BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

August 20 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.

Newbie No More

by fitgers1
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 12, 2011
Entry Point: Baker Lake
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
My girlfriend has watched me plan and make two trips to the BWCA over the last year. After I returned from my guy group trip in June, I told her all about it and showed her the pictures just as I had done the previous summer. She has heard great things from others she knows that have been there. That led to her saying "I want to go!" We started searching for entry points. I had a book with suggested easy routes. We looked some up on a map and when we saw her name on a lake, it was settled. Kelly Lake. Entry Point 39 at Baker. We checked the permits and the calendar and decided on a nice 4 day "Beginners" trip in mid August. Many said she wouldn't make it. They couldn't believe she was going. She likes car camping in state parks but that is a far cry from the wilderness of the north country. Her parents couldn't believe she wanted to go. She hates bugs and mice. She likes her manicures, pedicures, nice hotels and resorts. Technology is never very far from her- laptop and iPhone are often on and in use. She is a busy woman with a schedule and many things going on all the time. Time, she always knows what time it is. You can walk through her house at night and not bump into a thing because there are lights on every where. She's a city girl. Born and raised. With that said, she apparently had enough camping and time at the family cabin as a kid to have it in her blood. She canoed, hiked and skied as a youngster and into early adulthood. That was some time ago but those things tend to stick with us. They stay deep inside and become part of who we are and what makes us. We in turn are drawn back to the natural world we grew up with, even if it were not a permanent fixture. We were about to see if there was enough of that left in her to make it through the finest wilderness in the lower 48 states.

