First Family BWCA trip

31 08 2009

Well after 20+ years of Jason going on guy only Boundary Waters Canoe trips, he finally let me go this past week.  He said I wasn’t ready until now – perhaps he is right since I think I have grown into a stronger person this past year.

He chose our entry point as Hog Creek, about 11 miles off the Sawbill trail.  On our drive to Sawbill Canoe Outfitters to pick up our canoe, we spotted a mama and baby moose right alongside the road.  Right then I knew that this was going to be an awesome trip.  Some other critters we hung out with on the trip included:  loons, eagles, snapping turtles, painted turtles, bats, frogs, and minks. Here’s the beginning of our adventure:
canoeoncar

Our paddle down Hog Creek took about an hour and a half through drizzly rain & temp’s in the mid-50’s.  Not ideal paddling weather, but the boys did just great – no complaining!  The creek was very narrow, with some spots only as wide as the canoe, with an extreme amount of windy turns.  Sure did sharpen my steering skills!  Hog Creek flows into Perent Lake, which is where we set up camp.  Of course the first 5 camp sites we paddle to were taken, so we ended up at one clear across the other side of the lake.  Even though our site was small, we enjoyed it very much.  It had a excellent landing area that served as our playground for the next 3 days.

First time portaging a canoe all by myself!

First time portaging a canoe all by myself!

For some reason the gods were looking down upon us and made it stop raining just long enough for us to set up the tent and tarp.  After that it poured for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Me & the boys hung out in the tent the first night eating ramen noodles and fry bread that J made for us.  We passed the time by reading books and putting together some puzzles.

View of camp from the lake

View of camp from the lake

The next few days were just incredible.  We were able to run around in swim suits most of the time because we had glorious, sunny, warm weather.  Perent Lake has several islands that we paddled to and explored.  We hiked trails, gathered wood, climbed rocks, hunted for blueberries, and did a bit of swimming.  We found the holy grail of blueberry bushes and picked as many as we needed for the next morning’s blueberry pancake breakfast:

Noah's sweatshirt being used as our "blueberry bucket"

Noah's sweatshirt being used as our "blueberry bucket"

There wasn’t enough room in our 3 person canoe to bring in firewood, so we hiked around some remote parts of the lake to scavenge for dead, dry logs to make our campfires.  The boys really got into helping out with this chore and we nicknamed them the “little beavers”.

Taking a break from unloading wood from the canoe.  Typical boys using sticks as swords - Hi-ya!

Taking a break unloading wood from the canoe. Typical boys using sticks as swords - Hi-ya!

We tried our luck at fishing, and of course mom got skunked.  My dear little Kallen, however, was the fish master!  He caught some rather nice fish (minus the walleye the snapping turtle ate off the stringer) including a 20 inch walleye and a 30 inch northern!  Dad was so proud of him:)

Kallen so giddy after catching his first walleye!

Kallen so giddy after catching his first walleye!

I love this shirt..courtesy of Baby Blend Tees (and organic cotton of course)!

I love this shirt..courtesy of Baby Blend Tees (and organic cotton of course)!

You may be wondering what we packed for food, so here’s what we brought:  pancake mix, eggs pre-cracked in a nalgene, bacon, turkey slices, block cheese, tortillas (no sliced bread cuz it gets smashed), PB, Cliff bars, beef jerky, dry lentil soup, ramen noodles, fry bread from my friends at Cache Lake, mini candy bars, fruit snacks,and crackers.  We did leave one supper open for fish – which thankfully we did have.

Boys enjoying breakfast

Boys enjoying breakfast

You normally don’t portage ice into the BWCA, so you are pretty much stuck with warm drinks.  We used those little crystal light powdered drink packets to mix with (filtered) water in nalgene bottles to make juice for the kids.  What really worked good for adult beverages was bringing along those liter sized boxes of wine.  Once you are done with them all you have is the plastic cap for garbage since your can burn the cardboard box.

Hmmm....this picture must have been taken after polishing off the box of wine.

Hmmm....this picture must have been taken after polishing off the box of wine.

At our campsite we had a little hike to get back to the latrine, to err…relieve ourselves.  Every time I took the boys back to the potty, we would pass this little “landmark” and the boys would scream – “look, there’s the red mushroom again”!

redmushroom

Here’s some family pics of us at our little landing site:

canoefamily2

familyBWCA

This is one of my favorites because it shows how happy my boys are out on the water:

canoeboys

Our paddle out on Sunday was peaceful even though going upstream through Hog Creek was bit tougher.  That’s ok – I just got an extra bicep workout, that’s all!  It was sunny and about 65 degrees, but it definitely felt much hotter.  Me and J didn’t put on sunscreen and our noses and cheeks paid the price.  I felt so good after reaching our entry point and was thankful of time our family spent together.  Things went so smoothly – I think this was our best family trip ever.

Once we returned back to Sawbill to drop off our canoe, there was nothing better in the world than drinking a cold soda.  It was sure hard to choose between a that and a cold beer – but the Diet Coke won this time around:)

Thanks Sawbill - hope to see you next year!

Thanks Sawbill - hope to see you next year!

Who knew you could make a "green" roof on a dog house?  Ingenious!

Who knew you could make a "green" roof on a dog house? Ingenious!

