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Topic: TR: BWCA circa 1981, It's long< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 8:37 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Please bear with me as this is my first trip report ever. And let me apologize if I get the amount of time we spent way off or the dates/time is jumbled. It was 30 years ago and my memory is fuzzy on the details. Also, sorry it's long.

A couple of weeks ago I was going through my storage tubs and found a bunch of pictures and information my Dad had saved from the trip.  I thought that it would be fun to share the pictures and my memories from that trip. I've put the photos in an album and hopefully the link will work. I still have the canoe we used. It's been on Yellowstone Lake as well, where I tried to kill hubby. (that's another whole story)

We went in June of 1981 (my Dad went again in 1984 but I refused to go) and I had just turned 12 years old in May. Looking back I think 12 was a little young to take a girl on a long canoeing/backpacking trip. When I say that I mean physically I wasn't developed enough to safely carry a heavy pack and a canoe on my shoulders. If memory serves me correct I carried all of our clothes, part of the tent, my sleeping bag and some other gear. Honestly I don't remember exactly but I seem to recall those items in my pack. It's funny to think back on it and realize now my canteen was probably the lightest thing I carried. LOL!! My Dad would freak on how light our gear is now.

We went with four other people and this is how we prepared for the trip. We spent two years prior canoeing on every river in the area. We did absolutely no hiking or backpacking before the trip. No idea why, but apparently the adults on the trip didn't feel we needed to practice our hiking skills or "shake down" any gear. They did feel it was important that we had our canoeing skills down to a science. There were times when we definitely needed those skills.

Dad saved all his lists for the trip and I found it interesting what he had on those lists. Some of it is the same that we take now and some of it we wouldn't take for all the tea in China.

Here is the food list: stove top stuffing, dried potatoes, dried soup, peanut butter, granola bars, oatmeal packets (maple flavor), raisins, hamburger helper (don't recall eating that), french bread (no memory), crackers, ala cart meat (no clue), cooking oil, tang, small box bisquick or flour or cornmeal, smoked meat log (something that won't spoil), aluminum foil (for cooking fish), lemon, instant tea, tea bags, swiss miss and salt and pepper.

Camp Gear: cooking fly (tied at corners before leaving possible poles before leaving), gas stove with about 2 gallons of fuel, hand warmers, flash light, compass, rope, tent (ground cloth, tent rain fly), space blankets, sleeping bags, tent stakes (plastic or steel), folding saw, hatchet and axe, clothes pins and foam sleeping pad. Canoe: paddles (3), rope both ends, bale bucket (lol), seat cushions and life jackets. Personal gear: Pants (2) pair, socks (4) pair, shirts (3), pullover thermal underwear (2) flannel, tank top or t-shirts, shorts (3) pair, tooth brush, comb, soap, shoes, razor, rain proof hat (no holes), stocking hat for sleeping store inside of bag, sun glasses, tp, towel, wash cloth, safety pins, insect repellent, first aid kit, rubberized poncho, cotton gloves, wind proof jacket, pocket knife, folding shovel, camera and bic lighter (2) or waterproof matches in waterproof holder. Cooking utensils: pot scrubber, mess gear, spoon, fork & knife (boy scout), folding cup, light weight alum pot teflon coated, skillet, coffee pot and pancake turner.  Also lists of tackle, fishing license prices, permits we needed, something about Quetico Park check in, no papers American citizen, charge $2 per day per person, no firearms. Something about camp grounds look like a good place to start or fins and make a circle through bass lake and down something (can't read what he wrote) and moose lake or fall lake.

There is also a brochure with "don't spoil nature...leave only footprints" Give a hoot! Don't pollute! Leave no trace circa 1981! And a map on the back which Dad noted what I'm guessing as put in points 1. Fall Lake (and Piperstone Bay via Fall Lake) 2. Moose Lake (Fernberg Road) 3. Mudro Lake.  A 1981 Ely, Minnesota magazine. "Ely-an exciting area Anytime of the year." Basically a promo magazine for Ely with a bunch of ads for the outfitters in the area. I see nothing about being bear aware or any mention of bears. But I do remember we did have to hang our food to keep it from the bears. There are also some topographical maps as well. Learned how to read those at an early age! So that's basically everything I found that Dad saved. Really kinda neat to look it over after all these years.

Most of the trip was relatively uneventful save for a few isolated events which I will tell you about.

My very first vivid memory was before we even put a canoe in the water. There was this rickety wooden bridge that I fell through and hit my head on the rocks, which knocked me out. The next thing I remember was the other girl that went with us pulling me out of the water. Suddenly I was soaking wet and covered with mosquitoes. Oh yeah, that's the other vivid memory I have, the mosquitoes. You folks up North grow some large, voracious skeeters. And the rain, it seemed like it rained every single day, all day long. I know it didn't but it sure seemed like it. And the loons. Noisy birds lol!

