Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Sam and Andrew's First Adventure
by paddlinjoe

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/17/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
I've offered to take my nephews to the BWCA as they turn 10 this was the first of those trips. I usually take a solo trip in the summer, but did this trip instead. Our group consisted of Andrew (my brother-in-law) and his 11 year old son Sam. This was a first time experience for both Sam and Andrew. I really enjoyed introducing them to the BWCA.
Pre-Trip: My goal was to introduce Sam to the BWCA, as a bonus his father was also willing to join us, what a blessing to have both of them along. Because this was a first trip for Sam and Andrew I tried to do sprinkle Sam and Andrew with questions and activities over the 7-8 month pre-trip planning process to generate additional enthusiasm, gather ideas on what they thought they’d enjoy doing and eating, help answer questions, and set some expectations.

A few of those things included… Gave a list to Sam of the kinds of activities we can do there and had him rank his favorites. The list is at end of report with post trip comments. Brought my pack and clothes to a family gathering and we took 30 minutes going through the kinds of things to be packed. Gave a list of menu ideas to Sam and Andrew and had them pick favorites. Bought Sam a map of our selected area and a compass. Spent a morning paddling and portaging a short loop at Lebanon Hills in the Twin Cities. Of all the prep items we did, this one most conveyed what a trip would be like. We were able to practice getting in/out of the canoe several times, and I was also able to judge if the canoe or tipping a canoe would make Sam nervous. If there had been nerves I’d have taken them on a different day in swimsuits and we’d have practiced swamping and bailing the canoe.

Trip Notes: Thursday - Arrived to pick up Sam and Andrew a little after 8:00. Sam and Andrew had all their stuff ready to put in their pack when I arrived. They just had a few final packing questions. Left Bloomington around 8:45, Andrew shared a rubber band bible study on way up. Listened to “Hatchet” for a little while, but spent bulk of time just talking. Arrived in Ely mid afternoon, ate lunch at the Chocolate Moose, browsed Piragis, picked up some bungee dealee bobs which were put to good use holding paddles together on portages, got fishing license for Andrew at Wilderness Outfitters, Joel picked up a head net and pack rod. Picked up permit at Kawishiwi ranger station and viewed the video, Andrew treated us to International Wolf Center, stayed there for 2 hours. saw as many out of state license plates in parking lot as there were MN plates. picked up brats at a gas station and headed to Lake Jeanette. Sam was quite excited to get to the camp site.

Set up tent, made brats, started packing process, to make sure all would fit. Had thrown the orange day pack in the car at the last minute just in case. This turned out to be a good decision for getting everything along, without increasing our number of trips across the portage. It was easily to double pack.

Friday - made breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, coffee (serially as only have one burner) took an hour or two to do final packing of packs and ensure we had everything.

We were headed to the entry point by 8:30. There wasn't anyone else at the entry point when we arrived. We unloaded our gear and canoe. Joel attached the foam pads for the bow paddler in the stern (wrong end) again, (see notes for 2010? trip with Chris) and then had to redo his work and put them in the bow. After double checking that we had all our gear, we headed down the portage trail for our first of two trips. Andrew took care of moving the food/equipment pack as well as their personal pack. Joel didn’t realize just how heavy the food pack was until the end of the day. It was a beast. Andrew carried it every time.

Once on the water and paddling we started to meet other groups by the first river portage. We waited our turn while one group launched. As they left another group arrived. We started to wait as well, but after setting their things down, they just stood around, with things lying around everywhere. Deciding they wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, we landed and began portaging.

Stopped at the campsite that is between Lower and Upper Pauness for lunch. It is at a small rapids with the 8 rod portage opposite it. There were blueberries at this site which were a nice treat. We were careful to keep the food pack (with it’s food cooler) in the shade. From the first day until the cold stuff was gone on the last day, Joe was diligent about keeping the top of the pack wet. At the end of lunch we found that the camera’s card was full after only 40+ pictures. After some battery wasting fiddling we reformatted (losing our first 40 pictures) the card and started taking pictures with a lower resolution. I think the extended time fiddling caused us to use up a good portion of battery. By midday Saturday, we were starting to get a low battery signal. In all we probably got 100 or so pictures. Not an enormous amount, but were able to nurse it along to end with a group photo at our exit point.

215 Rod Portage between Lower Pauness and Shell has a paddle across section about 75% of the way. Think this was caused by a beaver dam.

Sam was really good at using his map. He has quite a talent for knowing where we are at all times on the map. He always knew where we were and had good ideas about where we needed to head.

Our goal was the campsite on the north end of Con island (based on outfitter recommendation, and input from Chris). We paddled to the south end first and up the east side just to see which campsites were open in case we needed to double back. We were in luck, the north site was open and it was a great site. many good tent pads, lots of pine trees for shade and hanging tarps and hammocks. fire ring was good. There was a drying rack someone had constructed over the fire pit. Sam did a great job of taking this apart while Andrew and Joel set up the tent and got camp set up. The drying rack turned out to be a good source of wood for Sam and the hatchet.

