BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

October 20 2017

Entry Point 38 - Sawbill Lake

Sawbill Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Tofte, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 25 miles. Access is a boat landing at Sawbill Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1802 feet
Latitude: 47.8699
Longitude: -90.8858
Sawbill Lake - 38

Sawbill to Sawbill, Rain, Snow, Sun and Fun

by housty9
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 08, 2015
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 14
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I'm not a great story teller or writer, so this could be the 1st and last:) This is the beginning of many longer trips with more travel, my 1st 20 trips in the BW was all base camping and not really seeing anything, so a couple years ago I said to myself " I need to travel and see more of the BW before my body won't let me", and that's when I started solo traveling, because it's hard to find family and friends who want to travel more then a couple miles or portages. This will be my 8th solo and most days yet, 14 all together.

Day 1 of 14


Thursday, May 07, 2015

I got up around 6:00am and visited with my wife before she had to go to work and say my goodbye's for 2 weeks (I had flowers sent to her for Mother's day, she really liked them), after Dena left for work, I finished a little packing, showered and was on the road by 10:00am, it's about a 6 hour drive to Sawbill Outfitters, I got there around 5:00 pm with a few pit stops along the way, Bill helped me get my permit and we visited for awhile (Great Guy), then I went and pick out a campsite, #5 Bill told me that was one of the best sites when I payed for it, I had the hole campgrounds to myself (kinda fitting for a solo trip), grilled hamburgers and did a little exploring around the campgrounds, then I mounted all my stuff in the canoe I needed, then carried it down to the landing, then back to the Suburban and to bed, it rain a little bit over night.

 



Day 2 of 14


Friday, May 08, 2015

Up at 5:00, it's a little drizzly and windy, I drove to the landing loaded the canoe up, then took the suburban to the lot, and the water around 5:30 and headed to the 1st 30rd portage to Alton, through Alton and on to a 140rd portage to Beth, I started to head where I thought the portage was, but realized I had to go further west, when I was just about to turn west I seen a moose and calf, so I watch them for about 20 minutes. (pretty cool, not even 3 hours into my trip), then on to my longest portage of the trip a 285rd, then to Grace, then 4 more portages, this falls was on one of these portages, then through Phoebe to Knight where I spent my 1st night, nice campsite out of the flow of traffic, by now the sun has come out and it's a really a nice evening, I arrived at camp around 4:00pm. [paragraph break]I setup camp and start drying wet cloths from mist and sweat, this was one of the 1st things I did when I got to camp just about every day, water adds weight, a good supper and get everything reorganized and to bed by 8:30 to 9:00.

 



Day 3 of 14


Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Up again at 5:00am, tear down camp and back on the water by 5:30, I paddled across Knight then to the 1st 140rd portage of the day, through Hazel and on to 5 more portages. [paragraph break] when I got to the last of the 5 portages I was resting before I went across, I seen something come up to the water about 30 yards away, didn't know what it was, a couple minutes later a wolf was standing about 10 yards or less from me, when it seen me it ran away fast, 1st wolf I've seen in the BW, I was just about ready to cross the portage again, when a moose came out and was playing in the water up the river a ways, then crossed to the other side and came down the shore and then crossed back to my side about 40 yards away and in to the woods it went,(by far one of the coolest parts of the trip). [paragraph break] Across the portage I went to Polly, paddled across Polly to the next 3 portages, I made it to Koma around 4:00, where I spent my 2nd night, had a good supper, got everything dryed out again, and in bed by 8:30 to 9:00 again, (long days of travel will ware you out).

 



Day 4 of 14


Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Up again at 5:00, I got everything packed up and on the water around 5:30, I just love getting up early and paddling, I'll have breakfast snacks while I travel and I don't drink coffee so no need for a fire. I headed to the 24rd portage to get to Malberg. [paragraph break] Malberg is a really nice lake, the campsite on the island to your right is a cool campsite, very nice overlook of the lake, I got through Malberg to another 8rd portage to River lake, the portages seam to get more challenging as I went on, then I Stopped on Fishdance to check out the pictographs, 1st one's I've seen, then a 95rd and 10rd portage to Alice. [paragraph break] When I arrived on Alice there was a pretty good breeze, but once I got on the east side of the lake it was a lot calmer, there are alot of big sandy beach sites on this side of the lake, [paragraph break] It turn out to be a beautiful day, I ended up at the last campsite before Thomas on Alice, I arrived about 3:30, setup camp and finally broke out the fishing pole for the 1st time, I casted out a blue and silver daredevil about 10 times and caught a nice Northern, I put the pole down had supper, cleaned everything up and got ready for the next day, fish a little more and to bed I went.

