A Childhood Dream Come True
We woke up around six the next morning, far too excited to sleep any longer, and craving our delicious smelling donuts. We ate, went over our tentative route, got dressed, sprayed ourselves down with bug spray, and made our way to the outfitting building to get everything organized.
We used an outfitting package that included all of our gear, but not food, and I'm really glad we did it that way. Mike and Carl gave us "gold stars" for not over-packing our food and clothes, which this newbie took very seriously. :) We got all of our gear ready to go, then watched the infamous video before loading the canoe, and then it was time to go! Carl and Mike took some pictures of us getting started, while simultaneously giving us a brief canoe lesson, as my husband had only kayaked, and I hadn't been in a canoe since church camp in 2002. Luckily, we caught on relatively fast, and got some great pictures I will treasure forever. I asked Carl how idiotic I looked trying to maneuver the canoe, and he told me he didn't like to mock customers. :D He's a character.
After we retrieved our camera from Carl, we were off. We paddled through Poplar Lake, until we reached our first portage into Lizz, our entry into the BWCA. We took a little bit of time on our paddle through Poplar, still trying to find our rhythm with the canoe, and still laughing about YoYo Donuts (it was really funny at the time). When we arrived at the portage, I abruptly stopped laughing and looked at the path into the woods. For a brief second, I had one of those "what did I get myself into" moments.
We unloaded the canoe, and prepared for our portage. We had to double portage because we had three packs. We ended up finding that some of the gear given to us by the outfitter wasn't vital for our needs and experiences, so next time, we plan on providing most of our own gear, and having a lighter load so we can single portage.
Portaging proved to not be nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and we enjoyed listening to the sounds of nature during our walk through the woods. My husband carried the canoe on the first trip, and the lighter pack on the second trip. I carried both of the heavier packs.
When we approached the entry point into Lizz Lake, I almost fell over because of how beautiful it was. That probably sounds incredibly cheesy, but its true. The long lake looked like a hallway of trees with a glass floor and I literally lost my breath for a moment. My husband and I admired the lake before heading back for our second portage. Then we got our canoe into the water, and excitedly began our adventure into the wilderness.
We got through Lizz Lake fairly fast, only briefly stopping for some pictures, but I do wish we could've stayed a bit longer. It was so beautiful! We were concerned about finding a good open campsite, though, as we were planning to base camp on Gaskin, and wanted to reach that lake quickly.
We paddled the rest of the morning and early afternoon from Lizz, to Caribou, to Horseshoe, and finally we finished our final (long) portage into Gaskin. I had a similar reaction to Gaskin as I did to Lizz, and truly could not process how beautiful and serene this place was. We had some strong wind on the lake, so we got to experience how we handled that for the first time. We made it through without issue, but learned very quickly to stay even closer to shore than we had been.
Despite being forewarned that the area may be busy, we only saw two taken sites on the lake, both on the Eastern side. We were able to camp on our first choice campsite, 634, which was recommended to me by a member here! It was a large, fairly secluded peninsula site with beautiful views of the lake, a great tent pad nestled in the back, a huge open kitchen area, two entrances, and the ground was covered in soft pine needles. We were sold! We set up our camp, and then had a late lunch of crackers, cheese, and beef sticks.
When we finished lunch, we got back in the canoe to paddle out a ways into the lake so we could try out the Platypus filter from Rockwood for the first time. While the water filtered we went swimming and watched a group of loons across the lake. We got a kick out of that.
After swimming, we realized how hungry we really were, and started prepping for dinner. We enjoyed garlic pasta with foil packed chicken we found at the grocery store and some mashed potatoes. It was easy to make in the large kitchen area, and definitely hit the spot!
When dinner was done, dishes were washed and we enjoyed the incredible views of the sunset from our camp site, feeling so blessed to be in this incredible place.
When the sun went down, we headed into our tent for the night, drifting off to sleep to the sound of the loons. I had some of the best sleep I've had in several years, and I couldn't wait to wake up in the morning and explore more of the BWCA.
Lakes visited: Poplar, Lizz, Horseshoe, Caribou, Gaskin