BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 15 2017

Entry Point 52 - Brant Lake

Brant Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 45 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Round Lake with an 85- and a 35-rod portage to Brant Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1500 feet
Latitude: 48.0692
Longitude: -90.8455












Brant to Tuscarora via Little Sag Route:
Round
Brant
Bat - Mud
Gillis - burn area is evident:









French
Peter - first lake trout:









Virgin
Little Sag - green trees again!
Mora - gorgeous divide of burn and green
Crooked
Owl
Tuscarora - second lake trout!
Missing Link - with lighter food pack, the portage is OK
Round

Chasing a Fine and Pleasant Misery

by jbshotgun
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 13, 2011
Entry Point: Brant Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
First off let me start off by letting you know this may be a rambling report, and yes this was a hunting trip so for those anti-hunters out there just stop reading but do know no non-human mammals were hurt during our escapades. Planning started in February of this year; it was going to be our first adventure hunt. We picked entry point 52 as an out of the way area with good topography to hold bears. We had a rough idea of where we wanted to go heading for either Little Sag or Ogish. Then came the fateful trip report of Rob Johnson’s “Mugwump PMA -- A Fine & Pleasant Misery.” It was perfect; noted bear sign 3 months before our trip, 2 supposedly older gentlemen (assumed for the family status (and you remember what they say about assumptions)) able to make the trip within 8 hours, and a detailed hourly report of their trip in. Our goal was to match the entry trail leg for leg going to Agamok. Then set a base camp and hunt our little hearts out. The phrase of the planning stage was, “Well if the old guys can do it.” As time told us “Ambition can hurt.”

Day 1 of 6


Day ZERO I have to work a half day so I head into town at noon to pick up the 100 pounds of dry ice in case we get the opportunity to harvest a bear. On the way out the door from work I get the usual be safe’s and good luck’s, my boss adds in, “remember those old guys might be marathoners and they surely weren’t hunting bear with your gear.” Ahh pish posh, were young and strong men some hard work can’t break me and Captain BS. Hit Captain BS house at 2:00 and he has the truck loaded except for our borrowed 1970’s 17 ft alumicraft. It will be the first time we have strapped it to the new truck without a rack (did great on the POS minivan, so can’t be bad). Well 4 stops in the first 40 mins of driving to readjust the straps and survey the paint damage, we finally got it on right and we were on our way. Just out of Grand Marais we hit the smoke from the fire, 5 miles of 200 ft visibility. Well were running on fumes so we hit gas and food in Grand Marais. Food was interesting, never thought I would eat at a place where I could get a 10 buck tuna steak sandwich. Waitress didn’t like me much because I’m not advanced enough to know how I would like my tuna steak done (med rare is perfect). Hit Tuscarora about 9 pm and hit the sack.

 



