BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 22 2017

Entry Point 41 - Brule Lake

Brule 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 35 miles. Access is a boat landing at Brule Lake. Large lake with several campsites. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1847 feet
Latitude: 47.9261
Longitude: -90.6448
Brule Lake - 41

Two Rivers and a Big Lake (plus others)

by bapabear
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 03, 2012
Entry Point: Brule Lake
Exit Point: Homer Lake (40)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This year my usual BW group had to change plans when work got in the way of fun. We were scheduled to enter on June 2 but a new work contract forced most of our group to reschedule for September. Terry (my son‘s father in law), and I would have been canoe partners anyway so we got together and decided to make something happen in June on our own. Knowing my son and his family have wanted to get our two grandsons involved in the canoeing experience but a BWCA trip wouldn't work for them this year we planned a “two part” trip. Part one was to travel north to Trego, WI and do an overnight canoe trip down a 22 mile stretch of the Namekagon River. When that ended son Jeff , Kim, Samuel, and Aaron would head home and Terry and I would continue north, pick up our permit at Sawtooth Outfitters, camp overnight at Temperance River State Park, and then head into EP 41 the following day.

Day 1 of 9


Sunday, June 03, 2012 I would canoe the Namekagon again in a heartbeat. We caught it at just the right time with no other people on it and every campsite was unoccupied so we had our pick of the best spots. The river was running about 5-6 inches high which picked up the current a little and helped us skim over many spots. In fact, the St. Croix River that it flows into was “closed” by the DNR due to high water and flooded campsites so we were lucky. With a 3-4 mph current we moved along and feasted our eyes on many deer, beavers, kingfishers, eagles, orioles, and had some luck with small mouth bass. The two grandsons got to paddle, see wildlife, camp out and had a great time. We put in late on a Sunday (4:30) found a wonderful group campsite after a short paddle, still had plenty of time for fishing, paddling, camping fun.

 



Day 2 of 9


Monday, June 04, 2012 Today we put in late (around 9:00 am) to finish our 22 mile trip by late afternoon. We even stopped for nearly an hour long lunch and nap time along the way. For anyone looking to canoe this river we put in at County K Landing, had Jack’s Canoe Rental help us shuttle our vehicles, and then came out at Namekagon Trail Landing. There were some mild rapids we encountered and a few rocks to avoid but with the higher water level it was an easy and pleasant paddle.

 



Day 3 of 9


Tuesday, June 05, 2012 I’ve driven past Temperance River Park many times and now realize what I’ve been missing. The Lake Superior shoreline alone is worth the visit, but then we hiked along the Temperance River and were treated with some most spectacular images that demonstrated the roaring power of falling water. It was gorgeous, awe inspiring, and definitely worth the time to finally see what the place was all about. If you’ve not checked this place out put it on your “to do” list and soon. The climb along the river follows a rocky path which is nothing new to BW regulars but it could be difficult on a wet day. If you have little ones with you keep them very close by because you can literally walk right up to the cliff edges going down into the raging waters that have cut their way through the solid bedrock.

 



Day 4 of 9


Wednesday, June 06, 2012 Up early! Packed up - which includes filling our water bottles with the sweet spring water flowing at the tap in campground. We head to Tofte for a gas station breakfast and a quick glance at the newspapers. WI recall election results are the headline which makes me glad I’m heading into the wilderness to get away from reality for a while.

We arrive at Brule Lake around 7:45 and with the two of us it doesn’t take long to ready ourselves. We work out the best way to trim the canoe and are fortunate to have a friendly couple that are there for a fishing day-trip offer to take a few “before” pics of us.

We’re off and paddling a very calm and wonderful lake! (I’d been worried about what they caution regarding starting a trip on such a large body of water but this morning is sunny, calm and pleasant) This moment has been a goal for me since mid February’s shoulder surgery. My rehab has been focused on this very experience and I’m grateful I’m paddling strongly and without pain.

Terry, much more than me, like to “check out” open sites. So as we head east along the south shore we take our time and stop every so often to add to our data base about what the campsites are like. Interestingly , along the north shore just before entering Brule Bay, we spot a campsite that has a small area burned around it. As we inspect we try to figure what could have happened here. A campfire get away from someone and they were able to put it out? A dieing campfire sent a spark after someone left and a rain doused it? (On our way home we stopped at Sawtooth Outfitters to discuss refinishing Terry’s Kevlar canoe and we asked if they knew what had happened at this site. We were told that during the Pagami fire last year there were many planes in the area and one of the tanker pilots saw this little blaze that might have been from a lightning strike and quickly buzzed it with a water drop to extinguish it.) We had not thought of that!

