E-L♥ve & I spent a wonderful three days in the Boundary Waters . We picked up a living social deal last year about this same time from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters . It was for $150 each which would have regularly been $300 each- we made out like bandits! We were late arrivals but we were welcomed with a sign that pointed to our bunkhouse, the PINE MARTEN, and they even left the lights on for us!
Read our 3 day journal below:
Seagull River • Saganaga Lake • Maraboeuf Lake
2 Portages • 6 Hours
Left VCO @ 8:45 am
Awoke to a chilly bunkhouse, and later met with Tessa to go over our route- a little different than what we had originally planned for but we think its better this way now!
As we entered the BWCA a beautiful loon greeted us not 5 feet away from our canoe- as we continued to paddle another 10-15 yards another loon and 2 chicks greeted us!
Not an hour into our trip and we saw a LYNX climbing the rocks along the shoreline-SO COOL! Way better than seeing a moose in my world- some people go a whole lifetime without seeing a lynx in the wild!
The landscape had burned in the recent past. It still hasn't stopped the two mature bald eagles from using a snag as a perch.
We found a campsite and briefly utilized to take a break before attempting our first portage. Saganaga Falls was a 34 rod portage and it went quite successful. E & I carried the canoe across the first portage and it wasn't as bad as I had thought.
Pretty sure Horsetail Rapids portage almost ended our relationship! All our gear, 2 fellow paddlers, and 1 fish later we were doing okay again!
*There are no pictures of this portage due to my bad attitude....apologies*
We set up camp after 6 hours of traveling! Took a hour and a half nap and then set out fishing! Marabouef Lake was generous with fish-E caught 8 to my 1.
Dinner consisted of dehydrated diced potatoes and steak with vanilla pudding.
The love started a campfire and we each enjoyed a cup of tea before bed.
Marabouef Lake • Granite River • Clove Lake
5 Portages • 5.5 Hours
Left Campsite @ 11:00am
Woke up around 9am, made western omelets with hash browns and an english muffin. Believe it or not the omelet was fine the potatoes just take too long- I don't have patience for that kinda stuff! Just as we were washing dishes we heard the thunderstorm start to roll in. We got a little pep in our step and hurried to pack everything back in the packs and into the canoe. As we rolled out the campsite the skies turned deep blue and gray- not 15 minutes later it started to pour down rain and HAIL! We couldn't believe it was hailing- it didn't last but 10 -15 minutes and added a little drama to the day!
Portaging was fun and went a bit smoother than the last portage on the first day. We were able to push the canoe up the river- E would get in the water and I would move up the river on the rocks and he would push it until I was able to get a firm hold and then he would move to where I was and we'd repeat the process. Two of the areas required the use of the rope so we pulled the canoe up river against the current. The process was a great exercise in teamwork for the two of us- we work pretty well together if I don't say so myself ☺
As we pulled into Clove Lake the site with the sandy beach was taken- lame. So we pushed on and thankfully the rock face site was open which meant we didn't have to portage in to another lake which was out of the way we'd be headed in the morning! We unloaded all our gear and decided not to put up the tent but to sleep under the stars! We decided we'd have dinner and then go out fishing to ensure we wouldn't be doing dishes late into the evening. We had campfire style Chipotle- Mexican rice with dehydrated steak with salsa-doesn't that sound delicious? It actually was very good! We decided against the hot apple cobbler on the condition that it would make for too many dishes!
One thing about camping on the eastern end of the BWCA- there is not a darn tree that will "safely" hold a pack of food. Watching the video it required that you store the pack in a tree that's 12 feet tall and on a limb that extends 6 feet. Ummm......the forest burned...so I laughed uncontrollably as E tried a few different methods- finally the pack stayed in the tree!
Clove Lake was a bust when it came to fishing only one fish and of course E caught it! The loop around the lake was nice though- a fledgling was really vocal and even allowed for us to canoe right beneath him as he was perched in a snag along the shore.
E started a fire and I got cozy in the sleeping bag underneath the dimming sky. Just for the record E is such a baby! It was too buggy and too cold! I offered numerous times to set up the tent but he declined each time. A chipmunk ran across his face too- hilarious!
Overall the day turned into a beautiful day and paddling through the hail and rain was definitely the highlight of the day!
Clove Lake • Granite River • Magnetic Lake • Gunflint Lake
4 Portages • 3.5 Hours
Left Campsite @ 10:00am
We woke up at 8:30am in hopes of an early start because a 100 rod portage (the longest one of the trip) awaited us. We had warm oatmeal, fruit roll-up and an english muffin with grape jelly to ensure we had energy for the day.
I knew my love was amazing but found out that he has Hercules like powers! The 100 rod portage was intense up and down a fairly steep rocky hill. He's my hero! It took about 35 minutes to portage everything including E's second trip back to get the last pack.
A trumpeter swan greeted us but was cautious to let us get close...smart swan. We continued a bit and were greeted by flowing waters that made a beautiful clap. The portage was littered with amazing blueberries- ripe, gobstopper-sized, and illegal at that! We were in Ontario- but apparently that isn't much of a problem in the BWCA because Tessa, our route planner, didn't seem too concerned when E mentioned it!
At the end of the portage we only had a short distance to the next- so I fished and unsuccessfully landed a small mouth bass- it doesn't count if it spits the hook out at the boat- bummer.
The next set of falls were in my opinion the most picturesque of them all. They too made a beautiful relaxing sound and the clear water bouncing off the rocks was awesome! E again displayed his Hercules like powers- it was a very short but steep portage.
The last portage we paddled/pushed up the current. We had finally made it to Magnetic Lake- a motor boat greeted us on the other side so we knew that we were making progress! The Love paddle while I fished and I successfully caught another small mouth bass thanks to my him!
There was a fairytale like house on the little island. The lawn was decorated, maintained immaculately- the house was the a soft turmeric color. Appropriately nicknamed the Gnome house because there are Gnomes in the yard.
The narrow entrance to Gunflint was marked by bleach bottle buoys. As we paddled across the open water- I was filled with bittersweet emotion- sad because our 1st BWCA experience was coming to an end but excited because Gunflint Lodge has the most amazing walleye chowder on the planet. Seriously I think they put crack in the soup! We beached the canoe at the resort and grabbed a table out on the patio- the weather was perfect! E made the order as I went in to use running water! A delicious bloody mary, a bowl of the walleye chowder for me and a coke and chowder for E-L♥ve. Perfect end to our trip!
There was a little mix up with the pick up site. Gunflint Lodge was clearly circled on our map as the pick up location but apparently Victor was instructed otherwise. At 2:15- 15 minutes after our scheduled pick up time E called VCO and asked if they had forgotten about us- Tessa instructed us to head to the boat landing just a short paddle along the shoreline. There he was with a welcoming smile to pick up up. Victor was great he did all the hard work and we just jumped in the vehicle!
When we got back to the lodge- we just gave them their packs with all the gear and unpacked our stuff right at our truck. Victor took care of everything else. Ethan went to the lodge and grabbed towels and we took a magical hot showers. Scrubbing the dirt off my feet has actually turned into a couple day process but that's what you get for wearing chacos (most amazing sandal in my life) in the wilderness for 3 days.
Before we head home we hope to do a mini-BWCA camping excursion on the west end.
Enjoy all our photos from the trip!