I just got back from my bachelor party, my first real chance to use my NX250.
The trip was to the boundary waters, 2.5 days on the water. We did the "Granite River Route" from Seagull Outfitters. http://www.seagulloutfitters.com/can...nite_river.htm
Unfortunately, the trip started out very poorly, when one of our canoes swamped within the first 30 minutes. For anyone considering a canoe trip - The kevlar canoes are very light, which is great for portages - but they are VERY unstable compared to the aluminum ones I grew up with. They are so light, that nothing is balancing your weight above the water, making them very top heavy and tip-able. Also, we had about 4 extra portages due to having to walk around rapids, vs the people in the aluminum canoes that were able to run them. Due to the unbalanced nature of the kevlar, we also were not paddling has hard as we might, and had a high stress level.
Anyway, we swamped. By pure chance, we had everything wedged under the bars of the canoe, so we didn't lose any major gear, although we did lose a $200 fishing rod, as well as almost all of our lures. (we had one rod left, and one mepps that was on it.)
However, my sleeping bag, hammock, self, and clothes were all drenched. Fortunately I had spare clothes in a dry sack, so I had clothes for later, but I did not change into them immediately.
to top it off, after we struggled to get the canoe back to shore, bailed out, and reloaded (this time tying everything down!), it started to rain. It was a very wet first day
We stopped at the first available camp site - at the very gorgeous Larch lake. to recover, and let things dry out. This cut our first day in about 1/2 compared to how far we planned on going, so it would make our following days very hard work.
Fortunately the rain stopped quickly, and the sun was able to dry out our clothes.
On top of falling in, and the rain, the BWCA will get you wet. Every portage had me in the water past my knees. The first time I was hesitant to hop in with my boots and socks and pants. By the end of the trip it wasn't even a second thought. Your shoes and socks WILL get wet. Even waterproof boots are going to get soaked, unless you have waders on (which I do not recommend)
The wood at the campsite was all wet from the rain, so we had a very hard time getting a good fire started. I set up the hammock, and we used lots of paracord to tie up clothes lines everywhere to try and dry out clothes and sleeping bags, but it was quite late in the day, so it didn't do a lot of good.
The campsite was ok, nothing special, just a big flat area in the trees.
We had to make dinner in the dark, and even though it was crappy freeze dried food, we were so tired and worn out that it tasted great.
We went to bed shortly after, knowing we had to make up time on the next day and would need to start out early.
The hammock was very comfortable. I love the way it cradles and supports when you are in it. I was however quite chilly in the mid 50s temps that evening. I cannot blame this on the hammock, as I was wet to the bone, had a wet sleeping blanket, etc. I did not use a sleeping pad, or underquilt, but I did stuff the pockets with my gear as much as possible. I was also dumb, and did not put on a new pair of socks, so I was barefoot.
Fortunately the sleeping bag was synthetic, so it was still able to insulate me - even while it was getting me wet.
I fell asleep almost immediately, but woke up in the middle of the night shivering, and feeling the call of nature. I got out and went over to a tree, and I was shivering so bad, I must have watered half the forest. After getting back into bed, I warmed up fairly quickly and was able to sleep through until morning.
Here is a pic of me in the morning peeking my head out.
The next day things went much better, with good weather, and no tip overs. Our group learned how to portage and canoe effectively. Our portage load/unload time went from just under an hour to about 15 minutes! We also learned how to load the canoe for better balance, and paddle as a team for speed and better stability.
We made it from Larch lake, to past the Sag falls (on the map I linked above) in really good time, but it was very hard work. Unfortunatley, by the time we got to saganaga lake, it was getting later, and all of the campsites were full! We had to go fairly far through saganaga lake before finding an available campsite. However ,the campsite we did end up at was great, much better than the first one. In particular it had a small cliff, with the cooking area below the cliff, and the sleeping areas at the top of the cliff.
The second nights sleep as much better. I wasn't as wet, and the temp was slightly warmer. I also added a space blanket (one of the heavy re-usable ones underneath me to help with temp control. I also put ona pair of nice wool socks from my dry sack. I did have one brief wake up with cold this night too, but I think it was ironically from being too warm! I would sweat under the space blanket and sleeping bag, and then when I moved them off of me, it would get cold.
the final day was pretty short since we had made so much time the day before. We were back at the outfitters by 10am, which was great since we had flights in minneapolis at 7pm.
Overall lessons learned :
Hammock is great and comfy, but bring good supplies for warmth.
kevlar canoes are light, but unbalanced and fragile.
Have a dry sack for clothes, and if possible your sleeping bag.
Even a fairly out of shape guy can paddle a canoe non-stop for 2.5 days.
Either plan a shorter route, or take more days, so the work isn't so hard and you have more time to enjoy the ride/fish/get to camps early
Camp sites fill up VERY early. by 3/4pm the prime ones are getting taken.
Dont put all your eggs (or lures) into one basket. Spread important things out into multiple packs (or even better multiple canoes) so that you don't lose everything in one mistake.
Tie everything down if you aren't using it immediately. I had the lures out "just in case I wanted to do some fishing later". Had I left them in my pack, they would have been fine.
bring extra shoes (at least flip flops). Your main pair will be SOAKED, and you want something for camp. But also bring a good pair of boots to wear prime time (that you are willing to get wet). The portages are trecherous, and your feet will get hurt and you will slip if you don't have good protection and traction.