Apr 4, 2014

A Boundary Waters Adventure - 3, Bourbon and Blue Sky

Last big fish I caught was 30 years ago.
Latched a rainbow trout on vacation in Colorado with my family.
It was probably only 3", but it sure seemed massive when you're 7 years old.

In the Boundary Waters, you don't bring enough food to survive.  Instead, we'd rely on catching pike, bass and walleye to fill our gut.  

My fishing equipment consists of a 24" My Little Pony pole Pigtails got years ago.  I was pretty sure a tail slap from a small-mouth bass would snap my rod, so before the trip picked up a $25 rig from Wal*Mart.  Cork handled composite shaft and aluminum reel with the Made in China sticker still attached.  That'll work.



I sure hoped someone in the group knew how to fish.  It's one thing to play around on the spillway with stink bait and a line Sunday after church.  Another when you need catch and live on walleye for a week.

When do you rig a jig vs. knot on a 5-of-diamonds spoon?
Spinnerbait or live leeches?

We needed to hook 2 large pike or 6 medium walleye/bass a day to keep our stomachs from growling.  We had a few packets of dried Cajun rice-and-beans mix, 9 lbs of raw bacon, 2 gallons of bourbon and beef jerkey in case our poles went limp.  A water filter and iodine tablets allowed for unlimited amounts of treated glacier drink.  Iron ore leaches into the Boundary Waters lakes, which tints the water.  We'd drink yellow toilet water for the next week.



The frogs croaked and woke us at 8:00am.  Bacon and fried potatoes for breakfast, then packed up and paddled north towards the first portage.  Riley had on his doggy vest and was ready to roll.



Portions of the lakes are broken up by rapids, so we'd need to exit our canoes and carry our junk over land for two sections of the trip.  Six of us, three canoes, Chris and I doubled up.  He was looking forward to portaging the canoe.





He probably saw an old drawing from Duluth Trading Company that got him pumped.



The portage was a one kilometer quickie, the leg stretch a positive distraction.



Kenny and Reno deployed poles, trolling spinner lures to entice a bite.


It worked, 20 minutes later Ken bagged a multi-pound Pike.


At least we wouldn't starve tonight.


Chop chop, we needed to put 8 miles of lake behind us.  Follow the arrows, we paddled the dotted red line.  Our day two stop would put us halfway to our finish at Basswood Lake:


The wind was mute and water like glass as we slowly lapped towards the second portage.  Silence, expanse and I had to pee.  A section of bog was laced with lily pads, I was tempted to unzip and aim at them like floating targets.


Second portage, my turn to shoulder the canoe.  Dropped a yellow bladder bomb and nuked a sapling, then pressed the Kevlar canoe above my head.  Took a few strides to figure out the right balance point, then it was a quiet stroll through northern pine.


Back in the drink, three more miles till camp.  We took our time and sipped God's creation.  Tossed a line and relaxed as the lake displayed the sky.


Rammed Tim's boat (rental).


Then pulled into port for the night.


Unloaded, pitched dome tents and chopped logs while Ken filleted dinner.


We stoked the fire until white, then fried tender white Pike in rendered bacon fat.  Rinsed it with a mug of bourbon.

Difficult to describe the beauty of unspoiled nature, coupled with nibbling fresh catch under a waning August sky.  So I won't even try.



Next morning, Ken French pressed a pot of Joe.  Extra tasty, learned that a shake of salt added while brewing is the secret.


Jon had a headache and was having trouble getting the engine started.  Remember the kid in high school that would do anything you asked him to?  That is Jon.



We finished loading our canoes with 120 lbs of gear in each, then set sail.  Another 8 miles to our final camp at Basswood Lake.  We'd hang out there for the next week.



Does anyone read these things?

-Beard

25 comments:

  1. Reading and enjoying. Hate camping, love canoeing. Hubby loves both and so does our daughter.

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    1. Camping can be great or terrible, depending on conditions and how prepared you are. Rain is tolerable if the tent doesn't leak, but setup or tearing down tents when wet is like wet dog.

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  2. I've been enjoying your canoe posts very much, although with a great deal of envy. I live in Phoenix, with nary a scenic lake for 100+ miles, and yet I love canoeing. But with kids ages 5,2, and -2 months, jobs here, and a husband that doesn't like lakes or camping, it'll be a long time before I can do something like this. Maybe in 15 years, my son and I can make it a mother-son adventure. :-)

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    1. Anonymous4/07/2014

      Don't wait until your kids are 15 to start going on adventures with them. I assure you that you can take mini camping and canoeing trips with them right now...even if your husband is not present (which kinda sucks!). Your kids will appreciate the time with you and those are the memories that count...not the ones where they're playing videos games in front of the tv while you play Candy Crush on your phone.

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    2. Agree with Anon, your 5 year old and likely your middle are old enough to camp and float. We saw a family of 4 canoeing deep into the Boundary Waters on day 3. Mom, dad and two little heads poking up from the middle of the boat. They had tons of supplies, so guessing they were going to camp out for a week or two.

      Show your husband some of these pics...sometimes people change and learn to like things they haven't before. Good luck!

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    3. Husband has kind of a water phobia, so I don't think the scenery will change his mind. I have a brother in California who's an outdoorsman and Eagle Scout, though, so maybe I can enlist him to help us do a lake adventure sooner than later. :-)

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    4. Swim lessons! Curls doesn't know how to swim and is slightly afraid of the water. Sent her some info on private lessons, we shall see.

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  3. I do read but never comment. Your pictures make me want to jump in a canoe tomorrow. Granted, I don't own one, so it would probably be stolen, but I'll blame it all on a guy I know named Beard.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There, you've gone and commented, please come back for more. The town of Ely MN we stopped at before embarking had dozens of outfitter shops with canoes and supplies for rent. Consider making a canoe trip sometime, you'd love it!

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  4. I always wonder if anyone is reading my posts as well......I assure you. I am right here with you. Lurking,

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    Replies
    1. If all else fails, mom reads this sometimes.

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  5. Reading and enjoying the beautiful pictures.

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  6. Anonymous4/05/2014

    Yep, we are out here!

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  7. Reading & Enjoying! The photos are great - esp the sky reflection in the lake. Looks like you lads had a super trip.

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    1. Thanks, if you look closely at the middle right of that pic, you can see a speck of Ken and Reno's red canoe.

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  8. The picture of "the lake displaying the sky" is incredible!!

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  9. Avid reader. Enjoy it as usual. :-)

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  10. Anonymous4/07/2014

    anon is reading.

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    Replies
    1. You are mysterious, anon.

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  11. libradesigneye4/07/2014

    love the headache / hangover cure. lde

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    Replies
    1. John got after that Gatorade jug of brown "refreshment."

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  12. Looking forward to our own nature-filled trip to Estes Park in a few months...staying at Moraine grounds and looking to tackle Long's Peak for the first time...I guess I'll need a head lamp. :)

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    1. That will be a great hike! We visited Colorado a few summers ago, but didn't do much hiking other than some short day treks. Long's Peak is over 14,000 feet, that's a beast.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!