Outdoors blog: We make an early, early canoe-country trip
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Into the canoe country on April 9
We just had to go.
When are we ever going to get to paddle in the canoe country again on April 9? Three of us -- Steve Piragis of Ely and Doug Smith of Lakeville, Minn. -- paddled in to Knife Lake this past Friday through Sunday, April 9-11. It's by far the earliest any of us has paddled in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Provincial Park. One year, in fact, Piragis and a friend were skiing on Burntside Lake near Ely on May 7.
The lakes up there had gone out about five days before our trip. The water is obviously very cold, and you don't paddle on it without a lot of caution. We waited until the last minute to commit to the trip, as we wanted decent weather. We got three days of 60-degree or near-60-degree highs, but it was below freezing one night and near it another.
One interesting note: We saw no loons on the trip. We had thought they'd be there, as they always are when the ice goes out each year. But the ice went out so early this year that loons aren't yet on territories.
Here are some photos from the trip. I'll write about it for our Outdoors section in the Duluth News Tribune this coming Sunday.
When we arrived on Knife Lake, we were greeted by this moose on a bridge of rocks at Isles of Pines, where Dorothy Molter once lived and made her wilderness root beer. Steve Piragis of Ely videotaped the moose from his solo canoe. (Sam Cook / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Doug Smith of Lakeville caught this lake trout while trolling a Shad Rap for walleyes. Alas, it had to go back to the water because we were in Minnesota waters of Knife Lake at the time, and Minnesota's lake trout season is closed until the regular fishing opener on May 15. (Sam Cook / email@example.com)
Piragis takes his solo canoe for a quiet-water spin early Sunday morning on Knife Lake. (Sam Cook / firstname.lastname@example.org)