As we entered Brule Bay we encountered Mama and baby moose out swimming! We followed at a distance to see where they were headed and saw them scramble out at a very steep shoreline. Mama powered her way to the top with no trouble but Jr. was having trouble. Mama grunted and “talked” to it the whole way up providing encouragement until it reached her. At that point they both just disappeared into the woods like a magician had waved a wand.

We searched for a site marked on my Voyageur map that should have been back in a cove but could not find it. We took a gorgeous little site on the southern side that was in view of the portage into Vernon Lake and we could hear a waterfall or rapids of some sort - from quite a distance a way.

It was time for lunch so we broke open the food pack as some showers started up with off and on rain. We tarpped off the kitchen area and settled in to camp number one.

Before mid afternoon we decided to see what Vernon Lake had to offer. We could hear the loud rapids as we portaged in and knew there was something special along this portage. A quick left on the lake brought us to a campsite where we beached and went exploring. A short walk brought us to the absolutely most gorgeous little place. With the way the sunlight was playing through the trees, the green of the moss covered rocks , the jumble of trees, the mist in the air and the roar of the water I didn’t want to leave. Terry climbed around and explored and I just sat and took it all in for at least an hour. If you’ve not experience this water fall and “glen” I hope you do sometime. My dad’s name was Vernon and this will be the 15th year he’s been gone now. I had some amazing thoughts and memories of him as I sat and studied this area. You had to be there - and I hope you are soon!

We circled Vernon Lake, check out another site and then headed back with dark clouds looming in the distance.

At around 8 in the evening I’m sitting along the lake reading and realize I’ve made a terrible decision on this trip. I chose to leave fishing gear at home and travel lighter - Aack! The lake is alive with fish surface feeding and the sights and sounds of fish are everywhere. I vowed there will be a trip in my near future where that’s all I do is fish. Terry and the others I go with choose to explore rather than sit and “pound the water” so I’ll either have to shake my son free for a trip for find some others that are dyed in the wool fishermen. Oh well. The beauty of the evening soon takes over my feeling of remorse thank goodness.

This year I left the Crazy Creek chair behind and brought a three legged folding stool. That, at least, was a great decision for this trip!

 



Day 5 of 9


Thursday, June 07, 2012 Up at 5! Travel day. Thick, thick mist over the lake. We had a cold breakfast, packed and watched the sun and the mist fight it out for dominance before leaving around 7:30. We traveled west for a couple of hours before reaching Cone Bay. The water was ultra smooth with bright sun the entire paddle and we had a rest stop on an island - to check out a campsite. We took the easternmost site where there was a beautiful view from the camp looking out into the lake however we caught no breeze on a very warm afternoon. To escape the heat we got out on the water and paddled into the Cone Lakes. There are a couple of short portages marked but we were able to paddle through with our lightened canoe. By the time we returned to Cone Bay a cooling wind had picked up which made the rest of the afternoon more bearable. We rinsed out a few clothes and they dried quickly. That evening we paddled a short distance to get a better angle on the sunset and were able to get some nice pics. After the sun was down we just let the canoe sit still in the water as a beaver kept circling us before the tail slap and disappearing act.

 



Day 6 of 9


Friday, June 08, 2012 What was unique to us on this trip so far was we were now in our third day in the BW and had not portaged our heavy packs yet! Our campfire talk last night was to cover some ground, see some sights, and still travel light. There was a relatively easy loop that we figured we’d try today. In an attempt to beat the afternoon heat we left camp about 7:30 and set off on a counter-clockwise loop. We found the big part of Brule to once again be a peaceful and welcoming water as we headed east. Quite a distance from shore we were delighted to find mama merganser and 4 ducklings going about their business. Our direction of travel took us past them and she was a little drill sergeant keeping those four in line and ordering changes in their left/right order of march. It made us wonder how often this sight is seen so far from shore and if there had, at one time, been a few more little ones that had now become fish food.

We entered the bay that led to Lilly Lake and proceeded through Mulligan. The portage north brought us to a pretty but shallow and mucky bottomed little water that was a struggle for our lightened canoe to travel through. We left this “mud paddle” and were part of a mosquito feast on a long portage into Wannigan Lake. After a short paddle we headed west portaging into Cliff Lake. It was here that the threatening dark clouds finally chose to let it rain. It became on/off but was the kind that it was a hard enough rain when it came down you needed rain gear or you’d get soaked. For a while it became a costume change with the raingear until it finally passed by us.

Cliff Lake was paddled in a heavier rain. The north wall is certainly a steep rock face. It left me wishing to visit it again on a sunnier day.

The portage into North Cone left me puzzled. My map shows a 147 rd portage but it has to be longer than that. There is considerable up and down travel and footing is tough with the rock lined trail. Maybe it just seems longer because I had to take more care with foot placement. Rocks were still wet and I wasn’t about to take an uncalled for spill and land on my shoulder or crack my head open.

