Sometimes a quick trip into the canoe country is all you have time for. That was the case on Wednesday when a friend and I, along with our two boys, leftVoyageur Canoe Outfitters around 10am. We used the tow boat service to travel through the Boundary Waters and got dropped off on the edge of the Quetico Park.
I wish I could say the wilderness waters were as calm as they are in the above photo but that would be a lie. Anyone who has paddled into the Quetico Park through Cache Bay has probably heard stories about what a wicked place it can be. The slightest bit of wind seems to make Cache Bay a basin of whitecaps churning in every direction. That was the case on Wednesday as we made our way across Cache Bay. Luckily we survived the journey without tipping and breathed a sigh of relief as we reached the portage.
We found a nice campsite and spent the afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet of the wilderness. We swam, snacked, fished and then a rain shower sent us to the tent for a game or two of cards. After the rain the two boys, both 9 years old, took the canoe out to find some fish which they did quite easily. Smallmouth bass were biting and the boys were not ready to come in even as the first stars started to appear.
We coaxed the boys back to shore and into the tent for the night. As we fell asleep a beaver slapped its tail and the loons sang us a lullabye.
The wind began to blow sometime during the night. That's a bad thing when you have to paddle back out through Cache Bay. We knew it would be wavy but we weren't mentally prepared for just how big the waves actually were.
Cache Bay has claimed the life of more than one paddler over the years. The water is cold and deep and the wind has a strange way of whipping around the islands causing whirlpools where waves meet up in all directions. We had the boys sit on the floor of the canoe for extra stability, told them to swim to the shore where the waves were pushing them and to not worry about saving our gear or their frog when we tipped.
Miraculously we made our way through the bay surfing on the tops of large swells and dipping dangerously low after them. My bow paddler is an extremely strong paddler and didn't let up once or question my directions of what to do. We took a little bit of water on a couple of times, just nearly missed a rock pile and barely made it around Cache Point but we did it.
With a huge grin on my face I told Cache Bay we had beaten her that time. Relieved and proud we paddled to Hook Island for our pick up. The waves continued to get bigger throughout the day and by the time the tow boat arrived Saganaga was rocking.
A mere 27 hours had passed since we left for our trip and there we were home again. What a grand experience in such a short amount of time. To experience different weather, wildlife and camping fun with so few hours was very rewarding. I'm lucky to live so close to this wilderness area so I can get out for quick trips. After all, a quick trip is better than no trip at all.