Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Kids canoe
by WenSheff7

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/06/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Mudro Lake (EP 23)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 5
Trip Introduction:
There where 5 in our group on this trip. We planned for a 4 day/3 night trip. It was my fiances 9th trip, our 2 girls (age 11 & 12) and my 2nd trip and my son ( age 10) 1st trip. We have 2 more at home that will join us next year when they are 9. We had our gear packed, truck loaded, clothes laid out and travel bags ready! We where excited to say the least. Morning came and we headed out, everyone claiming there spots in the truck and getting settled in for the 6 and half hour ride. The energy was high and remained that way for the duration of the ride. The girls tried there skill at story telling about bears and wolves, no doubt in an effort to put there little brother on alert for the new adventure he was about to take with them. We arrived in Ely around supper time, found our outfitters (Cliff Wolds), located the bunk house and proceeded to unload packs and stretch our legs. First order...supper, we ate the food we had prepared and discussed taking a quick hike to the Kawishiwi Falls, which we did. If you have time we highly recommend that short hike!
Day 1 of 4
We where all up and ready to go eat a hearty breakfast at 5 a.m. at Britton's Café. The portions where huge and we all left over fed and ready to go back to bed, lol! We headed back to the bunk house and started little tasks such as double checking the fitting of everyone's packs, supplies, and gear. Our ride arrived around 930 and we loaded up and headed out. We arrived at the entry point at Mudrow Lake. The trip started right then, with a short portage to the lake from the parking lot. Everyone was still excited, no arguing from the kids yet. My goal was to be able to portage one of the canoes on this trip....Well first portage, done! Who whooooo, I did it with my bag on my back. I was feeling pretty strong and confident! The girls had expressed there opinion about who should be in which canoe....they made it clear they wanted the challenge of manning there own canoe and gear, so we let them. The three kids and all of their gear loaded into the 3 person Kevlar canoe. My fiancé and I and the rest of the gear where loaded into our canoe. Now Mudrow starts with a winding narrow trail that is shallow enough to see the sandy bottom. We let the kids go ahead of us, explaining that the three of them will have to get into a rhythm with each other to paddle with out hitting each others paddles together. They did ok, once we where in the open portion of the lake we passed the kids and paddled ahead....Wait...what's that noise...the kids where arguing! We turn around to find a paddle floating in the lake and the kids paddling in circles trying to get close enough to pluck it out of the water. We where laughing at the kids but they did not find this funny! They finally retrieved the paddle and quickly found there rhythm ( my guess is they didn't want to waste anymore time going in circles). We reached our next portage to Sandpit Lake, a short 60 rod walk. The girls had their pattern of doing things, unload, stretch, load up and start hauling gear, there brother was quick to learn this and between the three of them they managed to carry all the additional gear as well as theirs. I began the portage with the canoe and decided this time to leave my bag behind and portage twice...Wow, this seemed harder then the first portage. Shaking the thought of weakness out of my head i trudged on, silently cheering myself on with " you got this" , "almost done" and " no pain no gain!" My other half is behind me having to slow his pace so as not to run me over, lol. Alright another portage down! The kids where busy dousing themselves in bug repellent. Now on Sandpit lake the kids started looking better and better in there canoe. They tried to out paddle us and realized they would tire themselves out if they tried to keep in the lead. Third portage now to TinCan Mike Lake. My shoulders where aching I almost did not finish this portage, lol! I started my silent cheering to keep myself going, when out of now where I hear out loud "mom, you are so strong", "you got this mom", "I believe in you mom". . . Now i had no choice but to keep on because my son was cheering me on...whether he was afraid I was gonna drop the canoe and block the path or if he saw I needed some not sure but I knew I had to show him that even though somethings may be really hard to do, if we dig deep we can achieve it. Yes I took this moment to teach a lesson about not giving up. Finally the end of the portage appeared!! The girls ran back down the path to meet me and we hauled the canoe the rest of the way together. My other half was quietly telling me to only do what I can because, injury meant ending the trip and he didn't mind portaging both canoes. So I reluctantly agreed that he was right and he portaged both canoes the rest of the trip. We made it to Horse Lake finally! It was our destination for the first night. Now what I haven't mentioned yet is that there where 4 other canoes behind us...I told my fiance that I was nervous about not finding a spot on Horse especially with the canoes behind us. So to make a game we told the kids we where racing to find an open campsite. From the looks of it, there was only one open site...we paddled as hard as we could, but the closest canoe behind us had only 2 men and there packs in it...... Yep, they passed us and made it to the last open site before us. We admitted defeat and rested in the water at the mouth of Horse River. We talked among ourselves about plan B while we ate some snacks and drank some water. Our options where Four town Lake or paddle up the river to Wheelbarrow falls (which was our day trip destination). It was probably a couple hours past noon by now, our last big meal was at 5 a.m. that morning, but everyone agreed to the challenge of heading up the river. After all according to the map, there was an abundance of sites available on the lakes that awaited. The kids started showing signs of being worn out, but there attitudes remained high. They navigated the river ahead of us and scouted out the pull over spots and the portage spots. I believe there where 3 pull overs and 3 portages. We finally reached the end of the river and the kids were excited to find a campsite. We paddled to the right of Basswood Lake, no sights....we paddled to the left of Basswood Lake, no sights..... By now the kids where spent, they where tired, hungry and feeling as though we may never find a site. We portaged again to get on the other side of the falls to check those campsites. We let the kids hang back a bit and rest, paddling half way to crooked, we found no open sites. Back to the kids we went, we found 2 of the three weeping silent tears. One had lost her new hat and the other was over taken by exhaustion and hunger. My son, was comforting them both. We told them they had to portage one more time to get back to the lower side of Basswood lake. At this point, we all lost it and we sat and shared several minutes of hysterical laughter and tears and dubbed this trip the "paddle of tears"! We decided we had no other choice but to set up camp at the start of the portage on Lower Basswood Lake. It was now dark out, so we set up camp in the dark, everyone busy with there appointed tasks. One of the girls set up their the tent, my son readied the food, the other set up the perimeter of camp with thermacells and we set up, for the first time ever, our two person hammock tent. We had a supper of mashed potatoes with goulash and rehydrated mixed veggies. The food tasted awesome which we can't decide if it really was that good or if we where all just starving! We turned in for the night after we secured our tarps due to rain being expected throughout the night.