a bugless visit..
I spent a week in Voyageur's National Park beginning Friday, May 28th on a solo, kayaking trip in my Folbot Yukon. This trip report is a bit lengthy and there are lots of pictures..you might enjoy the eagle on the nest and swimming moose at the end of the pictures in Part 2..
I entered Voyaguer's via the Ash River Visitor Center..
center of map..I planned to kayak up to the historic Kettle Falls Hotel. I spent Thursday evening, May 27th, at Wade and Nicole Watsons place..they run Voyageur's Adventures Outfitting on Lake Kabetogama..for $45 I had a whole cabin to myself with 6 bunkbeds to spread out my stuff. It had rained prior to leaving home so I was only able to throw stuff in the car. They gave me great campsite advice..all of which I took.
I only kayaked a few miles that first day but exploring the shoreline added to the distance. I planned to hole up at one site over the Memorial Day week-end and unwind..which I did..I had a whole island to myself with very little traffic..of course, that may have been because the weather was terrible Saturday and Sunday..still, I enjoyed myself hiking the island and fishing in the rain.
I had discovered mushrooms which I was sure were morels, although a bit strangely shaped..without hesitation I picked them. The next morning I ate them after first cooking them in butter then scrambling them with fresh eggs..I love kayak camping! They were excellent. I was stupid..when I got home and looked them up in my mushroom book I found, while they don't affect some, others have died eating them..false morels, is what they're called..gyromitra esculenta..dumb Mataharihiker..
While packing to leave on Monday, I was hailed by a beautiful huge, wooden canoe holding more than 6 and less than 10, guys.."Do you know where you are?" I was asked. "As a matter of fact, I do," was my reply. It turns out their canoe had capsized in 4 foot waves the day before. Luckily for them, they had washed up near a house and were able to dry out but, they had lost their map. I pointed them in the right way..they were on their way out. I was headed towards the island where they had capsized having already decided to take the shoreline route instead of the main channel where they had met with disaster.
I loaded (a 2 hour process) my kayak and, while searching for my gloves, felt water in the stern..horrified, I discovered 4 inches of water!..I had sprung a major leak! I emptied the kayak and, with difficulty, flipped it over..water came pouring out of a lock nut which had come unlocked. My last purchase had been a tiny Leatherman copy, bought for fishing, which I used to tighten the nut..it worked.
I headed out in a very high (20-30mph was my guess) winds and some good waves..more than I had ever experienced but, as I have almost no experience, that's not saying a great deal..I didn't go far..everytime I came out from behind an island into the wind roaring across Lake Namakan it was a huge effort to make headway. I was headed to the campsite at the mouth of Johnson's Bay but, I saw it was sitting right in the teeth of the wind..no good..however, a tiny island nearby had a wilderness site I spotted from the water and it turned out to be an amazing spot.
Finally, a sandy landing and a beautiful, windless campsite..and everywhere, piles of mooseturds..and folks, we're talking piles every 6-10 feet..this was one populated island..not good..I began to walk the circumference to check it out..just followed the piles of turds..the island was probably only 200-300 yards across and there were no moose to be seen..I did spot, however, a very old, man-made leanto..took some good pictures of it.
The rest of the kayaking part of the trip was uneventful. After 3 stormy days I got calm, beautiful waters..I kayaked up to Kettle Falls
without incident where I had a wonderful, fresh walleye dinner my first evening. I met the whole crew..it was before the tourist rush..they treated me so much like family I forgot to tip! Rick, the owner of the concession the past 9 years, spent almost an hour looking through forgotten sunglasses for a screw to replace the one that had just fallen out of my glasses..he found one..
I kayaked back to my campsite by moonlight and the sound of calling loons. It was hard to sleep on such a beautiful night. The sound of feeding fish slapping the water also kept me awake..still, I woke up before sunrise to try a little fishing..like everyone else I had met, no luck. The next day, I returned to the hotel for a wonderful breakfast and a $2 trip to their modern bathrooms..for that you get the bathroom of your choice, soap, shampoo, conditioner, washcloth and towel..I took a bath, then a shower, then a bath. Rooms are $70 with bathrooms down the hall..
