BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

March 29 2017

Entry Point 39 - Baker Lake

Baker 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 26 miles. Access is a boat landing at Baker Lake with a 10-rod portage into Peterson Lake to reach first campsite. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1497 feet
Latitude: 47.8452
Longitude: -90.8169
Summary: A 5-day loop from Baker up the Temperance lakes to Cherokee, and back through Sawbill and Smoke lakes back to Baker. A fairly difficult trip.



Day 0: We drove up from Stillwater in the morning and camped at one of the 5 walk-in campsites at Baker Lake, and it was nice.




Day 1 (Baker to S. Temperance) - A beautiful day, we decided to paddle all the way to South Temperance the first day which was a great paddle with easy portages except for the last one. We picked the campsite on top of a huge rock that was close to the middle of the lake. Tried fishing some but no luck




Day 2 (Rest) - In the night, we encountered the worst storm of the entire season. While we were there 19 people had to be rescued from the BWCA. We had about 50mph straightline winds, and I'm still surprised that the huge tent we had stood up to it. We slept in and took a rest day because of the intense winds. Amazingly beautiful sunset.





Day 3 (S. Temperance to Cherokee) - We left as early as we could to beat the heat, but it was no good. The lengthy, hilly portages were challenging and by the last portage we were pretty beat. We overpacked and single portaged which led us to speedier exhaustion. Still amazing weather. North Temperance was a beaut- I wish we had stayed there instead of South. We took the southeasterly facing campsite on Cherokee on the southeastern skinny island. Neat little site.



Day 4 (Cherokee to Sawbill) - Left a little later in the day but it was ok. We took our time going down the river letting out of the southwest part of Cherokee and it was a great area. BEWARE: The area between Ada and Skoop Lakes appears to be floatable, but a dam built recently has made the portion impossible to float. Be prepared for a long portage through muck and water. A guy that we saw there said he had been going to the BWCA for 40 years at least once per year and it was the worst portage he had ever seen. By the time we got to Sawbill it was pretty hot. We paddled all the way down to the site next to the portage onto Smoke.



Day 5 (Sawbill to Baker) - Cooler, cloudier weather for the first time on the trip. We were pretty hungry (I underpacked food a little and I felt really bad) and we were taunting each other with vivid descriptions of the burgers we were going to eat ASAP after getting out. We paddled back to Baker and returned our gear to Sawtooth outfitters.


Overall great route.

Baker Lake Loop - First Solo

by Camp Cook
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 31, 2010
Entry Point: Baker Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I’ve been trying to go on a solo for a few years now; I would start planning and once, got to within a couple days of going in and life would happen and the trip would get put on the back burner. My bride finally told me to shit or get off the pot so I pulled a permit for Baker Lake, entry point 39. The decision to take this trip was last minute, the planning rushed, the timing bad… but come hell or high water, it was going to happen. The following trip report was lifted from the pages of my trip journal…

Day 1 of 3


Monday, May 31, 2010[paragraph break]It’s Amy’s birthday and I feel like a complete horse’s ass for leaving on a selfish BWCA trip first thing in the morning on what should be her day.

[paragraph break]

Hit the road a little before 7am; at the Tofte ranger station by noon. Had to watch the BWCA video for the first time in a long time. Tried to call Amy as I was leaving town but the signal failed (tried a couple more times before I put in with no luck). At Sawbill Outfitters 30 minutes later; picked up a Wenonah Prisim then off to Baker Lake. There were a couple guys taking out as I unloaded my gear at the waters edge. Before leaving home, I packed a left-over cheese burger and A few beers for lunch. I was eager to push off and only wanted one of the beers for myself so I gave both of the fellas, who were taking out, an ice cold beer… I overheard one of the two call me his hero; nice guys.

[paragraph break]

Starting to rain as I write this, we will see if the “Convert Mountain 2” is still sound.

[paragraph break]

I put in and took off across Baker; a Hooded Merganser stood sentry before the 10 rod to Peterson. He gave me the quack, I gave him the up-nod; my official welcome to the ‘dub. Met a stiff head wind on Kelly and found out the hard way that I did not have the boat trimmed properly. After being blown in to the eastern shore (a light bow caused me to weathervane to the point where I had zero control, no amount of frantic paddling would correct my course), I shifted the load and set sail to the north with much more favorable results. An easy 65 rods into Jack. Just before the portage to Weird I see a cow moose. She’s at a narrowing of the river grazing on aquatic vegetation and seems to care less that I am trying to pass. I approached slowly, as far to the opposite shore as I could get which wasn’t too far, probably 25 yards. She finally, reluctantly, sauntered back in to the bush and left me to my travels.

