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

October Solo to Cross Bay Lake

By ElkNinja Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:October 1-6, 2023
Entry Point:50 - Cross Bay Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Cross Bay, Ham, Oriole, Rib, Snipe

This trip was my fourth solo canoeing adventure. The forecast indicated a variety of weather with colder temperatures. I spent the first night in the back of my truck at the parking lot and the wind blew constantly. It rained some and there was a little slush but not quite snow. The paddle, despite the windy and wet weather, was very enjoyable and I was grateful I packed the appropriate gear. I made it to the last campsite on Cross Bay in good time and set up a bomb-proof camp. It has become a habit to take nap when I first arrive to camp on my solo trips (continued from my habit of napping in the woods out west when I go hunting). After a simple lunch I followed the trails around camp and did some fishing from shore, without any luck, but observed several pileated woodpeckers - large, beautiful birds with a chant-like call. I must have seen a half dozen of them and they seemed to be loosely hanging out together. I ended up spending over two hours following them around trying to get a decent photo! It was then time to read and I brought two books and ended up finishing both of them during the week. I brought the candle lantern my dad gave me and read into the evening - it gets dark so early in the fall. It snowed a little that night and the wind blew quite a bit but I stayed plenty warm and dry.

The next morning I enjoyed a delicious breakfast with pancakes and hot cocoa and then set out to see Rib Lake and Snipe Lake. THe paddles and short hikes were enjoyable and I returned to camp for a nap and some reading. I also wrote a lot in my journal reflecting on my roll as a husband and father. I missed my family and was grateful they blessed my desire to go camping. I chopped firewood for a couple of hours and enjoyed a very nice fire that evening before turning in to read.


Wednesday morning was also cold and foggy but a warm bowl of oatmeal with a special treat of fresh berries kept me toasty. The woodpeckers were back for about an hour that morning too. I wandered through the woods taking photos and generally pondering my appreciation for the wilderness. I heard a few gunshots (grouse season?) in the distance but other than that and the occasional jet I heard no human sounds other than my own. Another nap and some more reading and writing kept me busy and I didn't even paddle the canoe. That night was extremely interesting. I woke up at about 1 am to some "wrestling" sounds in the woods. After listening for several minutes I thought I heard my double paddle clink against itself so I got the bear spray, my flashlight, and got out of the tent. Lo and behold it was a beaver! He was trying to drag my wooden paddle off but it had become stuck because I had used a niteize to wrap the paddles together. The beaver scared off easily and I put the paddles on the first branches of a tree. An hour later I heard more rummaging around and a few snorts but decided I wasn't going to bother with the beaver again. Well, the next morning there was a large bear poop halfway between camp and the latrine! The bear pushed around my bear vault but nothing was damaged. I'm grateful everything turned out okay.

view from camp

Thursday morning I decided to head home because I didn't want to miss my daughter being on the homecoming court at the Friday night football game. It was a quiet and simple trip out until the last portage landing. I put the first portage pack in the canoe leaning against the far side. Being in too much of a hurry, I stepped down from a high rock instead of working my way closer to the canoe. Yep, I stepped too far off-center and went right into the water. It was frigid but I wasn't hurt and didn't lose any gear. Waist deep in water with a canoe half full of water is no fun and a good reminder to slow down. I emptied the canoe, repacked, and paddled the final stretch without incident.


I was grateful for a good trip - solitude, positive wildlife encounters, beautiful scenery, safety, a chance to recharge, and a renewed commitment to being a good husband and father. That's what the wilderness does for me.

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