S: Scout BWCA Trip July 2012
FC: sCOUT BWCA TRIP July 2012 | Boundary Water Canoe Area
1: The Plan | Day 1 According to plan, we met at Ritzinger's house at 11:30 AM, packed up the Henningsen's suburban with gear left at Ritzinger's and things identified two days prior as being needed. Alec's Family, including his mother and grandparents were there. | Departure was just after 12:00 noon. We drove through Superior but had to take a detour to Duluth due to the recent flooding. We arrived at the Tofte Ranger Station about 3:40, watched the BWCA video, took the group verbal test, and received our Entry Permit | A scout is
2: Dave showing off his cooking skills. | Day 1 I had dehydrated some spaghetti sauce but forgot it in the freezer, so we stopped at the General Store in Tofte and bought some Al Fredo sauce, frozen corn and Ice Cream. We then drove north on Mn Hwy @, 26 miles to the Sawbill Campground. Several sites were open including site #1, which we picked as it was close to the canoe launch area. (Later we determined site #5 would be another option for a scout group. It is available for reservation on-line where #1 is "first-come-first-served".)
3: Day 1 We setup our tents and then had to decide what to have for supper. We turned to the "SPL,'' Alec, for direction. The Plan was for hamburgers but we hadn't decided how to make them. We had no grill and the grate over the fire ring looked a little grimy. Alec's leadership skills were growing by leaps and bounds; he assigned me to cook them. I wrapped them in foil and threw them in the fire. We opened the can of beans and set the can on the grate. After dinner, we made the root beer floats, with mostly melted ice cream. Since we knew it wouldn't keep, we ate as much as we could - almost finished it! We were all so stuffed, we decided to nix the plans for peach cobbler later. | Day 1 Sunday July 8, 2012
4: Since all the gear was out, we decided to arrange it in the bags for the next day. Then we unstrapped the canoes from the trailer and carried them 30 yards to the campground's landing. As we gazed over the lake that would be the start of our voyage, an intense feeling of melancholy fell about the group. We realized our company was not complete – there were supposed to be 5! Then, as if Destiny had anticipated our plight, Ian appeared, a piece of driftwood which was a near perfect likeness to our injured comrade!
5: Darkness was approaching so we returned to our campsite with lighter hearts, arranged our sleeping gear, put the food bag in the car and climbed into our tents around 10 PM. Ian volunteered to stay up for the night and sat on the fire grate, watching for bears. | Day 1 | Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Trustworthy
6: Everyone woke up spontaneously (OK, maybe not) at 6 AM. The forecast didn't predict rain so we didn't have rainflies on the tents. There wasn't even much dew. Water was heated on the camp stove for coffee and had bagels with Nutella and peanut butter. We took down the tents, packed up the gear and moved the car to the parking area. Sam found that his sleeping pad leaked but the camp store opened at 7 AM so we rented one for $4.50 a night. They also allowed us to keep our car keys there. | No rainfly for better star gazing!!! | Day 2 | Monday, July 9, 2012
7: We were on the Sawbill Lake by 8:45. It took 25 minutes to get to the first portage, which was 100 rods to Smoke Lake, a small lake that we crossed quickly and soon reached the second portage of 90 rods to Burnt Lake. | Smoke Lake | Loyal
8: Sam had noticed a drop off next to an island on Burnt Lake and suggested we fish there. Indeed, we soon had a 19” walleye in the boat. (We had decided to tent and (at least initially) canoe as father-son teams.) | Burnt Lake | Helpful
9: Day 2 | Monday, July 9, 2012
10: The portage from Burnt to Kelley Lake was much longer, 240 rods. We decided to split it up, each of us carrying gear or canoes part of the way, then leaving 2 people to rest and guard the gear (especially food) while the other two went back to get the remaining gear. | Day 2 | Friendly
11: Monday, July 9, 2012 | When those two got back to the resting site, the first two would carry what they could to the end or next resting spot. Thus, we “leapfrogged” the longer portages, making sure we always had someone with the food.The fish, of course, died on the portage. The end of the portage consisted of a widened area and SPL Alec made his first spontaneous decision: We eat NOW. Lunch consisted of smoked chicken (from Ritz) wraps with choice of condiments. After a total of 2 hours off the water, we pushed off onto Kelley Lake about 1 PM. (The peninsula campsite across the lake and just north of the portage was occupied – it must be a good site as it was occupied last year, too).
