Paradise and Tribulation...A awesome unforgettable trip!
We loaded up and took off from the Cities about 2:00pm heading for Voyaguer Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint trail. We took our time to enjoy the trip up. We were hoping to see some wildlife on this trip. My wife had never seen a moose and was hoping to see one. When we got on the Gunflint it was just beautiful. I told my wife that last time I was on this road I saw a baby black bear and shortly after I said that we saw two moose. Then, about a mile or two down the road we saw a huge black bear. (I have seen many black bears and this was by far the biggest I had ever seen.) After the bear we kept driving and about 5 miles from our destination we saw a fox and as we stopped to look at it, it was not the least bit scare and kinda gave us a show and then continue about its business. We couldn’t believe it, we weren’t even on the water yet and we had already seen two moose, a bear, and a fox! We couldn’t wait to see what else this trip had in store. After arriving at Voyaguer Canoe Outfitters we settled into our bunk house, organized our gear, and got our permits. Also, this time I got a tow to American Point, because last time I did this trip it was in high waves with my brother and I wasn’t going to do that again, especially with my 4 month pregnant wife. We then ate supper and afterwards I started feeling anxious about canoeing on Sag. My wife asked why and I began telling her in more detail what I had went through last time with the wind and waves, taller than the canoe, on Sag. So my sweet wife had the idea of quoting Bible verses that we had memorized and that soothed my nerves and then it was off to dream land.
Sunday, May 23
We woke up a little early to be ready for our morning tow at 8:00am. Today’s destination was Ester or Hanson Lake. We ate an awesome, all you could eat, blueberry pancake break from the VCO crew. The folks there are super to work with and very nice. Then we loaded up the gear and canoe in the tow boat and then we were off to American Point. We both were enjoying the lovely Sea Gull River and then we came out of the Narrows and to my relief Sag was very calm and peaceful. Once at American Point, we unload and hopped in the canoe and the paddle began. The wind started to pick up but not to bad and we made it through the narrowing part of Sag and Bay 1 just fine. In Bay 2 I decided I wanted to start trolling and so I threw out my trusty shad rap and in short order caught a small pike. After that I trolled till I lost my lurer on a bad snag coming into Bay 3. Since it was right next to my favorite campsite of the 3 bays I stopped to show my wife. She instantly fell in love with the site and ask if we could stay there sometime. After a little rest we headed over to the 5 rod portage to Swamp Lake. Once in Swamp Lake we paddled through to Monument portage. This is where our trip started to change. We carried all of the gear over which is when I realized we brought to much stuff. Monument portage is not bad, unless you brought to much gear like we did and you have a 90+lbs Smoker Craft Aluminum Canoe with nothing but a straight thwart for a yoke pressing the entire weight of the canoe on your spine. By the time we had everything thing over it was past lunch time and my pregnant wife was spent and needed to eat and I was in the same canoe minus being pregnant. Also, it was unusually hot about 90 degrees and my Minnesota wife doesn’t handle heat well especially pregnant. So after lunch we had a trip pow-wow and decided to head back to the Bay 3 campsite she loved so much and make this a more leisurely trip, fish, and explore more of Bay 3 and Zephyr Lake. We portaged back over to Swamp Lake, fished a little bit, and then headed back to the campsite on Bay 3. We set up camp and took a nap. When we woke up we filtered some water and began to cook supper after we finished supper s’mores were in order and then we sat back and just enjoyed the evening air and sunset. Even though the itinerary was changed, the day ended a success and we were ready for the new adventure of tomorrow.
Monday, May 23
We were awaken a little earlier than expected by the mysterious and enchanting song of a pair of loons. We laid awake just soaking in serenade. Today our goal was to explore, fish, and relax. It was a little breezy, so after breakfast we decided to go explore Zephyr Lake to the south. We explored the rest of Bay 3 and then we found the portage to Zephyr. Before we portaged the canoe over, I wanted to explore the shore a little and look at the main part of the lake since the wind was picking up. As I was exploring I found all sorts of fresh moose tracks and scat that couldn’t have been more than a couple hours old. I finally quit exploring and went to look at the main part of Zephyr and it was really choppy. Beautiful sunny day but way to wind to enjoy a canoe ride. So my wife and I paddled back to the campsite regrouped, took at nap, laid out in the 90+ degree sun, and then had lunch. After lunch it was still windy so we talked, went for a small hike, read, and just tried to soak the beauty of it all it. The BWCA even in the more travelled areas is just so refreshing and peaceful, that it invigorates the soul with new and fresh life. After some more relaxing and finding many object lessons we decided it was time for some fishing. It was still windy but Swamp Lake was just a quick paddle away, and is often glassy smooth when all the other lakes are rough. So off to Swamp lake we went and sure enough it was calm. 90 degrees and calm…not so good for fishing, but I was hoping for fish anyway. We paddle the entire American side and came up with one 26in pike and one 19+inch smallie that fought really hard and was a blast to catch. Figuring another paddle around the lake wouldn’t be much better we decided to head back to camp and get ready for a storm that we saw coming. We were glad we left when we did because the wind was much strong in Bay 3 that it took everything we had to get back to the campsite.
Tuesday, May 24
Woke up early again thanks to our friendly loons. We wanted to leave early to make sure we caught our tow at American Point which was to arrive at 9:00am. We were low on food so I skipped breakfast and made sure my wife ate plenty for her and baby. We broke camp, loaded the canoe, and bid our campsite and loon friends farewell and till we met again.