June 16, 2007

Sam's BWCA Trip with Sean & Dennis Thomas

This trip all started at Steve Joffrion's fantastic log cabin that is located right on Miner's Lake in Ely, MN. Steve and his Son's built the main structure from standing timber! The wildflowers in the yard were beautiful.

We used the cabin as a staging place and spent the first two nights there, since our permit started Tuesday. The stay at the cabin was quiet & relaxingand the town of Ely was fun & interesting. http://www.elyminnesota.com/
On the way into town, we went to the Bear Center, next day toured the town and did the "Root Beer Lady" tour. http://www.canoecountry.com/dorothy/ "Big Teddy" was out, tearing apart a log that had ant larvae inside (one of their favorite foods!).
Ely has a rich history, both as a mining town, and one of the most northern entry points into the remote & pristine Boundry Waters Wilderness.

We launched early Tuesday morning and spent four days & three nights in the Boundry Waters. The temperatures were moderate, and the skies crystal blue, reflecting into the clear waters below.

Sean (Dennis' Son) was a real "trooper" and proved to be a good fisherman. It was almost impossible to keep those two in camp. They were hard at the fishing most of the day.

This trip was quite different than the one I had made last year, especially the first part, more pocket lakes and portages and almost no river travel. We put in at Snowbank Lake and ended up going all the way to Ashigan Lake on Tuesday, heard the fishing was good (and it was), but the campsites were pretty barren, with very little shade. The underbush was "spring-green" and the blueberry bushes were loaded with fruit rippening for the July season. We decided to stay the two nights at Ashigan, since we were on fish & Sean was having a good time.
Sean had fun sleeping in the Hennessy Hammock those first two nights.

The third was a bit too cold! The nite temps were 45-50, perfect for curling up in a light sleeping bag!

We swam a lot, caught many fish, and found a superb waterfall, next to one of the portages on our move Thursday morning! It was very surprising, I just didn't realize this loop had one, it wasn't mentioned in the books. The glistening waters crashed over the top, roaring past us, filling the air with a chilling spray!

As Sean discovered, a smaller set of rapids at the other end of the portage was perfect for taking an exhilerating dip.

The last day & night was spent on Disappointment Lake. Unlike the name suggest, it was absolutely beautiful, with many small islands and an interesting shoreline. We lucked out and got a great campsite (one of only 4 on the lake), across from a small island. I swam out to it yesterday afternoon and explored it, another highlight of the trip.

The fishing was great here, better than Ashigan. Dennis & Sean went off in the canoe yesterday evening to fish, I caught many nice ones just walking the banks near the campsite.

The second to last portage brought a surprise "close encounter" with a beaver lodge.

We left camp about 9am this morning, paddled to Parent Lake where we did more fishing and had lunch at a nice shady empty campsite. Around 11, we started seeing dark skies to the West, and the winds were building, so we decided to head for the entry point early, and it was a good decision.

By the time we crossed Snowbank, the rollers were starting to lap over the gunwales. We finished unpacking, and got the gear in the truck just in time for a massive downpour!

We topped the trip of with a good old fashioned hamburger, and an ice cold beer at Cranberry's in Ely - a perfect ending to a great adventure!