Back from the Woods (BWCA specifically)

So. We came back out a little early. One thought we had was that although we had 7 nights/8 days food, discretion as better part of valor had us planning after a day or so for a 6 night/7 days trip in case things didn’t go as planned. In part that was because of the rugged nature of the terrain we were navigating. If you start here and scroll around you can follow the descriptions below. This is a rough description of the loop we traversed, but we did the loop in one more day/night and didn’t stay exactly where the loop suggests. For the first time, for me, we had for the three of us, two packs (a day pack) and one canoe and thus managed go through our portages in just one trip.

  1. We started at Sawbill on Saturday (15th) at 9:30. We traveled to Phoebe lake for the first night’s stay. It was quite warm. We swam in the lake right from our campsite. We saw nobody all day after passing two groups in canoes exiting on Alton Lake in the morning.
  2. The second day we were planning to make it to Koma Lake, but were getting broken in and decided to take an early break and stayed at Lake Polly, which was quite full with other campers but we found a campsite and spent the night. We didn’t swim.
  3. Monday we traveled to Boze Lake (through Koma and Malberg lakes … following on the map, Boze is directly east from Malberg). We had a little difficulty finding the portage to the river toward Boze. The river itself had lots of semi-artificial obstructions which he had to haul the canoe over (beaver constructions). We saw several beaver on the way. One was very close to the canoe, but looked us over and decided we weren’t worth a tail slap and dive. On the portage from the river in to Boze lake, we took a slight (there was a path) wrong turn and came to the lake through the campsite which worked out just fine. We had some nice swimming on Boze.
  4. The portages to Trail lake (were we stayed the next night) were very very rugged. Rocks. trees, obstructions, difficulty in following the trail at all each managed to surface as difficulties from here to Wine lake after which the portages became more navigable. Our first portage out of Trail going East in fact when we finished it there was a small lake/beaver marsh there but it took us almost 2 hours to find the correct portage. Clearly we were not the only ones to get it wrong, as there were some pretty well worn clearly worn trails that didn’t go anywhere useful. Our campsite on Trail was very nice on a high outcropping. After dinner high winds picked up and it rained all night … and through the next day.
  5. Temps never got quite to 60 all day. It was raining off and on all day. By the time we got to Wine lake it was pouring very hard, like being in a shower (a shower at 55 degrees). We were all wet and shivering. I’d fell down in a stream and was soaked. Because of the time lost finding the second portage we didn’t get to camp until 4:30pm. We erected camp (putting up our tent and a rain tarp over the eating area in record time, probably about 10 minutes. Quickly we changed into what dry clothes we had left (if we had any) and steamed up some hot chocolate. That helped immensely. We ate and retired to our tent at 7 pm that night. Our sleeping bags were all wet but they mostly dried up when we got in them within the hour. We decided if it was not raining the next day we’d set up lines and dry out and stay where we were. But if it was raining we’d push out with my daughter’s repeated mantra of “but … hot showers!”. And during the next day it didn’t clear up until after 4pm. So …
  6. After a long (mile and a half+) portage we left Wine, went to Zenith via Frederick and on to the Kelso River and on out to the outfitter (and those showers).

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