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Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

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Bois Brule River

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Wisconsin's Flowages

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Boats & Gear

Boundary Waters Gear List

Bell Wildfire (Royalex)

Blackhawk Ariel

Mad River Independence (sold)

Wenonah Prism (sold)
-cane seat installation
-thwart replacement

Custom portage pads

Seat-mounted portage yoke

Outside canoe shelter

Inside canoe storage



BWCA - September 2010

Page 3: Days 6-8
Ima Lake to Lake Four


Day 6: Sunday, September 5

The wind finally abates overnight. We wake to a beautiful day with zephyrs on the water and horsetails teasing us.

Ima Lake horestails


We leave Ima Lake at about 8:30. While on Hatchet Creek someone blurts out something that sounds suspiciously like, "I'm not a lake any more, Ima River!" No murders are committed on this trip, but I suspect we come close.

Hatchet Creek is beautiful and serene.

Hatchet Creek portage


Traveling again is most welcome. This time Steve is in the stern and we're able to trim the boat as needed for the wind, which is now only a minor issue. We fine-tune our paddle strokes to provide what sailors call "neutral helm," which means that the boat goes straight ahead without any steering corrections. From time to time Steve calls for more or less sweep in the bow, and as time goes on I learn how to anticipate the effect of a quartering wind, adding sweep or draw as needed. With a well-trimmed boat and very little effort going into steering, we're able to maximize our efficiency. Using the GPS, I time a two-mile stretch of Thomas Lake and find our average speed is 4.4 mph, with a maximum of 6 mph. Overall we seem to run at just under 4 mph.

The 175-185 rod portage from Kiana Lake (Recline Lake on the map) to Lake Insula is the longest of the trip, but by this point it's no big deal. Steve takes a moment to absorb the scene before coming back for the second load.

Steve at Kiana Lake


We stop at Williamson Island at the north end of Lake Insula for lunch and foot-washing. It's warm and almost calm, and I'm tempted to stay put. But neither of us is quite ready to put up just yet, so we press on through scenic Lake Insula. We reach site 15 (C1349), at the south end of the lake, about 3:00. Ahh, finally, I get to bathe and wash my hair.

The view isn't bad.

Lake Insula shoreline


A bit of exploring reveals cranberries growing along the shoreline. I taste one, and it's like a crabapple. Unfortunately, I don't learn what they are until after the trip. They would have been good with lunch.



Dinner is Linguini with Mushroom Sauce (Hawk Vittles) with Cache Lake Italian fry bread. Once again Steve works his magic.

Steve, the Fry Bread King


Steve spots the first grey jay of the trip.

Grey Jay


The sunset is nice but nothing spectacular. I sit up and take pictures in the growing gloom and am again amazed at how the Canon uses the little available light in a nearly pitch-dark setting.

Night on Lake Insula


Day 6 summary:
Total distance 12 miles in 6:40
5 portages of 305 rods in 2:35


Day 7: Monday, September 6

We awaken to another herd of horsetails.

Lake Insula horsetails


Taking advantage of the mist, I explore the shoreline looking for photo ops. A lot of little spiderwebs are suspended above the calm water.

Lake Insula water webs


With the mist almost gone, Steve goes photo-fishing and bags a nice shot of southern Lake Insula.

Lake Insula shoreline


Steve says he doesn't have a good eye for artsy photos. I beg to differ.

Lake Insula reflections


We see more grey jays. These two hang around for a while and are the only ones to sit still for more than a few seconds.

Grey jays


The plan is to layover today, but we decide to travel. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain and blow 10-20 mph from the north, which we agree would not make for the most pleasant paddling. So we head for Lake Four via Fire Lake. Right away we're treated to the 104 rod portage out of Lake Insula. The funny red hat goes on once again.

Dave starting portage to Hudson Lake


On the upper part of Hudson Lake we pass a couple of structures that look like piers for an old bridge. They're a bit anomalous in such a wild setting. (After returning from the trip, someone seasoned in BWCA lore told me that those structures date back to the logging era when loggers would routinely dam both streams and lakes to raise the water levels so they could float out logs.)

Hudson Lake piers


At the beginning of the 28-rod portage into Lake Four we see a group of three or four otters on shore. Sorry, no picture. But I got this one of Steve wearing a funny hat.

Steve portaging canoe


We end up at site 2 (C1494) on the west end of Lake Four. It meets our criteria of a southerly exposure and shelter from the north and west. Dinner is homemade burritos and rice, but in the interest of neatness we treat it as burrito stew with tortillas on the side. Rain starts about 8:30.


Day 7 summary:
Total distance 9 miles in 4:00
4 portages of 162 rods in 1:30


Day 8: Tuesday, September 7

The forecast turns out correct: today it's chilly, raining on and off most of the day. Our agenda is to stay warm and dry - and EAT!

Breakfast is Red River cereal with blueberries, raisins, currants, and warm milk.

Lunch is scrambled eggs with red and green peppers, mushrooms, onions and turkey pepperoni, with Steve's Fresh Bannock.

Dinner is gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings) with ground beef, pasta sauce, and rosemary breadsticks that have somehow survived intact. We're stuffed, thanks in part to my adding a full cup of dehydrated ground beef to the pasta, the equivalent of a pound before cooking. We've eaten well, but Steve says this is the best dinner yet. I can't argue, but I complain about the lack of red wine, which would have been great with several of our dinners. Steve says there's no lack of whine at our campsite. An act of restraint follows and once again a crime is narrowly averted.

I take advantage of a lull in the rain and shoot some drops.

Cedar drops


We explore the area a bit and discover the latrine that belongs to the site to the east. It's one of them new-fangled box things. The raised part at the back of the lid is hollow. It looks like it was intended to hold toilet paper.

Box latrine


That's quite the facility. Which setup would you prefer when it's raining?

Latrine tarp


Dinner includes bannock. There are no regrets when Steve lets me make the bannock.

Dave bannock


Sitting up after dark, it occurs to me that at the end of my 60th year I find myself healthy, fairly fit, and in the Boundary Waters. There are worse ways to age.


Day 8 summary:
Total distance 0 miles


Tomorrow: On to the North Kawishiwi River


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Last updated October 25, 2010
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