Apr 27, 2014

A Boundary Waters Adventure - 4, Blueberries and Basswood Base Camp

Day three, we needed to polish off a 7 miler to reach base camp at Bassword Lake.

We loaded up our three canoes, I knotted on a 5-of-diamonds spinner spoon and we steamed northward.

Our Kevlar fleet passed beside an oval islet.  Blue wood smoke wafted from a camp pitched beneath coniferous pines.

A lone white-tail eyed us.  As she turned to bound, her brood sprang from behind the spruce and followed pursuit.

Our stomachs barked after two hours of oaring.  We parked it at the base of a rocky crag, untied packs filled with lunch provisions and climbed to the top.

Berries, berries everywhere!  In the thicket were hundreds of blueberry shrubs drooping with fruit.

Light lunch of jerky on crackers, pine nuts, dried apples and berries.

After lunch we plucked for a half hour, topping Tim's Nalgene with two pounds of blue.

We agreed to cache and save them to eat later in the week.  A few of them were set aside to be smashed and stewed with vodka, a toast on our last night in the B. Waters.

Jon is a large man with a large appetite.  He said back at the office, he ate an entire Wonder Roast Rotisserie Chicken for lunch every day for a month.  30 chickens in 30 days.  I was afraid he'd let it rip on day 5 and devour our stash of berries on a night binge.  We'd wake up to find the blueberries missing, Jon with a purple mustache and shrugging.

The rocks were spongy with a layer of peat moss.  Not a sound in the sky, I could only hear blood sloshing through my ears.  We snoozed on the moss cushion, then packed up and rowed out.

A symmetrical eyot ahead marked two miles till Basswood Lake.

Basswood is multi-miles across, with flow into America and Canada.  We convened at the lake head, pulled the maps and checked to see where the various camps are located.  They're scattered randomly around the drink, indicated on the topography as red dots.  First-come-first-serve, with no call-ahead seating.

The first 5 camps we paddled by were occupied.
Kenny got bored and reeled in another 20" pike.

We kept rowing north towards the tip of Minnesota, until we reached a line on the map that said "Stop, Canada."  The island on the left is Canadian, we camped across to the right in the land of the Yanks.  You can see Reno in the white shirt up there turning towards shore:

There at the top edge of our country was a vacant lot.  We'll take it!

Base camp, this would be our home for the next week.  Clouds were bloated and ready to leak, but held off so we could pop dry tents.  No humans in sight.

We set up shelter, a 6-man hexadome, pair of twine hammocks and a small REI half-dome.

I needed to pinch a loaf.  Walked 400 yards down a windy path through the woods, expecting a flying squirrel to parachute down and attack my throat:

Glad to see a pit with a seat, which meant we wouldn't need to dig and bury like we did in the Big Horns.  The view from the throne was amazing.  All I needed was a copy of Car and Driver.

We'd need to self-sustain for a week, so plenty to do.  Ken and Reno skinned pike and bass for dinner.  

Jon filtered cooking and drinking water from the lake.  He probably also early dipped the blueberry stash.  Tim, Chris and I swung the Swedish Gränsfors Bruks to pine, splitting and stacking firewood.  That forged axe head's 90 years old and a beast!

We wrapped up with traditional Chinese acrobats and other feats of strength.

Suppered on batter dipped fish and an iron pot of Cajun rice 'n beans.

Nighttime darkness is brutal in the Boundary when the moon's neutered by clouds.  We could hear critters in the woods scratching for grub, just outside the ring of fire.  40 degrees turned our breath to smoke.

All finished, we chucked our food supply, utensils and dirty dishes into a mesh bag, then hung it from a tree branch 20 feet up with shock cord.  Black bear country.

Camping the wilderness brings the sleep of all sleeps.



  1. Anonymous4/28/2014

    how'd you recharge your phone?

  2. They make a cool solar camping recharger for devices, but I don't own one. Phones don't work out in the sticks, so I just charged up full before we left and crossed my fingers the GoPro and Nikon D40 batteries would hold up all week.

  3. I'm practically drooling over those fresh blueberries...


Thanks for the note, check back for my response!