 



Day 5 of 14


Monday, May 11th, 2015

Up early again, its a little drizzly, tore camp down and back on the water around 5:45 and onto the 1st portaged, a 10rd to Cacabic lake and onto the next portage, a 232rd portage to Thomas, wish the weather would of been a little nicer when I started paddling Thomas, It was a lite rain with N.E. winds, so I stayed on the east side heading north to Fraser, the narrow between Thomas and Fraser was fun to explore. [paragraph break] Traveling across Fraser it Was dark and gloomy and a little rainy, I could tell the temps were dropping, on to the next 15rd portage to Gerund, another 30rd portage to Ahmakose, a 90rd portage to Wisini and a 10rd to Strup where I spent my 4th night, campsite closest to the Kekekabic portage. [paragraph break] I made it to camp around 3:30, setup camp in a lite drizzle, then went and found a little firewood to have a coffee can fire for the night, in the drizzle standing under some thicker pines, it was nice having a fire after paddling in the crappy weather all day, fixed supper and cleaned everything up, then off to the tent to put some dry cloths on and go to bed.

 



Day 6 of 14


Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I woke up early to go potty and it was snowing out, so I grab a few things from my backpack and back in to the tent I went to sleep in a little longer, decided to make this a layover day. [paragraph break] I woke up to the sun around 9:00, went out and put a cloths line up and started drying some cloths, that lasted about 20 minutes and it clouded back up and it started to mist a little, played that game most of the day, but my cloths were dry and I ended up getting alot of rest, drizzle all day on and off with the sun coming out in between, I had a early supper then took a walk on the trail behind my site to the Kekekabic trail, walk that to the portage between the lakes then over to Kekekabic lake and watch a little of the sun go down before I headed back to camp, this was the only time I forgot my camera (bummer), Back at camp I put everything away and was ready for the next day, while putting stuff away I fell on my butt, felt that for a day or so.

 



Day 7 of 14


Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

I was up a little earlier this morning, it was still a little dark, I packed everything up, it was below freezing because all the tent poles were frozen, so I had to blow on all the fittings to get them apart and the tent was frosted, I rolled it up frozen and put it away, and on the water a little after 5:00 and off to the 1st 85rd portage to Kekekabic. [paragraph break] The sky had cleared over night and it was a beautiful morning, I was planning to go up to the south arm of Knife, but it was like glass on Kekekabic so I change my route and cut across Kekekabic to the east, what a clear lake water might be the clearest I've ever seen, I'm going to go back and camp on Kekekabic soon and spend more time exploring and fishing it. [paragraph break] I made it to the 1st 5rd portage to the Kekekabic ponds then a 15rd, 20rd, 10rd and 15rd portage to Eddy lake. [paragraph break] Through Eddy to another 15rd portage, to Jenny, a 15rd portage to Annie, them a 15rd portage to Ogishkemuncie, when I was just about out of Ogish, I heard a rapids so I paddled a little out of my way to go see it, then onto the 60rd portage to Mueller then a 115rd to Agamok, on this portage the Kekekabic trail crosses it, when heading east, take the trail to the left and walk about a 1/4 mile and you will see this some waterfalls. [paragraph break] I finished the portage then paddle to the last campsite before Gabimichigami on Agamok, I arrived around 4:00 setup camp and started drying stuff out, when I unrolled the tent it was still frosted from the morning, I had to chuckle, every time after that when I thought about that I smiled and would almost start laughing, I had a nice fire at Agamok, supper was filling, finished chores and to bed early.(what a awesome day)

 