I dwadled that day..kayaked around..got some great photos of the nearby nesting baldy which I took from my kayak..had a river otter surprise me while I was fishing..he was only 6 feet away..too quick for my camera..and, hung about in my hammock just enjoying the day.
Next day, I packed up while a couple of the nice kids that worked in the hotel who had kayaked over to check out my campsite, kept me company. I left early afternoon expecting to only kayak 6 0r 7 miles but, it didn't work out that way..I still felt I had plenty of energy and kayaking in the calm of the late afternoon is wonderful..mistake..there were no free campsites, islands or landfalls available..all were occupied..it was amazing..where did they all come from on a Thursday evening! I checked out every side bay andback bay and island I saw along the way..no room at the inn! I was very tired when I saw, to my amazement, what could only be the boat pullout ramp at Ash River..it was a straight, 14 mile shot from Kettle Falls to Ash River and I had hardly kayaked in a straight line..no WONDER i was tired! I was about ready to give up and pull the kayak out of the water when I noticed the point opposite the visitor center at the entrance to Lost Lake appeared unoccupied..amazingly enough, it was free! I threaded my way through the dozen or so fishing boats and took up residence..grateful to have found a spot!
The next morning, I arose before the fisherman and kayaked around Lost Lake..I saw, in one short hour, 2 loons, a beaver and his home, a browsing deer, a river otter, a flock of honking northbound Canadian geese, many colorful turtles and, the real surprise, a moose swimming from my campsite to the opposite shore! Shots of all, but the river otter, are in the 2nd album..
So, here are the links to Webshots for those of you who like pictures..
a bugless visit..
Keep them coming!
Nice Pics, Enjoyable Report
Enjoyed both very much! Never been to Voyageurs due to the size of the lakes there; I go to the BWCAW/Quetico, but going to have to try Voyageurs some time. Thank God the mushrooms didn’t harm you. We have morels here, but I just don’t have the “Guts” to take the chance. Take care. WW
It’s like the the BWCA without the fees, portaging, blowdowns and burning restrictions. Downside…powerboats which you can largely avoid by staying out of the main channels…you can stay in small water by island hopping, as I did…I’m a coward and felt very safe…there’s alot of shoreline to hug! try it sometime…after black-fly season!
I’m glad you liked the pictures…thanks for the positive feedback…
I’m gonna have to look at planning a trip there… maybe for next summer. I spent a week on a houseboat on Rainy Lake when I was about 13, and loved it. This time I’d go by kayak.
Thanks for sharing the pictures and your impressions of Voyageurs. I’ve gone solo there in my sea kayak and loved it. I’ve also taken many trips in Quetico, which is right next door. Both are very beautiful and paddler’s paradise. The red triangle is a channel marker… none of those in Quetico.
Did you sleep in a hammock? Looks like there was one there.
Did you have any trouble navgating? Two of us are going up in Sept to circle the peninsula in 6 days your photos make a great preview.
and a great report too!
Good trip report
I remember your original discussion of your trip plans and I was hoping you would write about how it went. I’d love to go up there.
Yes, I sleep in a hammock…
for 2 years I used a Byer of Maine Moskito hammock with a Golite Cave 1 siltarp…slept like a baby but the netting was not no-see-um and it was cramped. I bought a Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker A-sym…I’m getting used to the bottom entrance although I do prefer a side entrance…
With a Thermarest under me I stay warm down to 36F. I am a hammock freak…I bp or kayak camp with 2…one’s a net one for lounging during the day…it folds up to the size of a softball…there are 3 set up right now in the yard…and I’m headed to one of them right now…bye…
Great Voyageurs Paddlers…
Thank you for sharing your stories, and staying with us at Voyageurs Adventures. The campfire stories were nothing compared to the great pictures and stories after your trip…
Voyageurs is often forgotten as a kayakers area, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Thanks for visiting the area, and if we can ever help you or anyone paddling in this neck of the woods…we love to help!
for your posting. I’m going the lst week of August to solo-circumnaviagte the peninsula in my Seawind.