Official Log
Troop 14, B.S.A., Brownwood, Texas
Canadian Canoe Expedition,
High Adventure Trek 2001
Quetico Wilderness, Ontario, Canada
Expedition No.  AO62301ABC, B.S.A. Northern Tier, Atikokan
Day 1, Wednesday, June 20, 2001

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 21, 2001

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, 2001

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, Minnesota.

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 23, 2001

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, 2001
(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, 2001
(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, 2001
(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 27, 2001
(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 28, 2001
(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, 2001
(A Crew, B Crew and finally C Crew)

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:

The stars at night,
Are big and bright,
Deep in the heart of Texas
The coyotes howl,
Out on the prowl,
Deep in the heart of Texas
The sage in bloom,
Is like perfume,
Deep in the heart of Texas

Reminds me of,
The one I love,
Deep in the heart of Texas

Hudson Bay Bread,
Is what I fed,
Deep in the heart of Quetico

I did underestimate,
How much that Texan ate,
Deep in the heart of Quetico

I’ll never again
Commit the same sin,
Deep in the heart of Quetico

The sun sank over Perch Lake. It had been an excellent expedition.

Day 11, Saturday, June 30, 2001

After breakfast at 6:00 A.M. we were off. We left base camp and drove south crossing the U.S. border with no problem at 7:30A.M.; no wait, no ID’s, all in our Class A Scout uniforms. We stopped for lunch in Cloquet, MN at popular local hamburger joint. A woman customer complemented us on having such a good-looking bunch of boys. On our way to Minneapolis, Hugh Collins saw his parents from Ames, Iowa driving down the freeway next to us.  He pulled along side and waved, but they didn’t see him and they turned off the highway as we motored on. It was an amazing coincidence.

We arrived at the Motel 6 in Minneapolis at around 3:00 P.M. unfortunately, the motel was a dump. While unloading, Mark fell down the motel steps and bumped his head and knee. Everybody cleaned up. The boys were anxious to go to the largest indoor mall in America, so we arrived at the Mall of America at 4:00 P.M. We agreed to let everyone separate so long as they practiced the buddy system and behaved. We were to meet back at the entrance at 10:00 P.M. Hugh and Charlie left to go see Hugh’s brother who did not know he was around. Charlie rang his uncle’s doorbell and posed as a local Boy Scout selling popcorn. Needless to say Charlie’s uncle was surprised to learn the boy he had just turned down was his nephew. 

Meanwhile, back at the mall, Frank, Steve, and Mark went one way and the boys went another.  The adults ate toured Camp Snoopy, ate at a family steak place, and went to the movies; while the boys ate at Hooters and posed for pictures with the waitresses. Providentially, those photos were lost. Only later did we realize that no one under 16 was allowed in the Mall unsupervised at that time. Seth Griffin had $50 but didn’t spend any of it. He couldn’t find anything he liked.

Day 12, Sunday, July 1, 2001

We drove to Cameron, Missouri today; stayed at the same motel we had on the way up, and ate lunch at Ma & Pa Kettle’s. Charlie Collins was looking for Jessica the waitress. We are creatures of habit, what can I say. We got here at about 2:00 P.M. The boys swam, we ate pizza for supper. Everybody is tired and ready to get home.

Day 13, Saturday, July 2, 2001

We left at 6:45 A.M. after breakfast at the motel. Mark learned that the motel clerk claimed there were 5 towels missing after our last stay here. All boys, on Scouts Honor deny any wrong doing. We hope so. We go to St Joseph, Mo and then down to avoid Kansas City. We make it to Oklahoma City, OK just before noon and eat lunch there. We do a speed check and discover that the church van is 2 MPH slower than the other vehicles, no wonder it was always last.  We then head for Texas and got home later that day, safe and sound, and happy to be there.

The great Troop 14, Canadian canoe expedition of 2001 was over. It cost us $650 each, not including our souvenirs. (Plus we got a donation from the Duffy’s of $200 and from the Troop of $500) We had canoed over 50 miles and driven over 3216 miles. It was a real adventure.

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