After getting off of the bus, we had to sit down at the camper orientation steps. There seemed to be an inside joke about respecting others and yourself. The person who was speaking asked what one way to respect yourself and others was and someone yelled out: brush your teeth. He started calling out groups and my group was the first one. My group counselor was Elliot and the other members were Raaheem and Grant. We didn’t do much today after that. We went to our cabin, the loon cabin, and we set up our stuff on our bunks. The Loon Cabin had an amazing view of Burntside Lake. For the rest of the day, we just toured the site and picked up our lifejackets and paddles. We were introduced the biffy, which is what we had to poop in for the 4 days we stayed at Widji. Meals are very different here, they do everything family style. We also learned how to broadcast our toothpaste. Broadcasting toothpaste is what you do after you brush your teeth on trail. You pucker up your lips, and blow the toothpaste out so it resembles a fine mist. We broadcast our toothpaste because we don’t want big clumps of toothpaste everywhere; it’s bad for the environment.
Woke up sort of early today….. We went over the trip plans today. We made a list of all of our meals and our route. We were assigned our canoes today. We got one wood-canvas canoe and an ultralight. We practiced portaging the canoe down to the water and back again. Portaging involves a person lifting the canoe up onto their shoulders and carrying it over land. We also learned something interesting… the fleet of wood-canvas canoes at Widji was the largest operation fleet of wood-canvas canoes in the world! We took our swim test today. The swim test consists of swimming a given distance in freezing water with your shoes on and then treading water for 4 minutes. Elliot and I were the only people who passed the test without lifejackets. Raaheem and Grant passed with lifejackets on. After this, we practiced how to unswamp your canoe. Swamping your canoe is when you tip over and fall into the water with the canoe. To unswamp it, we had to put the two canoes in a T shape, the upper line being the upright canoe and the lower one beingthe swamped canoe, then, we slid the swamped canoe onto the upright canoe making a +. Then, we slid the canoe back into the water and helped the other two people on. Afterwards, we had to rush back to our cabins and change because dinner had already started. Afterwards, we went to the sauna. The sauna was incredibly relaxing and felt great. It was a wooden room with a huge stove in the center of it. After a while in the sauna, we run down to the lake and swim before getting back into the sauna. We went to bed shortly after the sauna.
Normal day today except after breakfast, we went canoeing out onto Burntside Lake and ate lunch on the lake. For lunch, every day of our trip, it was going to be the same thing. Every day for lunch, we ate GORP. GORP stands for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts. There was one small twist though, Grant had a tree nut allergy so we got a different type of GORP that was peanut free. After we made it back, we got our Duluth packs and our food pack. We learned how to pack the Duluth packs and we got sorted through our stuff to decide what we would bring. I shared my pack with Raaheem, Grant and Elliot shared a pack. We went to the tripping center and got our food pack packed up. We were barely able to fit all of our food into the food pack. After dinner, there was a campfire and we sang songs and talked about what we were looking forward to on trail. We slept sort of early today because breakfast tomorrow was earlier than usual.
We’re off on trail! After we woke up, we packed our Duluth packs, and stuffed the rest of our cloths into our duffel bags and put them in the locker. Then, we left the packs at the locker and went to breakfast. After breakfast, we picked up the packs and canoes and we got dropped off at Moose Lake along with 2 other groups. My first canoeing partner was Grant and I was in the bow. We canoed through Moose Lake, through Sucker Lake, took a 30 rod portage through Canada and entered Basswood Lake. Our campsite was on an island. After setting up our tent, we made a fire and started cooking the food. We had to gather firewood so Elliot led us into the forest and showed us what good firewood was and what was bad firewood. While we were gathering firewood, we heard Raheem let out an ear piercing scream. We all ran over to him, he was still screaming but we couldn’t see why. Finally, he said: “I saw a mouse right next to my foot!” Elliot assigned himself to permanent firewood duty. Unfortunately, after we finished gathering the wood, it immediately started to rain and thunderstorm. Our fire went out so we had to cook with our stove and all of our stuff got wet. We didn’t prepare the ground cloth that well so the tent floor was extremely soggy. I was also soaked to the skin and covered in mosquito bites.
Today was horrible. We woke up early in a small puddle of water. We also learned that we lost a roll of toilet paper because Grant left it outside after going to the biffy and it got wet. After packing up our tent and all of our soggy belongings, we took off. There was an extremely strong headwind so it took an hour for us to get around a bay that was right in front of our island campsite. After we got around, Elliot said we had to stop because there were white caps farther ahead. White caps are formed when the wind is extremely strong. The waves get to be so large, there is white froth at the top hence the name white caps. So, we were forced to wait at the bay which also turned out to be a campsite. We were attempting to wait out the wind but the wind never died down so we were forced to camp at the bay. I felt so angry. We wasted an entire day waiting out the wind doing absolutely nothing. Raaheem was fishing and Grant was watching him fish. We found leeches in the water and caught a couple for Raaheem to fish with. While waiting, Elliot and I saw a dragonfly emerge from its previous form. We spent 2 hours staring at it emerge and the group named the dragonfly Jimmy. While we were watching Jimmy, we saw a duck and its ducklings swim right up onto shore and walk around. We ate calzones for dinner today, calzones were made by taking the dough, and spreading it out onto our paddle and then filling it with some meat. We than fried it in our frying pan. We went canoeing out onto the bay later on today, Raaheem was fishing while Grant and I were canoeing. It rained shortly after we went into our tents.
