Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wi
    Hammock
    Clark nx250
    Suspension
    SlapStrap & Whoopi
    Posts
    102

    clark nx 250 first trip report - BWCA

    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.

    http://piccolo.smugmug.com/Other/Bou...952307_PtxKsFb

    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.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Hammock
    Hennesy
    Tarp
    various
    Insulation
    pads, foam
    Posts
    3,886
    Images
    17
    "kevlar canoes are light, but unbalanced and fragile."

    I have a 28 lb Kevlar canoe in the yard that would break an aluminum one. No reason not to run rapids in them. The real problems are bad hull design and seats too high if you are sitting as opposed to kneeling. Looking at the canoes the outfitter offers I am sure he gave you the wrong one's for your skill and technique levels.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Hammock
    Hennesy
    Tarp
    various
    Insulation
    pads, foam
    Posts
    3,886
    Images
    17
    Other than the above, nice report. It's a trip you will always remember. ;-)

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wi
    Hammock
    Clark nx250
    Suspension
    SlapStrap & Whoopi
    Posts
    102
    Quote Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
    "kevlar canoes are light, but unbalanced and fragile."

    I have a 28 lb Kevlar canoe in the yard that would break an aluminum one. No reason not to run rapids in them. The real problems are bad hull design and seats too high if you are sitting as opposed to kneeling. Looking at the canoes the outfitter offers I am sure he gave you the wrong one's for your skill and technique levels.
    The seats were VERY high. Only an inch or two below the top of the canoe, and the were round bottom, with no hull.

    The outfitter was very aggressive about warning us about scraping the canoe bottom, doing fully wet exits, etc. There were signs all over h e place showing canoes with hoels etc and that replacement cost was $6k, so we didn't want to risk it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member NewtonGT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Piedmont, SC
    Hammock
    All Hennessy,All Day
    Tarp
    GG12x12,WL OMW
    Insulation
    SuperShelter
    Suspension
    Garda Hitch
    Posts
    1,298
    Images
    3
    nice pic of you in the clark. thats a nice looking rig. and a high quality photo man
    Dale Gribble: I'm thinking, "new hammock." For me, laying and swaying in a hammock is like a steady morphine drip without the risk of renal failure.

    Randy : yea but just remember yer roots and where ya come from....you got Hennessy in yer blood son......

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Hammock
    Hennesy
    Tarp
    various
    Insulation
    pads, foam
    Posts
    3,886
    Images
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by gaijin42 View Post
    The seats were VERY high. Only an inch or two below the top of the canoe, and the were round bottom, with no hull.

    The outfitter was very aggressive about warning us about scraping the canoe bottom, doing fully wet exits, etc. There were signs all over h e place showing canoes with hoels etc and that replacement cost was $6k, so we didn't want to risk it.
    Probably because he plans on selling the "gently used" rental fleet in the fall. They are skin coat boats so there is only a light layer of resin over the first layer of cloth. Saves weight, makes vulnerable.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Beast 71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Big Lake, MN
    Hammock
    WBBB 1.7 dbl.
    Tarp
    WBSuperfly w/doors
    Insulation
    JRB TQ&UQ quilts
    Posts
    1,352
    Quote Originally Posted by gaijin42 View Post
    ...Your shoes and socks WILL get wet...
    I find jungle boots to be very useful in the BWCA for that very reason.

  8. #8
    Member Canoexist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Black River Falls, Wisconsin
    Hammock
    Switchback
    Tarp
    DIY or SpinnUL BMJ
    Insulation
    Jarbridge UQ
    Suspension
    webbing
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
    Probably because he plans on selling the "gently used" rental fleet in the fall. They are skin coat boats so there is only a light layer of resin over the first layer of cloth. Saves weight, makes vulnerable.

    This, yes. They are more protective of their canoes than Enterprise is about their rental cars. Those kevlar boats are a lot less fragile than they will have you believe. But, I am also protective of my royalex Mad River canoe. I hate it when I feel it scrape across a rock. All my clothes and sleeping bag go in a dry bag. The thing I still need to work on is lightening my pack. I always bring too much stuff.

    I think it is hard to have a truly bad day in the BW.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,650
    It is unfortunate your experience was not as pleasant as one might hope.

    While I agree that aluminum canoes with a keel are inherently more stable, with more experience I think you'd find the Kevlar canoes to be more than adequately stable. They are stronger than they might appear, and their lower weight more than offset the need for a little more caution when coming in for a landing.

    There are two schools of thought with portaging (or more specifically landings), wet and dry. Some like to get out of the boat before any part of the boat touches the shore/bottom (wet), and some of us are ok with a few minor scratches on the boat and can find spots where you can step off directly onto land (dry). I wear ankle high Gore-Tex hikers and have only gotten water in my boot once in the last several years while bringing our boat up and over a beaver dam. Occasionally the front paddler has to stabilize the bow after getting out to allow the back paddler to spider scramble up the length of the boat. Your shoes do not have to get wet. Many "wet" paddlers will pack along separate camp shoes so as to have a dry change at the end of the day.

    Agree with you that ALL insulation should be in dry bags, or at a minimum inside sealed plastic garbage bags.

    I hope, despite the problems with this trip, that you will want to go again. The BWCA is one of my favorite places...

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •