The day was finally here! I woke up early without an alarm to pack the final bags in the car and depart from the hotel in Ely. We got the kids up and loaded in to the car to head to Kawishiwi lodge by 6:00 am with a quick stop for coffee and breakfast items from Northwood Grounds. The Coffee was excellent.
The Road to the lodge was better than I had expected and was impressed with how remote the location was. We were arrived and unloaded by 7:30 am but it did no one from the lodge was there yet. It wasn't until past 8 o'clock with several groups waiting that someone showed up. Other than the slight delay the folks at the lodge were very helpful and got us out on the water quickly along with the other groups. I shouldn't have been surprised, but there were lots of folks heading out early that morning.
As I picked up our 18.5 ft, 3 person kevlar canoe I was amazed at how light it was, nothing like the fiberglass canoes I was use to. We were given the instructions to always load them in the water so they are fully floating. As we loaded our gear in the canoe I was happy that it all fit well and left plenty of room for the kids. We were on the water by 8:30 am and the wind was against us from the start, a steady force with occasional guests. Ally was a great "motor" in the front of the boat and successfully navigated us throughout the trip. The varying shoreline and small islands made navigation a bit difficult and we were glad to have studied the map ahead of time. We made several short stops to get snacks out for the kids and take a break from the wind before the portage to Lake Two. We saw a pair of bald eagles as we paddled. The first portage was empty when we arrived, which did not last long....
Soon enough we had groups pass us going in and groups coming out. Almost everyone was polite and patient as we attempted portaging with kids. Although we were slow we had a fine time and the kids enjoyed being on shore and having room to roam. We decided to have an early lunch around 11:30 at the second portage of PB&J. The kids were not super hungry, likely from all the snacking which took place in the canoe. A passing group mentioned nearly every camp on lake two was open and our hopes were high that we would find a good site.
We paddled to the north side of lake two as it seemed many of the campsites were preferable. As we paddled we found site after site occupied. The wind seemed stronger on lake two with small waves. Lila was tired and fell asleep on the bottom of the canoe after about 30 minutes of paddling. We finally made it to the entrance of Lake 3. We decided we would head out and see if any sites were available. The wind was stronger than lake 2 and waves larger. from the entrance we could see the 4 closes sites were occupied. As we struggled to communicate I accidentally splashed water on Lila and she woke up crying. We landed at a small sandy beach to re-group and come up with a plan as Ally and I were both feeling a bit concerned about finding a site.
We decided we would follow the south side of lake two and look for an open site. If we did not find one we would return to lake one. A disappointing prospect but we did not feel confident in finding a site on lake 3 with the additional wind. The paddle on lake two was much more pleasant and we passed every site occupied. Ally called back and said we would check one more site before heading to the portage, 1523. As we turned the point we saw no evidence of occupation and we were MINNESOTA HOME! The site had an excellent sandy beach landing places for maybe 3 tents (1 large and 2 smaller). The cooking area was very exposed and windy. None of the area had a significant amount of shade but the "Biffy" was in good shape and very private.
After unpacking and setting up camp it was time for dinner. Hot dogs cooked over the camp stove were a welcome dinner to a hungry group. The tent was hot and I had forgotten how much longer the sun would be up given that it was just passed the summer solstice. I think everyone was up until about 10pm when it had cooled down enough.