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HomeNL-2014-07 BWCA

Boundary Waters Canoe Area
May, 2014
by Dana Enos

Bonjour Madame and Monsieur.


Like to fill you in on my latest excursion to the North Woods.


Left Houston on May 14 with Mike Brown who thankfully drove all the way so I could relax and enjoy the ride. We drove to our favorite free camping spot outside Emporia, KS at the Sundance Park located on Melvern Lake and maintained by the COE. Being Wednesday it was empty and very quiet..


Thursday, up at 4 AM and continued on I35 through Kansas City and Minneapolis to Duluth where as we started to follow the shore line of Lake Superior and could see remains of ice along the shore and some ice pack further out. We started to wonder if we had pushed the put-in date too early in the season?  Continued on to Grand Marais where we took the Gunflint Trail towards the Rockwood Lodge on Poplar Lake and as soon as we crossed the first ridge we came across snow on both sides of the road and knew that spring was late in that part of the country. Arrived at Rockwood Lodge in the late afternoon where we were greeted by  Mike and Lin Sherfy who said you are a little early, just look at the ice on the lake. Poplar Lake was iced over so no one could take a canoe from their place to entry places off Poplar Lake.and of course that meant no business for Mike in canoe rentals. We inquired about Seagull Lake and was told that was clear so we  decided to go there tomorrow.  Mike and Lin put us up in a very nice cabin where we could recheck our gear and watch the sun set on the ice.




Friday we had breakfast at the local restaurant and then drove 35 miles further up the trail to the North end of Seagull Lake where we loaded and started our paddle to a great 14 days of fishing. Mike realizing that I am a poor subject to take on a portage selected this lake so we would need to unload only one time and that was at a campsite on the lake. We had fished this lake last year and were familiar with the northern end and headed for our favorite campsite which as you can guess was occupied, so we then went to the next which was also occupied, and that occurred on the next two sites, and at that time we were getting concerned, and then we remembered a site that set high above water with a  poor landing. We lucked out and this site turned out to be the best site as it had a great 270 degree view and with a constant breeze which kept the insects at bay. This was a tough site to unload/load and steep rise of about 15 feet but worth it. This site put us about an hour's paddle to the put-in and about 35 minutes to our "honey hole", a  good location. Set up camp and that night the temperature dropped to the middle twenty's and in the morning we woke to see the lake frozen over.  I have read of lakes freezing completely over in a short time but never experienced it. The ice was about 1/4" thick and by noon it had almost disappeared to the point Mike decided to make a run to our fishing grounds. He came back within two hours to say the southern end of the lake was completely covered with about 4 to 5 inches of ice and he couldn't reach our fishing grounds. That afternoon a steady rain started and continued through Saturday with temperatures rising into the forties. We had no problem with the rain as MIke had brought a 15 foot by 30 foot tarp where we would cook and live under for all the time we were there.  From Sunday on we had excellent weather, no rain and temperatures ranging from about freezing to the eighties which meant good sleeping and shirt sleeves during the day.




Sunday with the ice gone from around our campsite we both headed towards the south end to do some fishing but encountered the ice pack which had not fully melted, so we fished around our island and late that day we stocked up on fire wood and had enough for a campfire each night and never had to cut anymore, and there was some left for the next campers.


Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had some great fishing with both of us catching our limit of Lake Trout, which is two per day, and this meant we ate fish at least two meals a day with a snack in between. In all the days we fished the trout ranged on an average of between 18 to 22 inches but Mike caught the big one which measured 26 inches. We both caught Small Mouth and Northern Pike and I did manage to land a 29 inch Northern which was the largest Pike I have ever landed. We never did find out where the Walleye's hung out?


Thursday we paddled to the put-in and drove to the Rockwood Lodge for a well needed shower and then a hamburger at the local restaurant before returning to our camp.




From Friday through Wednesday our routine was to rise before five, a leisure breakfast and be on the water by eight and return for lunch and after lunch a well deserved nap, then after dinner an hour of fishing and then set around the campfire deciding where we were going to fish the next day. and going to bed at nine with sunset around ten. We reached our limit of trout each day and Mike finally decided fish once a day was all he could eat so we always released some trout each day.


As far as the wildlife goes we saw a bear at the put-in, a bear at Rockwood Lodge, a moose at waters edge on Seagull, three fox along the highway, grouse at the put-in and a Bald Eagle on the lake..


On Thursday the 29th we packed up and released two trout we had not eaten and paddled out. Went to the Rockwood Lodge where  we were given another great cabin for the night and we then took Mike and Lin to dinner so as to continue our bragging.




Friday we got up at four and drove to the Sundance Park arriving about seven and being a Friday night brought all the local young people out to party. Didn't get much sleep that night but that is the penalty for free camping.


Saturday up early and  drove on home arriving at six.


It was an excellent trip and a very interesting one as on this trip I took more time to view everything around me and watch the buds explode into inch long leaves due to the warm days and long daylight. Just a pleasant trip.


This may be the last trip for me as I find it harder keep up with younger people with all their agility and energy, but it has been a great run.



The author, Dana Enos