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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 3: Days 4-7
Lake Insula to Ima Lake


Day 4 – Friday, June 13 – Perfectionism, part 1

It's a good day for traveling: around 70 degrees with a W-NW wind at 10-15 mph. The narrows of Lake Kiana are as photogenic as I remember.


Here's a little better shot of the NorthStar.


The forecast is for a weekend of thunderstorms so today's agenda is to find a campsite suitable for three nights. We stop at a site in the SW corner of Thomas Lake that looks good to me, but Jen wants to check out a few other sites. I agree, and we set out on a tour of the lake that finally lands us at site 10 (C1188) in the NE corner. It's a good site for two tents and a shared tarp, so the perfectionist in me is satisfied, yet somehow my tent ends up on a somewhat lumpy and sloped pad. It's a good lesson.


Dinner is Mountain House Pasta Primavera. The rain starts late at night.

Day 4 summary:
Total distance 8.9 miles in 5:10
2 portages of 196 rods


Day 5-6 – Saturday, June 14-15 – Stormy Weather, Part 2

Saturday we wake up to rain. Thankfully there has been no tarp malfunction during the night. It drizzles much of the morning, with the afternoon mostly dry and breezy. Oops ... I forgot to pack three breakfasts. It's a good thing I bought extra granola. Jen doesn't mind, something for which I'm grateful. So we have the second installment of scrambled eggs.

There's a lot of tarp-tweaking during the day as we try to keep it from flapping. My tent helps by directing the airflow upward. The video is more realistic than the photo.


Dinner is burrito stew: Mexican rice with black beans, salsa and tortillas. It rains and blows most of the night.

Sunday's breakfast is granola with hot milk, which hits the spot on a cool and rainy morning. The rest of the day is chilly, blustery, and off-and-on rainy. Jen makes a nice bannock with onion and bacon bits for lunch (with the usual jerky and trail mix). We're getting along well, but I suspect we both benefit from holing up in our separate tents for a while in the afternoon. I even get a rare nap, emerging abut 4:00 to ... sunshine! It's still windy (20-30 mph) but clearing. The wind finally settles at about 7:30.

Dinner is Hawk Vittles' Moroccan Stew (another "yum"). More wind and a thunderstorm hit about 10:30 but it lasts less than an hour.


Day 7 – Monday, June 16 – Stormy Weather, Part 3

Today's forecast is for W-SW winds at 10-15 mph. Partly because the land often creates wind tunnels, it usually blows a bit harder than the forecast. We shall see ....

We leave Thomas Lake and right away I'm looking for wind shadows, so I take the long way to the portage to Hatchet Creek. The water is high and we're able to bypass two portages. The first non-portage is a delightful little rapids about 100 yards long. I enter it cautiously, unable to see very far and focusing on whether I'll be able to go back upstream if it gets too rocky. Before I know it, I'm navigating a flooded rock garden that I'd rate a high Class I or a low Class II. Jen doesn't have whitewater experience but he's a good paddler and has no trouble with the draws and crossdraws needed to negotiate this little river. I bump in one or two places but he makes it through with no contact.


Shortly after this rapids is an opening that we easily slip through.


Did I say the water was high? Here's what this channel looked like in Sept. 2009 from the other direction.


The portage landing at Ima Lake has room for two boats. It's crowded and we have to wait our turn.


Once we had gotten off Thomas and into a riverine environment the wind was no longer an issue; actually, I'd forgotten about it. But now, after descending the rocky trail to the lake I look out over the water and my heart sinks - or rises to my throat, whichever metaphor you prefer. Ima Lake is boiling: it's half water and half foam, and the wind is a steady 25-30 mph with gusts to at least 35. The waves don't look intimidating, but we're on shore and can't assess that very well. Of course, the wind is from the west, which is where we're headed.

Thankfully, the portage landing is sheltered and the water is calm enough to launch easily, but it takes only a few paddle strokes to get us out into the maelstrom. The waves are 9 inches to a foot high, with the larger ones a few inches higher. For a tandem boat that wouldn't be much of an issue, but each of our boats has only one motor. We paddle north in the troughs - actually rolling up from crest to trough and back up again, which gives the phrase "rock and roll" new meaning. The Peregrine, being quite narrow, is more sensitive to the rolling action than the NorthStar, and after taking on a little water I pay more attention to keeping it level. I try to turn up into the wind, but to no avail; the waves keep pushing the bow back down again.

There are three campsites on the east shore. As we approach the first one from about 200 yards out, Jen mentions that the next one is marked as a good site on my map, so we keep paddling. Always the perfectionists! Meanwhile I wonder if we're giving up too soon, so I try again to turn up into the wind. This time is successful, but the boat takes on some more water and I realize quickly that it's a futile enterprise. So I turn around - a tricky maneuver in these conditions - and we fetch up on site 2 (C1190). It's a bumpy landing but we're glad to be where the floor isn't tilting under us. Again, the video is more realistic.


This campsite is OK, but overall it's lumpy and well-used. It has a nice rock table and a row of flat-topped rocks just in from shore that make a nice sitting spot. There are also enough trees for setting the tarp. We tie the NorthStar to a couple of trees as a windbreak for cooking as well as for the tarp.


We're so pleased to be here we celebrate with a group portrait.


It's a good setup, though we don't really need the tarp, since it blows all afternoon but doesn't rain. The boat makes an even better base for the tarp than the tent did earlier. A down side of the tarp is that mosquitoes also like a windbreak; they swarm us as soon as we put it up.


Dinner is Hawk Vittles' Linquini with Mushroom Sauce, Cache Lake fry bread (Italian style) and chocolate pudding. (Have I mentioned yet that we ate well?)

By 7:30 it's dead calm ...


... and by 9:00 we get a jaw-dropping sunset.


Many thanks to Jen for this awesome shot!


Day 7 summary:
Total distance 3.5 miles in 2:30
2 portages of 60 rods


Tomorrow: On to Ensign Lake



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Last updated July 25, 2014
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