|Day 1, Wednesday, June
This is a trip the boys have
dreamed of since they were Cub Scouts. It is finally here. We left from
the Troop 14 Scout Hut, Indian Creek Road, Brownwood, Texas at 6:40 A.M.
Two of the adult leaders, Shirley and Gary Teague were unfortunately unable
to go at the last minute. Scout Taylor Bradshaw was just recently released
by his Dr. to go and naturally on the day before he lost his wallet and
photo I.D. at the movie theater. The fact that it was necessary to have
this type of lost identification to cross the Canadian border was troubling,
but we were off none the less. (Maybe we could pick him up on the border
on the return trip? His mother would never know.)
We took 4 adult advisors
13 scouts and all their gear in 2 suburbans and one large Church van, from
our sponsoring organization, First United Methodist Church of Brownwood,
Texas. We drove 13 hours on the road, through Wichita Falls, Texas and
Oklahoma Indian Reservations with lunch at Chickasha, OK. It was on through
Kansas, past Kansas City to Cameron, MO with dinner at Ma & Pa Kettles
where the boys flirted with a cute young waitress named Jessica. Charlie
Collins even left her a note. Glad her boyfriend didn’t find him at our
motel; thunderstorm that night.
Day 2, Thursday, June
After breakfast at the motel
we drove through Missouri, Iowa (pretty farmland) to Minnesota. We arrived
at Cabela’s at 3:00 P.M. and spent 2 hours together with whatever money
we could spare. Then we drove to the home of Hector and Beth Dalton near
St. Paul. Hector had formerly been the Scoutmaster for Troop 14 and his
son Brant had been our Sr. Patrol Leader when they lived in Brownwood.
Brant and his sister Anna were there. Hector grilled hotdogs and hamburgers
and Tim and Nancy Navratil and their sons came to dinner. They had also
once been members of our Scout Troop before they moved to Minnesota. Temperature
after dinner was 66 degrees and all removed shoes because of the white
carpet. After dinner, the boys played football outside, some of Anna’s
fellow cheerleaders came over to create a cheerleading routine. P.J. watched
the girls practice while the others played football. Mark and Hugh slept
upstairs, all others slept in basement. We delivered Texas briskets and
Troop Trek T-shirts to the Daltons as a thank you.
Day 3, Friday, June 22,
We talked Hector and Beth
Dalton into going part of the way with us, so we left after picking up
a Fed Ex package for Hugh Collins. We drove up the north shore of Lake
Superior and hiked to Gooseberry Falls. We stopped at a high bluff – saw
some guys rappelling. Then we hiked the Shovel Head formation in Tetta
Gouche State Park, picked up rocks and waded along the shore of Lake Superior.
Water was cold, 50 degrees, and unusually calm. Then we headed for Ely,
The road was a winding two
lane with a speed limit of 50 MPH or less. Saw a young bull moose at the
side of the road –slowed to let moose get out of the way, he looked like
an uncoordinated gangly teenager, similar to some we had in the vehicles.
Our plan to see the Scout Base at Ely had to be changed because we spent
too much time at Lake Superior. Beth and Hector left us and headed for
a cabin at Lake Vermillion.
We drove on to Giants
Ridge Golf and Ski Resort near Biwabik, Minnesota for our lay over. We
were late for dinner but they graciously served us anyway. Taylor’s lost
photo ID had been found in the theater in Brownwood and shipped here by
his mom but it did not arrive. We stayed in sports dorms used by
some of the Olympic cross-country ski teams when they trained. Boys swam
in indoor heated pool, played at arcade and worked out in gym, when a fire
alarm went off. It turned out to be a false alarm; all scouts deny having
anything to do with it.