Once we hit North Cone Lake we were done portaging anyway since we were able to canoe into Mid and South Cone Lakes with little problem. We entered Cone Bay greeted by a nice breeze and the rain had now passed by. After about 5 hours we were back in camp for lunch. A great lazy afternoon doing camp chores, reading, resting, and enjoying the breeze to keep the bugs off us.

 



Day 7 of 9


Saturday, June 09, 2012 Time leave Brule Lake. Our fourth day in the BW and we’re going to have our first double portage with full packs! I could like this! The day dawns calm and clear and once again the gods of Brule favor us with a calm surface and a rising sun through distant mist. At 7:30 we’re on the lake and heading toward Jock Mock Point on the south shore. The portage into Juno Lake was a pretty easy, grassy in spots, walk. My map shows that we actually left the BW for the middle part of the portage . The trip across Juno was a long paddle as the sun was coming up yet we were able to study an area that was burned back around 1990. There was a great deal of new growth with the burnt remains of the fire still visible. Much of the downed wood was laying in a parallel direction which made us wonder if there was a blow down or if this was entirely from the fire.

There is a very interesting portage between Juno and Vern Lakes. You start climbing straight up to where you can see out over a rough area that contains a large beaver lodge and the Hoover Dam of beaver dams. When I thought the portage was about to end it continued on to get us clear of the beaver dam. An interesting place.

About 11:30 we laid claim to the second site down on Vern Lake. It’s right across from the entrance to Vern River and about a hundred yards from the portage into Whack Lake. We set up camp and had lunch as the wind continued to pick up. We couldn’t get the last portage out of our mind so we made plans to travel back up the lake to explore some more.

We headed back up Vern Lake dealing with the wind around 1:30. Just as we got there we were startled by a huge clap of thunder and a sudden pouring rain. There were dark clouds in the area but they didn’t alarm us until now. A video of me would have been hilarious as I’m grabbing rain gear from the pack, hopping on one foot after another pulling up pants, and zipping and buttoning to stay dry only to have, on the final zip, the rain stop on a dime and the sun pop out. Terry had forgotten his rain gear and was going to “ride it out” while I was going to be high and dry. By the time I got everything off and dried and back in the pack I had worked up more sweat than he had gotten wet in the whole deal.

On the way back to camp we fought some stronger wind but made a few stops to pick up some really decent firewood from all the downed and dead stuff there was.

We were able to sit on our camp stools and observe a susnset worthy of a few pictures before hitting the sack.

 



Day 8 of 9


Sunday, June 10, 2012 Hey! We slept in until 6:30! For the first time we had a fire cooked breakfast of pancakes and planned a short day trip through the end of Vern Lake into East Pipe and Pipe Lakes, then return through Homer and Whack Lakes returning, basically, back at our campsite.

The map showed we’d have a few short portages but on this gorgeous morning we were able to glide along until just before East Pipe Lake. We circled the lake and couldn’t help but notice the fire damage levels. The bigger island was noticeably different from the surrounding shoreline. There was no sign of tree life coming back, just a denuded looking island. We wondered if this was due to a hot spot in the fire that would have burned so hot that it would have burned out any organic matter in the soil??

Portaging up to Pipe Lake gave us a great little spot to over look East Pipe, have a snack break, and observe another good sized beaver dam. The wind was picking up again and we chose not to travel to the end of Pipe and check campsites. We backtracked through East Pipe into Homer Lake and back through Whack Lake. The Portage between them was waterlogged so we found some beaver cuttings and filled in the wet spots to make the portage easier. We’d be coming out that way in the morning with our gear so we made it a little better than it was.

The rest of the afternoon was a relaxing one enjoying the breeze and reading. The landing of the campsite has an enormous ant hill so I crushed up some peanuts and sesame sticks and scattered the pieces. Within a few hours the place was clean! Man, they had more energy than I did and it was neat to watch them work so hard. I suppose they have heard of leave no trace?

We went to bed to the sound of stronger wind and distant thunder. Too cloudy to see the sunset so we went to bed early and prepared to leave in the morning.

 



Day 9 of 9


Monday, June 11, 2012 Another early leave time. A storm had blown through with little rain and the day dawned sunny and bright. We were on Homer Lake in no time and I was very impressed with it. We noticed a state park campsite on the south shore that was outside the boundary waters. We could tell because it had a picnic table. It was on a beautiful spot though. Before we know it we’re at EP 41 and it’s a quick mile and quarter walk back to the car. The pack up was quick and we were on our way home - just like that. Since we spotted a couple of moose at the start of the trip we found it a fitting surprise that on the caribou trail we had to stop for another moose! I’ve seen moose before but not three on the same trip.

Had a safe drive home and was unpacking and throwing clothes into the washer by 8pm. I liked the Brule Lake area.

 


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