This trip was my first trip to the BWCA, and the first time in over 20 years that I had been in a canoe. With at least 100 additional pounds of weight on my body, I was not sure how I was going to do in a canoe.........If I would be able to paddle without losing my balance..........would I accidentally tip my canoe over or something even worse.........I really didn't know what to expect.
On this trip, there were 10 of us......6 including myself were rookies, and 2 had been only once before. The final 2 members had been at least 4-5 times in the past. I know, I know....10 is over the limit, but we couldn't justify telling 1 group they could not take the trip because we were 1 over the limit..........the only time we all were in camp at the same time was when we slept at night. Generally for most of the trip, only 3 or 4 people were in base camp. Why not 2 base camps? Most of the members wanted the social atmosphere that the larger group would support, and we felt that we could easily leave the campsite in better shape that we found it.......Enough for justification...........back to the trip.
This was primarily a Base camping trip, and with that in mind, I think we brought practically every piece of equipment known to man, and then some. When we left Superior North Outfitters, Earl couldn't believe the stuff we were taking into the wilderness......hey most of us were rookies.
The two members of our group who had been the most had naturally packed light, and told us to pack light..........I guess by packing light, they meant to leave the 10 pairs of underwear, 20 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of pants, 4 sweatshirts, 4 long sleeve shirts, 4 short sleeve shirts, a sleeping bag and sleeping bag insert, 2 large (20lb+ ) Plano tackle boxes, 6 fishing poles, 8 ft of PVC tubing........to hold the fishing poles, and a 30lb cot...........at home.........I figured this stuff weighed around 100 lbs. This of course, didn't include the 48 20oz bottles of water that my fishing partner brought with him. If you have ever seen me go camping.............this was light. By the way, the guy who brought the water, is now known in our inner circle as Waterboy.............more about him later.
We set up our base camp on Zephyr lake, and would use this as our home base for the next 8 days. From this point, we could make day trips as far as Ester and back without too much trouble. This camp also allowed us to fish much of Saganaga, where we were told good fishing was possible. Well, the fishing was just barely adequate (some members of you group have yet to be back.......), but the fish we did catch were decent fish.
The weather was a problem the entire trip........seems like it rained every day. This was pretty discouraging, but we still managed to fish everyday. The weather seemed to move in a circular pattern....every day, it would clear, then rain, the clear up around dinner, and stay clear through 10:00-11:00PM, then start raining again.
Swamp lake became our most fished lake, but the fishing really was not that good. A makeshift fishing contest to see who caught the largest fish for all species on the final night yielded a puny 1.5lb smallmouth caught by GadgetMan. Waterboy was in the running with a 1.6lb smallmouth, but was disqualified...........seems to be, his fish had been dragged behind a canoe from Swamp lake all the way back to Zephyr. This caused the fish to become filled with water..........about .6lb worth of water. GadgetMan protested, and proceeded to push on the side of the smallmouth in question. A stream of water sprayed from the fish..........after weighing the suspect smallmouth again, the correct weight of 1lb even was posted.
On the 4th day of our trip, 6 members of our party decided to do an overnight trip to the highest point in the area.....Lake of the Clouds, and Gijikiki. According to those who went, this was a complete, and total disaster. The fishing sucked, and they only took a 4 man tent, thinking everyone would be able to squeeze into this small tent. This tent was so tight, they actually had to sleep head/toe alternating positions every other person. If you've ever had to sleep with dirty feet in your face, you know this was not a fun experience. They didn't take enough food (they were going to rely of fish for food), did not have enough tents, and on top of that......right after they left, it started raining, and did not stop for 2 days. They managed to take some of the hardest portages in the area, in the rain. Hey, at least they were traveling light...........