Part 1 of 2


Once the destination and all the "Oh my goodness, you're not going there are you?"'s were over. We began planning. Luckily, I already have everything we needed with few exceptions. We needed one more pack. I borrowed that from a friend in my guy group. Some other odds and ends like a new water filter and a poly liner for the borrowed pack and we were set for our general gear. It was now time to turn to her personal items she would be bringing. During these days, I was asked many questions. "You'll kill any bugs for me, right?" "What do you mean? I don't get to bring a pillow?" "What can I bring?" Then the fly swatter question. "Can I bring a fly swatter? I was told there are lots of bugs up there." A fly swatter. Seriously? I chuckled. I said no fly swatter. I turned here onto BWCA.com where she became an occasional lurker. She signed up 2 or 3 weeks before entry. She finally got on and posted a question the day before we were leaving. I thought that was funny. I also handed her a stack of books I had collected over the years. Books about the BWCA and canoe camping. A pile of Boundary Waters Journal's found their way into her hands. She read through them. Learned. Asked more questions. I posted a question on BWCA.com the end of June asking for the best advice for a newbie. I received a lot of great input. She read them also. Someone stated to let her bring some items to help make the adjustment and make it easier, more comfortable. I told her she could bring the fly swatter. [paragraph break] Clothes, clothes, clothes. What to bring. What to wear. At REI I picked up a mesh bag and said here, you can put your personal stuff in this. Her -I get to fill the whole thing?! Me - You get to fill it halfway. Someone told her to get the big rubber boots. Me - You will not need them. It's August and the water will be fine. You want those when it's colder. Her - I'm not walking through any of that mucky stuff and icky funky weedy stuff or algae floating on the water. Me - There isn't any. Her - Yes there is. Me - Doesn't matter, you're walking through it. Her - No I'm not. She didn't get the boots and she did walk through the water. Luckily we really didn’t run into any “yucky” water. She has a pair of Keens and needed some good hiking boots. Check. A bunch of lightweight quick drying clothes. Check. A cute little bag for toiletries. Check. A cool straw hat and bandanas. Check. Matching tank tops and button down shirts. Check. Three trips to REI and she was about ready to outfit a crew of women. She bought some items while I was with her. She went back and bought some more on her own and did a great job of picking out the right stuff. She went again for the boots and got some more clothes. Me- How is all of that going to fit in that little bag I gave you to fill? Her - Ah, but it's so cute! It'll look great! Me- It's not a fashion show. Sheez! She bought an ENO hammock. Good call. Matched mine. Concessions were made. Her bag was nearly filled. When all was said and done, she actually had about the same amount of personal stuff as I did. There were a lot of new clothes left at home. Toiletries. Me -What's that for? You don't need that? Her - Yes I do. Me - For what? Her - (Insert any woman’s answer here.) She brought some items that I thought she could have left but in the end, it was good as it all made the trip a better experience for her. That made us both happy. [paragraph break] Food. She is a great cook. Absolutely wonderful cook. Can cook anything. Initial food conversations got me thinking that we would be bringing the refrigerator. Didn't turn out that way. She read some things on this site in the food posts as well as the books. We learned a lot about dehydrating from a certain poster (thanks Erin!) and she did some of that. She is looking forward to doing a lot more dehydrating in the future. She came up with some great ideas for meals and then we whittled that down to the final menu. We had about half as much left over after the trip as what is left on my 4-man trips so we did pretty good. Wasn't bad but could have been better. I did point out to her how much we had left and that we would take that into thought when planning the next trip. Due to weather, we did miss one planned meal though so that is part of the reason we had leftovers. Personally, I would have taken less. I didn't want her thinking we would run out of food though. Thanks to her, we had a few great meals. [paragraph break] Packing. Ah the pack. When filled, I said, "That's it. That's what you get to carry across the portage." She came back with a very serious "That scares me". You can do it I said! Piece of cake. She wrote in a notebook, everything I put in the packs. Every piece of clothing and who it was for. Every piece of gear. Everything. I then showed her all that was on the list. "When we come back, we see what we used and what we didn't and start crossing off for the next time." Unless of course it has a specific role as gear, like a first aid kit. Because of time and schedules, we didn't get to actually fill the packs until the night before we left. We were up until almost one in the morning filling packs and getting the food ready. [paragraph break] Go to bed late. Wake up late. Leave later than planned. No worries. We are on vacation. She was up and at ‘em long before me though. Needed her last couple cups of real coffee and she was excited to leave. I woke up about 6:45 and jumped in the shower. Wide awake now…Am I ready for this? I’ve heard too many horrible newbie stories. Is she going to like it? Will she enjoy it enough to go back? That’s the big question. Will she want to go back? Will I get her into the wilderness and out safely? Will she be able to get out safely if something happens to me? [paragraph break] I loaded the final items of food into the truck. She came down from her shower with a smile. All ready and excited to go. In the garage I showed her the compass. I said, “If I die, point the red end of the needle towards your stomach and start walking. That will take you south. You’ll want to go south. You’ll find the dirt