Autumn Canoe trip with the Grandson

Contributed By John & Lynn O'Kane - VNOLate each August we take a three day trip with the grandkids. This year the
granddaughters couldn’t come because of volleyball practice. These trips give
us an opportunity to spend some quality time with our grandkids & kids. These
shorter, closer trips also give us an opportunity to check out areas we would
normally paddle past. I picked out the Pipestone & Jackfish Bay area for a nice,
easy and quick trip.

After I worked a few hours in the morning, my daughter Karyn, grandson
Jack and Lynn showed up at VNO. We packed up all the gear and canoe and
headed over to Fall Lake. We chose a Wenonah Minnesota 3 Kevlar, 21 foot
canoe. It has 3 seats so we had Jack just sit on top of a pack. (This is the last year
we’ll be able to get away with that). After putting in we made our way around the
south end of Mile Island and headed right to the 80 rod portage at Newton Falls.

There is good fishing before & after these falls. The portage is very easy. Motor
boats are permitted here as long as they have the correct BWCAW permit. People
use portage wheels under the boats to bring them across the portage.
After doing the portage we were on Newton Lake. It is a narrow lake, about
2 miles long. Newton has 2 campsites on it with a waterfall coming in and out
of it. After the next grassy narrows is Pipestone Falls which has a 90 rod portage
around it. It is a very pretty falls and the portage is pretty easy. Pipestone
is about six miles long and is actually considered a bay of Basswood Lake.
Both Pipestone and Jackfish are good lakes to fish walleye, bass, northern pike,
crappie and bluegills. Pipestone has 33 campsites on it.

We followed the west side of the lake and checked out campsites as we
paddled by. After hitting Caribou Point, we made our way through some islands
(New York & Gary). I could see from a distance that the campsite with the sand
beach was taken so we paddled through the narrows to Hidden Bay. We grabbed
a nice campsite in the bay which would protect us more from the wind that was
forecast for the second day. It only took us about 3 ½ hours to get to our campsite.

After setting up camp, Jack & I threw out some bobbers with a nightcrawler and
had some hot cocoa while watching for a fish to hit. After a nice dinner with
some toasted marshmallows for dessert, we played a couple games with Jack and then retired to the tent.

The next morning was very windy. We had a late breakfast of pancakes
and Jack’s were special chocolate chip pancakes. The winds quieted down a
bit in the afternoon so we took a day trip over to Jackfish to check out a few of the
campsites there. Late afternoon Jack & Karyn searched for some firewood while
taking one of our walkie-talkies with them. Lynn had the other one & Jack
reported to her each time they found another piece of wood. I don’t think Jack
would have enjoyed finding firewood anywhere near so much without those!
He even took a walkie-talkie on his trip to the latrine with mommy Karyn, letting
grandma know that they were on their way back. It doesn’t take too much to
entertain a four year old!

On the last day we got up early, had a quick breakfast, packed up camp and
headed back towards Ely. We checked out a few more campsites on the east side
of Pipestone Bay. On the 90 rod portage we saw a kid, about 12 years old, with
a Chicago Bears cap on & Lynn gave him the “thumbs up” on the hat and he
smiled and said, “I live in the Cities but I’m a Bears fan which drives my family
crazy!” Then on the 80 rod portage out of Newton we ran into some of our
customers, just going in.

After landing at the boat landing on Fall Lake, we packed up the suburban.
Jack walked along with me as I carried the canoe to the vehicle & “helped” me
place it on the roof racks. He was so cute.

As family canoe trip tradition dictates, we drove into Ely and over to the Dairy
Queen for a treat to end the trip.

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