Day 2 of 6


Day ONE Got up and ate breakfast at the lodge (French toast was amazing by the way), the old guys left at 6 before breakfast but we needed our permit. So after the refreshing video we were off to the races. The old canoe has a listed capacity of 700 pounds. I’m 203, Captain BS is 195, 100 of dry ice, my pack (including deer stand and rifle and associated junk) 80, food pack (yes I know its way to much) 75, Captain BS “CBS” pack 50, Big Bastard (in honor of HC and Mr. Johnson) was 65, BS accessory pack 10, little bastard 40. That’s right over 800 pounds loaded into the barge, she paddled like it also. Officially on the water at 8:30am. In planning we had discussed lots of portage options, but we settled on the following. I take my pack and the canoe in one trip, little bastard and the food second trip, share the ice on a stretcher trip 3 (hard work hunting bears in the outback). CBS takes Big bastard on trip one and his pack with the accessory pack trip 2. Round to West Round is great, playing He-man is fun. West Round to Edith isn’t bad either. Find the creek between Edith and Brant will let the barge through with minimal effort. Hit the portage between Brant and Gotter at 11 am. Now the adventure begins, big bastard doesn’t have an internal frame like our other packs so it is taking its toll on CBS, new plan I take that instead of the food. Up the trail we go, first real hills we hit. This really wears on CBS and he utters for the first of 20 or so times that day “This is some Bull S#@$!!” The landing in to Gotter is an 80 yard mud flat but the portage is extended another 20 rods to the openish water. A rest and were off at 12:30 (first poor sign). 6 paddles later were on the SW of Gotter there is a small stream that lead to a pool of open water 60 yards away. It’s going to be close but we can make it. Up the creek we go. 10 yards in were stuck, remembering the creek between Edith and Brant, I’m wearing water shoes so figure if I hop out and pull us along well be fine. Push my paddle in and the mud appears to be waist deep. So being the genius I am I strip down to nothing but the shoes and hop in. The barge sails along for another 20 yards and sticks again. CBS finds a long to get out on and only gets slightly muddy. 5 more feet and the bottom of the mud falls out from under me, next thing I know I’m nipple deep in thick mud with a 2 inch layer of water on top. Flailing my legs I find a log to get myself waist deep again. With another blind search I find another log, so I’m off for another 15 feet dragging the barge the whole way. Then it happens, up to my armpits and no bottom or log to be felt. I hoist my body up and fling it over the mud one length forward never letting go of the boat, in a desperate hope to find another sunken log. No joy. I’m stuck. Another hoist and a reverse swing to find the last log and out I come from the swamp leaving the barge for a strategy session and another round of “This is some Bull S.” So the strategy session leads us to a rope to the front of the barge and pull it across the mud in the far puddle. Back out the muck for me. The weather has now changed and the wind and periodic wind gust has started. Attach the rope and time to try and tow the barge across the muck of “GUTTER LAKE. “ Well needless to say it didn’t work, were more stuck and a long way from nowhere puddle land. Still naked and semi covered in mud mind we it is time to free the barge and start over. Just as we start heaving it in reverse another couple tries to come up the same creek. Nothing like cold naked muddy white guy to make you believe them when they say turn around. The other couple find a landing site on the swamp pad that covers the better part of the north side of the lake. And start to portage to the “west puddle.” We finally meet up with them on their last trip and I am now freshly bathed and clothed. The gentleman inform us he found a path and laid down some logs to get across a muddy bit by a rock ledge to set out on the west puddle. He thanks us profusely for being the idiots to first try the creek or they would have suffered an up the creek moment. Handshakes and the other couple are never seen again. Well we start our triple portage and before the end of it we meet up with the poodle people. Very nice couple that have older poodle which can’t walk very well, they also are 3 to 4 tripping each portage. We help them cross the bog and the swamp log cliff walk and get ourselves put in, paddle 3 strokes and there is the end of the west puddle around the other side of a rock cliff. CBS and I laugh a little and holler back to the poodle people. Off we go on another portage, well worn by the way. About 60 rods CBS utters his name sake line and says were going the wrong way. I tell him that this is where we watched the first couple disappear to but agree it doesn’t seem right. Well a check of the compass and the GPS shows us were on the way to Craig, a dead-end lake with no supposed portage. I collapse and rest a few and CBS turns around. Meeting back at the end of the west puddle CBS is slightly rejuvenated, I’m just cold. We load the barge and stop the poodle people from landing and back we go. I explore and find that the west puddle is actually the south west puddle and the portage is off the North West arm of the bog. A sweet little portage and were on to Flying. Well grab the junk and help the poodle people with their canoe and were off on flying. It’s now 6 pm at the start of Flying to Green portage; Mackenzie map has it at 88 rods, Fisher 100. Regardless its 100 feet up and across than 100 down. The he-man thing is officially wearing on me. Just before we start heading down the female member of the poodle people informs me that there is a tree across the trail a foot in diameter, she starts hacking at the small limbs so we can go over or under it (waist level). Drop the canoe and my pack and back for more, CBS is wearing and it is one pack at a time for him. We get everything up but the ice. Its 7pm and now we still have to head down to green. I’m exhausted and agreeing this is BS. I kick the log and it moves. I drop the shoulder and it’s out of the way. Now it’s getting dark and I am losing hope. I tell CBS that we should camp right on the rock were on for the night and start fresh in the am. He has gotten his sprit back and reminds me there isn’t enough room on the rock for us and the poodle people. Just gotta get across green and get to bat and small portage stands in the way. I agree reluctantly and we drag the junk down the hill. It is decided to leave the ice at the base of flying and will get it tomorrow. As for my big pack it will lay where it is until the am also. CBS tries to get me take some dry clothes but I can’t do anything but convince myself to move. The clouds are over so its 7:30 pm and dark. Waves are up on Green and CBS keeps us to the south shore we hit the far end and my heart sank, another freaking stream leading to a portage. To dark to see if there is an alternate landing. I’m head strong and cold. I just jump in and drag CBS and the barged up the mud stream. 20 yards from the portage it waters out and CBS can paddle. At least I’m wearing clothes; we worry about the poodle people. So after unloading the barge CBS is gonna move all but the canoe and big bastard, and I’m gonna go after them. Sure enough stuck at the start of the creek and I yank them down the mud until they can paddle. I wade out of the water and realize after doing all the portages in my water shoes that have slowly disintegrated that I now have sacrificed my right one to the mud gods, oh well at least I can’t feel that foot right now. CBS was a champ, he cleared the short portage of a downed tree and humped all the junk over so I only had to make the one trip with the canoe and big bastard, and he even helped the poodle people to bring a load or two. Finally on Bat, a lake with a campsite and its only 8:30 pm. We paddle out hugging the shore, first campsite taken and second campsite not visible in the dark. Across the lake we go to the old burn and it’s time to set up camp in the dark and have dinner about midnight. I did my best but couldn’t feel my hands or feet at about 11 pm so CBS did the brunt of it. 12:15am- Good Night!!!

