What we saw, did and experienced while on the trip
I have read that Minnesota has the largest population of bald eagles in the lower 48. Our sightings would certainly confirm that fact. We saw eagles everyday and most days we saw multiples. There were an abundance loons, beaver and otter. The campsites were so well established that each had a resident population of red squirrels, chipmunks and mice. I expected to see grey jays, a.k.a. camp robbers, but they only made a couple of appearances and they didn’t steal any of our food.
I took great interest in the forest. There were so many similarities with the Adirondacks that it could be difficult to see the differences, but there were many of those also. Those readers that don’t have a forestry background please bear with me. Soils have so much to do with tree growth, there were many rocks, there didn’t appear to be much glacial outwash, but there was an abundance of glacial till. All that may not mean much to some of you reading this, but it means a lot to the trees.
On the softwood side, I did not see any hemlocks, but there were many jack pines on the poor soil sites and some of the largest red pines I have ever seen. In addition to red spruce there were also many white spruce and of course black spruce in the wet sites.
It was evident that fires have had an impact on the forest. We saw burnt over areas and could smell smoke on occasion. For a couple of days we watched planes and helicopters carrying water drops to a nearby fire.
With all the rock we saw there was no doubt that we were truly on the Canadian Shield, a vast geological shield covering over half of Canada. This rock makes the area both beautiful and rugged. Even on large campsites; level, rock free tent sites were hard to find. The maximum camping party size in the BW is nine, but on most sites even our party of six had a difficult time finding three areas to pitch our tents. Jan and I had the smallest tent and usually settled for a place that the other tents would not fit on.
The rocks also made portages more difficult than they tend to be in the Adirondacks. The beavers added further difficulty to the portages by damming up small ponds and streams and inundating the trail, forcing us to reload the canoes so we could float across the flooded areas in the middle of the path.
that worked for us. In 14 nights, we only used 8 campsites, meaning that we had many layover days. Jan and I had hoped to get a lot of fishing in, but didn’t get as much as we were looking for. Fishing from a canoe on windy lakes is not easy, but when we did get out at good times of the day for fishing, we were pleased with the results. Both Jan and I like to fish for bass and walleye and there seemed to be plenty of those. We only kept and ate walleye, they are the best.
In the Sky
We started camping the day before the blue moon in August. It is always nice to be out during a full moon when the nights are clear and the weather is warm enough to sit out and enjoy it. We had many campsites with good sunset views and some where we could watch both, sunrise and sunset. Some nights we watched the sunset and sat out on the rocks watching planets and stars appear.
Weather during the first week could not have been better. We comfortably swam the first 6 days; sometimes even while we were on the move.
Then the weather started to change and it cooled down. For a few days in the middle of the trip we had some rain which accompanied the cooler temperatures. We were wind bound at various times and were stuck hanging out waiting for it to
be safe enough to paddle. On one such day we watched as 3 canoes came into view out on the dangerously rough lake. They were all aluminum boats, which perform well in big water. The first boat made it past us OK and stopped to wait for the other two boats. Those paddlers weren’t so lucky, both canoes took on a lot of water, but somehow managed to stay upright. With our encouragement they navigated to the sheltered bay behind our site where we were able to grab them and help empty the boats that were full of water and wet gear. Once they recovered they made the short crossing to join their friends. Surprisingly, they did not wear their PFDs even after the incident. They were nice guys that were on a fishing trip, but we had to wonder why they weren’t wearing their vests. Some people just don’t get that part.