Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

A wilder trip
by L.T.sully

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/17/2007
Entry & Exit Point: Lake One (EP 30)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Here is the pre trip parts of my trip. I began to look for an area off the numbered lakes with good isolation many months before my trip. I jostled around North Wilder, Horseshoe, and Fire lakes. Fire was eventually counted out for too many people. Horseshoe was for the same reason. North Wilder was definitely the best option, for all that I trip to the bwca for. Jump to a few weeks ago. I'm getting ready all of the gear is out, and on the table. Than... I got tackled really hard, and got a nice ambulance ride to the hospital. Originally it was just a severe bruise, and should clear up in a week or two. Than at my follow up appointment..... My doctor in about 10 seconds flat tells me there is much more wrong, and orders more x- rays. I get the pics taken. The news is less than promising. I have a broken collarbone, and clavicle. I also have a separated joint. All of this looks not too good for a canoe trip that is two weeks away. However I recover fast, and the doc says my trip should be doable. Than Thursday the 14th the bags get packed. The next morning we wake up at 4:00, to hit the road early. I live in est, and I hit the road at 5:00 our time. All of this is to beat Chicago traffic. We do that rather well, while things do slow down a bit they move rather well. By noon CST we are in the Twin Cities. We eat lunch at a burger king north of the twin cities in some Forest something town. Than we continue on to our friends house where we will spend the night. We arrive in Kettle River MN around 1:30. BTW for those who are thinking where is Kettle river, it is near moose lake. We hang around for the afternoon. That night we talk about many various things before turning in very late. The next morning is Saturday. It is a bright sunny day. We drive up MN 73 to 169. Once in Ely the first thing we do is go to the wolf center to pick up our permit. We watch the video, and once it's done we leave. We get our licences at skube's. Than decide to go to the Dorothy Molter museum. After an hour, or so there it is finally off to the Kawishawi Lodge. We have stayed there twice before. We get our bunkhouse, and SRQ17. We drive back to town, and eat dinner at an Oriental food place. Back at the lodge we quickly turn in, for the long day ahead.
Day 1 of 6
Sunday, June 17, 2007 We wake in the bunkhouse early, at 4:00. We microwave, and eat our breakfast brought in Ely the day before. While my trip partner takes a shower I do the first portage of the day, and move the packs to the waiting SRQ17. The morning is very calm. It feels like it may be a good paddling day. I take some pictures of the great sunrise. However my lack of using he cameras night function just males it a waste of photos. That's OK I have 150 pictures to take. We pack the canoe up and are on the water by 5:45. We are paddling down the channel of lake one. We come across a bald eagle perched in a tree. I snap 3 photo's, however only 2 came out. Then very quickly we come across a loon. I tried to get 2 or 3 pictures, however only got 1. We navigate lake one without even the slightest tid bit of being lost. Here is a real test, the first portage for me with my inured shoulder. However we double trip both of the portages with little problem. Once on lake two we begin to see other groups coming off the numbered lakes. We talk to some of them. As we talk to one the clouds begin to roll in. We joke yhea it's just waiting for you guys to leave. On lake three we run into our first navigation issues. It begins to lightly rain on and off. It takes well over a half hour longer than it should have to find the portage to horseshoe lake. We had originally intended month earlier to stay on Horseshoe lake. There were two groups already on the lake with a third sandy beach site open. We approach the portage to Brewis lake after no problems beelining across horseshoe. I comment as we pull up in the drizzle, how this looks like your nice typical bwca portage. We land, and are attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. The portage has a few windfalls over it. However much worse was that in all of the extra rain recently the portage was severely flooded in some places. You could walk around the flooded areas on this portage without much trouble. By the end of the portage we have no issue with shoving off fast. As we paddle across brewis we know that we will be walking more than paddling soon. The rain begins to pick up as we paddle across Brewis. The wind is also starting to pick up. When we get to this portage we hope for fewer skeeters, and less flooding. The 60 rod portage is just as bad, if not worse than the last. This time in some of the flooded areas, you have to step deep into the mud. Again the same we have no issue with leaving this portage. As we paddle across Harbor the wind begins to pick up even more. By now the rain is pouring. We pull up the the portage to North Wilder it is worse than ever. We also begin to hear thunder in the distance. The skeeters are waiting for us at this portage too. We now decide to paddle in the stiff wind, back to the campsite we had just passed, and set up the tent, put the tarp over the gear, and take cover. When we get to the site we must speed everything up. We realize a problem, there is no good area to put a tent. There is only one tent pad, and we must use it. The issue is that it is surrounded by potential widow makers in this high wind. Not only that, but it is right in a puddling area for water, and below a cliff. I tarp over the gear, while Phil begins to set up the tent. Once I am done I begin to help him. By now it is raining cats and dogs, and the thunder is growing louder. We both quickly take off our shoes, and dive in the tent.  I begin to shiver in the tent. The tent is leaking badly, with the bad area to have to set up. We are stuck in the tent, with the day pack. We eat out of the day pack. The floor is soaking, covered in puddles of water, the ground cloth was too covered with water when we set the tent up. I'm too cold to fall asleep. I just huddle up in my poncho, which protects me from the water on the floor, and hold out. We set the tent up at 11:00. The first break in the rain is around 1. Phil goes out to inspect. He knows quickly that it is just a break in the system, and it will begin to rain as hard as ever very soon. The rain does return. The next two hours we are huddled up again. At 2:45 however we decide to go out again, in another break in the rain. Although it still looks like it could rain at any time we defiantly don't want to spend a night in this site. We take about 45 minutes to repack everything. It actually clears up a bit as we approach the portage to North Wilder. This one is still the worst yet It has many windfalls, and even more bogs. This one just like the others has a good dash of mountain goat thrown into it. When we get to North Wilder the better of the two sites is occupied. It looks like we might be going to South Wilder. However it is getting late by the time we finish the portage. We simply decide to take the other site on he lake. The group is not in it's site when we enter the lake. We go up to the other site. The portage gave us quite the wildlife sighting, my partner got 4 ticks, in a very small patch of his leg. The site like many of the portages in the area are side load only. We unload all of the gear quickly in case it clouds up, and rains again. Than my partner take my leatherman pliers, and does a brave and daring open heart like surgery, to remove his ticks, he makes sure to kill them. We collect some wood quickly, and start a fire for dinner. The other group is friendly, when they come back. We set up the tent to dry it out, and prop it up. The problem is that the wind keeps trying to blow it off, so we tie it down, to keep it from blowing off any more. We get a nice fire going for dinner. We have a good fathers day dinner of steak, and peas. We dry everything out quickly. As soon as we get all of the camp chores done for the night we hit the hay quickly. Today was a string of good choices, and we are lucky to be where we are right now.