Day 8 of 14


Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Up early, got everything packed and on to the 15rd portage to Gabi, another lake I would like to spend more time on, at the next 25rd portage I decided to fish for awhile at the end of the rapids coming out of Rattle to Gabi, in about 45 minutes I caught 5 lake trout and 1 northern, on my blue and silver daredevil. [paragraph break] Across the portage and on to Rattle, paddled across Rattle to a 30rd portage to Little Sag, I stop for awhile and fished but no luck, but took a few pictures of the lake, then on to the 90rd portage to Virgin, one of the hardest portages with a step hill to start with, but at the top it was a great view of Little Sag and Virgin. [paragraph break] Across Virgin to a 30rd portage to West Fern, another 20rd portage to Powel,a 33rd portage to French, a 13rd portage to Fern, a 25rd portage to Gillis and a 90rd portage to Crooked lake, where I spent night 7. [paragraph break] I arrived at camp around 4:00, stayed at the NE campsite heading to Tuscarora, I 1st went and check the campsite to the south on the point, but it was a steep climb to the site(great view), so I decided to go back to the site further north, by this time it was misting on and off, set camp up, had a fire, a good supper, got things all packed back up and ready for one of the hardest days ahead (but still fun).

 



Day 9 of 14


Friday, May 15th, 2015

Up at 4:45 and on the water by 5:15, finished paddling Crooked to a 55rd portage to Owl, then a 68rd portage to Tuscarora where I stopped and fished for about 45 minutes with no luck, there were a few campsites filled on this lake. [paragraph break] On to the 255rd portage to Howl which is in the middle of the portage, you have to put your stuff back in the canoe for about 50 yards to cross Howl, then finish the portage to Hubbub. [paragraph break] Paddled across hubbub to a 67rd portage to Copper, this is almost like 3 portages at the beginning, a 5rd, then paddle about 30 feet, then back out for 30 yards, you can walk by the canoe to get to the main trail on this part, across Copper to a 76rd portage to Snipe, then a 80rd portage to Cross Bay, then a 58rd portage to Rib where I Camped night 8. [paragraph break] The wood planks in the water were washed out, but you could still walk on them to the good half, there were a lot of things to see from Tuscarora to Rib, but some challenges alone the way also. [paragraph break] I arrived at camp a little after 4:00, this campsite has a 8' climb to get up to it, but had nice grassy beach front, so I set the tent up top and spent all my time by the lake, cooking, some fishing (no luck), relaxing, and getting ready for the next day.

 



Day 10 of 14


Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Up early again and on the water by 5:30, a short paddle to a 35rd portage to Lower George, a 30rd portage to long Island, I took the 35rd portage on the island in long Island lake, (what a beautiful day for paddling, the water was like glass most of the morning) on to a 5rd and 25rd portage to Gordon then a 15rd to Cherokee, this was the only portage I seen People on, 5 canoes and 11 people, they were all spaced out because you could only put one canoe in at a time, so I just waited till they all crossed.(pretty amazing to do that many portages and only see people on 1) [paragraph break] I arrived on Cherokee about noon, I decided to look for a campsite and relax for a night or 2, so I paddled to the island campsite on the north end to check it out, the site was open so I stop, I took about 10 steps into it and decided this will be camp for 2 nights, lots of room to move around, a overlook on west side, nice landing, open but lots of shade areas, lots of tent pads, great cooking area, lots of places to sit, only bad thing for me there were lots of people,(I did meet some nice people though) set the tent up and a cloths line, then took a 2 hour nap. [paragraph break] The rest of the day I spent relaxing and exploring the site, seen a few people fishing and looking for campsites, had a nice fire, meal and did a little fishing with no luck again, stayed up later because I wasn't traveling in the morning and enjoyed the night, it did start clouding up before I went to bed and rain over night.

 



Day 11 of 14


Sunday, May 17th, 2015

This will be my 2nd layover day, I slept in till 7:00 then made some oatmeal and hot coco for breakfast(1st breakfast of the trip), It rain on and off most of the day, later in the day it stopped, but it started again when I was getting ready to go to bed.[paragraph break] Through out the day I fished on and off but had no luck, the neighbors stopped by when they were out fishing and asked if they could eat there lunch, so we ended up visiting for about 2 hours, very nice brother's form around the Twin Cities, they weren't having any luck fishing either.[paragraph break] I was also getting stuff ready to travel the next day, slipped a short nap in, paddled around the north end of Cherokee fishing and taking pictures, everything was to wet for a fire so I made supper over the gas stove, it was getting close to raining again around 8:30, so I called it a night and went to bed

 