Saturday -

Really enjoyed the day as we tripped to Lynx Lake and did some fishing. Ate lunch at NW camp site on Lynx lake Andrew and Sam each caught a fish, and then Sam lost a lure. Found lots of blueberries at the camp site. Joel found a rapala fishing lure sitting on the fire grate at the site. This was perfect as it replaced one that came off of Sam’s rod. It was windy on the paddle back to camp. It was “REALLY” windy when we got to Shell Lake. waited 20 minutes on the portage and ate most of the rest of our snacks waiting for wind to calm down. When wind started to die down a bit we headed out. Steady paddling got us safely through both Andrew and Sam did well on this stretch staying calm and working hard. Note Sam’s hat blew off into the water, just as we started paddling, fortunately we were still in the protection of a small bay and were able to easily turn around and retrieve it. What a relaxing day. The gigantic food/equipment pack had done a number on Andrew’s back, so it was nice to have an active relaxation day planned. Andrew was very careful with his back and ultimately it never slowed him down.

Had Pizza for supper (bwca first for Joel). It turned out great. Used the BWJ Cast Aluminum Fry pan to bake the premade Baboli crusts with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. covered the pan with aluminum. Worked Great.

Sunday - Traveled from Shell Lake to Upper Pauness, searched for campsite, set up camp and had lunch, went to visit Devil’s Cascade.

We took our time over breakfast before beginning the process of breaking camp. Other than the fact that from the moment I awoke, my tasks were done with packing up in mind. I.e. as I got out of the hammock, I put my stuff in the correct bags, and stuffed my hammock in it’s sack, trying to use a “touch it once” philosophy. This meant putting things in the proper Ziploc or compression sack, but not filling my pack, just gathering things near it. Once everything was gathered, I loaded my pack after breakfast. The same method was used for each pack at an unhurried pace.

We checked out several campsites on Upper Pauness before settling on the northern site. It was nice and shaded. The first few were quite exposed to the sun and didn’t have good tent pads or places for Joe to hang his hammock.

Mosquitoes this night were vicious. The only time we used head nets was this night, we also wore rain gear to keep them at bay. Sam even called in the bats to help with the situation. Eventually they did lend a hungry hand.

Monday - Woke before the sun, no breakfast, to truck by 9:30 am

Monday morning’s paddle was a highlight for me. While not glass calm, the wind was at our back and was windy enough to push us along against the current, the trip from the campsite to the first portage on LIS was very peaceful. I think it is a combination that often occurs on a departure morning. Senses are more alert in an attempt to take it all in and remember everything, to savor the sounds of the paddle, water and wind, while really looking at the scene floating by. The peace was heightened by the fact that nobody really wanted to talk. Conversations were carried on in ever decreasing whisper until all speaking stopped as if sound would break the spell. I need to ask Andrew if he felt the same way. From my end of the canoe, he appeared to be soaking it all in as well.

Random post trip thoughts: Small disappointment that we didn’t have a cloudless night during the trip for Andrew and Sam to see the stars in the sky. Oh well, something to look forward to next time.

Generic notes: Brought only one full can of propane and it lasted with through the following uses. Thursday night quick boil of brats Friday breakfast coffee, bacon, toast eggs done serially Friday supper warmed taco meat Saturday breakfast (heated coffee on wood stove) sausages, pancakes Saturday Supper made 4 pizza’s Sunday Breakfast - coffee, bacon, eggs, toast (again one at a time) Sunday Supper - 1 pizza, sausage links, pancakes That is 5 full meals, and two small ones.

I was worried we’d run out of fuel. Note Andrew’s inverted bottle suggestion worked well for balance, and I think it helped to keep better fuel pressure. In 2008 with Michael we had a fuel bottle that was only half full and were using my pedestal stand. The pressure was so poor that we had a hard time getting the grill hot enough to brown the pancakes.

Keeping reasonable distance expectations when going with first timers was very important. It really isn’t about the miles, and the “number” of people you see is very small in comparison to what most experience. Do not expect solitude in the summer. Go off course to a single campsite lake if that is desired.

Pre Trip Activity List for Sam with Post trip comments The number of stars indicated his interest level:

*****fish: Sam and Andrew each caught a fish, Joe did not. par for the course. Sam tried to do a lot of fishing from shore, we didn’t do a lot from the canoe, maybe we could have done more. His real was frequently tangled, maybe we should have put new line on it before the trip so that there would be less twisty tangly line.

*****chop/split wood: In reality on a scale from 1 - 5, this was a 10 for Sam. Sam did a good bit of chopping and splitting.

****make a fire in a variety of ways: (with matches, flint/steel, bow drill...) Didn’t really cover this one. Keep on the list for a future item.

****Look for a place to pick blueberries: Found enough blueberries for pancakes near our site, and on Saturday during our day trip we ate lunch at a campsite that was loaded with them. The smile on Sam’s face captured while he was picking berries is priceless.

****swim: As good as our Friday/Saturday campsite was, it didn’t have a great swim area. It would have been refreshing to do, but we did other stuff.

****whittle: just enough to make marshmallow sticks. Sam has fun burning marshmallows.

*** explore/hike: (Some hiking trails that can be walked that are close to certain entry points)

Sam did this on the island, on portages, and on our trip to Devil’s Cascade.

***cut wood with saw: (gloves good to have) not a favorite

**see animals: wolf spider on pack Sunday morning, Asian something beatle at UP campsite, loons (with baby), deer (Sam spotted it on Lower Pauness as we paddled back from Devil’s Cascade), eagles nest and eaglet at portage entry from LP to UP, red squirrels, trumpeter swans on Upper Pauness as we got to our campsite on the north side.

**hang out in hammock: (Michael enjoyed being cocooned and swung in his back in 2008). did just a little bit.

**star gazing: (there are a lot out there,

Note the New moon is Thur July 16th so the stars won’t be competing with the moonlight) No luck on this one. As nice as the days were, we did not have clear skies at night as we went to bed.

*see bears: nothing