Day 4, Saturday, June
We talked the staff into
letting us eat early and then headed for the border. We changed our route
from Thunder Bay to International Falls because of time constraints. Mark
Bradshaw had brought Taylor’s high school yearbook so he would have some
photographic proof he was who he said he was in case the Canadian officials
would not let him in without his lost ID. It took an hour to cross the
border, we were all in our scout uniforms, and fortunately they let us
through without even asking for the identifications of all the boys. They
didn’t even search the vehicles. Whew! The speed limit in Canada was 55
and we were concerned we were not going to arrive at the Don Rogert scout
base on Perch Lake near Atikokan in time so we ate in the cars. We
needn’t have worried. We made it exactly on time. Mark stayed with the
boys as Steve, Hugh, and Frank left to get the permits at the Quetico Provincial
Parks headquarters at Atikokan.
The troop was divided into
3 crews and assigned interpreters (They were not to be called or to serve
as guides) Crew A was comprised of Adult Advisors Steve Ellis and Mark
Bradshaw, and scouts John Ellis, Crew Leader, Joey Ellis, Chaplain Aid,
Taylor Bradshaw, Jon Durand, P.J. Shilling and their interpreter, Mike
Stroppa. Crew B was Adult Advisor Hugh Collins, and Scouts Charlie Collins,
Lance Kilpatrick, Kendal Teague, Colton Duffy and interpreter Natasha.
Crew C was made up of Adult Advisor Frank Griffin and scouts Seth Griffin,
Michael Bretzke, James Martin, Walt Howard and interpreter Lisa.
Crews planned routes, combed
through gear, and packed granite packs. We were each starting at different
points and going separate routes, but we were wind up at the same exit
point on Nym Lake. We all walked to Marr’s Perch Lake Lodge for dinner.
We received orientation after dinner. Each crew stayed in a cabin at the
base. (Crew A was in Fort William) Lights out at 10 P.M.
Day 5, Sunday, June 24,
(Crew A Only)
We had breakfast at 5:30
A.M. at Marr's Perch Lake Lodge for an early start. The crews were separated.
Crew A was taken by van to Lerome Lake. It started to rain but soon cleared.
Our driver was a big burly Scotsman who was mad at the fact “a damned Frog”
(a French Canadian) pulled in the wrong way on the launching road and was
blocking us. Finally, we launched.
We got under way in 3 canoes;
Mark and Steve with the gear in a light weight yellow fiberglass Sirois
River; and the others, 3 to a canoe in heavier aluminum Grummans, with
P.J and Durand as the duffers (sitting in the middle of the canoes usually
with a fishing pole in their hands). We headed south, the weather was great,
the lakes were beautiful, soon we heard the eerie haunting cry of loons
and saw several shortly thereafter swimming near our canoes. We had a short
portage (We didn’t know how good we had it).Our next portage really wasn’t
one. We went through Jackfish Creek, which was a swamp full of beaver dams
with beavers swimming all around. We continued south into Bewag Lake and
then we had another short portage into Lark Lake.
Next was a relatively short
portage into a muddy bog. Joey sunk up to his arms in the muck of no name
lake. Jon Durand pulled John Ellis in the canoe. We paddled through another
swamp. We saw a baby duckling and red carnivorous flowers which ate insects.
Finally, we reached good water. We canoed through south Cole Lake, Sue
Lake and at Cirrus Creek we did a portage onto a relatively small lake
which adjoined Cirrus Lake. It was a tough one. P.J. caught fish. We saw
5 inch long leeches in the creeks.
We canoed south; camping
on a pretty peninsula next to Cirrus Lake It was a neat place with big
granite rocks. We went then went back to Sue Falls, swam and played around
in the waterfalls. It is a beautiful place. The only negative was all the
little leeches we found on our bodies after we got out of the water. Durand
caught a nice Pike using a leech as bait. Joey was our Chaplain Aide and
he conducted a service and led in a time of reflection, “thorns and roses”
(where we tell our favorite part of the day and worst), after a nice dinner
of fajitas and rice. Mike and Steve were the cooks. It was a great day
with great people.
Day 6, Monday, June 25,
(Crew A Only)
Mosquitoes are terrible here,
especially in the morning, waiting on your screens of your tent, daring
you to come out. We are learning how to speak English, Canadian style.