Day 12 of 14


Monday, May 18th, 2015

It rained most of the night, I was up at 5:00, went outside and it was still raining some so I decided to sleep in a couple extra hours and see if the rain would stop, at 8:00 it stopped so I packed everything up and was on the water by 8:30 and headed to the 1st 10rd portage to Town, when I got to Town it started raining again, through Town to a 90rd portage to Vesper, then a 68rd portage to Grasket, this was when the rain changed to snow and the temps were dropping fast, and the wind was picking up, then to the 45rd portage to Cam then a 100rd portage to Brule, I planned on getting the 1st campsite when you get into Brule, but it was taken, so I decided to head to South Temperance and one more 10rd portage and hopefully get the 1st campsite there, luckily it was open, I was wet head to toe with it snowing, so I quick set the tent up and threw all my dry stuff I needed in the tent, secured the canoe, covered the packs and in the tent I went at about 5:00, 1st I took all my wet cloths off and put them on 1 side of the tent, and put my dry stuff on, set my bed up and crawl in my sleeping bag to get warmed up, I know your not suppose to eat in your tent, but this night was so crappy I didn't care, I ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a few snacks, I went outside once for about 2 minutes and spent the rest of the night in the tent listening to it snow.[paragraph break]This Day was one if not the toughest days of my trip, those 6 portages were by far the rockiest and most challenging, with the rain, snow and wind, there was a lot of looking down, it was hard taking pictures, I took 6 all day, getting in the tent was almost the best part of the day, I do want to do this part again when there's better weather, because there was alot to see that I missed, if I only would of stayed one more night on Cherokee, I should of listen to Ben(nctry) when he text me on my InReach and said bad weathers coming early in the week, so thank for the warning Ben.

 



Day 13 of 14


Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

It quit snowing around 8:00am and the sun came out so I went out and hung a cloths line right away and started drying frozen wet cloths, I pumped water right away, I was just about out, what was left had ice in it, I empty out the backpack and dried everything in it, I pretty much dried everything I had, so I decided to spend another night on south Temperance. [paragraph break] I spent the day fishing(no luck again), gathering firewood, drying cloths,and taking pictures. No napping today needed to move around from being in the tent to much the day before, explored the campsite, had a nice fire with supper, packed everything for the next day, stayed up a little later to see the stars, then called it a night.

 



Day 14 of 14


Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Up at 5:00 again, pack everything up for the last time and on the water by 5:45, off to the 1st portage, a 240rd to the Temperance river to anther 80rd portage to Weird, I was sitting at the end of the portage resting, when off to my left another moose appeared, when it seen me it started to head away slowly.(very cool 4 moose on 1 trip) [paragraph break] I paddled across Weird to a 12rd portage to Jack, then a 65rd to Kelly, the wind was starting to pick up, at least it was in my favor heading to the last longer portage, a 230rd to Brunt, I was thinking of staying one more night on Brunt, but the campsite I really wanted was taken and there was alot more people in this area so I decided to paddle out.( I know, poor excuse to leave) [paragraph break]Across Brunt to a 90rd portage to Smoke, where there was more people, across Smoke to a 100rd portage to Sawbill (Yea last portage), I sat at the end of it for awhile to reflect on my trip(all most shed a tear), then paddled the last part of Sawbill, I arrived back at around 2:30. [paragraph break] I loaded all my stuff up and tied the canoe on and headed to see if the showers were open, they just opened them that day and I was the 1st to take one, Bill let me take it for free for being the 1st one,(Bill is a really good guy, Thanks Bill) I bought 3 t-shirts also, then I headed down to Tofte to get some ice and pop for the way home, from there I headed to Caribou waterfalls and walk the 1/2 mile trail(my favorite waterfalls), I sat at the top of the waterfalls on the big wood deck and sent my last InReach text to let everybody know I was headed home, Spent about an hour there and was back on the road by 8:00, I stopped at the McDonalds in Two Harbors for supper, then stopped at the Sinclare for gas on the expressway to Duluth, then on the road for home, I made it home around 1:30am.(a very long day) [paragraph break] Notes about trip 1. I went through about a gallon of water a day. 2. I paddled on 62 lakes and ponds. 3. I portaged 73 times ( longest 285rds.) 4. I need to take more snacks.(ran out day 11 except for M&Ms) 5. I lost about about 8 to 10 pounds.(which I needed) 6. I could of made a longer loop with the days I had left. 7. Seeing 4 moose and a wolf was awesome. 8. I never set a tarp up.(smaller one next trip) 9. Never got lost. 10.Portages are a lot more challenging by yourself. 11. Next goal 100 portages and 200 miles of paddling:)

 


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