Josh Michaud:

October 2008, BWCA
This was the first trip with my new tarp, 14x17 I believe.  I went with three high school friends in the middle of october.  Court Borle, Jim Dolphy, and Tim Wheatley.  This is my third October trip, its become an every other year tradition.  We went in on the Lake One entry point because it is easy, beautiful, and we know it well.  That way if we run into any foul weather we can exit quickly if needed.

I had learned about CCS on a previous trip in september 2008.  Turns out my brother, Adam, had given me a CCS rucksack a year earlier as a christmas present.  He just told me Scott knew a guy who made custom gear for the Boundary Waters.  I saw the CCS, but didn't really look into it much.  So I brought the CCS pack with in september on a trip with a couple guys from work and my dad.  Well one of the guys from work was Tim Koestler, a complete gear head and CCS fan.  He has two CCS tundar tarps and the same rucksack I have.  So Tim showed me the skills he learned from the Cliff Jacobson video on rigging a tarp.  After that, I was hooked.  Gotta love the truckers hitch!  Tim also showed me the value of having a couple aluminum poles with to allow easy setup close to the camp fire.

So back to my October trip, I got the tarp setup before the tent on the first day, with plenty of time to experiment with setup.  The tarp can in very handy because rain moved in on the first evening and most of the next day.  The rain was not welcome, but it was an odd coincedence that the first time we had rain on one of our october trips, we had the luxury of having a CCS tarp over our heads.  Looking back, I can tell you now we weren't nearly as well prepared on previous trips!

September 2008, BWCA
This trip was with two co-workers and my dad.  Tim Koestler, Scott Kalb, and Jack Michaud.  We base camped on Fourtown on the northern most campsite.   On this trip I just had my CCS rucksack, but Tim had a CCS rucksack and two tundra tarps.  This was the trip that I really learned how nice CCS tundra tarps are.  They are great for packing since they are so lightweight.  They are very well built so they withstand high winds (assuming they are rigged correctly) easily.  The tarps have plenty of loops on them so they provide a variety setup options, a necessity in the boundary waters.  And the best part is the center patch that allows for using a center pole to prop up the center, or for tying a rope and pulling up the center.  This makes for lots of head room, and more importantly allows water to run off.

Tim had to show everyone on the trip his Cliff Jacobson video on how to setup tarps before we went on the trip.  For Tim, setting up a tarp is a joy in itself since he is an engineer and enjoys the mental challenge of placing and setting up a tarp.  And I have to say I enjoy it as well, assuming the rain isn't already pouring down!

As for the weather, yes, we had rain on this trip too!  But we also had great weather for one day.  We were able to make a day trip loop up through Moose Camp lake, bullet lake, gun lake, and down through Fairy and Boot Lake.  My favorite part was the giant beaver damn on the river up to Moose Camp lake.

October 2006, BWCA
This was my second middle of october trip. Our first trip in 2004 was the most perfect weather I have ever had.  It was 65 and sunny all 3 days with very little wind.  And the leaves on the trees were pretty much at their peak.  That was the 2004 trip.  Now fast forward to the same weekend in october of 2006.  By the time we got up to Ely wednesday night, there was 6 inches of snow on the ground!  We weren't exactly prepared for winter camping, but we were prepared for some cold weather.  Thursday morning we put in at Lake One and we made first tracks on the portage!  It was cloudy, windy, 40 degrees, and still snowing some.  The wind didn't bother us at first since we were sheltered on the backwaters and portages to Lake One.  Which are worth the work by the way because that last portage that puts you onto Lake One has some great scenery if you head east towards the river from the portage.  Some of my most favorite photos were taken at that
spot.  Once we got onto Lake One, we got the full feel of the 30 mph winds.  Needless to say, we decided to go with the wind, and picked the first campsite we coudl find out of the wind.

On this trip there were only three of us, so I was using my 12.5 foot kyak.  The morning portages were great since I could just slide my kyak right across the snow!  My two most favorite pieces of gear on this trip with both purchased just before the trip.  The first and most useful piece of gear was my water proof pants made by Sierra Designs.  They are a lightweigth pair of nylon pants, not your classic rubber rain gear.  My legs were sitting in a pool of water most of the time in my kyak and they stayed bone dry.  I don't think I would have made the whole trip if I had gotten wet in 40 degree weather with wind and snow.  The send best piece of gear was a long sleeve fleece shirt.  That night, the wind didn't let up, and the temps dropped.  All told, I had seven layers of clothes on my upper half that first cold night.  We couldn't sit close enought to the fire either!  Also, the portages on the first day, when it was around 40 degrees, were
the only portages I've done where we kept our life jackets on because they gave us extra warmth.

Photos to follow
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