Right. Everything was packed the night before except two frozen steaks for the first night's dinner. Alarm was set for 4:15 am. Goal was to get out the door by 4:30, up to Ely around 9 allowing time to stop for gas and McDonalds in Cloquet or Virginia, get the canoe from the outfitter at 9:30, to EP30 by 10, on the water at 10:30, and to site #2220 by 1, 1:30, give or take.
I'm up at 4:15, out the door at 4:30, and half an hour later I'm about to exit 694 to 35W north when I realize I think I left my nalgene water bottle on the side table by the front door. I call my wife, who is a saint and decided to wake up at the same time as me anyway, and she confirms it's there. So I turn around, she hands it to me in the driveway, I head back out now delayed a full hour. DDSS, Don't Do Stupid S#!t.
Up to Cloquet, gas and McDonalds coffee and hash browns. Up to Ely, get the canoe strapped on, get to EP30. It's a gentle EP compared to a lot of others, no real portage, wide soft landing, and I'm just happy to get on the water. Lake One is gorgeous as always, and I beeline towards the portages to Lake Two, and there's a pileup. Four canoes already on the shore, two more loitering on the water waiting their turn, and a lot of people still coming back and forth on the portage. No worries. I've got all day. I back up a little and take my place in line as the congestion slowly clears.
Across that. Across Lake Two. Into Lake Three. Crossing my fingers that #2220 is open, and it is. Water levels are low - usually there's only one rock above water in the middle of this channel.
Dinner was the two now-thawed steaks, a package of instant mashed potatoes, pouring the steak drippings into the mashed potatoes for even more flavor, and being semi-proud of myself for not doing stupid s#!t.