BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 20 2017
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1361 feet
Wood Lake - 26
The Escape of the Common Cubicle Man
June 15, 2017
Number of Days:
The lawn has been mowed, and I've passed complete control of the homestead over to the fiance (she loves it). With a sack full of well-used camping gear and Def Leppard banging through the Cherokee's speakers, I headed out towards our rendezvous point (Buhl). Once there, I plan to pet my pal's dog and crash on his couch. After all, we plan to hit the dusty trail towards Ely at 0500 hours.
We arose from our slumber at 0500 and my pal proceeded to brew the muddiest cup of coffee I've ever experienced. It was perfect. It was a short run over to Ely from Buhl, however, we were hampered by the construction between Tower and Ely. I'd say it took approximately 90 minutes. We made a quick stop at Scubes to get a full pound of leeches and our dry ice, then over to Voyageur North to sign off on our permits. The anticipation is palpable. We hit the fernburg towards the Wood Lake portage and enjoyed the sunny morning with the windows down. The wind seemed to be up, but I can't remember ever having a calm paddle across Wood Lake. This seems par for the course. We get to the portage hoping to find few cars. There were 7. I suppose this is a good time to mention that my pal and I are dead set on staying on one of Good Lake's two campsites. The campsite to the east is actually our favorite to use as a fishing base camp, and also provides adequate fishing opportunities from shore.
We say goodbye to our modern transportation vessel and trudge down the portage. My pal and I each have 1 pack on our back and take turns shouldering the canoe. (We have a 42lb Boundary Waters). We've each packed 2 rods and have secured them inside of the canoe for portaging. Seems to be working well. The Wood Lake portage is not a difficult one, however, it is long (I believe over 1/2mi). We basically scream down that portage without stopping and put the canoe in. The water seems higher than the previous year. As the lake opens up out of the narrows, we experience some stiff wind from the north and approximately 1-1/2 foot waves. We noticed that 3 campsites are occupied on Wood (good sign), and we were also followed by a phenomenally large snapper turtle on the north end. - Beautiful. The portage through To Hula is a breeze, and we're off through Hula. I always feel as though I will see a moose on Hula, but nothing today. The portage through to Good is much narrower and has a good deal of elevation. We're fairly sweaty and starting to tire, so we did take a few breaks on this one. As the trail opens, we notice that Good Lake is very rough. By our estimation, rollers were reaching nearly 3 feel tall. (Maybe an exaggeration) But, the good news is that our favorite campsite is visibly uninhabited from the portage. We high five and tentatively put the canoe in. The plan is to paddle into the waves towards the middle of the lake then quickly turn and ride the waves into shore at the campsite. We did have 4 waves go over the bow, but the plan worked without a hitch.
Once on land, we begin inspecting our site. I was fairly disappointed to find that someone had left rope hanging in a tree, some small fishing lures on the ground, and minor garbage around the fire grate. We cut the rope down and tidied up. (All junk was packed out). Our site now looks good as new and we set up our camp. We have (1) 2-man tent, (1) hammock and a tarp to shield the fire area during rain. We spent the remainder of the day fishing from the site and relaxing as we intended. The solitude is welcomed with open arms, and the fish were as well. My pal and I enjoyed fishing success from the site throughout the evening and fixed our first dinner from camp - cheesy broccoli pasta and (1) walleye. Delicious.
As the day turned towards evening, we giddily took in the beautiful sunset. This is what the BWCA is all about.
The morning came, however, we slept in. It felt great to snooze and we both slept great! We finally got out of the tent around 7:30 and brewed some coffee and boiled water for oatmeal. We notice that a number of turtles had made their way on shore overnight - it must be egg-laying time! We were a bit surprised that we hadn't yet seen another paddler. The waters had been rough, but we typically see a canoe or two each day in this area. It was nice to feel alone. We push the canoe off shore and begin our full day of fishing. The panfish, smallmouth and like we're very hungry! We decide to throw all fish back today and have our spaghetti for dinner. The day seemed to fly by as we spent much of the day in the canoe.
As the sun set, we heard the sound of rocks scraping. As we look up, we see a massive snapper turtle has crawled up the rock face from the water to within 5 feet of us. She stared at us and our fire for a few minutes before slinking back down the rocks.
We stayed up late talking by the fire, then retired to the tent. Around 1am we awoke to noise in our campsite. I immediately yell "hey bear!", as my mind always goes to bears in the BWCA. We had thoroughly washed our dishes and hung all food, so I was surprised to have a visitor. We finally gathered the courage to unzip the tent and see the turtle has returned and is climbing over our gear towards the fire grate. As we walk out, she begins back to the water. We noticed that she had started to dig out our fire pit. Was she looking for food?
We awoke to our final full day at the site. This time we were up a bit earlier and again had coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. This time we grabbed some jerky for protein as well. The wind was up a bit today and we were hopeful for the opportunity to drift for some walleyes. We set out in the canoe again and worked the entire lake. Our fishing was successful again and time flew by. We finally ran into other humans, as the other site became occupied and a group of singing women paddled through. It was quite remarkable, actually.
We call this day the "hungry day". We got back to our site for a small lunch that turned into demolishing an entire package of hotdogs and wrapped the dogs in tortillas. This concoction changed my life. We also killed the remainder of our pasta during lunch. After lunch, and after a quick latrine break, I was feeling adventurous. I was exlploring approximately 100 yards behind the site when I ran into a peculiar object (see pictured). I've posted about this in the general discussion, and I'd appreciate any input!
We set back out determined to have ourselves a dinner of sunfish tonight. This turned out to be a very easy task, and we each took two fish for eating. We then headed off to search for the smallmouth. We were not disappointed. As the day winded down, we were greeted by small squalls of rain followed by sunshine and rainbows. We finally ran out of leeches by evening, and set back to our campsite to prepare our final meal of sunfish, red potatoes and corn on the cob. It was absolutely delicious. As the evening winded down, we were serenaded by loon calls across the lake.
We awoke to a calm morning for breaking camp. This was a bittersweet morning. We also awoke to find that the turtle was under the fire grate and she was laying her eggs. As she was in the middle of laying, we did not interrupt her. We quietly packed and let her be. It seemed that she was laying eggs at least 1 foot below grade, so the eggs may possibly be okay? I'd appreciate any input if available.