Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Recalling 2016 EP 4
by Teenda

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/12/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake (EP 4)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Trip #3 for me into the BWCA.
I know this trip report is 2 years in the past; however, I just found my journal which I thought was forever lost, so it's fairly accurate. It may not have all the embellishments from previous reports or be as in depth but it's a report none the less.

Day 1

My husband and I paddled uneventfully across Burntside early Friday morning and leap frog portaged to Crab. The portage was swampy in the middle section. In a few places it was mud up to mid shin and stunk something fierce. Lovely. We were passed by 2 guys single portaging and I was jealous.

Once on Crab we decided to head for the single campsite on Little Crab but alas, it was occupied. We moved on to Korb, and that campsite was also taken. By this time some petty hefty winds were gusting and some dark clouds were looming so we didn't want to risk paddling on the larger Cummings and get stuck in a bad situation so we moved on to claim the single site on Silaca. Occupied. So we paddle over to the portages to Coxey Pond. It's getting to be about 5 pm (we dilly dallied on Korb River and just enjoyed the scenery) and my stomach is growling. I'm pretty worried about the last campsite on this dead end route being occupied. I didn't want to paddle back out to Cummings and fight the wind or set up in the dark! We parked the canoe and I decided to scope out the site on the pond before carrying the gear over. I scrambled to the end of the portage, yelled a few times to see if anyone would return my call then scrambled back. "We are good, less go!"

We get to the site and quickly set up and start on dinner. It didn't appear that the site had been used in months. There was grass growing in the grate, the latrine was tipped over with several cracks in it, and moss covering the dining logs. We also arrived to a lovely pile of fire wood all nearly stacked and well seasoned. The winds died down and the dark clouds didn't leave a drop so we had a little fire for smores and then restocked the pile. There is plenty of downed wood at this site. I don't think it sees much use. We also set up the latrine the next morning before leaving.

Day 2

We set out early to see if we could snag the point campsite on Cummings (#291). We had to fight a little in your face breeze across Cummings but were able to claim the site we wanted by 11 AM. I think we got there right as a group was leaving. Since it's just my husband and I we don't have loads of gear and we like to find tent pads away from the main site. We also like to take the canoe away from the waters edge and will tie it to a tree. (Lesson learned: We took the canoe pout of the water, turned out upside down, but it was only about 15 ft from the water's edge. Over night a wind must have blown just right and took the canoe straight across the lake and left it bobbing near shore. We could see it. We waited all through breakfast and while packing up the site for another canoe party to pass by to see if we could get a lift to our canoe but one never came. We finally decided that since I was the stronger swimmer of the two of us [swam competitively for 10 years and generally only did distance events] that I would swim across and get our canoe. Our life jackets were fastened to our canoe seats. Yes, dumb dumb dumb but I'm still here. Anyway, we take our canoe far away from the waters edge and tie it up.) This campsite is awesome. We loved it. It has a commanding view of the lake and we were able to watch rain band after rain band roll through. We ate a trail lunch but didn't unpack anything because it kept raining pretty steady. Our site probably looked very available and 3 groups tried to claim it. So I was glad we arrived as early as we had. I felt bad, with the driving rain and wind that these groups had to press on.

At about 4 the rain stopped and the wind died down. A beautiful double rainbow appeared and we officially set up camp. I was soaked even with my rain gear on. It actually rained so hard I took a literal "shower" shower! An amazing experience, I highly recommend it.

Day 3

We made off for Crab Lake with the idea that if we could snag one of the 3 sites close to Saca Lake that the following day we could do a day trip around that loop without all our gear and look for a moose who has been reported to be actively cruising the area. The trip back through Korb River was beautiful. I just love that area. We paddled across Crab and headed to the sites. We slowly checked each one and they were all occupied. The theme of the trip, "Occupied". We decided to press on to Saca. The site was less than ideal see we moved on to Hassel Lake. Yikes, this site was worse than the first but since it was still early afternoon we decided to move on to Battle Lake, we were enjoying the scenery and just felt like the next site was going to be golden. We arrive at Bale Lake just in time to see something big running into the woods. I think we scared off the moose. Darn it! The battle lake site was just fine for the 2 of us and We settled in. The sunset was awesome that night and the chorus of frogs was 2 thumbs up. It was an incredibly serene feeling that we were 2 lakes away from the next group and had a small collection of lakes all to our selves. The moose never came back. We ate freeze dried spaghetti and garlic fry bread. The spaghetti was down right disgusting. I couldn't even gag it down after 3 days in. 

Day 4

We woke up late this morning and debated back and forth about staying or moving on. We finally flipped a flat rock with a mark on one side for moving or staying. We were moving. We packed up and continued on through the loop (Phantom, Spirit, Meat, Clark) and back out to Crab. The portage from Clark to Crab goes through the burn that happened earlier that summer. It was sad to see so many trees burnt but positively the undergrowth was very green and we heard birds chirping their songs. It really made is think about one spark, one moment, that's all it takes.

Back on Crab we decided to putter around and just take the first site that spoke to us. We weren't in a hurry but didn't want to venture off Crab. Unfortunately I didn't write the number of our site down anywhere in my notes and I can't recall which site we stayed at but I was absolutely appalled by its condition. There was litter in the kitchen, TP and human feces along the trail back to the latrine, a broken oar, and some dirty clothing left at the site. What? Seriously? I packed up what I could (everything but the TP, I couldn't stomach the touching of that without river gloves). After we cleaned up the site we busted out our frisbees and played frisbee golf, calling out trees and seeing how many throws to get to the tree. We had a 2 hour half time as we attempted to free an errant frisbee from a pine tree top. We threw rocks, shook the tree, threw some more rocks and alas, it fell out!

Day 5

Headed back to the landing at Burntside. I can't remember anything of significance happening this day and I don't have anything in my journal. I do recall geo b back to the landing and DNR (or equivalent) was there checking all incoming and out going boats for invasive species and some guy threw an absolute fit about cussing swearing and carrying on (welcome back to reality) about how this was an invasion of his rights to boat where ever he wants... bla bla bla. I felt bad for the guy doing his job and trying to protect water resources.

Anyway, that's all until this summer! I promise the next one won't be so delayed and will have greater detail!