[paragraph break]

The fellas whom I met at Baker said that the site on Weird wasn’t bad. I stopped for lunch and thought that I might make camp but the sun was simply too high in the sky to stop now so I pushed off for South Temperance. This is when it hit me that I was finally soloing; I didn’t have to try to convince my trip mates to move on, there was no guilt for pushing people harder than they wanted to be pushed, I simply made the decision to keep trucking and did it… it was a truly liberating feeling.

[paragraph break]

80 rods from Weird to “Unnamed Widening of the River” were no sweat. Pulled over the biggest beaver dam that I have seen up here, probably 2.5 – 3 foot drop.

[paragraph break]

Hit the 240 to S. Temperance in no time and met a father heading south with his 3 sons. They had been fishing on the north side of Brule in a rented Bell Northshore; Pops said that the boat was very hard to control when lightly loaded but quite responsive carrying 4 grown men and 600 pounds of gear. I learned that fishing was slow and that these guys were headed to the site on weird for the night… I am so glad that I decided to move on; now they would have the site that they were hoping for.

[paragraph break]

The 240 was flat and easy but long and I’m double portaging so it’s long x 3. Met a father son tandem on the trail on my last trip over; the father gave me crap for not waiting for them to land on the north end to help carry their gear over, we shared a laugh.

[paragraph break]

Grabbed the south site and it’s a gem! The main camp/fire grate is elevated, aprox 20 feet up from the lake… A good breeze, a great view.

[paragraph break]

Set up the tent; physically not feeling too hot. I know that I need to eat, my body needs fuel but the thought of food makes my stomach turn. I choke down a couple handfuls of peanuts and a liter of water. Body feeling better, mind still not right. I’m thinking about my bride and feeling like a Richard for leaving her on her birthday. I know that she is excited for me, she fully supported my taking this trip, but I still feel like a donkey.

[paragraph break]

I broke out the Makers Mark and poured myself an attitude adjuster. Found moose plums in the middle of camp… big spruce down across the latrine trail, had to bushwack to the thunder box.

[paragraph break] The wind picked up and blew in a front… looks like they are really getting nailed to the south but I’m thinking that it will just glance us. Then:[paragraph break] -A few sprinkles[paragraph break] -A rainbow[paragraph break] -A break in the clouds along the western horizon; yielding to the rays of the setting sun.[paragraph break] -A light show the likes of which I have never seen[paragraph break] -A truly remarkable sunset[paragraph break] -A Cliff Bar dinner[paragraph break] -A camp fire[paragraph break] -A red sky tonight; sailors delight

[paragraph break]

Baker, Peterson, Kelly, Jack, Weird, Temperance River, S. Temperance[paragraph break] 410 rods

 



Day 2 of 3


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

[paragraph break]

The loons went crazy last night, must have been 6 or 8 of them all wailing at the same time. Rained pretty hard for a long while, pitter patted me to sleep, the old tent held up just fine. Woke up at one point and it was so bright outside that I thought the sun was coming up. I poked my head out of the tent flap to find a crystal clear sky and a moon so bright that I could have read a news paper by it.

[paragraph break]

Woke up to partial sun partial sprinkles; weird weather. Coffee and oatmeal for breakfast then packed up a wet camp and pushed off. Two fellas at the north east campsite, the last I would see for a while.

[paragraph break]

55 rod into N. Temperance, seemed longer than 55 but it was cake none the less. N. Temperance is a real beauty, perhaps one of the most beautiful that I have seen. High hills to the west, very clear water… an absolute treat! To this point I have been traveling through areas affected by the big blow 10 years ago; 400,000 acres of forest pushed down by straight line winds. Mother is taking back what is hers quite nicely, the bush is lush and green and thick but the devastation is still quite evident… until you get to N. Temperance.

[paragraph break]

105 rod in to Sitka is no sweat. 140 from Sitka to Cherokee is a bit of a mule trail. Not too bad going south to north but the come back is a thigh burner.

[paragraph break]

Stuck to the south shore on Cherokee, thought that I might check out the island site. Going through the narrows between the island and the south shore, fighting a stiff head wind, I pick up some movement from my right periphery and look up in time to see a black bear cub scurry off in to the bush… cute little bugger. Momma is no doubt just out of eye sight so I decide against staying at the island site and push on to the second site up from the portage on the western shore. It’s a nice site, three or four tent pads and a great view of the lake which appears to be deserted. I contemplated making camp but once again decide it’s just too damn early to stop for the day. Had a Cliff Bar and a cup of coffee for lunch and got back to paddling, destination Sawbill.

