October 2020 Boundary Waters Trip - October 8-11
2020-10-12 John, Charles, Elijah and I "did" the Boundary Waters trip Oct 8-10! The three of us left here Thursday morning and met John at the South Kawishiwi State Forest Campground on the Kawishiwi river about ten miles south of Ely Minnesota where we camped Thursday night. Friday morning we all drove the 25 miles or so to Lake One, about 15 miles east of Ely. We had the canoes in the water, loaded and started paddling from Entry Point #30 about 9:30.
Since weather was pretty nice and people can drive right to this lake it was pretty busy. But one of the first unoccupied camping spots we came too, about an hour's paddling south, turned out to be one of the best on the lake! It was on a rocky point on the west bank, facing south-southeast. It provided a beautiful view of several surrounding islands, shores, inlets and bays and lots of open sky.
Elijah and I slept in a tent backed up against the woods and John and Charles found good hammock spots looking out onto the lake. It turned out to be a very nice setup. The fire pit was surrounded by rocks forming sort of a chimney and sheltering the fire from wind.
Weather was good, especially for October with days in the upper 50s, 60s and even 70 the first day. The nights were about 40. It was clear with light breezes all day but quite windy at night. The Early evening sky was crystal clear, if chilly, but the stars, Milky Way, satellites, falling stars, etc. were simply mesmerizing. And the commode off in the woods about 100 yards was more than adequate! The only wildlife we saw were a grouse that hung around the edge of the campsite, a chipmunk running around the site almost like a house cat, several mice which came out at dusk to lick our plates clean, and attempt, marginally successfully, to get into our food. Oh, and on the drive out, just a mile or two from the lake, Three huge bald eagles sitting on and near the road took off right in front of us!
Our food plan worked out well. I had brought some "gruel" I had mixed together and some Santa Fe Cheesy Beans and Rice. Both are made with all dry ingredients only needing boiling water. But they are very good, better than most freeze dried meals and much less expensive. I also had made up some foil wrapped breakfast packets of eggs, hash browns and ham and some foil wrapped dinners made with chicken, potatoes, carrots, etc. I froze both at home and took them in a soft sided freezer bag. We ate them the second day and they were no longer frozen but very cold and tasted very good. To cook the foil wrapped meals we simply let the campfire burn down to coals and put the packets on the coals.
One of my personal objectives that John and Charles actually encouraged was to take my portable ham radio outfit and make contacts from there. I actually did that and had a good and successful time. Click here to read about that.
We did one couple-hour adventure mid Saturday morning, my 76th birthday. We took the canoes across the lake to a short portage to a lake named No Name Lake, just a pond really, and back. The plan was to take a second short portage from No Name Lake to Lake Two. Things didn't go according to plan.
First, there is nearly extreme effort involved in portaging aluminum canoes! Even with four of us carrying a canoe, stumbling down the rocky up and down trail was more than a little difficult, especially for the three of us "townies" from Burlington!
The second thing that convinced us to give up the original plan was a decision to leave one canoe at No Name Lake and all four of us climb into the other canoe to paddle across the "pond", literally just a hundred yards or so. We did manage to get the canoe in the water and get all four of us in it. BUT it was immediately apparent this was a REALLY BAD idea! Under those load conditions the canoe had a strong desire to be upside down, It took extreme caution to NOT have it be that way!
Thankfully, we managed to get back on land with only one person getting anything more than wet feet! Two obviously seasoned guys waiting in their canoe to land, witnessed the event... thankfully containing their amusement with reasonable sensitivity until it was over. One of them, trying to act casual in the embarrassing situation, said, "You guys out for a day trip?"
Lessons learned: 1) If the label on a canoe says three people, believe it. Simple! ONLY try portaging aluminum canoes if/when your survival demands it. It is NOT a recreational activity! 2) Be kind, like our two witnesses. Don't take undue advantage of other people, even if their predicament is of their own doing. They already know they not only look dumb, they are dumb! They need mercy not mirth! :-)
Final overall trip observations.
- It is really special and worth the effort and expense to have such quality and crazy time and experiences with one's children and grandchildren. And God has blessed Sharon and me with the best of the lot! John and Charles, Elijah, even blessed me by showing an appropriate level of interest in my crazy ham radio hobby!
- Being out, off the grid, surrounded with mostly God's handiwork (commode and fire pit, two notable and appreciated exceptions!) is a healthy thing from many perspectives. I was just telling Sharon that one thing that really struck me when we headed back was at the first gas station. After doing my thing on the "nice porcelain pot" I went to the sink, turned on the faucet and HOT WATER came out! That wonderful sensation of hot water had been completely absent for two and a half days! Whoever invented water heaters, thanks!
- I'm grateful to have lived 76 years and had the privilege of reasonable health, loving family, enough money to do these kinds of things and to enjoy peace with God, thanks to Jesus, which energizes and underlies and gives meaning and value to all of this. Life, at least my life, has had its challenges and difficulties and complications but is good! Thank You, God!
2020-10-01 Way back last Spring my two sons, grandson and I began talking about doing another canoe trip to The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness . The initial plan was for mid August. Then a medical issue with a member of the team came up requiring postponement. The new dates settled on were October 8-11, which just happens to include my 76th birthday on the 10th!
One condition my son, John, placed for me was that I had to bring a ham radio setup! I've been talking about doing that on nearly every one of our backpacking and canoeing trips but at the last minute leave it home due to weight and time restrictions. This will be our first base-camp trip meaning we will paddle to a campsite and stay there allowing us to be bit more flexible in weight and have more leisure time than when the main purpose of the trip is covering distance with only short overnight stops, like all the other hiking and canoeing trips. So along with watching the weather forecasts and trying to plan appropriate sleeping and day time clothing and all the other things that make up planning for a trip, I've been putting together a radio, batterie(s), antennas, and things like that. I've even done a couple test runs to two different state parks nearby to test my kit! I describe those plus my likely radio kit on another page. Click here to see that.
The plan at the moment is to meet at a hotel in Ely, MN where we'll combine and finalize our gear and get a good night's sleep! Friday morning we'll head to Entry Point 30 on Lake One, about 20 miles east of Ely. Once there we'll put the canoes in the water, toss in the load and paddle until we find a satisfactory campsite. We'll stay at, and base out of the campsite until Sunday morning when we'll head back to civilization. A quick trip but all we could mange schedule wise.
Saturday some will do some out-back canoe trips and fishing. I'll likely stay in camp at least part of the day, set up my radio and try to do a POTA (Parks on the Air) activation.
So as of now that's the plan. We're watching the weather carefully as it could scuttle the whole thing! Right now forecast is for nights in the mid to upper 30s and days in the upper 50s and 60s. That is close to perfect, maybe a bit chilly at night! Stay Tuned!