12: The portage from Kelley to Jack lake is only 65 rods, which we did in 1 trip. The camp site on the high peninsula where we had lunch last year was open. (The other site on Jack Lake was occupied. This would be our site for the night. We set up the tents and the rigging for the bear bag. We realized then that I had forgotten part of one of the two water filters. (It’s always nice to have extras. The problem is you never know what you’ll need and you hate to carry two of everything. Safe water is relatively essential however so we had not only two filters but also some purification tablets.) Eckerts filled the water bottles while Sam and I cleaned the fish and ran the guts to up in the woods and collected firewood for the night. We tried to catch some more fish but caught only one small northern (which Sam initially thought was a weed) and a small perch. | Getting on to Jack Lake. | Day 2 | Monday, July 9, 2012
13: At 7 PM, we returned to the campsite and started supper, consisting of “Walleye Al Fredo” and corn in a bag. (Note: we had 2 packets of Al Fredo mix but didn't realize we were to add milk, which we didn't have so we use double the butter. The fish was boiled and then added to the sauce. 1# of angel hair pasta was boiled, then added. Everyone had plenty to eat – maybe a little too much. We had an unusual dinner guest that stayed within feet of us for at least an hour. Some sort of grouse was eating berries and leaves right at the edge of the clearing. At first, we just heard some rustling but then realized it was more than a squirrel. I later learned there is a breed of extraordinarily dim grouse in the area which, by legend, saved many a starving frontiersman over the years. We didn't try to catch it. Steve, Alec and Sam did the dishes back in the woods, gear was organized, the bear bag hung, and we hit the sack about 10 PM. The bugs got pretty bad just before then. | Jack Lake | Courteous
14: A beautiful morning view from our tent with a slight fog on the water. | We woke up at 6:30, had oatmeal for breakfast, cleaned up camp and were on the water by 8:30. | Day 3 | Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | Kind
15: Get ready to portage!!! | Sam went with Mr. Eckert and Alec with me. Weather was sunny and warm with a light breeze. We took the 12 rod portage from Jack Lake to Weird Lake. Sam made a navigational error (which was weird) but Alec figured out where the next portage was. (Sam and Alec did all the navigation.) | Weird Lake
16: Dave staying hydrated. | We landed at the portage only to find “big Ian waiting for us. We should have just looked for him in the first place. According to the map, there was an 85 rod portage to the next lake but it paralleled a stream that had aluminum on the rocks. Sam and I took an empty canoe up the stream 200 ft to a small cataract, portaged past it and found ourselves on what we presumed was the unnamed lake (which we dubbed Ian Lake) on the map. We then followed a trail along the creek back to where the Eckerts were waiting. | Alec and Sam loaded up the other canoe and paddled up to where we left the other canoe while Steve and I packed the rest of the gear up the trail. The footing was tenuous at best. Some places were somewhat firm but others mucky and some places were calf-deep water. Luckily for me, Steve went first, to clear out the Muck Monsters who attacked him twice. Sam and Alec had portaged the other side of the creek with the second canoe so we were on opposite sides when we started off again, this time with Steve and me in one canoe and Sam and Alec in the other.
