Little Gabro Lake Portage


Risk's Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Trip 2003

Trip with my son William and
friends from Patterson Park Church



The group got together in Dayton, Ohio on Friday evening.  We drove to just south of Chicago, and spent the night in a church.  The next day, we drove to Ely, MN and to the lakeside bunkhouse we have used in years past.



With my recent interest in ultralite hiking, it was interesting to contrast my homemade G4 pack with the pack that one of the 14 year olds was bringing into the wilderness.  My pack was just over 15 pounds...  I had a hard time lifting his.



First campsite after entering at Little Gabro Lake was an island in Gabro Lake.  Here, my son William is relaxing after pitching his prototype quarter weight hammock and 10x10 ft tarp. 



Here is Risk's set up.  It is nice for the both of us to just choose nice views instead of looking for soft, flat places on the ground.  Hammock is the beta version of the quarterweight hammock.  Both hammocks are double bottomed.  Risk's tarp is 5x10 feet.



Soon after setting up camp, the boys found a 3 foot garter snake.



And then it's parent.  Both snakes were released safely to continue to control the rodent population on the island.



Last year it was impossible to give a clear description of the pit toilets provided at each campsite.  This does better than any words.  As a friend said, "The wallpaper in that bathroom is the prettyest I have ever seen!"



Bill, our fishing guru got right to work, testing the water. 



He caught a couple small fish.  My first was this 13 inch pike the next morning.  Back in the water for this little bone bag!



That next day, we took a short side trip to the riffle between Gabro and Eagle lakes.  Fishing was a little slow in the beginning, so another sport began to get interesting as the sun passed overhead.



I was first down the riffle and then got to stand lifeguard as the kids took up the challenge.



Walking up stream started with getting to one's feet....



And then trying to walk back up into the stiff current.



After a few hours in the sun, a few minutes in the shade started to look good.



And then the fishing began to heat up.  This was right after Bill had caught a 15 inch smallie.  Suddenly, everyone wanted to fish.



Next day, we moved camp.  I set up my hammock on a little spit of land that jutted into a lake.  These are the last two trees at the end of that land.  Note how I am able to set the tarp up without putting it over my head.  When a storm comes, it is easy to just put two more stakes in and hold the tarp down A frame style.



William's tarp shows that the wind was beginning to pick up as we were getting settled.



This is the inside view of his tarp and hammock.



But the wind died down and William was able to get a little shut-eye.



Meanwhile, the fishing was getting better and Bill was getting happier and happier.  This little 18 inch pike was brought up with a jig holding a black leech in about 30 feet of water. 



The evening began by looking relaxed.  My hammock is in those trees down at the point.



The sky began to slowly cloud up and the colors became fantastic.



The wind became calm just as large clouds came over the horizon.  Just after this picture was taken, we saw a rain shaft on the southern horizon.  The canoes went into the brush, the tent stakes were reinforced, and we hunkered down for a superb air-to-air lightning show about an hour later.  Winds were carrying straightline rain from the left of this picture to the right.  It was going right under my hammock as I gently swung back and forth.  When I looked out into the lake to the right, I could not see the far shore and the water was being whipped into a frenzy.  This was a very good test of hammock camping in the rain.  My camping partners were very glad to have "only a cup or two" of water getting into their tents.  Floating on their thermorest mattresses, they were able to keep their sleeping bags dry. 



By the next morning, the sky had cleared.  Early, before dawn, I saw the Northern Lights for the first time in my life.  By the time I was taking these reflection pictures, the day was really beginning.



The cloud reflections began a salmon color,



and lightened as the sky got brighter and brighter.



Of course, this brought out the fishermen...



After breakfast, William and I split off from the main group for a day alone.  We left the campsite in a state of calm.



First task was a pair of portages.  William made his first portage with our antique 67# Grumman canoe.  It is a little easier with the homemade-hip mounted canoe carrier I had built last year.



This 26 inch pike rewarded us with a nice fight.  He was released to tangle with another fisherman after bending the barbs of my Rapella Shad Rap.



Goal was a set of rapids on the South Kawishiwi River. 



It was right here that I made a single cast and hooked a nice 13 inch smallie which we saved for dinner.



The following day, we moved further south on the Kawishiwi to a campsite near 47.86N 91.65W.  We first put our hammock up to be sociable, but the winds did not cooperate and we ended up moving a little back into the tree line. 



The day, which had begun with rain showers, turned clear and windy.



There are some days when the air is so clear that the shadows become blacker and the light areas shine with brightness.



In the wind, it was not easy to get a fire going, but we did.



The sky was just perfect for pretty cloud shots.



Here is my hammock set up in the trees to try to get away from the wind.  It is hard to get people out of my hammock sometimes.



We were camped out with two of our friends from the rest of the group.  Note the propane and the frying pan.  I was using the same equipment 1 year ago.  I have learned much over the last 12 months!



And here is the rest of the group on the other side of the lake relaxing toward sunset.



I enjoyed the trip, soaked in some sun, spent time with William, and made a little music with a penny whistle one of my canoe buds gave me just as we were leaving Ely.  I think this little whistle may make my ultralite pack list in the future.




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