BWCA 2016 Part 8

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The alarm goes off at 6 and I’m out of the tent maybe 15 minutes later after getting dressed and packing up some. We were set up on what turned out to be my least favorite tent pad of the trip. It was slightly sloped and the tent barely fit. Plus we couldn’t use the doors on the tent the way its designed due to dense brush immediately next to one door. The other door wasn’t much better because of a big boulder which took up a fair amount of the square footage of the vestibule. We made do, but it was just a pain. In its defense, the boulder did make a decent place for sitting to take off shoes before entering the tent.

I go about the usual early morning chore of heating water for coffee and oatmeal, plus spend some time writing in my journal as I dozed off mid sentence the night before. Within a half hour Matt is out of his tent, too. Coffee is consumed in relative silence as we observe the skies above and listen to the updated forecast. The weather I’ve used as a predictor for our weather this trip has been Ely and there’s rain falling there in the current report. The skies themselves don’t seem to know what they want to be. The sun seems to be struggling to find holes to poke through, and we’re treated with occasional spotlit moments.

A couple other shots from camp before we focused in earnest on striking. The giant white pines by the fire pit were a perfect platform for pitching the tarp nice and high and kept the whole fire dry and going during some rain on Friday.

The tarp & latrine kit are the last things waiting to get packed. We take a final listen to the weather to see if there’s any changes and nope – still raining in Ely. Looking off to the WSW I can see hazy mist. Its going to rain on us as we paddle out. Winds are still forecast to be gentle out of the West so we decide to push forward. The TP is packed away & the tarp gets taken down and stuffed. Everyone works quickly to get the canoes launched and loaded. While we’re by the landing its obvious its going to rain soon & sure enough the first drops begin to fall so its a scramble to get raingear on.

We get rained on like this twice during our paddle out. Each time it rains it lasts a good 15 minutes or longer and isn’t terribly bad to be in, especially with the proper mindset.

After the second downburst there’s several inches of water pooled around my feet in the stern. All the rainwater has drained down by me, being the heavier paddler in the canoe. The leech bucket, its contents long gone at this point, makes a convenient but awkward container to use for bailing. I make a mental note again that I really should get a sponge on a rope for just these instances and file it away in my mind with all the past thoughts about getting a sponge.

We make the landing about 11:30, about 2 hours after shoving off from our camp. Along the way we encounter a few motorboats, especially as we get deeper into the corridor. Most are polite and slow down or keep their distance, only one left a wake that tossed us around some. By the time we reach the southernmost launch on Saganaga the rain has finished and left sunshine in its wake. We unload and pull the boats ashore, then I go hike to the pay phone to call GNO to come pick us up.

About 45 minutes later our shuttle arrives. I guess he got bad info on the radio and thought we’d be at the other landing a little further up the corridor. A little bit later we’re delivered back to GNO where a hot shower awaits. We all get cleaned up, do some souvenir shopping, then take off to Trail Center for our post trip meal. The girls got milkshakes to go with their meals and I think they liked them.

Evie got fettuccini and Grace got tenders. Matt & I both got burgers and a beer. The service was a little slow but the food was worth it. I think Evie was hungry for a good meal because she pretty much cleaned her plate.

About two hours after we arrived we were back on the road. We’re not going straight home today as we made plans before the trip to spend the night in the Wisconsin Dells and go to Mount Olympus for coasters and go-karts. Evie is stoked for the water park, too. We get to Grand Marais to fuel up and I realize that I’m way too tired to drive and so I ask Matt to take the wheel. I’m asleep almost immediately and don’t wake up until we’re back in Wisconsin. We trade seats when we gas up in Osseo and I finish the drive to Baraboo, where we’ll be spending the night with some friends at their campsite in a year round campground. By the time we get in it’s late, after 11, and everybody’s in bed already. My friend Ben shows us to our accommodations for the evening and we’re happy to find that we can use his dad’s camper which is unoccupied this weekend. Everyone gets their pads set up except for Matt who gets to use the bed. The girls crash immediately while Matt, Ben, and I all share a beer on the porch and regale Ben with the stories from our week in the wilderness.

All in all we had a great trip. Matt & Grace said they’d be interested in coming back some time, so maybe in two summers we’ll try it again. Maybe it’ll be the four of us again, maybe it’ll be both our families since we’d be at the magic number of 9. Evie had a great time too and also wants to go back. Ultimately, that was the best endorsement I could get. I brought three canoe trip newbies into the wilderness and everyone got along well, worked great as a team, and exited wanting more.

Lakes traveled: Lake Saganaga

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