17: Day 3 | Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | Ian Lake | Ian Lake | Jack Lake | Weird Lake
18: Sam guiding the way. | The next portage was the longest of the trip (240 rods). We did this in 3 parts, like the other long portage. We met a youth group from Iowa and another group from St. Croix falls on the portage. They were doing the same circuit we were doing but backwards. The boys exchanged some ideas about campsites with them as they rested. The portage took about 1.5 hours but finally we were on South Temperance Lake. There was a huge bare rock across the lake from the portage where we stopped for lunch. Little did we know of the natural dangers there. The ankle biting black flies were the first to attack us and Sam and Steve were attacked by a swarm of baby leaches. I filled the water bottles while Steve set up the camera for a group portrait and the boys got lunch (sausage and cheese wraps) ready. | Day 3
19: After lunch, medical attention was rendered to the leech victims, Ian got a symbolic bandage, and the group pictures were taken. Unfortunately, the camera only had a 10 second delay and it was a 15 second trip between the camera and the portrait site. After a couple of tries, Steve finally made it back to get in a pic or two. | Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | South Temperance Lake | Obedient
20: After repacking the canoes, we had an executive planning session. Options included going all the way to Cherokee Lake or finding a site on South or North Temperance. We decided to camp at one of the three sites on North Temperance. There was one site on an island on the north end of North Temperance lake that the boys scouted but found that a tree had fallen in it so we picked the middle site. They also found a sea cave on the island. Steve and I stayed in the middle of the lake and filled the water bottles, water bag and cleaned the filter during the scouting foray. The plan was for the boys to raise their paddles if they wanted us to come and wait for our reply (raised paddles). We saw them disappear, reappear and disappear again – without raising their paddles. As it turned out, they weren't sure they were at the right island initially so circled it. Eventually they came back. | Day 3 | Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | This is what happens after you eat chocolate mousse!!
21: North Temperance Lake | Supper was freeze-dried stuff from Backpacker's Pantry. Chili mac, green bean almondine and mocha mousse pie. It tasted OK but was a little soupy (maybe our measuring system was off a little). The best thing was there was no cleanup! We were in our tents by 8:45. Sam had to wear ear plugs because the birds were still singing. | We set up the tents and then put up the bear bad rigging. This was a little harder because of the trees. Sam offered to climb the tree but we decided it wasn't worth the potential risk of injury and eventually got the rigging up. Odd that it was so difficult with two engineers in the company. | Patched up sore feet.
22: We woke up at 6:30 again. (We planned on getting up at 6 AM both days but I couldn't figure out my watch.) We were getting a little more efficient at everything. We had our last two bagels (1/2 a piece) with the last pouch of mocha mousse pie and oatmeal for breakfast. | Steve, what are you doing back there? | AAAAAA, Nothing. (CLICK)
23: High | ADVENTURE | Day 4 | Wednesday July 11, 2012 | We were on the lake by 8:00. We first visited the sea cave discovered by the boys the prior day. Then we paddled to the portage to Sikta Lake (105 rods), which we split into two. | Silka Lake
24: Then 140 rods to Cherokee. This portage was a little tougher with lots of loose rocks and hills. Steve wanted to try packing a canoe and a pack but it was the wrong portage to try that on. Sam and I reached the lake first and paddled out on the lake to fill the water bottles while Steve and Alec finished the portage. The water filter was getting slower and slower despite cleaning the ceramic filter.
25: Day 4 | Wednesday July 11, 2012
26: Sam and Alec wanted to look for a site advised by the kids we met the day before but that spot was occupied so we went across the lake and found an even better spot to camp. It was on east side of the lake so the breeze kept the bugs down and we had the last sun of the day to keep us warm. | Day 4 | Wednesday July 11, 2012 | Cherokee Lake
27: We had lunch – chicken tortillas, set up the tents, got the bear bag rigging up and then decided to go swimming. According to Safe Swim guidelines, we first established a safe swim area by tying a seat cushion on to a cord and walking the area near shore, then swimming the deeper area. | Be | Prepared
28: Day 4 | Wednesday July 11, 2012 | Ian nearly drowned several times. He also did flips off the rock and dove in several times despite being told it was not safe! He swam in the nude, breaking Safe Scouting guideline and | Ian swimming in the nude. | rolled off the rock before a safe swim perimeter was established. (Actually he was tossed a little by Steve but not in an abusive or demeaning way.) We nearly had to kick him out of the troop! | Cheerful
29: After swimming, Sam and I tried fishing again but had no luck. Steve and Alec tried getting water but the pump was getting intolerably slow. Without fish, supper options were pancakes (the mix was to be used either as fish or pancake batter) but SPL didn't want to do dishes so we had jerky, tortillas and trail mix. Everyone is getting sore, especially Steve and me. After supper, we talked about playing cards but the wind was a little too strong.
