Wow its been a long time since I blogged~! This past weekend my husband and I were blessed to take a trip into the BWCA, just the two of us. My BIL and SIL watched the crew and they did a fabulous job with the kids. I wanted to capture the experience of my first trip. I plan to blog each day separately.
Day 1 -- The plan was to leave at midnight of Friday morning in order to be at the ranger station promptly at 7 am. That really left little time for sleep. I dozed a bit on the way while my husband drove but not well. I think that made the first day much more challenging, not having full capacity since I was really really tired!
We got off pretty timely, just a stop back for a map and a brief stop at a 24 hr walmart. We pulled into the ranger station at 630 am. Woot -- that left time for a half hour nap~! I didnt quite know what to expect. I had been warned by my husband that I would need to watch a 15 minute video but beyond that, this was all new. The ranger that gave us our permit was a lot of fun. He was lively, funny and engaging. He went over the rules and even gave me an orange smoky friend bracelet. I proudly wore it the entire trip~! I watched the video, most of it being common sense stuff.
I really was excited for this adventure. The only damper on the enthusiam was the cold and the rainy weather. I started out the morning with 5 layers - tank top tech shirt, long sleeve tech shirt, fleece button down, fleece vest and a rain jacket. And then sometimes the life vest as well! My hand gear consisted of fleece gloves and fingerless canoeing gloves. I did not realize what I was in for at this point. Im thinking we will canoe until afternoon, make camp and have a grand ole time. It was slightly longer than that lol.
The rain would come and go. Sometimes it felt slightly warmer, somtimes not. The first lake was hard. Maybe not so much hard as big. I really underestimated distance when thinking of this adventure. We went too far and missed an area -- at this point -- Im still thinking thats okay, we are on an adventure. Remember its still like 9 am :) Im asking Andrew all kinds of length questions, I found it really helpful to know how many miles I had to go. That first lake, I canoed I believe was close to 4 miles. Now that doesnt seem so bad but for a newbie in cold and rain, it was tough!
In the beginning, I was looking forward to the break of a portage. All of you, who have done this before, are laughing right now. It didnt turn out to be the break I envisioned it to be. It was just a different kind of hard work! I began learning the fine art of portaging. This first portage is the only one we didnt double portage. After that, we both double portaged our way there. I did my fair share of carrying thebackpack, the bear barrel or the dry pack. The first one was short. Im thinking , okay that was hard but I can do this.
So I say, we are in lake 2, how many more lakes to go? Wrong question! At that point, we needed to make it thru lake 2, 3 and 4, at least 3 more portages and then lake insula. The adventure is seeming a little tougher! Hubby is encouraging me to drink more water and Im thinking of digging that hole in the woods. I managed to avoid that fun, the entire trip.
It really was beautiful despite the rain and cold. Mostly at this point, Im thinking how far til that campsite and fire!
I really was very tired and probably dehydrated as well. I was hallicinating , I kept seeing pieces of driftwood or rocks as animals or lawnchairs or all kinds of things. I would finally come closer to something and think oh, thats just a stump. Maybe I just was looking too hard for animals and things. It really was kind of amusing. I was disapointed that no black bears were spotted though!
We made it thru the next couple of lakes fairly quickly. I think each of our crossings in those lakes was less than 2 miles or so. Im gaining hope at this point but its taken us a loong time to get to this point. Im rethinking the plan of going in all the way to insula!!! I knew that hubby was wanting to try that insula portage he broke his leg on, so we carried on. Im asking more milage questions -- hoping that we have made it at least halfway point. Most of the portages along this stretch werent long but hard work nonetheless.
Finally, we get to the insula portage, the longest one of our journey. I believe it to be 110 rods or somthing of that nature. I know my husband told me that we might find a campsite after this portage right away or we might have to go all the way across the lake. My hope springs eternal, so IM thinking of course we will find one of the 40 campsites on this lake, right away thats perfect. So we begin the portage, pause midway for some pictures. Make our way back and double portage again. It was long but it wasnt as daunting as I thought it might be. Dont get me wrong, it was a long hard walk but worth the effort. We are back in the canoe and we find the first campsite and hubby declares it too open to the wind.
Okay folks, remember this is late, probably at least 5 pm by this point. Im tired(so tired Im seeing things), Im cold and wet and my feet and hands are frozen. So I think okay ... keep on paddling, envisioning dory from Finding Nemo, just keep on paddling. So off we go. Its harder and harder to gather the strength to make the paddle dip into the water one more time. Visions of my warm sleeping bag filled my head. We repeat this scenario at least 3 more times. Each time, my hope waning. About the time we make it to the fifth campsite, I must have had the look on my face that stated, "This one better work or you are going overboard buddy" Hubster decides this one is sheltered enough from the wind and will work fine. Thank God! Im not sure I could have made it any farther. Im not sure on the exact time but it was after 6 pm for sure.
Andrew got the fire going, we started putting up the tent and finding dry socks. The relief was palatable! Andrew sent me off to gather firewood, most of which was wet at this point. I found what I could quickly and brought it back to camp. I hiked up into the woods( the latrine was 150 yards from the campsite) and went to the bathroom. I was pretty glad I managed to make it til then. It was a unique experience using a latrine without a shelter in the middle of the woods, especially after we discovered a giant spider made his home there. Literally had to clear a web out every morning.
Its still really cold at this point, but thankfully the rain had stopped, we were at our campsite and there was no more canoeing at that moment!!! We had some discussions about dinner, elected for finger foods -- neither of us had any energy at the point for anything but necesity. I know it wasnt long after we ate, that I crawled into the tent, happy to put on my pajamas and warm fuzzy socks. I totally heart my sleeping bag, it kept me warm thruout freezing winter temps. We discussed whether Sat was our in camp day or our day trip day. I was very relieved to agree on our in camp day. I was so looking forward to sleep!
Day 2 to come tommorrow!~