road in a few miles and that will get you out.” That was pretty much it. All the survival advice I felt I needed to give her as I wasn’t going to let anything happen to either one of us. I didn’t really want to think of having to give her any other survival advice. Nope. No more. She wasn’t going to need it. [paragraph break] Off we went, all the way to my house, through Minneapolis morning rush hour traffic. We arrived at my house and we began our first test. Will that advice I got on my thread about a canoe on a Tahoe be correct? We hadn’t gotten the chance to try it out. We stared at the canoe. We stared at the Tahoe and back at the canoe. I looked at her and said, “There you go, throw her up there!” We lifted the beer can on top of the truck. The luggage bars were holding. “Push it this way a bit! Nope, that’s too far. Pull it back.” Is it centered? Too much out the back? Out the front? Looks good! Strap it down. With some shiny new cam-lock straps fore and aft and a couple across amidships the canoe was now part of the Tahoe. To myself I kept thinking is it going to fly off? Will it wiggle around? When my buddy puts two canoes on his van, they always seem to move a couple inches side to side at the bow as we are driving. This one didn’t move a bit the whole way there or back. I was impressed. We strapped it on and strapped it well. [paragraph break] At 9:30 am we were on Hwy 100 and headed north from the west Metro. We need more coffee. That will have to wait until we are out of the cities though. Hinckley, we will stop in Hinckley… and we did stop in Hinckley. With about 12,000 other people! Tobie’s was a mad house. The women’s restroom was closed for cleaning and she waited 15 minutes with several other women before being told to use the restroom on the other side of the building. The caramel rolls were a bit stale but still a healthy snack in my opinion prior to entering the B’Dub. We stopped and checked out the model cabin for a bit in the parking lot. Nice. This cabin will do nicely on my hunting land near Wadena. I was ready to buy it. That will have to wait for now. The Wilderness is calling. On the road again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again. Sandstone. Moose Lake. Hey darling, I played high school baseball against all these little towns when I lived in Esko. Pretty cool. Always nice to be back in the area where I spent so many years as a youth. Cloquet. It’s starting to get hilly now. Back in Little Store country. See that Little Store up there at the Esko exit? I played Donkey Kong and Mrs. Pac Man there back in the day. Way back in the day. Screeeech! To a stop. Road construction already? We were pretty backed up and we weren’t even to the Buffalo House. Turned out the freeway bridges were being rebuilt right by the Buffalo House. See that big buffalo statue? That thing seemed so huge to me when I was a kid. It looks so small now. We’re past the construction now. Hills! Almost there. Excitement boils in the veins. Over the peak and there it is! Duluth! Ah, the great lake. I do love it so. Down the hill we go and to another abrupt stop. More road construction. Mega Project. Mega pain in the butt! Time to call some MN/Dot buddies to get an escort through this crap. Wouldn’t that be nice? Stop and go. Stop and go. I thought this stuff was flowing better these days!! Turns out, that one lane of traffic was backed up a couple miles for an accident. We make the expressway to Two Harbors and are there in a jiffy. The canoe still hasn’t moved an inch. [paragraph break] As we pull into Two Harbors, I tell her to look for the new bait store. We fill up the gas tank at the first Holiday in town and continue. Bait Store! She yells. It’s a big 4’ X 8’ plywood sign in the back of an old pick-up truck with an arrow pointing towards the great lake. We have to go a few more blocks before we can turn around. We turn towards the bait store and drive through a grimy little industrial area. This bait store is in a small engine repair shop. They don’t have much but they do have crawlers and leeches. Those are leeches? I think to myself. Those suck! Where are the big fat juicy jumbos at? “This is all we have” I’m told. I take a couple dozen and one dozen crawlers. Nuts! I knew we should have bought them in the cities. Usually do, well too late now. [paragraph break] The excitement is really growing now. The weather reports warned of rain today. The sky is clear and blue. Large clouds loom in the distance to the north though. I’m feeling pretty good about the weather. We just might get there and set up before it rains. A quick stop in Beaver Bay for a bottle of evening courage and back on the road again. We arrive in Tofte at the ranger station about 2 pm. If plans had gone as scheduled, we should be shoving off from the EP right now. Not a problem though. We are almost there and the trip in will only be a couple miles or so. We’re looking good. We watch the video. My second time for me this year and Kelly’s first time ever. She answer’s all the questions afterwards which pleases the ranger. I wish I knew the ranger’s name. I have met her a few times and never ask. She did remember me from June though as I told her then I would be back and she recalled the group I was with. Very impressive I think for all the people that pass through her doors. I inquire about the hatchet incident. The hiker is alive and well. I told her I read some posts on BWCA.com about the four wheelers and helicopter. “When I went through wild land firefighting school, we were told permits were required for any motors to get in the BWCA. How did they get permits for four-wheelers to get in that quickly?” I ask. All she could do was say that is how Lake County rescue operates. She didn’t seem happy or impressed with Lake County about it. It’s what they do over there and they aren’t too concerned about the law requiring permits. Good for the hiker I guess. We let it go at that. She then asked us not to feed the bear that is hanging out on the Sawbill Trail about nine miles up. We promised we wouldn’t. We never saw him. [paragraph break]

Leeches. The leeches bought in Two Harbors didn’t impress me as I previously stated. So, against all I believe in, we stopped at the Tofte Holiday and I bought two more dozen leeches. Wow! I was now impressed. They actually had some pretty good ones. Perhaps I should take back all I have said in the past about Holiday bait in Tofte. [paragraph break] The Sawbill Trail that day was the roughest washboard road I have ever driven on. It was horrible. We searched the sides of the road for wildlife. Saw nothing. We arrived at the Baker Lake EP and then taught my lady how to load the canoe. Tall pines were all around us. All we could see was blue sky and sun above and to the east. We began sweating as we loaded. Looks like we’ll have good weather in! [paragraph break] She parked the truck. We shoved off and thus began my newbie’s first Boundary Waters experience. From the EP to the first portage is about a 10 minute paddle. 5 minutes in we rounded a point; saw the portage and the clouds. They were thick and dark. Very dark. We made the short portage to the river. She did it! Her first portage completed with success. One #4 pack and the food pack. Very proud of her. No twisted ankles or anything. So far, we were very happy with the lack of bugs. No flies or mosquitoes. We shoved off and then it started. A light sprinkle of rain. No problem. In less than a couple minutes it was now a good rain. The river was full of boulders. We were getting stuck. Now a downpour started. Many exposed rocks and a tree down. We’ll have to get out and drag it. I knew she wasn’t looking forward to walking through this stuff so I said she could stay in the boat. That didn’t last long. She had to get out. The water was very dark. Hard to see the rocks. I stressed to be careful. I didn’t want to see her get her foot stuck in some crack in a rock. Raining harder now. Boom! Thunder. That was close! Finally through and to a pool of water, to our north we saw Peterson Lake. We got back in the canoe and headed through the river opening. More boulders. Stuck a couple times. Lightning now and very visible. It was cracking within a mile or so to the northwest. We are now soaked. Many things are running through my mind at one time. Don’t dump the boat. I’ve never dumped the boat. Please stop raining. No more lightning! She’s never going to want to come back. All that crap I gave her about making hotel reservations in Duluth for Friday night…maybe she should have made them. Through it all, she was not freaking out a bit. Strong and reserved, she wanted to press on. 100 yards into the lake a bolt of lightning hit the north end of the lake. Stay close to shore I say. There’s a campsite just a ways up here. That’s where we are going. The only thing that could have made this worse was wind. Luckily by the grace of someone watching over us, there was no wind. That, however, didn’t help the storm move on too quickly. We approached that first and only site on Peterson anxious to get to safety on shore. She got out, pulled the boat in and I exited. We walked into the site. My first thought was “Where the hell are the monster trucks?” It was a mud hole. Pools of water were everywhere. Not a single spot to set up the tent. It was a small site and hidden by trees on the shoreline with little view of the water. That at least is how I remember it. One of the worst sites I have ever seen. We’re not staying here I tell her. Your first trip to the BWCA is not going to be spent sleeping in a mud puddle. The rain let off and the lightning stopped while we were there. It looked safe enough to forge ahead. Should we put on rain gear? No. We are already soaked and it is warm out. It was about 74 degrees. We will change when we get to the site. We don’t have far to go. We set out again. This time we head for Kelly Lake. The rain has stopped, for the time being. [paragraph break] We begin heading north again. We make it about 3/4ths of the way across the lake and the lightning and thunder start up again. This time several bolts are very close to our location and still pretty much to the northwest. We stop at the tip of a point on the east side of the lake. We only have to cross this one last little bay and we will be in the portage area. CRACK! Lightning to close for comfort that time. I’m thinking this is the most stupid thing I have ever done. Sitting on a lake in a lightning storm isn’t very bright. Especially in this recycled beer can! I tell her that several times too. I think “Should we should stay right here and wait it out a while or push across this bay and make the portage so we will at least have some open land to walk on and make camp if needed?” I scan the bay again. More lightning. Ahead and to the left is a point with many tall white pines. Lightning rods if I’ve ever seen one! If we go by that point and the trees are hit, we’re pretty much hit. We wait a while longer. More lightning. After about 20 minutes it subsides. Nothing for a while now. I feel it is safe to push that last 100 yards or so to the portage. We shove off from safe harbor and paddle our butts off. We’re entering the river now. 20 yards or so to go. No lightning. Thud! Fricken boulder! Rock it a bit, paddle hard. I can’t see the bottom so I’m not getting out. In less than a minute we are free and in moments at the portage. The portage from Peterson to Kelly doesn’t look like it is used much in low water. Right now, all we have to do is pull the boat 15 feet over some dome rock and we are back in the water. That is what we will do. We wait out the storm a bit. Its lightning free now for 20 or 30 minutes. No rain either. We paddle through a pool, turn left and there she is. Kelly Lake. Kelly, meet Kelly! We stay close to the east shoreline en route to the first campsite. We beach and check it out. It was much better than the site on Peterson but still not a good site for a newbie. There are three more sites within a ½ mile or so. We push on. As soon as we left that campsite it begins raining again. It came down hard on us. Whatever bones we had left that were dry after the previous downpours are now getting soaked. Turning east into the bay we see the south campsite is occupied. There are three or four boats. Several people are huddled under their tarp and they call out to us. Can’t make out what they are saying though, so with a smile and a wave we paddle on in the rain. Site number 4 for the day is unoccupied. I like it. Not perfect at all and it is low ground but I like it. It is well drained, even with all the rain. We can make this work. Protected with shoreline trees yet open with a view of the lake. The bottom slowly goes out with dirt and rocks. Nice. This is home for the next three days. [paragraph break]

Yum… This Rush River Amber Ale tastes pretty good as I type the report! Brewed by Rush River Brewery in River Falls, WI, try one today! [paragraph break] Wow, am I dragging this out or what? Back to the story! We unload the big beer can and begin to make camp. I quickly set up the new Kelty Noah’s 15’ sq tarp and then we set up the tent. We keep most of the tent under the tarp in case it starts to downpour again. As soon as we get the tent up, it stops raining. That was pretty much that last of it. There was a small drizzle for a bit but for the most part it was over. Kelly gets into the tent and I hand her everything for inside. She sets it all up and puts on some dry clothes. After she gets out of the tent she stands in the middle of our site taking in her new home and all of its BWCA glory. I look around. Lots of beautiful white cedars and small pines surround the campsite. There is an open view of the lake, not much but enough. As I scan for trees to hang the food pack I hear a loud blood curdling scream. WTF??!! I turn to Kelly. What?? She’s hoping up and down bouncing from foot to foot. She points down and says “There’s a mouse!” We have a little discussion about it just being a mouse. It’s not going to hurt you. Look, you have big boots on, stomp the ground and he will run away. OK she tells me. She settles down but keeps hopping. After a few minutes I walk to the tent to put something inside. I hear another scream and I jump. What!? The mouse is back she said. We discuss it again and all is better. She didn’t yell again the rest of the weekend. That mouse chased her around the campsite the rest of the night and she kept bouncing. Even as she made our dehydrated soup over the stove she bounced. Bounce, bounce, bounce, it was hilarious. For her it was very traumatizing. Still….hilarious. Soup for dinner, the steaks would have to wait another day. We would have liked to watch the sun set but the storm clouds denied us that for this night. She liked it though. She was enjoying herself. Never had a bad word about the rain, the lightning or the paddling. Only the mouse. I would call day one a success. [paragraph break] Day Two. Jimmy Dean spicy sausage, eggs and bagel for breakfast. A tasty meal after that haul in, the previous day with little dinner afterwards. On this day we set out around 9am in search of firewood. Haven’t seen the mouse this morning, where could he be? The campsite closest that had several people the night before was our first stop as it was close and now empty. Very nice site! I’d stay here anytime. It was very wide open with ample tent sites, a couple landings and huge kitchen. Good view of the lake yet it was protected with shoreline trees. As nice of a site that it was, it had no wood except green wood. There was one more site to check. The north tip of the point between the bays was the location of this site. Pulling up we found it to be probably the best site on the lake. It was much higher ground than the other four on the lake. It was protected yet with a view. BINGO! Some nice paddlers left us some firewood. I’m not talking branches either. About 30 pieces of cut and split pine and cedar were piled next to the fire grate. All the pieces were about 14 – 16 inches long and it looked like they all came from trees about 8 – 10 inches in diameter. It was nice and dry and fed our fire for the rest of our trip. It looked as if it were cut by a chainsaw so I think someone brought it in. There was also a lot of tinder/kindling for starting the fire. We loaded up the boat and then checked out the north side of the peninsula. We encountered a lone loon and floated with him for about 30 minutes. It was very relaxing. We brought the wood back to our site, loaded up some fishing gear and snacks for lunch and went back out for some fish dinner. We fished the south end of Kelly Lake and the north end of Peterson Lake. No luck at all. It was hot out and the sun was high, 75 degrees by my little thermometer. Not exactly the right time for fishing but it was wonderful being on the water in the B’dub. It was especially wonderful as the sky was mainly blue, what a treat after the previous afternoon. After we were done fishing, we paddled over to the portage to Burnt Lake. We hiked the 200 plus rods to Burnt. Along the way we met Tom and Julie. They were headed out after a week in the wilderness. We arrived at the shore of Burnt and took in the view for about 10 minutes.

