Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The trouble with beavers - Father and Son first trip
by AceAceAce

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/12/2020
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2
Day 2 of 7
Saturday, June 13, 2020

We got a bit of a late start this morning. I underestimated the sleeping power of a 21 year old male and how long it would take to pack up camp. That would turn into a consistent routine for the trip. We were supposed to have a tow from our outfitter at 8:30, but ended up getting there close to 9:00. I called to let them know and it was fine. LaTourell’s did a great job getting us set up for this. I’d use them again in a heartbeat. Anyway we get our canoe rental squared away, had them show us how to flip it up on our shoulders and were off on the tow to splash lake. Luke from LaTourell’s had a pickup in the area, but not for a while, so he helped us walk our gear in. The extra hands made for a quick single portage.

As we’re setting our stuff down in Splash lake, a group was unloading coming the other way and another group of older gentlemen were coming into the portage, so I felt a bit rushed. We threw everything in the canoe and shoved off. I was trying not to be in others way. In hindsight I’d have been better off taking a minute and getting all squared away. The older gentleman must have thought we were total putzes with how we handled the boat getting out the portage area and into the lake. Especially since we soon realized we were in the canoe backwards. Yup I mixed up the back and front of the canoe. I share this detail for two reasons, first hoping you all get a kick out of it, and second because it comes up again in a couple days. Looking back on it, it’ll make one heck of a memory. As we tried to paddle out across Splash lake I was really struggling to handle the boat. I’d done this before and knew it shouldn’t have been this difficult. Any little turn and the wind was grabbing the boat and spinning us around. I was really frustrated and just couldn’t figure it out! Finally we realized our mistake and one at a time carefully turned around. Now Brock was in the back of the boat and has almost no paddling experience. I told him what to do to steer and we managed to make it across the lake to the Ensign portage without more issues. I’d have loved to of seen us from another boat. We must have just looked like total fools!

The portage into Ensign was unremarkable except for how busy it was. Again several groups coming and going. I wanted to get our fishing rods rigged up before heading across Ensign, but the portage was not the place to do it. We moved down shore a ways and took a few minutes to get squared away before heading out. We trolled across Ensign and ended up catching our only walleye of the trip. This lake was our first long stretch of paddling. By mid-way across the lake we seemed to be doing okay at it. We stopped for our BLT lunch at one of the few open campsites on the south shore. We’d been pushing against a south east wind so far and were ready for a break anyway. I’d originally hoped to drop into Ashigan to fish but realized we didn’t have time for that, so on we went.

Reaching the east end of the lake, we turned north and headed for the Vera portage. I’d heard this portage was a beast and oddly we were looking forward to it as our first challenging portage. The two so far hardly even counted as portages. It did not disappoint, although really I’d call it a good hike, not the monster impassable hill some reports would have you think it is. It’s got a couple climbs but it’s not bad. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. We double portaged and on the way back I stopped up on top of the hill to get a picture. I decided to check to see if I had cell service and did. I surprised my wife with a quick phone call to say hi then shut the phone back down and moved on.

Vera is a beautiful lake with a lot less people, but there was another group a bit ahead of us. I thought they may be headed for the highest rated site on the south side, and they were. We took the site on the north shore, it is also a great site and worked just fine. After setting camp up we paddled back out to gather some wood and to fish a bit, then went back to cook our brats for dinner. We went back out again to try for some dusk fishing. No luck fishing on this lake at all.

This night was going to be really clear skies, so I set an alarm for 12:30 in the morning to wake up and see the stars. I wanted to get a photo of the milky way as well. I’m a skilled photographer but night star pictures are something I’ve had limited practice with and I wanted this chance. The stars were amazing! I loved seeing it. The photo didn’t turn out to my standards but it’s okay.

~Splash Lake, Ensign Lake, Vera Lake