There were also a few "don't tell your Mother" times. We got into one of our overnight sites (which had a waterfall beside it) just as the the weather was starting to turn. We managed to get our tents up and settled in when a thunderstorm started. We were standing around in the pouring rain and lightning when the only thing I remember was a bright flash of light and all of us "coming to" on the ground. A thunderbolt had struck the ground very close to where we were standing. Of course we all know not to stand around trees during a thunderstorm if possible but I think seeking shelter in our tent with aluminum poles probably wasn't a good idea, nor was getting into the canoe and going out onto the lake. So we stood around outside during the storm. When we left the next morning the adults consulted a map and found some sort of shortcut. The big problem with said shortcut was that we had to canoe away from the top of the waterfall. We drug our gear and canoes to a spot where we could put in. I remember the water moving rapidly and getting in the front while Dad held on. He pushed off the bank as best as he could and yelled "ROW ROW ROW ROW" at me. Good thing we had spent as much time as we did in the canoe because those skills came in handy. Thankfully all three canoes made it safely away from the waterfall and the guys were all excited about it. Definitely a couple "don't tell your mother" moments at that campsite.

There was another event with a shortcut as well. They found if we went up this creek it would save us a portage to the next lake. The plan was to keep the gear and myself and the other girl in the canoe while the men pulled us up the creek. As the one guy was pulling his step daughter up the creek, his rope broke and down the creek she went backwards in the canoe. I remember her screaming and him yelling at her for screaming. Somehow he managed to grab the canoe before she flipped over and we decided to skip the shortcut and head for the portage.

I remember plenty of hiking as well. On the longer portages we'd carry all of the gear with the canoe on our shoulders and hands full of things. I remember well carrying a gallon of Coleman fuel in one hand and oars in the other. On the shorter portages, we'd make multiple trips. I don't know how I did it but somehow I carried my pack with a canoe on my shoulders.

There are plenty of great memories as well. Like the time we saw a bald eagle swoop down to the lake a come up with a big fish in its talons. Amazing scenery and sights. On the way back we went up through Canada and I remember seeing cave drawings on an overhang we canoed under. I stood with one foot in the US and one in Canada because we found a spike in the ground that denoted the border.

Those are just a few of the things I remember and this is long enough to say the least. I'll close by saying the best memory of all was getting to spend the time with Dad. For years after Dad talked to me about it. I think it was one of the highlights of his life (mine as well) and I miss him dearly.

http://s644.beta.photobucket.com/user/perkins4587/library/BWCA


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 11:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This was an awesome read.  Thanks.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 12:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great story and nice pics. Are those red coleman canoes. I still have the one I bought in 77. I'm sure your dad loved sharing that time with you. That was quite an adventure for a 12 year old.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 12:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes they are coleman canoes. It hangs in my garage now. I'd guess dad bought them in about 78 or 79. They've stood the test of time. Wish I could figure out how many miles and hours I've spent in that thing.

My husband has been trying to talk me into going back. He's never been to the BWCA and I know he'd love it. At 43 years old, I'm know I'm not physically able to carry a pack and carry that canoe. We've talked about finding a route that only takes us two or three lakes in. Still on the fence with it.

And it was an adventure for a 12 year old.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 1:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great report.  Those are the types of memories you hope your kids will have of you.  As for making the trip again with your husband, if you don't, I'll wager you'll live to regret it.  By all means, go for it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 2:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

HikerJer, I can't agree more with you.  Do it.  Unless you're completely unable to do it for some health reason, that is.  Take you time, plan it out well, maybe even take some people along with you, but either way, I'd do it in a second.

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“I’m just hanging on while this world keeps spinning and it’s good to know it’s out of my control.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this living is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go…”
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 2:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Dec. 13 2012, 1:14 pm)
QUOTE
Great report.  Those are the types of memories you hope your kids will have of you.  As for making the trip again with your husband, if you don't, I'll wager you'll live to regret it.  By all means, go for it.

+1

Do it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 3:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Awesome!  I'm heading up to BWCA this summer for the first time, but I'm going with a bunch of repeat visitors who have it down to a science.  Can't wait!

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 4:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have never been to BWCA but have gone to Algonquin Provincial park. I took my wife when we were older than 43. I picked a route that the longest portage was only half a mile and we made 2 trips each portage. She was scared to death of bears the first cpl nights but it was a great time.  We did not take the coleman. My coleman is 85#. We got a 53# canoe we use now. I would agree, unless there are health issues, go for it. Just do what you can do.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2012, 7:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lol you folks just about have me talked into it. Last time we discussed it my husband promised me it wouldn't be the march like it was with my Dad. There really aren't any health issues to speak of, other than my knees are about shot. We don't have any set plans for our trip next summer so who knows, maybe we'll go there. He'd certainly love it, but I'm also close to pulling out my trump card and going to a beach somewhere. Ahh laying in the sun and bumming around sounds nice too!!  :)

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