What a destination for a babymoon! I must have the greatest wife in the world because this vacation was actually Molly’s idea from the start. We wanted one last getaway before she got too preggo and the summer got away from us so I asked around on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area community forums for an easy trip to take with a pregnant wife. Getting towed into the gigantic Lac La Croix by motor boat sounded like the best option. It would limit portaging while still allowing us to camp on an island and have the ability to take short portages to neighboring lakes on day trips.
Upon arrival at our outfitter (Anderson’s), we were greeted with a bit of sticker shock for the tow price – $300 each way! I had done the Quetico with my dad as a teen and remembered a small fishing boat towing our canoes over a big lake to start our trip for pretty cheap, so I expected the same. Nope. Our outfitter had a huge aluminum work boat and we would be traversing several mechanized portages and 30 miles of lakes and rivers, hence the hefty price tag. We decided that it wouldn’t be a Cade and Molly vacation without at least SOME suffering, so we nixed the tow out and planned on taking two days to paddle out by ourselves.
The tow was actually a ton of fun as we cruised toward Lac LaCroix from Crane Lake through tight narrows I never thought we would fit through, upstream on a tiny river, and over two mechanized portages.
The guide dropped us off at a small island near the campsites we had picked and we made a short paddle around to get our bearings and scout out a few island sites. We selected a small island campsite just south of 19 island which was perfect: west facing for a good breeze, a small clearing for sun, and a soft, level space for our tent. After a quick lunch, it was time to fish!
The fishing was spectacular and we spent our next 4 days relaxing, exploring, and fishing our way around the multitude of islands surrounding our base camp. We did one portage over to Takumich Lake on a tip from a ranger that it was loaded with smallmouth bass. He was correct, but they were tiny so we abandoned the shore and trolled for laketrout. We got one nice one before the wind really started picking up and we headed for home.
The mosquitoes were pretty bad as expected, but luckily my parents had outfitted us with bug nets and a screen tent (must-have accessories in my opinion). We also discovered a fantastic little rock island a short paddle from our campsite with absolutely no bugs where we could cook, swim, and fish without being assaulted.
Our time on Lac La Croix flew by and we awoke on our final day with a decision: paddle 30 miles out in one day, or take a more leisurely two-day paddle and set up camp again at dusk in the bugs. It was decided we would paddle hard, but if we saw an ideal campsite, we would stop for the night. Unsurprisingly, we grinded it out and did the trip in one day, getting off the water at precisely 9pm after and 11 hour paddle. Pizza and beers (NA for Molly) were our reward at Voyagaire Lodge and we decided it was worth the suffering of the day.
The next day, we met up with one of my childhood friends, Carl and his wife Liz, and headed to Ely for some post-paddling celebrations. Ely was a fun little town with great bars and we partied the night away until way too late.
On the drive home, neither Molly nor I could believe how fast our trip had flown by! We had been gone 8 nights, 4 of which we camped on our island in the Boundary Waters, but it somehow only felt like a long weekend. It was a fantastic trip and a perfect place for us to take one last adventure before the baby.