Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer Canoe Fishing Trip - Trip of a Lifetime!

I got a call from Robb that one of the guys had to drop out from the week long canoe fishing trip and was I interested in going? Sounded fun so I agreed. We met in Michigan City, Ind. and loaded up the two trucks. We had Robb, his brother, Scott, and their Uncle Wayne and the three cousins from Indianapolis, Jared, Josh, Jacob, and Jordan at 6:30 pm. We drove all night to Ely, Minnesota. That's right... it was a trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters. We were about to set off for a 21.7 miles trip. We would paddle through about 7 connected lakes and do 9 portages of 1/4 to 3/4th of mile each! Then we had a non-stop paddle for camp of 9 miles.

This is Wilderness Outfitters in Ely, MN. We were to use three Kevlar canoes that only weighted about 60#s. They are wide and can really carry a load.
We had to put all our gear on the table and start parking the special guide packs. They were square and had shoulder and hip straps. First we packed the necessary cooking and camp gear then we had three men all pack what they were bringing in what space was left in one of the pack. The food packs were heavy. We had 7 loafs of bread in special containers and 6 packs of 18 eggs each. There was steaks for the first night and kiebassa for the second night. After that it was suppose to be fish! We had a guide going so nine men had things to pack. We ended up leaving out most of our clothes. I packed two pair of underwear, one shorts, one pants, on long sleeve shirt , three t-shirts and rain gear. I think I managed two pair of socks also.
Then we loaded up the two pickups with our gear and hooked up the canoes and started driving to our put-in location for the trip.
I took this picture of the Marsh clan before the trip. The guys were in their 20's and 30's and their 50ish Dad. These young studs were to carry the 70# packs and the canoes!

There are nine of us but the guide was unpacking the truck and I was taking the picture. Finally we were ready to start.

We packed the 13 packs into the three canoes and were ready.

This is where we started on a small feeder stream that leads to the lakes and connected water ways of the Boundary Waters.
We had the 13 packs in the canoes and we were ready for the adventure of a lifetime as we later found out!
The person in the front, used a kayak paddle and the middle and stern man each had a regular canoe paddle. I was in the middle. The guy in the front had to do two strokes for our one stroke.
Also in each boat was the miscellaneous gear, extra tackle boxes, a guitar and things. Maybe some of you are starting to think: They have 3 canoes, 13 packs, 3 kayak paddles, 6 canoe paddles, 5-6 tackle boxes, and a guitar. Wow! How doe they carry all that stuff on the portages? Good question! We should have thought about it as we packed! Later we would deal with that question, but now we were off 'Into the Wild' !!!

At this point, I was still enjoying the trip. Canoeing and watching the great scenery. Wow! This was going to be a great trip. We only had to paddle for 30-45 minutes before we came to a narrow rapids with some rocks that we had to stop and portage around. The first portage was 3/4 of a mile uphill and then down hill through the woods. We had to follow a narrow path that had rocks, boulders, and tree roots. This is where we really started to think about all that gear in each canoe. The first portage was where some serious planning started. Young Dr. Robb said ' I did the math, we will all have to carry several pieces of gear'. He had us lift the 70-80 # pack on his shoulders and a 30-40# pack on his chest and a couple of hand items and he took off. I could not carry a large pack, not this old Senior Citizen. I took the 60# pack, and the kayak paddle and 2 canoe paddles, a rod case of 11 fishing rods, and my tackle box. I felt loaded! When you hike along the portage trail, all your hands are full and the bugs stgart attacking like crazy. I stopped to swat a few and leaned over. I fell down upside down against the tree. 'Help, I've fallen and I can't get up...'.

Why did we have to portage? See picture below.

I am going to try to add a video clip. (WARNING: If you ever think you might or have thought about an extended canoe trip that involves portages, especially of the Boundary Water's type.....DO NOT VIEW THIS CLIP!) We handled these portages like men!!! We whimpered, pouted, cried, and whined!

(try to insert video clip)

Sorry, it didn't load from three different methods. Maybe next time.

After the last portage, we had a pleasant 12 miles straight paddle to our campsite near Crooked Lake.

As we neared our destination, we saw a group of canoes across the lake headed for our proposed camp site. We had our wilderness campsite permit but it was first come, first camped! So We sent out our strongest team of paddlers. Jared, Josh, and Jordan raced their fastest canoe to the best site on the whole lake. We were instructed to head to proposed campsite #2 in case we got beat to the #1 campsite. Canoe three headed out for another campsite. If you get a campsite, you wait for 20-30 minutes to save it and the other paddlers will follow. If after 3--35 minutes goes by, you head out for the better campsite. We waited and when 35 minutes past, we left and headed out thinking the others got the best or even better site. As we rounded the channel and got out into the main lake we could see three canoes racing towards us. How could that be, we only had two canoes, you might say. You would be right!

The third canoe was the fastest canoe from the other group. They all arrived to find campsite # 1 already taken and so they raced to campsite #2 only to find it filled. We had just left campsite #3 and now everyone was racing at us. Our guys were yelling. As they got closer, we could hear. Get back you idiots!!!! Save the campsite. Now we spun around as we were chased by three faster canoes. The combined ages in our canoe was 136+ Don't even ask about the others. We had to win this race!

Well that's enough for this log. Will we become the buttheads of camp or do we get to do the victory dance at camp? Stay tuned to see the outcome.

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