Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First time for the family - adapt and overcome
by Squeegee

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/09/2020
Entry & Exit Point: Lake One (EP 30)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 5
Trip Introduction:
We planned to enter at Lake One, go to Lake 3, and basecamp there. On day two, I told my wife, "Plans are what you make before you start."
Last year, I started thinking about taking my son to the Boundary Waters. When my wife heard of it, she insisted on everyone going, so instead of two of us, there were 5: Me and my wife (both in our 40s), our 12 year old daughter, 9yo son, and 6yo daughter.  I spent the winter checking routes, entry points, and outfitters, and in January picked up my entry permit for EP#30, Lake One.

Here's the original plan: Day #1: Enter at Lake One, paddle to Lake Three, camping on the islands in the southern side, near the portage the Horseshoe Lake. Use literally any campsite that's on the way as a backup.

Day #2 & #3: Day trip to Hudson/Insula or Bridge Lake.

Day #4: Pack up camp, paddle back to Lake One and head out.

We drove up from Duluth to Ely on Sunday the 9th, putting on at about 1pm on Lake One. We rented canoes from Kawishiwi Lodge, right on the lake, avoiding any shuttle or carrying canoes on top of our car. It was great. Straightforward, unloaded the car right at the lake, loaded up the canoes, talked with Frank for just a bit about alternative routes and campsites and put on. 

We started paddling down the length of Lake One, with storm clouds rolling in. It had been raining for most of the morning, and the sky was still looking perilous. As we paddled, one kayaker (go kayakers! -she did have a canoe in her group too, so not a kayak solo) asked us if we knew about the storms coming in. I kind of looked up and said, "well, I don't know when, but it sure looks like one's coming."

She said she had a radio and had heard about thunderstorms coming in that afternoon, and suggested we don't try to reach Lake Two, but just camp on Lake One, so we didn't get caught out in the storm. I agreed, and she gave us directions to the site they had just left, pointing out that the map showed an island, but it isn't actually navigable, just a stream. We followed her advice and found campground 1676 in a little inlet just off the lake just as the wind started picking up.  I also

We got our campsite put together just as the skies opened up and the rain started pouring down. The storm blew through just in time for us to start dinner, but all of the wood was soaking wet, so I ended up boiling the brats on my stove. 

Day Two began with the clouds and rain all gone, but a steady (and hard) wind blowing across the lake from the east. We spent the morning in camp, tidying up things that had been blown around or gotten wet the night before. After lunch, we pulled out to go over to check out Lake Two. We found (to our dismay) that the wind was blowing hard, and our inlet protected us from the bulk of it. Sustained winds were at 15mph, with gusts up to 25. We did not make it to Lake Two, instead just checking out the campsite to our west, and then working our way back to our site. I set up a hammock in our campsite and we just relaxed. Dinner this night was macaroni and cheese (when you're cooking for kids, you cook what they want). At least we were able to start a small fire this night, so the kids got to roast some marshmallows before bed. That night was COLD. It was certainly colder than I had expected. I blame the wind - I was in a 20 degree bag and still felt cold, although the kids didn't complain, and my wife said I just need to toughen up.

The wind continued on Day Three, but we did manage to get over to Lake Two. My son got himself stung/bit by some kind of hornet/wasp (still not sure what it was - it looked and flew very much like a honeybee, but was black and white instead of yellow) twice - once in the morning before breakfast, and once at lunch on one of the island campsites in Lake Two. It took us about 45 minutes to get from our campsite to Lake Two, but two hours to get back heading into the wind. At one point, I started leapfrogging boats - I'd paddle ahead with my oldest in one boat, then beach it, walk back along the shore to the other boat with my wife and the younger two, and then paddle ahead past the first boat, then repeat. Dinner was backpacking meals (Mountain House), which I found pretty darn bad. The kids didn't even really like the Mac and Cheese. Maybe I'm spoiled, but blech.  Right before dinner was ready, I started noticing little fish poking at the lure I was tossing in the water near the campsite. My oldest saw that, took over, swapped in a small Beetle Spin jig, and hooked a little baby bass, her first fish ever. I unhooked it and let it go, and we ate dinner. After dinner, we cleaned up and started packing what we could. Day four was time to leave. The boy had some horrible allergic reaction - his eye was all swollen up, and since the wind was gone (FINALLY), the flies were coming out. Combine that with his stings yesterday, he was not in an attitude to help.  We ate breakfast, packed everything up, made one last sweep for trash, and paddled back to Kawishiwi Lodge, where we showered and headed out.