Fall Colors - Homer > Vern > Juno > Brule > S. Temperance > N. Temperance
The weather sucked - rainy and cold - but it made for more of an adventure. We were prepared, so we stayed warm and dry, and were able to test out all of our gear to it's fullest!
We paddled out of Homer on the morning of 9/29. We got a late start . . . we left the Cities later than planned on Friday, realized that the ranger station would be closed by the time we got there, and therefore took our time in Duluth with a nice dinner. We didn't have anywhere to stay - we had planned on camping someplace close, but without our permit, we thought we'd best stay off of 61. So we stayed at Lamb's Resort and slept in the back of the Suburban. It was pitch black when we came in and the campground was packed. There weren't any vacancies at any of the motels, so it was no wonder.
We arrived at the ranger station as soon as they opened at 8, watched our video, got our permit, and talked for a while with the staff. Then we made our trek up the Caribou Trail to Homer Lake. We were surprised by the number of cars at the boat landing, but we think it was mainly hunters. Pretty much as soon as we put in, it started to rain. We paddled along the south shore, allowing Luke to get used to the canoe, then turned down the Vern River and up towards Vern Lake. That was a really fun paddle. We saw one occupied campsite on Vern Lake - looked like one or more hunters.
By the time we reached the portage to Juno, it was raining in earnest and the wnd had picked up. Unfortunately, when we put in on Juno, we were paddling right into the wind. We had intended on reaching the first island campsite after the portage to Brule for our first night, but ended up pulling in to the third campsite on the north short, about a mile from the portage. It was a nice, sheltered site . . . and pretty much as soon as we got our tent and kitchen tarp up, the rain stopped.
The bad weather picked up again the next day. We only made it as far as the island campsite that we intended on reaching the day before. The wind and rain was too much on Brule, and with Luke in the canoe we were concerned about capsizing. That site is pretty exposed to a SW wind, which was the direction this day, but Sean put up an incredible lean-to using the kitchen tarp, so we could site by the fire and be sheltered from the wind and rain. We scattered leaves over the mud, found some pretty dry wood, and were very cozy under our lean-to. Our original plan was to make it to Cherokee Lake one day two, and then make our way back down to Brule on days three and four. We obviously weren't getting as far as we wanted and we were concerned about getting stuck on the western shore of Brule on day four, when we really needed to get home to our kids that day!
So we made the decision to day trip out of this campsite. It worked out perfectly. We stayed put on day two - just explored the island a bit and settled in. Then on day three, we paddled up to North Temperance. We didn't make it to Cherokee - we got a late start and were concerned about being out after dark. But what a great day trip! The portages were beautiful, S. and N. Temperance lakes were stunning - the fall colors were gorgeous.
We were treated with some great wildlife sitings . . . both golden (we think) and bald eagles on Brule Lake, a family of otters on N. Temperance, and on the way back we got up close and personal with a cow moose. The bull was nearby in the shrubs and although we didn't see him, we did see all of the trees and shrubs in his vicinity quake as he moved away from us. We were in our canoe and Sean (with his eagle eyes) spotted the moose. Looked like a dead tree to me. He put a hand on Luke's head, told me to get the camera and stay still, while he one-handed paddled into the bay. I could finally see that it was a moose and started snapping away. Fourty pictures later and we were still getting closer. Luke, thankfully, didn't seem to care. Finally we just sat off the shore a bit and watched her. She finally decided we were harmless and finished her drinking and then ambled off to find her mate.
Day four - our departure - we were completely foggedin in morning - couldn't even come close to seeing the opposite shore. We waited until 10:00, then the fog seemed to lift and we were able to paddle out. The paddle was tough - still strong winds - but we stuck with it and reached the boat landing on Brule. We left our gear and hiked back to the Homer boat landing where we retrieved our car, back to Brule for our gear, then we were on our way to Northern Lights in Beaver Bay (can't pass up their Elk pie and Fruit of the Forest pie) and then home to our kids.
I'm writing this two weeks later and I'm still wishing I were back in the BWCA!
View our photos at http://gallery.mac.com/bjscons.