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Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

Kickapoo and Mecan Rivers

Menonomee River

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 - June 2014

Page 2: Days 1-3
Lake One to Lake Insula


Day 1 – Tuesday, June 10 – Touring the Numbered Lakes

After a quick granola breakfast, we load the boats and gear on Voyageur North's van and head out for the Moose Lake landing to drop off the car, and then to our put-in at Lake One. We head out under perfect conditions: temps in the low 70s and a SE wind of 5-15 mph. The slight headwind is enough to make island-hopping worthwhile but not enough to make paddling tiring.

It's a bit eerie, traveling through the area burned by the Pagami Creek fire in 2011. To the south many charred tree trunks stand like oddly-spaced pickets, interspersed with many patches that were spared. To the north the forest remains green as ever. Some campsites in the burned area are small islands of green, as though they'd been watered while the fire was raging.

It doesn't take long before we work out a rhythm to portaging. We have all the gear a typical tandem team would carry - one main pack, two smaller packs, and two personal daypacks - which would ordinarily make for portages of two trips each. However, with two boats there's an extra load. Rather than triple-carry, Jen decides to carry the two smaller packs, which must weigh at least 70 lbs combined. Throughout the trip we switch off this double-pack load between us; by the end of the trip, with 20-30 lbs of food gone we're able to make two packs almost as light as one.

The water is high, which means the rivers are running fast, and along the way we have a bit of fun in the outwash of some good-size drops. For starters, I play around below the rapids in Lake Four and make a few more contributions to the YouTube series "Boundary Waters: Why We Portage.". Here are a couple of video clips in case you want to see the water in motion: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3. There's also a little clip on "What We Portage."

After checking out a number of campsites we decide to linger at the first site on Hudson Lake (site 1, C1377). It's one of those unburned islands: small, but pleasant enough for one night.

Dinner is Hawk Vittles' Cashew Curry with Cache Lake fry bread - yum.


I stash the food as usual.

Day 1 summary:
Total distance 11.2 miles in 7:00
5 portages of 135 rods


Day 2 – Wednesday, June 11 – From Grey to Green

There's nothing special about leaving a campsite, but this one has a nice little ramp.


Remains of the 2011 fire continue to be visible as we travel north through Lake Insula.


At about the middle of the lake I notice a rather abrupt transition from the grey remains of the forest to the green of the unburned area. In a way it's strange, but in another way it's restful and reassuring.

Having stayed at the site on Williamson Island, I'm hoping it's open, but no cigar. I've also had my eye on the primo site just to the north, at the top of Lake Insula, and it's open, so we stop there (site 42, C1323). I like to have a layover day soon into the trip, for three reasons: to assess how the gear is working out; to give my body a bit of a rest; and to slow down. It's also convenient when the next day's forecast is for rain, which it is.


Today it's in the mid-70s, partly cloudy, with a 5-10 mph south wind. That makes for a nice tailwind but I'm glad to be on land when it builds to 15-20+ in the afternoon. We set up a double "front porch" with the entrance of each tent under the tarp) which makes life easier.

Jen notices something interesting in the water, a young snapping turtle, which is really nothing unusual.

What's interesting is that it's being followed by a painted turtle. Now that's different.

Since there's rain in the forecast I put up the latrine tarp. It immediately gets kudos from my tripping partner.


Dinner: Mountain House Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cache Lake chocolate pudding and a nice view for dessert (this is just one of the many nice shots Jen got).


Day 1 summary:
Total distance 7.2 miles in 3:00
1 portage of 95 rods


Day 3 – Thursday, June 12 – Stormy Weather, Part 1

It's a nice morning and we enjoy a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and bacon bits along with Cache Lake fry bread. It rains all afternoon and evening, and the wind blows 20-40 mph from the northwest. Despite much tweaking, the tarp blows down in the late afternoon. With additional adjustments it holds the rest of the day and night. However, despite careful examination of the tent pads, my tent somehow ends up in a shallow depression. I'm glad I patched the plastic liner that goes inside the tent; it does its job well during the steady rain. Several years of use show up when the fly starts to drip, but I'm able to temporarily stop it by spreading a plastic bag over the leaking seam. Later, when it's dry, duct tape comes to the rescue.


Tomorrow: On to Thomas Lake



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Last updated July 25, 2014
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