40 Years Celebrated by 4-Nights Solo
by treehorn

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/30/2018
Entry Point: Ram Lake (EP 44)
Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)  
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I imagine anyone reading this loves camping in the BWCA and all the things that go along with it, and I'm no different. I live pretty far away though (Chicago area) and have 3 young kids and a wife that plans many of my vacation days and just not that much opportunity to visit. It's just been one 3-night trip with buddies for the past 6 years, which I absolutely cherish, but it's not enough! So I used my 40th birthday this summer as an excuse to plan another trip. Don't get me any presents (maybe some camping gear ;-), don't throw me a party, just let me get off the grid for a few extra days. When I was 35 I think I had visions of crossing the entire BWCA in an epic 3-week survival adventure for my 40th...but of course circumstances don't allow such things, so I combined my trip with the 4th of July weekend so I'd be able to do a 5-night trip while only burning a couple vacation days. When I grabbed the EP permit over the winter I still had thoughts of bringing one or both of my sons (8&10) with me. In fact I still had those thoughts just a few weeks before the trip. But the more I considered it, and the more I researched the location I chose, the more comfortable and excited I became to do it solo. Bringing the boys felt like a lot of extra responsibility. They weren't exactly clamoring to go with as they are distracted by plenty of other things, plus they were at a YMCA camp the first couple days of the trip so I would have had to pull them out of that early. And thus, I became a solo tripper...
Day 1 of 5
Friday, June 29, 2018

Today featured my drive from Chicago through Wisconsin, up the north shore and ultimately to Rockwoods outfitters where I would be spending the night in their bunkhouse.

The drive went by quickly. I don't really mind driving alone. I took a short diversion off of 53 near Solon Springs, WI to drive by the location of my family's former cabin near Lake Minnesuing. I spent a lot of time there as a lad and the property - while completely unrecognizable from last I'd seen it - brought back some fond memories.

It was a 95-degree day across the midwest....until you got within about 12 miles of Lake Superior, where it almost immediately dropped about 35 degrees and got foggy.

I headed up the north shore and stopped at Palisade Head to take a few pictures, but it was too foggy for much of a view. Cold too!

I made my way to Grand Marais by late afternoon and had a couple pints at Voyager Brewing Company. It was so bizarre seeing everyone in town wearing a sweatshirt while I knew that everywhere else in the midwest was blistering hot that day.

One or two more stops in town and I headed up the gunflint, stopping at Trail Center to grab a few camp chow products, then to Rockwoods. Mike met me, showed me to my accommodations for the night, gave me my permit, etc, then I was free for the evening. I went over to Poplar House for an excellent walleye sandwich for dinner. Good service and cool setting there on their back patio overlooking Poplar Lake...and it was nice and warm away from the lake up on the hill here!

I also drove up the road that leads to Hungry Jack and Bearskin lakes, just to maybe get a nice view and I did find a spot to do some shore fishing. Calm and peaceful evening, with plenty of mosquitoes, I was definitely getting into Boundary Waters mode.

Headed back to the bunkhouse and organized some gear, read for a little while and got a good night's sleep.