Canoeing is a way to sit still and pay attention.

HomeCanoeingConsultingPhotographyDharma Talks



Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

Kickapoo and Mecan Rivers

Sylvania Wilderness

Wisconsin's Flowages

Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers


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 2012

Page 2: Days 2-3
Seagull Lake to Saganaga Lake


Day 2 – Thursday, Sept. 13 – Weird Winds

I'm up before 6:00 to get a jump on what I expect could be a windier day than the forecast. I've found that the actual windspeed in this area is about 5 mph greater than the forecast. I suspect it has to do with the way the landforms channel the wind.

I retrieve my food and find that some little critters have chewed through what I thought was an odor-proof plastic bag I was too lazy to put in the Bear Vault. Who/whatever got to it ate a whole snack bag of trail mix and an entire tortilla, but the beef jerky was untouched.

Maintaining my usual two-hour time to break camp, I leave a little after 8:00. Things have settled down, but it's still a Day of Weird Winds. I paddle past many islands and peninsulas, and each one wants to have its way with my little boat. It's good to have a lot of room in front of me because I shift the packs quite a bit to maintain trim. It's also good that the Independence has a fairly low sheer line and fair amount of rocker; a less responsive boat like the Prism would be harder to control.

The trip through Seagull is quite scenic ...

but it shows the ongoing effects of previous fires.


The 30-rod portage into Alpine Lake is a tough one. Once again, I have to line the boat through a rocky stretch leading to the portage landing.


After getting the boat over four trees spanning the overgrown trail, I manage to get down a short, crumbling, and near-vertical rock face. The low water presents another lining opportunity after the portage.


I wonder if the 95-rodder to the south would have been easier.

Getting through Alpine is pretty straightforward, making allowances for the wind, which continues to come from nearly every direction. Site 1 on Red Rock Lake (C0407) is so appealing - it must surely have level tent pads - I'm tempted to stop ...

but I press on in order to put more miles behind me today. At about this time my GPS crashed; i.e., it reverted to its default settings and lost all waypoints and routes I'd programmed into it. At first it's irritating (understatement) and then it occurs to me that less time spent in "tech" mode could mean more time in "here" mode. I'm reminded of the wisdom of dogs and horses and other smart critters: to simply be present. There isn't much need for our big brain's job of figuring things out. Mammalian brain is mostly enough out here.

There's a short portage leading into Red Rock Bay, which is really a part of big Saganaga Lake. Even though the water is low I'm able to line through. I have to remove the big pack to get past those rocks near the end.


It's been mostly cloudy today but clears in the afternoon. I end up on Saganaga Lake, site 66 (C0404). This is a 4- or 5-star site and I look forward to laying over here.


Dinner is wild rice and mushroom pilaf with ground beef and some other good stuff.

Day 2 summary:
Total distance 10.4 miles in 5:00
2 portages of 75 rods in 0:50
1 portage of 9 rods avoided by lining


Day 3 – Friday, Sept. 14 – Layover

The night is warm, in the upper 40s, and I sleep well. Getting up at about 8:00, I enjoy a breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries, raisins and hot milk. My left knee is sore so I put on the brace to keep the swelling down. In the late morning four canoes with huge loads - one of them motorized - come by. Someone hits a rock just off my site. After a few minutes one of them asks if there's another campsite nearby and I tell them to wait a minute and I'll check my map. He says that's OK, he'll look at his own map. I wonder what that was about. As they disappear to the south I still hear their southern accents and the sound of banjos playing softly in the background.

Later in the day I listen to a couple of 15-minute meditations by Kristin Neff. First is "Noting Emotions," a good reminder about being present with oneself. The other is "Self-Compassion," which encourages being kind to oneself and accepting one's life as it is. Her closing words echo for some time: "May you all be well, safe, happy, and free."

The day yields up a few photos.

That's a snail.


So far I've had a sense of this place and its inhabitants as "other." This evening the loons' songs get my attention and I finally wake up.

My soul's yearning
is to travel
in the land of loons.

My heart's yearning
is to have a partner
to share the journey.

Dinner is burrito stew with tortillas and Cache Lake chocolate pudding with a touch of Chambord.

There's a frost warning for tonight but it gets down only to about 35.

Tomorrow: Saganaga to the Monument Portage and Back


Back to top


Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated October 2, 2012
Brought to you by Codabone Productions ©2009