got paddling on Splash Lake. I was concerned that a Sunday entry on a long weekend might afford us few open campsites, but it turned out to be just the opposite. It's a slow weekend in the BWCA! Which was great! I had made liberal use of the campsite reports and we were able to find a terrific site on the southern shore of Ensign about 3/4 of the way east across the lake.

We tend to make a base camp and spend our time in and around it--this seemed especially appropriate with our little one. We couldn't have asked for a better site and better weather! Sure there were skeeters back in the woods and they came out with a vengeance a half hour or so after sunset. But the view from the rocks in front of the site, the sunsets, the sunshine and pleasant water for swimming were all a joy. There was a good thunderstorm the night of the 4th (when the lightning started I thought we were getting some glow from fireworks somewhere :-) but we managed it OK. The rain just happened at night-darned considerate of it. No bear sightings. We did hear some nearby campers exclaim about moose, but we didn't catch a glimpse. We did see a pair of bald eagles hanging around.

We had great meals, terrific swimming, and fun excursions for firewood (where we did see some fresh bear scat--a few hundred yards farther east of our campsite). I purchased a new water filter system for this trip. We gave up drinking the water straight 10 years or so ago. We've boiled it and had some pump-filtration systems. The Sawyer two bag system we used was perfect. It handled all of our water needs without any noticeable slowdown. The water tasted great and, of course, no illnesses. I backflushed the filter when we got home--lots of greenish water came out! It's ready for the next trip--good as new I suspect.

We broke camp early Thursday and headed back from the real world. We once again used the tow service--the two year old did great in camp and swimming. But she did get restless/upset after an hour in the canoe. It only started raining shortly after we were in the "tow" boat--we had a charmed trip weather wise! 

One last note re: the two year old. It's fun, but not always easy with such a little one. She needed CONSTANT attention for obvious reasons (and some mundane ones--it's just so easy to trip on roots/rocks and get scraped up), but there were four adults, so it worked out fine. 

We're all thinking about our next trip north, so it must have been good for everyone!