When you go out and about, you say “oot and aboot”; instead of “you know”,
you say “eh”; instead of “goofy”, you say “loony toony”, “took” means “jerk”.
We got up early. Duran caught
a nice pike before we left. The water on Cirrus Lake was very rough. It
is a big lake with choppy waves. We continued heading south to a terribly
tough portage into Kasakokwog Lake. The portage was muddy, rocky, buggy,
long, high, low, and hot. Then we had to make a second trip and do it all
over again in order to get all our gear and food. Mark Bradshaw was wiped
out, near death. P.J looked like a beekeeper in bog shirt and net headgear.
We finally make it into Lake
Kasakokwog and canoe east. It was a big lake, very windy. We tried to sail,
using our paddles as masts and rain flies as sails. It worked somewhat
but not as good as we wanted. Steve looses his camera in the lake from
the side of canoe but keeps the rubber band it was attached to. He was
so pleased. We continue east through McAlpine Creek. We had a short portage
into McAlpine Lake.
We canoed to a point on the
south bank near what we named P. J.’s Island. We camped here. It will be
forever known as “Black Fly Revenge” for obvious reasons. We saw owls and
were entertained by chorus of bullfrogs and loons. We ate Duran’s pike
for lunch, fried by Steve and Mike. Fishing was good for P.J. at his island
spot. That night our cooks served us all walleye with almonds in
a bed of rice. Dessert was Mike’s cheesecake, which he made, then spilled.
We ate well today none the less.
Our interpreter Mike Stroppa
is a young man of Italian descent from Alberta, Canada. He is of average
height, has real short hair, with a little beard. He picked our crew because
we all wanted to fish a lot, as did he. His most obvious features
were two tattoos: one of a sun around his navel, the other was the mouth
and large tongue symbol of the Rolling Stones on his shoulder. Mike is
cool, say the boys.
We played spades, tossed
the Frisbee, swam, etc. It is hot. Steve drew a sketch of the campsite
while Mike and Mark beat Taylor and Joe in spades. Black flies are terrible.
Steve went to sleep early.
Day 7, Tuesday, June 26,
(Crew A Only)
We slept till 8 A.M. Then
after breakfast we canoed east through McAlpine Lake. We had a long portage
but not a bad one into Batchewaung Bay. We explored an island and canoed
to a large peninsula where we camped between Batchewaung Bay and Pickerel
Narrows. We named the spot “Tejas Bay” after our campsite Tejas B (Now
Cheyenne) at Camp Billy Gibbons. It was our favorite campsite. Jon Durand
and John Ellis caught a lot of small mouth bass. Joey Ellis and Mark Bradshaw
were our cooks. We ate fried bass. It was a great, great campsite. Not
too buggy. Steve sketched one of the canoes and John drew a charcoal sketch
of the inlet near where we camped.
We saw a huge, 50 pound turtle
which tried to steal Durand’s fish. Mark Bradshaw had to fight it off with
a canoe paddle. Bald eagles would also swoop down and fight gulls for fish,
usually loosing. John Ellis and Jon Durand were fishing when a moose cow
and her calf swam by them to the other side of the shore. There were beaver
and hawks also in the area. Mark caught his first Canadian small
walleye; Taylor caught a small mouth bass. Durand caught a trophy small
mouth bass and we let it go. All but Steve and Joey caught some fish today.
John and Steve find a map in the lake belonging to Jon Taller and Derek
Krause from New Lennox, Illinois and Benjamin Voliva from Valparaiso, Indiana
along with their fishing licenses issued on June 13, 2001. We plan to mail
it them on our return. Our binoculars got wet. Joey and Mark had an episode
with cooking popcorn that almost set them on fire. Joey led us in a brief
chapel service as we looked out over a lake as smooth as glass with a gorgeous
moon over head. Stars were popping out. We stayed up late, till 11 P.M.,
laughing, talking and playing spades and hearts. Our original plan was
to go the next day southwest into Jesse Lake to meet the other crews if
possible. However, we were enjoying ourselves too much and decided to stick
around and fish.
