Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

It's All Me

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:May 23-28, 2017
Entry Point:54 - Seagull Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Alpine, Amoeber, Annie, Eddy, Ester, Fish, Gift, Hanson, Jasper, Jenny, Knife, Link, Nawakwa, Ogishkemuncie, Ottertrack, Plume, Rog, Sea Gull, Skindance, Swamp, Zephyr

This was a different flavor of trip for me than earlier trips had been. My previous trips to the BWCA had been very fish oriented. Every day we would fish, and that's great. I still love getting a line in the water. But on this trip I found that even more than that, I love the spirit of adventuring. This was the first BWCA trip that I planned and led and I learned what I love and don't love on BWCA trips. On this trip I would go for little "mini adventures" at the end of each day. We would paddle and get to our site and then I would head out to check out a little lake I saw on a map, or just explore the woods or cliffs near our site. I found that I absolutely loved this, and I think this trip really sowed the seeds of guiding the next summer.

This trip was very impromptu. There wasn't a ton of planning or stragegizing ahead of time. The two guys I brought with me had never been to the BWCA before and so this was a grand experiement.

Rain on our way across Seagull

We put in at Seagull and paddled the length of the lake. Seagull is a long lake anytime, but with inexperienced paddlers it is really a heck of a way to start the trip. Also a little bit of rain made sure we worked for our adventure. We made our first couple portages and began working out the kinks in our group. We moved slow and so we found lots of full campsites once we finally made it to Ogish. We settled into a nice island site (#785) and slept for the night.

Nice foggy sunrise on Ogish

We were greated by a nice foggy sunrise the next morning. We ate breakfast and headed on out. We worked our way over to Knife and then up to eventually spend the night on Hanson. We enjoyed the scenery and the waterfalls we encountered throughout the day. We left our oldest member of our group at camp while the other two of us set off for a little adventure in the PMA. We found small portages that let us get as far as Fish Lake by canoe, and we hiked to Nawakwa. We climbed a cliff over Fish and were rewarded with an awsome view of the whole area. The solitude and quiet offered in the PMA is something I'll never forget.

Waterfall on the portage from Link to Gift

Fish Lake Overlook

The next day we headed into the more heavily trafficked regions of Ottertrack and Swamp. We really, really struggled to find a campsite here. Everything was full, even Zephyr, so we ended up making due with something less than ideal. This hard truth was tough on the group as they were wearing down quickly, and the discouragment of not having a site was rough. I was still positive, however, so I set off on a little solo adventure near the end of the day to a little, out of the way lake called Plume. It really was a gorgeous lake. There was even an unmarked portage to it! All in all it was a good day.

Alone on Plume Lake

The next day was a harder day for me to swallow. The group decided that we needed to scale back my initial plan because they simply didn't have the stamina for it. So, with much sadness, we passed on Gijikiki and Lake of the Clouds on this trip. This left a need for me to come back and see those places someday. Instead, we paddled down Knife Lake. We had a magical experience with a pair of loons that let us sit right next to them for nearly 20 minutes. It was magical. We made it to Amoeber Lake and a campsite (#2006) just in time for a major thunderstorm to roll in. It was brief, but strong, and sent us running for shelter as soon as we could. Someone had left this site in really nice shape when they left, and we set out to return the favor. I left a very nice firewood pile before we headed out.

Quite the Storm Front on Amoeber

We headed out from our site the next morning and made our way back to Ogish. We ended up at a different site than on the way out, staying at a beautiful site with a big rock face (#786.) Once again, our elder member stayed at camp while the other two of us took a day trip. We wandered over to Skindance lake and explored a bit. We found one of the old campsites, though the area had serious damage from the last fire. It was really a nice adventure. We slept well.

The next morning we headed back out. The paddle across Seagull was a long one, and we were, in some ways, glad to be heading home. The stage was now set for me guiding the next year. I really couldn't shake the longing for the BWCA that was forever calling me back.

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