BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

September 21 2017

Entry Point 62 - Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (10 HP max). 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 33 miles. Motors allowed on Clearwater Lake only. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1673 feet
Latitude: 48.0702
Longitude: -90.3752
Clearwater Lake - 62

Half solo, half family trip

by BlueSkiesWI
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 22, 2015
Entry Point: Clearwater Lake
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
This trip was the last 5 days of my summer before I went back to college. I wanted to go on my first solo, but also wanted to trip with my parents. I found a route that I could do both, 2 nights solo and 2 nights with them. We entered at the same point, but they went to Pine lake to base camp and I did the Pike loop to meet them on the third day, then came out with them. My goals for the trip were to catch a few fish, single portage everything, spend some time with my parents, get my first taste of solo tripping, and get away from everything before heading back to school. All 5 goals were accomplished, so despite the less-than-perfect weather this trip was awesome.

Day 1 of 5

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday night after work, my parents and I packed up the car and drove the almost 8 hours up to Clearwater Outfitters. We spent the night in the bunkhouses there to get an early start Saturday morning. We ate a great breakfast cooked by the lodge, loaded up the 2 canoes, and took off on Clearwater Lake around 8. I was paddling a prism and my parents had a bell evening star.

After paddling for a little while solo, I thought of how weird the silence is. You stop moving and don't hear anything except the waves and the wind and a few birds. You keep expecting something to make a noise or someone to talk, but it just stays quiet. Throughout my solo trip, I really learned to appreciate this.

I got to the first portage (Clearwater to West Pike, 211 rods) and had to figure out how to portage. The goal was to single portage everything this trip and there was a learning curve. After figuring out how to get my 53 pounds of gear and 34 pound canoe on my back, I started walking. I talked to a few people on the other side of the portage while catching my breath a little, then paddled out across West Pike.

I was aiming for the island site and luckily it was open. I set up camp there, then went out fishing. Rumor that the smallmouth fishing between the island and the mainland was pretty good. Well on the first cast, I caught a nice 17 smallie (turned out to be my biggest on the trip). I caught probably 20 smallies in that spot between 8 and 14 inches after that. I found a little firewood on the mainland, then went back to camp. I cooked up a delicious steak, onion, and mashed potatoes for dinner. I relaxed watching the storm roll in that night and went to bed. Between being my first night ever solo tripping, the storm rolling in, and mice crawling up my tent all night, I didn't get a ton of sleep.

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Day 2 of 5

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I knew there wasn't a sunrise with the weather system going thru so I slept in til around 6:30 that morning. I had my cup of camp coffee and made an eggs and bacon burrito. I packed up camp and hit the water again around 9. The paddle to the East Pike portage (177 rods) was a quick one with a 30 mph tailwind. I came to East Pike lake and enjoyed the paddle across it. As I was paddling a passed a campsite of people, ending a 23 hour streak of not seeing anyone. I ate a cheese and summer sausage tortilla wrap for lunch at a campsite on East Pike. The portage to John lake was another 211 rod one, but wasn't too difficult. I got the most southwestern campsite on John lake, which was a pretty windy one. I ate some barbeque beef wrapped up in a tortilla for dinner, and the wind was nonstop I turned in to bed pretty early.

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Day 3 of 5

Monday, August 24, 2015

I slept in late (around 7) because the high winds outside my tent made me want to stay in. I made some more eggs and bacon burrito with my morning coffee. I really contemplated what to do that day. The wind was brutal out, and it was my first trip solo tripping, and first time paddling a solo. After thinking for a while, I decided to at least make it to Pine Lake and wait it out at the nearest site. So I paddled into 30 mph headwinds across McFarland. I was impressed with how the Prism cut through the wind and water as long as I kept the nose straight into the wind.

I made it the the McFarland-Pine portage, which isn't actually a portage just a small stream. Unfortunately, there was a couple on the campsite next to the portage so that left with me a decision. Wait it out at the portage until the wind wasn't as dangerous, or fight those winds almost a mile upshore to the next site. With Pine being a 7 mile long lake, the wind and waves were pretty strong at my end of the lake. Well after thinking about it for an hour, I jumped in the canoe, put my head down, and started paddling. It was pretty testing, the waves were easily splashing over the bow of the canoe. Thankfully I made it to that site and it was open. I decided I would be there a while so I strung up the hammock, threw my sleeping pad in it, and read a book while swaying in the wind for a few hours.

I told myself at 5 o clock I would make the decision to stay the night or try to paddle another 2 miles up to my parents. Well 5 rolled around and I'm not sure if the wind had slowed down a tiny bit or I was just tired of sitting around so I convinced myself that it had. I jumped back into the canoe and just kept paddling for what seemed like forever.

I came up to the point close to the middle of the lake where there was a tiny cove. I spotted a little sandy spot that looked like a good spot to catch my breath before the final push to my parents. As I was about 30 yards away from shore, I heard a few twigs snap literally right next to me on shore. I stopped paddling and saw a shadow moving through the trees. A few seconds later, a smaller bear stepped out onto the beach. It was awesome to see a bear the best way: 25 yards away and from a canoe! It did get my heart pumping, if I were to have kept paddling the bear and I would have come pretty close to getting there at the same time. The bear had no idea I was there and casually went about his business.

I decided to paddle over to the island just off the point to rest and let the bear have his peace instead. I saw a big green canoe landed at the site back in the bay, so I paddled towards it and realized it wasn't my parents. The guy called me over to rest and I chatted with him for 15 minutes. He had been solo for 2 weeks already with people meeting him the next day to finish his last week. I got back to paddling then, and luckily found my parents at the site just to the west of the Pike-Pine portage. I was lucky and got there right before dinner was finished. We ate and then I was glad to lay down after paddling hard all day.

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Day 4 of 5

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The wind refused to quit howling overnight. We woke up and had homemade biscuits and gravy for breakfast, then left camp at 10. It was tough paddling the rest of almost 4 miles into a strong headwind after being so sore from the day before, but we made it up to the west end. We wanted to see Johnson Falls so we made a quick hike up there and ate chicken on pita bread. We had to find a site for the night still so we didn't make it to the upper falls. We found the Little Caribous site full and both the sites on the east end of Caribou full. Thankfully, the wind had finally died down after 2 days and the paddle was relaxing. After hearing nothing but the wind howl for so long, it was easy to stop and appreciate the silence again.

We found a nice site on the west end of Caribou, ate ravioli for dinner, had a little fire, watched an adult loon feeding 2 youngsters, and called it a night.

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Day 5 of 5

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This was the only morning with fog coming off the water and a sunrise, it was nice to finally wake up early to that. We had some purchased biscuits and gravy for breakfast, then my dad and I went out fishing for a little bit. Caught a few smallies and a northern. There was a family of 4 otters playing out in front of the canoe for a little bit too. We took our time heading out, but made it back to the outfitters and drove the long 8 hours home.

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