We woke up extra early today to beat the wind. We packed up our stuff, and pushed off. The white caps were gone so we got really far today. There were showers on and off while we were canoeing so we had to wear our rain jackets for the entire day. The waves started getting very big and we started seeing white caps but we couldn’t turn back, we were already in the middle of the lake. There, it started to pour extremely hard. We paddled as hard as we could. Finally, we made it to the portage near the end of the day. This was our second portage of the trip and it was also the longest portage of the trip. The portage was 340 rods, a little over a mile, and the chances of us masking it through the portage in one trip and finding enough time to find a campsite was extremely slim. So, we found a campsite on the portage route and we camped there. It was a decent campsite and it had a nice view of the Iron waterfall. Elliot told us about how a boy scout and his scout master died on the waterfall. The Boy Scout got sucked into the water and because of how the water moved, he couldn’t come back up. The scout master jumped in to try and save the boy but they both died. There seemed to be as swarm at the campsite too. Wherever we went, we had a swarm of insects around our head that dived into our mouth, at our eyes and into our ears. Elliot showed us how the insects swarmed around the highest point so we walked around with our fingers in the air. That day was the first day we ate our dessert.
We woke up today and did the usual stuff. Then, we started on our 340 rod portage. We had to take two trips and we barely saw anyone on the portage which Elliot said was weird. The portage marked us officially getting off of Basswood Lake. After the portage, we canoed farther. We canoed past the Indian pictograms. We saw a girls group on shore and Elliot thought it might have been the girls BWCA group so we went close to shore. Then, we realized that it wasn’t and things became very awkward between our two groups. We camped at a little peninsula right around the corner. I fell down at the landing because the ground was just one solid chunk of granite that was also very slippery. After we got everything set up, we found a huge Northern Pike jaw at the campsite.
We woke up sort of late today, after canoeing for half an hour, we saw the girls BWCA group. Elliot and the counselor of the other group had a short talk about the trip. Then, we continued farther down the lake. We ate lunch at Curtain Falls which lead to Iron Lake. After we went through the portage, we met Reuben’s group which is the other boys BWCA group. We went a little farther and had another portage around some small rapids. At the end of the portage, we found a dead clam. We paddled a little farther and camped.
Today was very interesting…… we did the usual stuff we do in the morning. Then, we had a couple portages and kept on canoeing. What was really interesting was what happened around the time we were going to camp. Elliot met another girls BWCA group that left at a different time than us. They hadn’t found any campsites and there was only one open so our groups had to share the campsite. It was ok because both of our groups only had 4 people. The maximum amount of people in a party was 8. The girls just started out on trail 2 days ago so they took forever to set up their tent so we were the only people who got firewood. They also talked in a really loudly. Grant’s reaction towards them was hilarious. When Elliot asked him what he thought of the food, Grant said: “what do I think? I can’t even hear myself think.” Other than that, the day was uneventful
Woke up, packed up, left. We camped at an awesome campsite. It was once again a huge slab of granite so it was very slippery. After getting our stuff onto shore and setting up the tent, Raheem decided to fish. He lost three or four lures at that site and he got zero bites. Grant, Elliot and I started throwing pinecones at each other and also played a couple other games. Since it rained earlier today, we were going to use our stove to cook our supper. Elliot was cooking while the rest of us were setting up the tent. While we were setting up the tent, Elliot suddenly ran over to us and told us to stay where we were and when we looked at the stove the fuel bottle was on fire. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and then slowly, the fire went out. Because of that, it took longer than usual to make dinner. We had to get a fire going and most of the wood was damp.
We didn’t canoe that far today… we camped at the site where we ate lunch because we had lots of spare time…. At this campsite, there was a nice slab of granite that was perfect for a chair and had an amazing view of the lake. Raaheem went fishing again whileI sat down with Grant and looked at the lake. All of a sudden, we saw a huge snapping turtle in the water right beneath us. We watched the snapping turtle for a while and we also saw it eating up a dead fish underwater. Raaheem caught a smallmouth bass big enough to eat so we ate it.
Today was quite interesting….. We canoed to the opposite shore of our campsite and followed a river upstream till we reached a beaver dam. We had to portage around the beaver dam and we kept on going until we reached the real portage which was 80 rods. After the portage, we were in a beautiful river with water lilies all over. Water lilies are illegal to pick so we had to be sort of careful not to break any while we were paddling. There was one extremely shallow and rocky part which we had to portage over…… all heck broke loose at this portage……we all came out of the canoe and started portaging with Raaheem and Grant watching the canoes. Then all of a sudden, Raaheem saw a leech coming towards him and screamed at the top of his lungs and started smashing the water with his paddle. Grant and I were laughing so hard, we couldn’t breathe. Both Grant and Raaheem were terrified of the leeches. Raaheem jumped into the canoe again and was still screaming. Grant ran for the shore because he was also terrified. You had to actually be there to find it extremely hilarious. I took a personal pack and started for shore but I got held back by the muck. I sank down to my thigh and go stuck in the mud. Elliot helped me out and took my pack. We spent around an hour on a portage that should have taken minutes. Afterwards, we went through a couple other portages and camped at an amazing campsite. But soon, disaster struck. Grant had to go poop right after we got the canoes onto shore and a couple seconds later, he yelled “The toilet paper fell into the biffy!” he explained how as he was unrolling the toilet paper, he “fumbled” the paper and dropped it in. we had to use leaves for the rest of the trip.
We woke up, packed up, and went down another river. It was very similar to the first one and we took an 80 rod portage to get off the river and onto Nina Moose Lake. We camped on Nina Moose and we made tasty taters for dinner. Tasty Taters was probably in my opinion the best meal ever.
We woke up early, packed up, and left down the Moose River. We did one or 2 more 20 rod portages and we got to a 160 rod portage. Elliot took the ultralight and a personal pack and left. We had to take the woody. I took it a third of the way, than Grant, than Raaheem took it. Then, we got picked up and we left for camp. At camp, we had to black pot, snow seal the packs, and wash our pots.