Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First Visit to Boundary Waters
by Boppa

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/03/2006
Entry Point: Farm Lake (EP 31)
Exit Point: Little Gabbro Lake (EP 33)  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
Route: North Kawishiwi River, Clear Lake, Little Gabbro Lake, Gabbro Lake, Bald Eagle Lake ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Prologue: We have longed to experience a Boundary Waters trip and finally have! My wife, Bette, and I have camped and canoed throughout New England and the Adirondacks in New York but have never visited Minnesota and we had never before used an outfitter. Our son Jeff and his wife Sara are experienced backpackers who wanted to try canoe camping. We were thrilled they were joining us on our inaugural trip to the BWCA. Because Bette and I live in Connecticut, and Jeff and Sara live in Michigan, flying to Minneapolis/St. Paul was the best choice for all of us. Bringing our canoes and gear was certainly not practical so finding an outfitter became a necessity. I researched various options before choosing North Country Canoe Outfitters (NCCO) in Ely, Minnesota. NCCO, and John and Kathy Schiefelbien, proved to be a great choice and we plan to become repeat customers. Bette and I arrived at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport at 10:00 AM on Sat, 9/2 and after retrieving luggage headed outside to find Jeff and Sara, who had arrived earlier and had already picked up the rental car. Once outside, we saw Sara waving to us out the car window. Within minutes, our bags were stowed and we were headed to Ely. The four hour trip passed quickly as we had not seen Jeff and Sara since April so we had a lot to talk about. We arrived at North Country Canoe Outfitters in Ely around 3:00 PM where we were greeted by John Schiefelbien. After settling into the cabin we were staying at before our Sunday AM departure to our entry point, we sat with John, going over our route and learning from John’s extensive knowledge. His guidance and direction was extremely helpful for us. We had a nice dinner in Ely at “Sir G’s” and then returned to our cabin to complete organizing our personal packs.
Day 1 of 7
Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday morning by 7:30, we were up and ready for our boat tow to Entry 31. It was a calm, beautiful morning and in no time we were paddling up the North Kawishiwi River, captivated by the surrounding beauty. We reached our first portage, listed as 170 rods, which brought us to Clear Lake. We had no problems as adrenaline and enthusiasm were at a high point. The portage was initially uphill then leveled off before descending to the banks of Clear Lake. By then we were realizing how warm the day had become (low 80’s) and how pretty and quiet Clear Lake appeared. John had marked a couple of sites for us to check out and after exploring our options, chose a very nice site that provided great views of the lake along with privacy and easy access for our boats. We set up camp and then went fishing. The Northerns were cooperative and Jeff had one that hooked itself badly so we decided to try it for dinner. I tried a fillet style recommended for Northerns which worked beautifully. It was a great dish to add to our dinner and we all agreed that fresh Northern make good table fare.

We had chosen early September for our trip due to lack of bugs, a full moon and diminished crowds, and we realized all three. We had great fireside conversation and good drinks, then retired for the night. We had already decided to lay over another day.