[paragraph break]

Cherokee Creek is a really neat paddle, very intimate. At least one beaver dam to pull over, may have been more but I don’t remember. 180 rods in to Skoop, 12 into Ada, pull over a dam, 80 rods into Ada Creek, 80 in to Sawbill. None of the portages are difficult, you could drive a golf cart across the 80 from Sawbill to Ada Creek, but it all adds up and I am getting tired. The wind was still blowing pretty good so my plan was to stay in the wind shadow on the western shore and swing up to the site on the big island. Plan dead, the site is taken. I was in no condition to fight the wind across this big drink so I decide to come about and surf the wind and waves to the site on the south east side of the bay. Luckily, the site was vacant and it’s a real beauty, 5 stars.

[paragraph break]

Looked like rain so I hung the tarp and as soon as I finished the sky opened up and I spent a good long while under it taking shelter from the rain. The rain blew over and the sun made a curtain call; looks like I’m in for another beautiful sunset.[paragraph break] -Set up camp[paragraph break] -Dinner of Chili Mac[paragraph break] -A small fire[paragraph break] -A night cap[paragraph break] I was visited by a loon a couple times. He was fishing right up against shore and didn’t seem to mind that I was 10 feet away. He just kept on casting in to the rocks, reeling in minnows; he’s a much better fisherman than me. I had a hare and a mouse in my S. Temperance lake site this morning. Saw a couple huge garter snakes along the portage trails; I think that I have seen more wild life on this trip than I have seen on my previous 5 combined. Hope to see a deer tomorrow, kind of a wild life grand slam of sorts. Hit the rack shortly after the last bit of light faded in the west. It was a pretty hard day; I can’t believe how good I feel.

[paragraph break]

S. Temperance, N. Temperance, Sitka, Cherokee, Cherokee Creek, Skoop, Ada, Ada Creek, Sawbill[paragraph break] 653 Rods

 



Day 3 of 3


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

[paragraph break]

Awake at sun up; fog so thick that I can’t see the lake 10 feet away. I packed up camp and hit the water as soon as the fog cleared a bit. I headed south toward the 100 rod in to Smoke and made my first navigational error of the trip. I was within 25 yards of the portage but didn’t see it and convinced myself that it was further down shore. I paddled about a mile further, realized what I had done, called myself an idiot and headed back to where I knew the portage was… saw it from about 100 yards out this time. Easy portage; the put in on Smoke is interesting as I have never launched a canoe from a doc before; all goes well. 90 rods in to Burnt where I planned to stay for the rest of the day. My plan was to make camp early and take it easy for the rest of the day, I packed my hammock for this very reason but I was feeling too darn good to stop now. I can’t explain it, my plan to create a little down time worked out perfectly and I’m a lounge in the hammock with a book and a cocktail kind of fella but I choose to paddle on. The 230 rod into Kelly is not bad, a little up and down; I got destroyed by the skeeters. A quick paddle through Kelly and Peterson. My Merganser friend swam with me a little ways on Baker as if to “say see you later”.[paragraph break] -Take out at Baker, parking lot is deserted[paragraph break] -Square up at Sawbill[paragraph break] -Fresh hearing for lunch in Silver Bay[paragraph break] -Home in time to sing the kiddies to sleep

[paragraph break]

Sawbill, Smoke, Burnt, Kelly, Peterson, Baker[paragraph break] 433 rods

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Closing Tidbits

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-Sorry for the lack of photos, forgot to pick up a disposable camera and made a game time decision to leave the phone in the car.[paragraph break] -It was a great trip; I will definitely do another solo. I really appreciated not having to worry about trip mates having a good experience.[paragraph break] -I pushed harder than expected but the harder I pushed the stronger I felt.[paragraph break] -My bride was happy to see me earlier than planned although she gave me crap for coming out early… what a woman.[paragraph break] -Saw a deer on the Sawbill Trail; not technically in the ‘dub but I’m counting it.[paragraph break] -Katidyn Base Camp water filter gets my vote for gear of the year… if you don’t have one, get one![paragraph break] -First time ever taking a trip without fishing gear; didn’t really miss it although I might have stayed one more night if I could have fished.[paragraph break] -I think that I need solo paddling instruction, I struggled with course corrections more than I probably needed to.

 


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