Wednesday, May 28, 2014

BWCA Trip [the year of the frogs] by Renee

A young repeat-tripper's journal:

Chapter 1: The Drive to Ely

I was really excited for this year's trip, because for the first time it was just going to be Mom and me.  When we were planning the trip we picked out a special island campsite in Lake One we wanted to try. It was also going to be interesting because there had just been a big fire by that campsite. It started on Pagami creek. We planned on paddling to see where the fire had started.

Our drive was just like every other year. We got an early start and stopped at Tobies, it is our drive to Ely tradition. I usually fall asleep after Tobies, but this year I stayed awake and talked to Mom.  When we were driving through Cloquet we saw Gordy's High Hat Diner. We recognized the diner because it was on the food network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We need to remember that place for my brother Paul; he really loves that show. The drive wasn't bad; we got to Ely in time for lunch.

After lunch we went to Piragis to pay for our canoe, lifejackets, paddles and of course to see Drew. Drew had set-up a room for Mom and me at Canoe On Inn. After we checked into our room, Mom and I got some time to paint our nails for the wilderness. It's another Boundary Waters tradition. I even heard that painting your nails protects the skin underneath from the sun's rays. We are two of the three “girls in the mist”.  The "girls" always paint their nails fun colors.

Chapter 2: Put in Lake 1
We got up early to begin our adventure. Our tradition is to go to Brittons. This year we wanted to get an earlier start, because we were after that island campsite, so we broke our tradition. We tried Subway instead. It was good, it was satisfying, and it was fast.  We got our sandwiches and we were on our way to Lake One.

When we got to Lake One, Mom and I found out that taking the gear off the car was hard with just the two of us.  As we were putting into the water we saw some ladies taking pictures and we asked them to take a picture of us. 

It was a perfect day to paddle: no wind, sunny, warm and calm. Even Paul would probably enjoy it. He doesn't like rough water. We tried to find the island campsite. We talked to two canoeists who had just left it. They told us that they had left firewood stacked there. I was excited, my campsite was open and I wouldn't have to collect wood!  As we were looking for the site everyone we passed gave us different directions: "Go this way", "Go that way", "It's just over there". I felt tired, frustrated, and confused all at once. I wanted to get to a campsite soon! Then suddenly we saw our campsite from last year. We decided to go there instead of to the island one. I felt relieved because I was finally at a campsite. I also felt disappointed because I wasn't on an island and I had to get firewood. Then I saw utility rock [the big rock where we kept our utilities last year] and I felt content. 

Chapter 3: The Creatures
Because we have to, we set up camp. The camp hardly changed except that there were many more trees that blocked the paths to the peninsula. Even the latrine had a tree that blocked the short path. We set up our tent in the exact same place as before and we gathered firewood. 

After all that work, I went to the water's edge and found a little pond-like area with a couple of rocks protecting it from wind and stuff.  I found a little frog. When I tried to grab him, it was hard because he was slippery and kept squirming out of my hand.  After catching him a few times, the frog got used to me and he would sit in my hand for a while until I let him go. He probably liked my warm hand. I sure liked him. There was another frog that swam in the pond, and I played with him, too. I spent a lot of time playing with the frogs, because I really like animals. 

Speaking of paddling, the next day we found the island campsite that we had been looking for.  Wouldn't you know it, it was empty and the wood was there!!! We screamed, “NOOOO!” My mom marked the island in her GPS so that we have a chance to go back some other year. 

The canoe parking lot was really nice and sandy. We pulled right in nice and smooth. There were a ton of things to see on the island. We had lunch there and walked all around. The campsite had a lot of chipmunks and they were after our lunches. Some of them were fearless, almost sitting on our laps! With difficulty we managed to eat our lunches with out any of it getting stolen. The next day, we found two more campsites that looked good. We decided it was fun checking out new, cool campsites. 

Chapter 4: Other Times and Challenges in the BWCA
Each day was perfect. Sunny and calm and hardly any wind. The water was so calm it was like glass. The windiest day was probably 5mph the day we came out. Everyday was really fun but still had its challenges.  After we left the island campsite, we started paddling into Pagami Creek. Two ladies told us they had paddled through and it was fun. But when we tried, we got stuck in a lily pad forest. No matter how hard we paddled, we couldn't pass the pads. Either the ladies lied, or we took the wrong direction, or maybe we're weak! Either way, we turned around and head for our camp. 

The other challenge, which I hinted at earlier, was “Mr. Roots.” Mr. Roots is a humungous tree trunk with roots coming out the bottom. Mom and I had to climb over him and other trees to get out to the peninsula at our campsite.  All the climbing was worth it, because the peninsula has the best view of the lake.

My mom also had challenges setting up and keeping the fire going. Poor Mom. : (  But she tried really really hard.  I think next time she'll be able to do it.  Luckily she brought a camp stove so we had hot chilly dogs without a problem.

Chapter 5: Back to Ely
The paddle back to the car was easy since there was such little wind, and my mom remembered a short cut that Ms. Greger had shown her the year before. Then we had to put everything in and on the car. That was hard. Especially the canoe!  Part of it is because I'm still young and don't have my full grown-up strength yet, and because we're both so short. We had a hard time lifting the canoe over our heads. Again, Mom remembered another way to do it that Ms. Greger had shown her.  So, even though Ms. Greger wasn't there this year with us, she still helped us.  

On the way back to Ely, all we could think about was our hot showers and Dairy Queen. Because for three nights, all we had to clean ourselves with was warm water from a pan and some wipes.  First we headed back to Canoe On Inn and took LONG showers. After taking a shower, it felt like I was a new person. Next we ate at the Dairy Queen. Then we went to Piragis to tell Drew about our trip. Mom took a picture of me with Drew, another one of our trip traditions. 

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