June 25, 2013 in Northern Tier
I don’t think I could have asked for a better first trip or first crew. The crew I got flew in all the way from Tyler, TX from the East Texas Council. The first day of checking out all the gear went very smoothly and the advisor had all the paperwork organized beautifully so the check-in process flowed without any hiccups. They came here pretty much wanting to do everything: paddle, fish, see waterfalls, see pictographs, swim, cliff jumping, etc. Fortunately I was able to find a decent route that had everything they wanted to see. Guess what, it turned out to be the exact same route that we took on my Swamper, the Horse Loop. I think it was good that I took the same loop because then I knew pretty much exactly where we were going.
The next day we got up bright and early to get everything packed and ready to go before breakfast. We were one of the first crews to hit the water, and after a little bit of struggling with paddling, we made it along and decided to spend the night on Norway Island on Basswood Lake. Nothing really exciting happened that day except that the tough Texas crew was introduced to Boundary Waters humidity and mosquitoes.
The second day on water ended up being one of the hardest days of the entire trip. We went all the way across Basswood to Tin Can Mike Lake and found an awesome campsite right across from where I had stayed before. The best part of this campsite was that there was a cliff jumping spot about 25 yards away. After the 15 miles of paddling we had done that day, we all went in and took a swim and went cliff jumping. Later that night Dr. Miller reeled in a 23 inch Northern Pike while fishing. He was so excited. Coming from Texas, he had never caught a Northern before. I fileted it up and we fried it in some fish batter with a little Lemon Pepper so everyone could try it. While staying at the campsite, we also got to see a beaver that kept swimming right in front of the cliffs. Later that night we got a taste of Boundary Waters weather that would continue for the rest of the trip. We were woken up several times by lighting, thunder and rain throughout the night, but we all made it through.
The third day we wanted to take it nice and easy to get to a good campsite early in the day. We paddled Horse Lake and Horse River, which we got to walk through at a couple places. It was really fun to hop out into the moving water and pull the canoes through. The crew thought it was one of the coolest parts of the whole trip. After traversing 6 sets of rapids on the Horse River we made it to Lower Basswood Falls and got a really nice campsite directly across from the falls. Because we made it to camp so early, we had some time to relax. We took a nice paddle up Crooked Lake to check out the pictographs and ended the day with a little fishing. We caught a few fish, but none big enough to keep. The rain was on and off all day and all night.
The next morning we got up and got ready to paddle up the Basswood River to Basswood Lake. In order to get across the river, we needed to paddle through the current at the bottom of Wheelbarrow Falls to get to the portage. My canoe went first and we took a wave just right over the side of the canoe and swamped. We recovered everything except for a couple water bottles, my hat and my fishing pole. Luckily everyone was okay and we got out with only a couple of minor bruises. We continued up river and powered through the mile-long Horse Portage around Basswood Falls. Then we paddled 6 miles straight into the wind to US point to camp for the night. We lucked out and got a nice campsite with a sandy beach. It was mine and their favorite campsite of the whole trip.
The second to last day wasn’t the longest but probably the hardest of the entire trip. We needed to paddle 12 miles down Basswood and across Prairie Portage to get a campsite close to base for our last day. Like they say up here, the wind is always in your face, and Saturday was just that kind of day. We made the 12 miles to prairie portage in just under 5 hours, which was really good time taking into account the wind. We stopped at Prairie Portage for lunch and met up with a couple crews just headed out for the day. We finished the day off with a half mile paddle to camp on Sucker Lake. It was a great campsite with a light breeze to keep the mosquitoes away and plenty of room for tents.
The next morning we slept in and took the nice easy 6 mile paddle into base. Check out went just about a smoothly as check-in and we were the first crew to check back in. Later in the night we had rendezvous. I got to dress up as a voyageur and participate in the program. It was a blast and the crew loved it. Afterwards we went to the trading post for celebratory ice cream and the crew bought me a sweet Northern Tier paddling shirt. Overall it was great trip and the crew was amazing. They have set a standard that will be hard to beat.
Oh, and I also got a new hat at the trading post.
I would have posted this yesterday, but right now I am stuck in NCC, which is the emergency radio center. I have to stay here all night and answer radio and phone calls. I do get to go to sleep and if there is a radio call, it will wake me up. I would have internet connection in here, but someone screwed something up so they took that privilege away. Today is my day off, so I think I will just relax at camp and read or something. Enjoy the pictures!
Walking the rapids
Walking the rapids.
Gear up. BUCKLE YOUR BUCKLES SO YOUR BUCKLES DON'T GET BUSTED!
Checking out canoes.
Doc's 23" Northern. YUM!!
Looking at the pictographs
Doc... and his 4 'adopted' sons for the week.
Our sandy beach campsite
Back on Base.
Rendezvous. I'm the one in the red shirt and navy touke (hat).