Day 8, Wednesday, June
(Crew A and B Only)
We got up at 5 A. M.
to do some fishing and it was already light out. Mark and Steve were in
Tejas Bay fishing when up from Pickerel Narrows comes Hugh Collins, his
son Charlie Collins and their interpreter Natasha in their canoe. Later,
scouts Kendal Teague, Lance Kilpatrick and Colton Duffy paddled up. We
shared donuts with Crew B and swapped stories with our friends. We played
card games on the back of life jackets most of the day. Steve sketched
Natasha as she played and drank coffee. We fished off and on all day.
Crew B camped on an island
in Batchewaung. We saw a few other groups but no other scouts except some
girl scouts who paddled through. Steve and Joey are the only ones out of
Crew A who are still skunked in the fishing department. Crew B had not
caught any fish. In talking with Hugh Collins, we discovered that Crew
B had been waiting in ambush with a large stash of pine cones to pelt us
with once we came through Jesse Lake, but to no avail. Hugh said they had
not seen C Crew since the first day we all split up.
The Ellises and the Bradshaws
canoed further east into Pickerel Narrows and fished. They had no luck
except for John, who caught a nice pike and then cleaned it on what we
designated “Elephant Butt” rock in the middle of the lake. They got near
to some loons just swimming along, Mark got some good close-up photos.
It was a fun day. The kids swam a lot. Natasha did too and she is a rather
large, buxom lass and practically fell out of her swimsuit. Taylor ran
around most of the day in his underwear. Tonight we dinned on spaghetti
and small mouth rock bass courtesy of ace fisherman, Jon Durand. Later
we had a chapel service led by Joey and did thorns and roses. Natasha said
today was the first time the entire trek that her crew had laughed.
A wager was made tonight.
After Mike caught a few big black flies and threw them against the rocks,
Joey and Mike began to banter with each other. They made a bet having to
do with Hudson Bay Bread which had been a staple for the old voyageurs.
(See the recipe, which is attached) We were eating it on the trip because
it was a great energy source but one slice contained 2000 calories. Steve
could only eat one-half a slice. Mike bet that Joey could not eat 2 slices
of Hudson Bay Bread plus drink one liter of water for breakfast.
If he could, at the closing campfire at base camp Mike would raise the
Texas flag and sing “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Deep in the Heart of
Texas”. If Joey could not eat it, Joey agreed to sing “Oh Canada” with
a red Canadian maple leaf painted on his chest at the closing campfire.
Day 9, Thursday, June
(Crew A and B Only)
Crew B leaves before Crew
A does because of “The Wager”. We all gathered around for breakfast and
watched as Joey proceeds to eat the whole thing, 2 slices of Hudson Bay
Bread, washes it down with the liter of water, and then is hungry within
2 hours. He wins the bet and Mike is stunned. He said the water makes it
expand and he was amazed Joey was still walking.
We break camp and canoe north
into Batchewaung Bay, then northeast up Little Batchewaung Bay and into
Batchewaung Lake. Here, we met a Boy Scout crew from Georgia cleaning their
fish at their campsite. We find B Crew is camping on an island near the
north shore of Batchewaung Lake. We go north of them and establish our
campsite. Mike, P.J., and Jon Durand stay back and fish in Little Batchewaung
Bay for a while. Durand caught a few rock bass. Then, Natasha canoes over
to our campsite with Kendal’s boots and shoes, because she thought he had
taken hers. Natasha tells us that bears have been seen in the area where
we are camping.
Mark, Taylor, and Steve bushwhacked
north to a small lake above Batchwaung. The bushwhacking was awful as the
forest was thick with lots of fallen timbers and underbrush. Everyone fell
at least once and came out bloodied but unbowed. Steve finally got to a
rock on the other side and caught two pike before Mark and Taylor had arrived.
John and Joey in one canoe and Jon, Mike and P.J. in another, came around
from the south after a portage by a small green cabin near Lake Batchewaung.
