I love the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness but unfortunately only get to go every five years due to an agreement with my wife. In 2007 five of us from our canoe club made the trip up north. Wil, who went last time agreed to be my partner this trip using my Wenonah 18' Sundowner Kevlar canoe. Plans were made months in advance and re-planned as planning is half the fun to Wil and I. Of course we over planned everything. We decided on taking the Sioux-Hustler Loop based on a recommendation of Paddlefasterpaster from the Canoecountry.com Bulletin Board. The write up for the trip in Beymer's Boundary Waters Book says its 45 miles, on 23 lakes, 1 river, 4 creeks and 28 portages. We went counter-clockwise on the loop so as to do the longest portages early in the trip.
Friday, August 24th, was one of the longest days of work ever. After punching the time clock I made the 1.5 hour drive to western Ohio to meet Wil. We spread out all our gear and food then checked for duplicate and unnecessary items. We repacked everything and hit the road heading for Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Wil's wife has a Prius that she graciously let us use due to the wonderful gas mileage it gets. You should have seen that 18 foot canoe on that small car. I wondered if we needed a red flag on the back but no cops stopped us.
We arrived at Leinenkugals's Leine Lodge at 4:30am. We cannot pass up the chance to "shop" for Leine merchandise. Since the lodge did not open until 9:00am we snoozed in the vehicle until nature called at 6:00am. Drove to a Quik Stop where an employee directed us to a 24 hour restaurant. After a huge breakfast at the "Big Steer Barn", it was back to the Leine Lodge where we walked the brewery grounds. Only 7:30am. Decided to go to the grocery store and pick up a couple cases of Leine's but the store couldn't see alcohol until 8:00am (stupid law). Back to Leine's and more waiting. After 8 we went back to the grocery, got beer then back to the lodge which was now open. Sampled some beers and spent money on "Leine stuff". Hit the highway at 10:00am arriving in Duluth, Minnesota around 12:30pm. We went to the Duluth Pack store for a hot minute then back on the road to Ely. We had to get the BWCA permit before 4:30pm. Arrived in town at 3:30 and headed directly to the ranger station. Secured the permit then went to Voyageur North Outfitters where I bought a fishing license. I should have gotten the BWCA permit there as well since they stay open later. Then off to Piragis where Wil wanted to buy a new paddle. He acquired a lovely Bending Branches Expresso Plus. While standing outside waiting for Wil, I called my youngest daughter and had her look me up on the Sheridan Street web cam. When Wil came out, we stood on the sidewalk and did the O-H-I-O thing. My daughter captured the images. The dumb stuff tourists do!!!
We walked up the hill to the Boathouse (was named Cranberries the last time I was there) for supper and some locally brewed beer. Not too bad. Left Ely for the 35 mile drive up the Echo Trail to the Jeannette Lake Campground. I told Wil to turn the wrong way. Hope the canoe navigation is better. Got to the campground and set up camp just as it was getting dark. Had a small fire then off to bed. We were real tired after the long 18 hour drive from Ohio but very glad to be in the Northwood's again.