 



Day 3 of 6


Day Two Woke up about 7 and convinced myself wet clothes and 1 shoe was good enough to solo back 2 lakes and pick up the gear, yep that only took me an hour to convince myself. Went back changed clothes at my pack on put on some blessed boots (I now love boots), hid the dry ice at the base of flying and back to camp. New plan rest this am do some scouting and hunt around Bat, if we get lucky then will go get the ice or we will get it on the way out. On the way back to camp stopped by the other two campsites to see the neighbors. They were well but all staying put for the day as we apparently all came the same way, Still no sign of the couple that went down to Craig, if that is you reading this let me know where you got out, I’m curious. Got CBS up and we had lunch weather was ok but supposed to turn, and turn it did, took a nap and woke up to sleet and snow with gusty wind. Apart from 1 scouting adventure to the north basically pinned in our tent, I say pinned but it was thankfully restful, and it was a better day CBS didn’t utter “This is…” until 11:30 and only did so a half dozen times.

 



Day 4 of 6


Day Three Woke up to a good frost and beavers working hard on their hut. What a beautiful setting, loons in the am and quiet. The other two camp couples shoved off the day. Had the place to our selves. Scouted spots in the am and hunted in the pm. Had one coming in then about 50 yards through thick cover it winded me and was gone. CBS took a long hike to decent sign but got skunked.

 



Day 5 of 6


Day Four New plans, CBS is sore and wind is changing from the south. I scout a ridge that is perfect for him and we get set up. Drop him off and paddle to the south side of the lake and up the ridge to my spot. Get all hunkered in and I hear voices on the lake talking loudly. View across with the binocs and there are people at our campsite messing around. I figure it’s the park service checking permits so I just silently watch. Then they point at the beached canoe on my side and make a b-line for it. They get close enough and I see the gentleman’s hat, yep park service emblem. They pull up next to the boat and start shouting “Hello.” Well I scamper down the 100 ft ridge using the downed birch as the ladder that I climb up it with. Hit the flat and let them know I’m coming out and I’m armed. Very nice set of rangers great me with, “{So you must be the bear hunters?” after a short discussion I am informed at least a dozen times I am being mandatory evacuated due to the fire and the wind shift. Like I said very friendly pair, let me know exactly where the burn was and said use my head as it was 3:20 pm. Back up the hill to bunker in. So my wife’s voice yelling at my imagination got to me so after 20 mins I pack up and head off to CBS’s bunker. Well we decided night portaging sucks son well finish the hunt and out in the am. Skunked that night also. But got everything packed and to bed by 10:30.

 



Day 6 of 6


Day Five Out we go, on the water at 7:20. Combined our packs and readjusted a bit. Only double portages this time. Portages went well and we found all the appropriate side portages. Made it out without getting muddy or wet, yeah. Was in the truck with the canoe appropriately strapped by 1:30. In my own bed by 9 pm. Now that it is over both CBS and I agree that we will DEFINATLY do it again, but we learned a lot of lessons. Prescout the area so you realize how far you really can go and that some of the best sign isn’t as deep as you think. Pack less, didn’t need ¾ of the food we brought. It’s only a week, eating like a king and actual cooking is severely overrated and only causes dishes. Pack less, because He-man only holds out for 400 rods of portage. Screw the water shoes, boots are fine. When hauling gear for hunting it will naturally be heavier than normal BWCA gear, so don’t bring the barge bring or rent a Kevlar. Trust what you know or practice with the new vehicle prior to the outset trip. Mud sucks. And finally if anyone says “well if the old guys can do it,” punch them squarely in the head. Hope you enjoyed our ride. Cut short by fire but fun, can"t wait for the next trip.

 


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