30: Steve, Alec and I talked for a while, relatively bug free, about video games, health care, world politics, Steve’s business and watched the sun go down. We were in our tents by 9:15. Reflecting on the day, I realize it was a success in that no one got injured (except Ian). The weather was ideal – a slight breeze, temp in the low 80s, variably cloudy. | Day 4 | Thrifty
31: Sam took a nap on seat cushions and life jackets, then went to change out of his swim suit but got stuck in the tent – for the night. | Last night my sleeping pad went flat but I slept well anyway. If we had a few more days, I think I would be able to sleep right on the ground. I always wondered how the cowboys and frontiersmen did this but now I know – they aren't spoiled by comfortable beds and temperature controlled houses. | Wednesday July 11, 2012
32: We finally woke up at 6 AM! Everyone was a little slower this morning. It was warm without dew. Breakfast was oatmeal. We packed up and then sat on our rock and talked a while before taking off. Maybe subconsciously we didn’t want to leave. We finally got on the lake at 8:45. | Brave | Cherokee Lake
33: The first portage was 140 rods or so the maps said. We spent the morning canoing and portaging around sections of Cherokee Creek. | Day 5 | Thursday July 12, 2012
34: Day 5 | Thursday July 12, 2012 | Skoop Lake
35: We met another group going the same way on one of the portages who seemed slower than us but later they were ahead of us. They took the creek the whole way which I guess is possible if the water is higher.
36: Day 5 | Thursday July 12, 2012 | Ada Lake | We finally reached Sawbill Lake about 12:30. We ate lunch – whatever each wanted from the food pack and headed south – into the wind.
37: Clean | Since the water filter wasn't working, SPL decided, upon advice from his crew to scrap the plan to find a site on the north end of Sawbill and head right to the campground. So, the adventure was cut one day short. Luckily the wind was against us and fairly strong, occasionally even creating whitecaps, so Sam, Alec and Steve were able to experience the exhilaration of battling and defeating a stiff headwind. Sam was with Steve and Alec with me. Our pace was remarkably similar. We did rest way down, stopping on the lee of a peninsula but barreled the rest of the way to the campground, altering our pace only for the incessant photo opportunity.
38: When we reached the Sawbill campground and pulled the canoes up, I accidentally stepped backwards and fell in the water. Then Alec accidentally bumped Steve, who also fell in. When we adult leaders had some trouble getting back up, the SPL called us lazy, a comment mandating disciplinary action. Then Sam, the lifeguard on duty had to save him. | Day 5 | Reverent | Thursday July 12 | Sawbill Lake | 2012
39: Campsite 1 was open again so we stayed there again. The SPL wanted spaghetti but since we had no sauce, we got some from the store and, since we were there, we got some hot dog buns and garlic salt. | 2012 | Our non-human camp mates tonight were a couple of dogs, owned by the people who ran the store. They just layed around, almost appearing dead, until a chipmunk appeared. They were amazingly fast. We never saw them catch one but I’m sure they have. | Alec made the fire. All helped in supper prep and then ate their fill. Since we hadn’t had peach cobbler the first night, we broke out the dutch oven and had dessert. Dishes were cleaned and most of the gear stowed in the car. We were in our tents at 10 PM. Another trip in the books.