Seagull Staffer here to report on all the wonderful events from our end of the season adventure! The trip began on a beautiful October 3rd morning with a tow out to Hook Island by Dave himself! After getting into the Cache Bay ranger station we had an amazing tailwind making our first day of paddling a real breeze.
Paddling across Saganagons we heard our first wolf howl, this continued all through the first and second night! The animal encounters did not end there, we had our first (but sadly only) moose sighting in Kawnipi. A cow in the bay right across form our campsite, feeding in the sunlight of the warm day. We all sat and watched, keeping our eyes open for a bull!
Our bear barrel handles broke off on day 3 due to the weight of packing food for 15 days. Luckily handyman Jon was able to fashion new ones out of paracord and wood!
We ran into our last customers of the season on the falls chain, they were enjoying the spectacular fishing as much as we were! Our first catch of the trip was a feisty northern pike who we planned to have for dinner. He must have had other plans because as soon as the word fillet was spoken, he bit through our stringer and swam away! Luckily for us he was easily replaced, and by something even better… WALLEYE! We were all very excited for that fish dinner! The fantastic fishing continued all through Kawnipi and into the begging of Kahshahpiwi Creek.
We had our first encounter of miss marked maps when attempting to move into our next leg of the trip. After a few extra hours attempting to find portages and unplanned lift overs (due to low water levels) we made it into Cairn Lake just in time for a beautiful sunset. The only bummer about paddling through a sunset is setting up camp in the dark. This night also marked our first night/day of rain. Our spirits were not too dampened by the rain, it let off to a light mist by afternoon and was accompanied by another wonderful tailwind.
The portages became less rugged the closer we got to Kahshahpiwi Lake. The most memorable portage of all came out of Side Lake. It felt like it was created for mountain goats! By the end of our double portage we had all stripped down to our base layers, they boys even went shirtless for the second trip! This day ended at a campsite in Isabella Lake picked by Jon, not for the quality of the campsite but for the spectacular cliff beside it!
We began the next morning early knowing we had to cross over the big body of Basswood that day to return to the American side of the park. This was by far our hottest day of the trip. Looking back at weather reports it was close to 80 that day. We came prepared for a variety of weather given the time of year but never guessed we would get a day like that! It could not have come at a better time either as we were all in need of a dip in the lake after the sweaty portages the day before!
We did not encounter another group of paddlers until reaching the portage out of Birch Lake into Melon Lake. On this day we ran in to 3 separate groups of paddlers. The next couple of days were a breeze of paddling and small portages going into Knife Lake. We stopped by thunder point to take in the view. This may have been one of our windiest days and unloading the canoe on slippery shorelines turned into a real balancing act!
The next Lakes on the list were Estar and Hanson. Our layover day on Hanson was the second strangest day of weather we had. A combination of beautiful sunny hours to rain then hail then back to sun and a rainbow. Mother Nature could not make up her mind! The day ended with more hail and wind but by this point in the day we were well prepared for it!
We woke up to real October weather that morning, frost and ice covered almost everything. That was the hardest day to leave our morning fire! We set out the day with a light head wind on the way to see the remains of Bennys homestead, one of Nate’s idols. Next we were on to our last campsite at Englishman’s Island. By the time we rounded American point the wind was doing all the work for us helping to reach our campsite in record time.
It was our 14th night and the windiest one yet. We all went to bed that evening praying for the winds to die by morning otherwise we would be in for an unpleasant day on Sag! Paddling back to the 81 landing the next morning was a special experience for the boys who were accustomed to zipping by in towboats, the slower pace of paddling gave them a great opportunity to take in all the sights and beauty of Sag.
We are reluctant to leave after spending 15 spectacular fall days in Quetico and BWCA filled with phenomenal weather, beautiful fall colors, excellent fishing, and great company. It was all made possible by the most amazing woman in the Boundary Water, Deb Mark! We can’t thank you enough for making this trip of a lifetime possible for us!