 

Lakes Traveled:   Baker Lake, Peterson Lake, Kelly Lake, Jack Lake, Burnt Lake, Weird Lake,


Part 2 of 2


Took some pictures and decided to head back to Kelly Lake. Tom and Julie had a #3 pack and some other items left on Burnt so we picked them up and portaged the items back for them. We met up with them again when we were about 2/3’s of the way back to Kelly. They said thanks for the help and seemed relieved they didn’t have to finish the trip to Burnt and back again. Tom said he’d take the pack but I told him not to worry. I wasn’t carrying anything else that day so I would take it the rest of the way. We had a good 5 minute or so conversation with them as we finished the portage. They told us they loved Jack Lake and stayed there two nights. Sawbill and the lakes in that area were a madhouse of canoes and they were glad to be back on to Kelly. Back at camp we were able to make the dinner we missed out on the night before. Rib eye steaks, fresh ‘shrooms, onions and peppers. We had way too much but ate it all. Delicious! Shortly after dinner there was a light rain for about a half hour. The sky cleared and we were able to watch the sun set over the hills to the west. Kelly retired to the tent and I stayed outside for a bit. I took a swig of peppermint schnapps. I made a toast to AMOK, took another swig and tipped a sip for him. I entered the tent. Some time was then spent in the tent playing rummy and war. I lost. I always lose at war. I have to figure out how to stack the deck in my favor. [paragraph break] Day Three. Time to make like a voyageur and voyage a bit! After another fine breakfast we loaded up and headed north. It was a couple miles to the north end of Kelly Lake. The northern half is narrow and filled with lily pads and weeds. It was here that we encountered our first people of the day. Two separate groups, close together were heading out. In the bow of the first boat was an old gentleman. Looked to be in his late seventies or more and he was paddling with the best of them. We exchanged a few words and bid them a safe trip. He told us they were on North Temperance to see the Laurentian Divide. Nice. Very nice, I thought. He’s been paddling many decades I’m sure. I hope he makes it back. A man in the second boat told us they had stopped on Jack Lake and were catching smallies on the north side of the point with the campsite next to a big downed tree in the water. We thanked him for the info and paddled on. The site at the very north end of Kelly was not very impressive. It is opposite the river from the portage to Jack. We beached, loaded up and headed for Jack Lake. Not a long portage, 60 rods or so I believe but enough to remind me that I want to buy a much lighter boat. The oversized beer can is pretty bomb-proof but getting heavy in my middle-age. A leisurely float to the north end of Jack proved what a pretty lake it is. Some islands, points and little bays. Not a deep lake by the map I had but neither were Peterson and Kelly. As we paddled we looked for any sign of the mine I had heard of. We saw nothing. We fished “the spot” with no luck. We found the portage to Weird Lake and hiked over. The waterway between Jack and Weird is very scenic. I told Kelly it looked as if a Hamm’s Beer commercial could have been filmed there. We fished a while in a couple pools in the river and ate a snack. I think we were there about an hour. Very relaxing. As we were leaving the portage to go back into Jack, I found a pair of clip on lenses. They looked like the old kind of clip-on sunglasses but they were clear and had a prescription to them. I put them in my pocket. This entire trip we had been searching the shorelines for wildlife. We hadn’t seen a thing yet. We then stopped at the high campsite on the point on Jack. There was a beautiful view from this site. There was a small sitting log area looking to the north end of Jack and the kitchen area was large with a view of the south end of Jack. The tent pad also viewed the south end of the lake with the two islands a short distance away. The large kitchen was too large. You could have a 2 keg kegger party there and still have room for people. Bring a lot of line to put up your tarp at this site. With a south wind, you also might get blown away. We shoved off from this site and