May BWCA Canoe Trip 2019

Old Town Guide 119 in the BWCA, Alder Lake.

Old Town Guide 119 in the BWCA, Alder Lake.

What can I say, I had a really good time on my May Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trip.  The weather was all over the place with cold, wind, sun, clouds, sleet, and rain.  As such the fishing was not so great but my buddy and I managed to fend for ourselves and catch some to eat.

I took some pictures and even managed to video record like my family wanted me to do.  On top of that I made a little video and posted it to YouTubeThe video is shared further below.

With that said, let me say here and now that I totally suck at taking pictures and recording digital video; I don’t take many pics or shoot many vids, and when I do actually go about the task I find it to be tedious.  So the pics and vids are a bit crappy.  Just saying…

First Day

Driving along the Gunflint Trail we noticed there was still snow on the ground in sections of the woods!  The air was clean, the cedars and pine were intermingled in the breeze… I love that smell and the sights of the wilderness.  Really, I can’t express enough how much I love that smell.

BWCA Excitement

There was certainly energy in the air when we arrived at our put in.  Hard to explain.  Certainly there was much excitement at the thought of the journey and the adventure ahead.  It’s a great feeling!

We loaded up our solo canoes and get started paddling right away.  Let me say, this was a tough day.  The wind was blowing hard out of the east with gusts up to 25mph – and that was the direction we needed to travel for several miles!  What normally should have taken a few hours paddling along with portaging took six.  We got lucky and didn’t see any rain that day, but the threat was looming above on the dark overcast clouds.

Me, taking a selfie!

Me, taking a selfie!

When we found a campsite on the lake we wanted to base camp on we were exhausted.  We were both in solo canoes and there was little to no shelter from the wind, even close to shorelines.  It was a pretty tough paddle, and the first major paddle for both of us of the year so we were not limbered up for hard canoeing just yet.

When we got to a campsite we setup our tents right away and jumped into making some dinner.  Steaks on an open campfire was good… very good.  And then by 6:45pm we were both in our tents.  I slept straight through that evening and night and into morning.

It did began get really windy that first night.  The wind was aloft and just howling through the trees.

Second Day

On the second day we were stuck in camp.  Neither of us wanted to go out and brave the easterly winds that were prevailing.  It was cold with a windchill in the mid to upper 30s, and the gusts were supposed to reach up to 3omph that day, and they did.  The lake we were on was rolling with whitecaps.  Majestic in it’s anger… it was rather beautiful.

I consider myself an intermediate paddler only and know my limitations.  My Old Town Guide 119 is a great little canoe and very stable, but… I wasn’t going to push it on a lake with rolling whitecaps.  The water temp was only around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and tipping a canoe would have been deadly with the very real threat of hypothermia.

Cloudy and the winds are about to pick up.

Cloudy and the winds are about to pick up.

Basically we just fished on and off from shore with little luck all day between meals and naps.  I did manage to catch a four pound northern-pike.  Aside from that we kept a small campfire going.  I spent a little time writing in my journal and reflecting on past BWCAW trips I had made solo.

That night while under the cover of darkness the wind was really whipping and howling through the trees.  My one real fear of wilderness camping is the wind knocking down a tree or a limb onto my tent with me in it.  I’m always mindful of where I place my tent, but you never really know for sure.  I’ve seen perfectly healthy trees, big trees, go over from a strong wind.

Third And Fourth Days

The sun came out both of these days and the winds subsided considerably.  Sadly, the wind was still largely unsettled and was blowing from all directions.  Fishing was not real good, but if you put the time in you were gonna catch something.  And we did.  Tim M went his way these days and so did I.  Solo canoe tripping is the way to do things.

Looking down Alder Lake from Pierz Lake portage.

Looking down Alder Lake from Pierz Lake portage.

I split these two days up with fishing, writing in my journal, exploring the surrounding area, and soaking up a little sun.  I also took a little dip in the lake to rinse off.  The water temp was cold, as previously mentioned, and I could only handle about twenty seconds in the water before rushing out with severely diminished testicle size .  The sun was beating down and felt darn good as I dried off – but even then it was still only about sixty degrees and after a while felt a little chilly.

Me with one of the Lake Trout I caught.

Me with one of the Lake Trout I caught.

As mentioned the fishing was okay.  My buddy Tim managed to real in several northern and walleye.  He kept one walleye for lunch and we fried it up.  I also caught a handful of walleye, smaller ones, and a few nice sized lake trout.  The laker in the picture above was kept and we cooked him up too.

Tim M with a nice walleye.

Tim M with a nice walleye.

These two days were fantastic.  While I do enjoy a mix of weather on these trips, I have to admit I do prefer partly sunny days, gentle breezes, and temps in the low to mid 60s.  And that is exactly what we had during this part of our BWCA trip.

Frying up walleye and lake trout!

Frying up walleye and lake trout!

The Remaining Days

After our two stellar days the next few following days consisted of more wind, and the inclusion of rain, sleet, and thick fog.  The wind was mostly blowing from the east, which is not the norm, and it was gusting pretty good again.  We didn’t do much except stick close to camp and relax.  Whitecamps were rolling pretty good and we were both mindful of solo canoe tripping out into it.

A short break in the cloud cover; sun shining down while boiling up some water using my Solo Stove to re-hydrate a Next Mile Meal.

A short break in the cloud cover; sun shining down while boiling up some water using my Solo Stove to re-hydrate a Next Mile Meal.

I drank some hot beverages, cooked up a few easy Next Mile Meals with my twig Solo Stove, and did only some minor fishing with no luck.

Early morning picture taking from camp, before the wind, rain, and winds picked up.

Early morning picture taking from camp, before the wind, rain, and winds picked up.

The fog was thick and heavy in our area these next couple days.  But it sure was beautiful to see.  Bad weather or good, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a wonder to behold.  The BWCAW offers a lot for those with the outdoor mindset.

A Short BWCA Trip Video

Here you go, a short video just over six minutes long.  A handful of pics and videos clipped together with some music.

Get off the couch, get outside…

TD

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