I finally understand how important these canoe trips are to Jason.  We intend to make this an annual family tradition. It brings a certain calmness over you and does make you realize the truly important things in life.





Two Harbors Kayak Festival

11 08 2009

Last summer when we bought our first kayak – I decided that I was going to enter a kayak race someday.  That day was my 34th birthday this past weekend (well actually the day after due to weather postponement, but anyway….).

My little family (Jason, Kallen – 6, Noah – 3 & dogs Maggie – 9 and Odie – 11 weeks) made the trek to Two Harbors, MN for the 12th Annual Two Harbors Kayak Festival.  Two Harbors sits right on the Lake Superior shoreline about 20 miles north of Duluth.  If the north shore didn’t have such damn crazy weather, I’d live there in a heartbeat.

We set up camp Friday night at the Burlington Bay Campground, cooked up some burgers on our new Brunton duo  range/grill, and had a fire for about 10 minutes before the rain set in.  My boys were not yet sleepy so we all zipped into our mummy bags and pretended we were caterpillars crawling around the tent.

The weather on Saturday was not exactly ideal for a kayak race – 58 degrees, 10-15 mph east wind, light to moderate rain.  Are you kidding me?  Last time I checked it was August, right?  So the race was rescheduled for 9:30am on Sunday.  We were in and out of the festival all day – this event is not just about the racing, it’s a jam packed weekend of fun!  In addition to the 18 mile marathon race, the 5 mile Betty’s Pie race, and the tandem sprint race, activities included kayak and SUP (stand up paddle board) demos, individual and family kayak tours, kid’s kayak race, kid’s climbing wall (no they didn’t let me participate), vendor tents, beginner and advanced clinics, pancake breakfast and on-site meals.

Holy kayaks batman!

Holy kayaks batman!

Kallen and Dad taking sea kayak out for a spin

Kallen and Dad taking a sea kayak out for a spin

Here we go!

Here we go!

Hey mom and dad, am I holding the paddle the right way?

Hey mom and dad, am I holding the paddle the right way?

I finally got to demo a SUP board and man was I excited.  It was tons of fun but a bit harder than I expected.  I think I was overly cautious because I didn’t want to fall into the frigid Lake Superior.  If I had been on any other body of water I would have let go a bit more and not minded getting wet.  I did myself proud by not falling off the board (thank you YOGA for teaching me balance).  I am in the midst of negotiations on bringing home a board in the near future….

hold her steady now girl!

hold her steady now girl!

Hee, hee, now comes the funny part…For those of you who know Jason, you know he is a competitor who likes to do things “right” on the first try.  He doesn’t do anything that makes him look “silly” because he needs to project an aura of Mr. Cool…..For those who don’t know him, he’s an engineer (think logical, methodical, no surprises).  So of course when he took a tumble of the SUP board and went for a swim – I couldn’t help but laugh….hysterically.

After the swim, I think he stayed on his knees the rest of the time just to be "safe"

After the swim, I think he stayed on his knees the rest of the time just to be "safe"

Hmm….hopefully after I bring my board home I can get him back on the horse.

The rest of our Saturday was spent geocaching.  The first hunt of the day was on top of the Silver Creek tunnel.  Only Jason and Kallen did some serious bouldering to make it to the top of the cliff – I know I could have done it, but someone had to stay behind with Noah.  The second hunt took us to Gooseberry Falls State Park to find another critter collector card for the boys.  I see geocaching as becoming a big part of our family outdoor time together and I encourage all of you with children to get involved.  I would be happy to share my insight:)

Hiking on the Gitchee Gami trail

I don’t know if it was because I really did turn a year older this day or if Noah ate too many pancakes for breakfast…..but this boy is getting heavy!  He is pushing 40 pounds and I don’t know how many more miles I can log with this bugger on my back.

We found the cache!

We found the cache!

This is what a typical MN state park cache box looks like

This is what a typical MN state park cache box looks like

Mom helping boys look though trinkets and critter cards to take home

Mom helping boys look though trinkets and critter cards to take home

RACE TIME!

I had to be at the registration tent by 8:15am Sunday for a mandatory racers meeting – review water conditions, buoy markers, etc.  The change in weather from the day before was unbelievable…..warm, calm, little wind, an absolute perfect day for my first race.  There was some early morning fog but it did burn off a bit later.

My class (5 mile) getting lined up

My class (5 mile) getting lined up

Off to a foggy start

Off to a foggy start

View of festival from my kayak

View of festival from my kayak

I am guessing that there were about 30 racers in my class and many of them had raced before.  Most of the boats were sea kayaks between 16-19 feet and my Perception was a mere 12 footer.  You typically use a sea kayak (long and narrow) for large bodies of water and mine is used for recreational river paddling (shorter and wider for stability).  I really thought about renting a sea kayak for the race but wanted to see how I could do in my own.  Next year I will rent a sea kayak just to even the playing field a bit and see if my time is any better.

The official results are still not yet posted, but I think I completed the race in 1 hour, 29 minutes.  I gave it my all and stayed with a pack for the entire race.  I thought some of them might peter out at the end and I could pass them, but the wind picked up and waves started slowing me down. In the end, there were a lot of boats that crossed the finish line ahead of me and a few behind me – I am just happy with myself for getting out there and trying something new. Can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead……

All smiles at completion of race

All smiles at completion of race