paddled a hundred yards or so to the island. There we stopped for lunch and watched two bald eagles as they watched us. It was hot out with few clouds in the sky. I thought about how much more enjoyable this weather was compared to the wind and rain I encountered on Polly in June. It was just beautiful out there. Kelly was having a great time as well. I could tell she was really enjoying this. She even said so numerous times. After a photo op with the eagles it was time to head back to camp. Unknowing to Kelly, I raised a paddle in honor of a lost comrade. We approached the portage back to Kelly and saw a man walking around looking at the dirt. We watched him for a few minutes as we approached. What’s this guy doing? Does he have an ax and a chainsaw? Are we meeting our maker today? 20 feet or so from the shore we notice about 6 more guys walk out of the woods. Turns out they had just walked to the old mine. Oh! That’s where it is! Sweet! We chit chat a while and they walk back to the Kelly side of the portage. We check out the mine and begin our portage as well. It turned out that what the guy was doing while looking at the ground as we approached was this…he was writing with his foot in the dirt. “Silver Mine” and an arrow pointing to the mine trail. Back at camp we make a pretty tasty dinner. It was warm out, the sky was blue and it was early. Just how early we didn’t know. Neither of us brought a watch. The only radio station we could pick up well was KQDS. I think that radio station was on automatic all weekend. They never told the time until Monday morning. A few times we were able to hold the radio in a certain position with one arm this way and the other arm that way while standing on one leg on the highest beach rock in order to pick up the Grand Marais station. We were able to get the time a couple instances like this. It was a little running joke over the weekend – KQDS not ever telling the time. I can hardly wait to go back in closer to Ely so we can listen to WELY. Mouse! He was back. She didn’t even flinch. [paragraph break] So after dinner, Kelly is in the hammock admiring the pristine beauty of Kelly Lake and I finish the dishes. My water bottle is empty so I tell her I am going to fill it for my evening drink and then I will join her on the porch. I walked around a few cedar trees and down to the canoe. I lean down, pick up my filter and look south. What the heck is that I wonder? I stand and look harder. Looks like a big tree trunk that wasn’t there before. It’s brown, standing several feet above the water, yet it is in the water. It’s a little fatter in the middle than the top and the bottom. MOOSE!!!!! I rub my eyes a bit and now she is very clear. A big cow. A big cow standing about 40 yards away staring at us! She looked like a tree trunk as I was looking at her head on. I set down the filter and take a few steps toward Kelly. In a low, excited whisper I say “Kelly, slowly get out of the hammock, go back and get your camera and don’t say anything. There’s a moose right over there!” “Really!?” Wow! As she gets her camera, I whisper to her to turn off the radio. We stand on the shore and watch her in all her majestic glory. The moose put on a nice show for us. She walked around for several minutes in knee deep water. Then she went deeper. She kept swinging her head around as if to get something off of her back. I looked through my binoculars and could see hundreds of flies flying all over her back, neck and head. We snapped pictures and video as she went deeper and swam a short circle with only her head sticking out of the water. When she stopped swimming she began splashing in the water. Jumping up, sinking down and jumping up again. Cooling off or getting rid of flies? I don’t know for sure. She walked back to shallower water and walked around a bit. Then she turned to the woods, jumped over a big downed limbless tree and crashed through the trees as she walked away. It was amazing listening to the branches crack for another minute as she walked around out of view. Then it was quiet. The show was over. 20 – 30 minutes of it and we wanted more. We were just stoked with excitement and amazement. How flippin’ cool was that?! update 4/10/12 - 1/2 the report is

 


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