BWCA Trip 2010 Diary
We left New Hope at 2:30 in the afternoon and headed north on I 35. The traffic was good; the weather was good and we moved right along and got to Grand Marais at 7pm. We stopped to eat at the Gunflint Tavern and then went to the Gunflint Motel, where we had a reservation. It cost $100 but the place was pretty neat. There was a bedroom, bathroom, living room and a fully equipped kitchen. It was done all in pine, very woodsy looking. I loved it.
We woke up this morning to light rain and 39 degrees, but by 8am it was sunny. We ate breakfast at Subway and then drove on the Caribou Trail to Homer Lake and put the canoe in the water around 9am. We paddled into a 15 –25 mph wind (according to the Weather Channel) and there definitely were white caps. We were heading west and the wind was blowing WNW. We did ok. We stopped at the first site; it even had a picnic table. That was probably because the eastern part of Homer Lake is not in the Boundary Waters and motorboats are allowed. I guess the fishermen like picnic tables when they camp.
We kept paddling west and entered into the BWCA. We stopped at the only other site on the lake, and it was facing due east. It was perfect because we were completely sheltered from the wind. It was sunny out and there were lots of trails wandering all around the campsite, with a slight ridge a little ways further to the west. John followed one of the trails over to the southern shore and flushed out a grouse, but was not able to catch any fish.
I wore rubber boots this time and I think it’s working out great. They are comfortable, keep my feet warm and dry and I can get out of the canoe and try to avoid having the canoe hitting rocks.
We went out fishing the nearby bays, seeking shelter from the wind. It was a nice paddle, but no fish. Then we got behind a big island for protection but in order to get back to our site, we had to paddle back into the wind with bigger waves than when we first started. It was tough work but we made it back, and on entering our site we noticed how there was a big cloud trying to cover up the sun. Then we smelled smoke and came to the conclusion that there was a fire; but we couldn’t see it anywhere. You could definitely smell it and after a while you could see haze and then pieces of soot would float by. We decided to stay where we were for the night, but just have everything ready in case we would have to leave in a hurry.
We did see 2 eagles today flying around near our site.
We ate dinner and went to bed around 7pm, it was dark out, but there was a bright beautiful ¾ moon out. And with the sky dark, we were still unable to see any sign of a fire, but you could still smell it.
I stayed warm until about 2:30am and then put on some more clothes. John made it until about 5am when he put on more clothes.
We woke up around 8am to the smell of smoke, but couldn’t see anything that would explain where the fire was. It stayed windy all night, although it did die down somewhat. There was frost on the ground, the sun was shining in our campsite and the sky was blue.
We decided to stay where we were, but would paddle on a couple of the lakes doing a loop. We had to go west into the wind into Whack Lake. John caught his only fish here – a little Northern.
From Whack Lake we portaged into Vern Lake and were going south, so the wind pushed us! When we pulled up in the bay to portage into Vern Lake, there was ice on the water. From Vern Lake we paddled right into the Vern River and after awhile we had to portage over a beaver dam. Actually we were able to push through most of the canoe, then John stepped out and pushed the back part of the canoe over and then got back in. I think there was one more short portage in the river and then we portaged 20 rods into East Pipe Lake. The plan was to take the portage from East Pipe into Pipe Lake because Pipe had 3 campsites and we have never been on that lake. However we would have had to paddle into that fierce NW wind, so we just laid around at the portage for a while and ate some snacks.
We then turned around and went back the way we came in – back through East Pipe and then onto the Vern River. But then we took the outlet from the Vern River that led back into Homer Lake (after 2 short portages). Our campsite was a short distance away, going into the wind.
We listened to the weather radio and it was supposed to be about 28-33 degrees for a low that evening and still winds at least 20mph. So we decided to take down camp around 4pm and head for home. Since the wind was at our back as we were leaving, it was an easy ride. We didn’t even have to paddle much, just rudder. John fished on the way back, but no bites.
We stopped at Beaver Bay at the Inn at Beaver Bay and spent the night there. This place only cost $35 and was perfect – they had heat.
We stopped at Flood Bay and looked for agates. Then we stopped at Duluth and went down to Canal Park. From there we crossed the lift bridge and went down to Point Park. I don’t think I have ever been there. It seemed like they had miles and miles of sandy beaches. It was very beautiful. From there we drove home.
It was still a great trip, and had it not been for the wind, it wouldn’t have been as bad. Nevertheless, it was still pretty cold. I checked on the internet and determined that the fire was very likely in Canada.