Everybody caught fish but Joe. Taylor lost a lure, leader, and swivel on
his best cast of the day thanks to what he termed his dad’s defective knot
tying. We had 17 pike.
When we got back to our campsite,
the wind had really picked up. There were white caps on Lake Batchewaung.
Mike, John, and Jon went across to B Crew’s Island to clean the fish and
propose a fish fry at their campsite for dinner. They signaled for the
rest of us to come, so off we went to their island. We crossed the roughest
water we had seen on the trip up that point. Hugh and Charlie left to borrow
some cooking oil from some other crew. Joey, Taylor, and Natasha went back
to A Crews campsite to get the remains of our oil. We then had a huge fish
fry. Lance, Colton, and P.J. fried the fish, Steve cooked mac and cheese
with green beans. Everyone was stuffed. As A Crew left the B Crew Island
after supper, they were attacked with a flurry of pine cones hurled by
those pirates of B Crew.
The wind was even worse than
before. Mark and Steve were in the light fiberglass canoe without the weight
of the gear. Mark was in front as usual, but he was way up, paddling in
thin air as the canoe would crash over the waves. At one point Mark dropped
his paddle and held on to both sides of the canoe. Steve shouted for him
to keep paddling as they almost swamped. They paddled for all they were
worth and bounced across the waves back to their campsite on the north
shore of Lake Batchewaung.
The boys played cards and
tried to sleep out, but mosquitoes chased them into their tents. We had
found out that the bear sighting at our campsite was by the Georgia Scout
crew we had seen earlier in the day. Fortunately, the only growling we
heard that night was the wind, not the bears, as the waves crashed on the
shore. It was an exciting day in the wilderness. It was great to be alive.
Day 10, Friday, June 29,
(A Crew, B Crew and finally
A Crew awakened at 6:00 A.M.,
ate breakfast, finished the last pot of coffee, and broke camp. John Ellis
had left the fillet knife on the B Crew Island where they had cleaned the
fish last night and he and Jon Durand canoed over to retrieve it.
They found out that the day before while we were fishing, B Crew had stolen
our Kool Aid and Trail Mix from our campsite, the dirty dogs. B Crew then
unashamedly joined us and we paddled together. Unknown to us, sometime
the day before Frank Griffin and Crew C passed us and camped on Nym Lake.
We then went northeast and
made one long portage by Jump Lake into Nym Lake. Natasha had to return
to the beginning of portage because she was up the creek without her paddle.
(Ugh!) Steve had found an old broken one which he carved into a cane, but
it wouldn’t suffice. She left her paddle because she was rattled during
the portage as a result of the bear sightings. Charlie Collins had made
himself a huge spear out of a small tree, just in case.
We paddled north to the northern
shore of Nym Lake to the pick up point just south of the Trans Canadian
Highway. There we met C Crew who had already arrived. Each crew had paddled
and portaged approximately 50 miles apiece. All 3 crews plus the scout
crew from Griffin, Georgia, awaited pick up, laughed, and swapped stories.
Frank Griffin had his picture made with them because that is where his
family was originally from. We were picked up at 11:00 A.M. and taken back
to base camp. We found an old government vehicle, which had been mauled
by a bear. Durand took a seat belt and John Ellis a license plate. We unpacked
and hosed down all BSA gear including the canoes. We ate crew food for
lunch and spent the afternoon cleaning up: sauna, lake swim, sauna, lake
swim, sauna, shower, shave, trading post. We then went to Marr’s Perch
Lake Lodge for dinner. A small storm blew up and pushed down 2 trees, nearly
hitting our van and Steve’s suburban.
While awaiting the final
campfire, Natasha asked for help packing the tents. Taylor said that was
woman’s work so Natasha and several troop members tried unsuccessfully
to catch him. However, during the campfire, Natasha concocted a skit that
allowed the male interpreters to grab Taylor and throw him in the lake.
The highlight of the closing
campfire for us was having our Canadian interpreter, Mike Stroppa, perform
the “Yellow Rose of Texas” and the following slightly modified Troop 14
version of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” while P.J. waved the Texas flag: