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

Rain, Reading, and Relaxation

By Auralee Strege Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (2)
Dates:June 13-16, 2014
Entry Point:6 - Slim Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Hook, Keneu, Little Rice, Slim

Friday, June 13th

We woke up at 3:30am to drive to Ely, MN and picked up our permit from Voyageur North for entry point 6 to Slim Lake. The weather was significantly nicer than the previous day of 50 mile an hour winds; instead, it was a cool calm and sunny morning. The small parking lot at the entry point was completely empty when we arrived, indicating we were going to have the lake to ourselves for at least a few hours to explore the campsites and choose one we liked the most.

Entry Point #6

I carried one of the two packs we brought on the first portage, which ended up being 40 rods shorter than the 140 rods listed on the map. It was fairly easy footing on a wide path. I was expecting the bugs to be horrible this time of year, but the cool morning kept them away, although later in the trip when the weather warmed up they were bad. After dropping off my pack at the end, I ran back to see if Ben needed any help and ended up carrying the other pack he dropped about half way while he carried the canoe the rest of the way.

I enjoyed looking at the map and knowing where we were the entire time on Slim Lake paddling to all the different campsites. We both decided the campsite we liked the most on Slim was the middle one, rating it at 5 stars.

Campsite #1981

The next portage to Rice Lake did not have an easy landing on either side. The rocks were jutting up sharply at the put in, and we had to wet foot to get the packs out. It was short, 60 rods, but had a slippery narrow board I had to walk across to get to the other side over some rapids – I was glad I didn’t slip or twist an ankle after making it to the other side.

Slim to Rice Portage

Rice Lake wasn’t as pretty as Slim. The lake only gets about 5 ft deep and was very weedy. The morning was starting to get warmer and the bugs were beginning to come out as we explored the campsite on Rice. It wasn’t a campsite I would have wanted to stay at.

Campsite #1988

There was a downed tree about half way into the next portage to Hook Lake. Ben managed to maneuver the canoe through the woods safely and get around it, but he needed to drop the pack he was carrying. Ben went back and picked up the pack after dropping the canoe off. I loaded my pack into the canoe and took in the view at the end of the portage. It looked as if it could be a campsite, with the tall pines spaced far enough apart to give room for a kitchen area and tent pads.

End of Rice-Hook Portage

We decided to stay at the one campsite on Hook Lake. We both thought was a 5 star – slightly better than the one on Slim. It took us only 3 hours to get to the site including the extra time spent paddling to all the campsites, so it was only 9:30am. We both set up the tent, then split up organizing camp – I inflated the sleeping pads, put the sleeping bags in them while Ben tied and put up a tarp. We had lunch before taking off in the canoe again to explore and rate the last campsite on Keneu Lake.

Campsite #1980

Campsite #1980

We hiked up on a steep rock cliff overlooking Keneu Lake. The campsite on Keneu turned out to be average and not well used. I took a few pictures of a pink lady slipper on the portage on the way back to Hook Lake.

Keneu Lake OverlookCampsite #1989Pink Lady Slipper

The sun was shining and the day was comfortably warm. We went swimming, read books outside on the rocks, and tried our hand at fishing. Ben had a few bites, including a bigger fish, but we weren’t able to land any of them.

Fish On...And Lost

I took a nap after the activities – it felt so nice to relax and rest in the afternoon. We had Bear Creek minestrone soup for dinner with pineapple and peas as sides. The bugs were starting to come out as we finished cleaning up dishes, and we headed into the tent to read before sundown.

Dinner at the Campsite

Saturday, June 14th

It rained that night, but let up when morning came. I woke up before Ben and ate two Clif bars for breakfast. We spent most of the day inside the tent reading. The weather was rainy, windy, and cold.

Lunch on a Cold DayDay in the Tent

Sunday, June 15th

Clearing Skies?

We woke up to clearing skies in the morning. We thought it was going to turn into a nice day for at least part of the day, so we decided to go explore the 520 rod portage to Big Rice Lake.We wore our rain suits to keep our clothing dry against all the wet vegetation we were going to have to pass through. The map marked the portage starting in a narrow swampy inlet. We paddled the canoe as far as we could before stepping out onto the wet grass. Just as we entered shore the bugs attacked in full force, swarming around our faces and trying to bite any exposed skin. Ben didn’t seem to mind as much as me and kept his head bare; I tightened the hood up on my rain suit and zipped it up enough so only my eyes were able to peek out. I think our adventure would have ended a lot sooner if I wasn’t able to keep the bugs away. Ben took out his GPS and started trying to find the start of the portage. I didn’t see anything that remotely looked like a portage trail, but Ben was determined and went off into the woods – I followed behind until it became clear he didn’t know where the trail was. We found an opening in the woods, a large area of swamp flooded by a beaver dam. Ben still didn’t know where the trail was, so I said I would go back and wait by the canoe while he searched for it. I waited for a few minutes, covering up the opening in my rain suit trying to keep the bugs from sneaking in. Ben came back and said he thought he knew where the trail was, past the beaver-flooded swamp. He asked if I wanted to go on it or go back to camp; I said I would go. We trudged on through the flooded swamp and headed south. Ben found something that looked like a game trail we started following. It wasn’t much of a trail, and we ended up bushwhacking through the woods the majority of the time just trying to make progress forward. About an hour or so later Ben said he thought we had gone too far south on the map and asked if I wanted to keep looking for the portage or head back to camp. I said I had enough and wanted to head back to camp. We made it back to the canoe and started paddling back just before a rainstorm hit. We stopped at a rock cliff next to camp and hiked up to take pictures. Ben went into an opening in the cliff just below when we got back in the canoe. We ate lunch in the pouring rain under the tarp. The rain never let up after we finished eating so we headed to the tent to stay dry the rest of the day. By dinner time the rain had finally stopped and we were able to cook and eat without being under the tarp.

Hook Lake OverviewSmall CaveAnother Day in the TentDinner without Rain

After dinner, the clouds rolled in again. That evening we had the heaviest rain and wind of the whole trip. Just when we thought it had been clearing off...

Monday, June 16th

We woke up at 5am to a warm sunny morning. It took an hour and a half to pack up everything before heading out. The only people we saw were staying at the 5-star campsite on Slim. We were able to single portage all the way back and made it to the car by 7:45am. When we got back to the parking lot, our vehicle was the only one there, meaning the other group must have been dropped off. After completing the last portage, I ran back and took a short swim in the river on the portage and changed into a clean pair of clothes. Ben did the same thing as well before leaving the wilderness.

Blue Skies - FinallySlim Lake Portage

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