Four Solos 2007
by Bannock

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 10/06/2007
Entry Point: Stuart River (EP 19)
Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)  
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4
Part 2 of 8
October 5, 2007

I got up at my normal time this Friday morning as if I were going to work. Instead I loaded my solo canoe on the roof of my car, which I had packed the night before, and made the 5-minute drive to the Nodine Truck Stop. I had breakfast while waiting for Jim who was meeting me there at 9:00 a.m.

Jim was right on time. We transferred my canoe and gear to his car. After work my son and wife would pick up my car and take it back home. Jim and I pulled away at 9:30 a.m. and arrived in Ely at 4:30 p.m. Seven hours was excellent time for us to make the drive up. We made a couple of rest stops and made a lunch stop at Subway in Superior, WI. In addition we made a little diversion at Joe Pietrek Junior County Park by Independence, WI. It is a nice little campground right on the Trempealeau River that Jim wanted to show me. Might be a nice canoe rendezvous place. We also hit quite a large detour on Hwy 2 and construction on Hwy 1. Seven hours was great time indeed.

Once in Ely we checked in at Voyageur North Canoe Outfitter (VNO). We talked with Lynn and John for a bit. Lynn told us that Larry and Steve were already at the VNO loft, our lodging for the night. We’d be in the "Lower Loft" (i.e. the ground floor – I prefer to call it the "Upper Basement". :-) ). 

Lynn also told us that we’d be sharing the loft that night. The Lower Loft is a main room with small refrigerator, picnic table and futon; a bathroom; and three bedrooms. I think one bedroom had a single bunk (2 beds) and the other two had 2 bunks (4 beds). Each bedroom had its own door lock so that you could secure your stuff.

After visiting with Steve and Larry, the four of us decided to head to the Ely Steakhouse. Lynn recommended the Bucky Burger. Why would the Ely Steakhouse have a "Bucky" Burger? A Gopher Burger I would understand, but why a burger with the name of the University of Wisconsin mascot? Perhaps it was foreshadowing of what we’d see in a couple nights. Anyway, the burger was good.

We went back to the Lower Loft to talk about the trip and share some Budweiser that Jim brought along. You know how food tastes better in the BWCA? Well the same thing happens with Bud in a bunkhouse in Ely. :-)

Well we had to get up early, so it was off to bed at … who knows. But we had a dilemma. We had four 50-something guys in a room with only two lower bunks. Who would climb to the top bunks? I tried to convince everyone that I wet the bed and the lower bunk would get an unwanted shower if I slept on top. I didn’t convince anyone. Somehow it was decided that the youngsters would take the top bunks – Steve and I.

Sometime after we were all asleep, our loft-mates arrived. They weren’t too quiet. They even tried our locked door rattling the handle. Jim, finally got up, stuck his head out the door, and told them we were trying to sleep. They were good after that. I think they were surprised that people were in there even though they knew they were sharing the loft. In their defense, I believe there were two groups out there, and they didn’t know there was a third group sharing the loft.