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01/12/2018 07:32PM
If you were going to solo the Frost and Louse Rivers in one trip, which way would you go? East to west? West to east? East-west on Frost and west-east on Louse after looping around to the north through Little Sag? Where would you enter and exit?
 
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TuscaroraBorealis
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01/13/2018 09:08AM
While I won't offer any advice on the main question, I can say I will be eagerly awaiting your trip report of this proposed route (regardless where it begins/ends).
01/13/2018 10:25AM
I'd appreciate any information or advice you have to offer, TB. It's more of a dream - maybe just a fantasy - at the moment than it is a solid plan, but . . . I feel like I'm running out of time and maybe already have to do some trips I always wanted to do. I'm hoping I'll be able to make a run at it . . . but have to get healthier and in much better shape, plus some other stars have to align.

I'm contemplating an 18-day trip, so it would be a BIG trip report ;).


NoisyWetHermit
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01/13/2018 11:13AM
Enter and exit at Sawbill Lake?
Get into Alton, Kelso, go north to get onto
Louse. West on Louse until it meets Kawashiwi.
Then make your way NE to get to little sag.
Go east to Mora Lake and portage south to
reach the Frost River. Go east to Frost Lake,
then into Cherokee and south to Sawbill.
What cha think?
01/13/2018 12:05PM
That's an option, hermit - any particular reason you'd go that way?

There are several things that sparked the question. First is that most people seem to go east-west on those river, which I think is because that's downstream and makes crossing the many beaver dams easier. But, Michwall noted in the referenced thread that route finding on the Louse is harder going east-west. Plus going south-north on the Fente-Hub portage would be a lot easier than the other direction, especially with still having most of 18 days food left. Another reason would be to break up the two rivers, so there'd be a break from the numerous short portages and innumerable beaver dam lift overs.

Your route is essentially a condensed version of things I've been looking at - entry probably either at Cross Bay or Sawbill and either going up the Kawishiwi to Little Sag or possibly adding a loop around to Adams.

TuscaroraBorealis
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01/13/2018 12:50PM
boonie: "I'd appreciate any information or advice you have to offer, TB. It's more of a dream - maybe just a fantasy - at the moment than it is a solid plan, but . . . I feel like I'm running out of time and maybe already have to do some trips I always wanted to do. I'm hoping I'll be able to make a run at it . . . but have to get healthier and in much better shape, plus some other stars have to align.

I'm contemplating an 18-day trip, so it would be a BIG trip report ;). "

When it comes right down to it, I dont think it will matter where you start/finish. But...since you ask. :)

I'd start at Cross Bay and finish at Missing Link. It's purely a personal preferrence. Little Sag - Tuscarora is a favorite area of mine and I think the beauty those larger lakes exude would be magnified exponentially after having paddled through all those rivers and puddle (smaller) lakes.

I've only done sections of the route at one time, so I can't comment on the wisest direction of travel.


01/13/2018 03:46PM
Yeah, I like Little Sag & Tusc. I looked at both exits - Cross Bay and Missing Link - for an entry at Cross Bay. It's shorter to exit at Round and just walk down to Cross Bay parking; I've done that before in 2015 when I went across Howl Swamp from Cross Bay/Snipe on the way to Little Sag. And we went down from Little Sag through Mesaba and out at Sawbill in 2014, so I'm familiar with that out. I've not been up to Cherokee from Sawbill though. The Sawbill loop is a few miles shorter, but not much.
Michwall2
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01/13/2018 04:24PM
East to West – You are right about most of my reasoning.

I did them both this way and I wouldn’t change that. My reasons were:

1. I wanted to go down the beaver dams. Both routes have many small and a couple larger beaver dams to navigate. I did not want to have to pull over going upstream. It is usually far easier pulling up sideways to a beaver dam on the upstream side and allow you to scout your route over.
2. In my research, I discovered that there are a couple of route finding challenges (especially on the Louse) that are easier going downstream. As it turned out, there were issues in one spot in particular going downstream as well, but that did not have the trip stopping potential as the ones travelling upstream could have been.
3. On the lower end of the Frost, on our trip, the river did have a noticeable current. There was a long stretch of meandering river that might have been more challenging to travel upstream.

Entry is a conundrum. You need to start the Frost River from Frost Lake and there is not an entry that allows for easy access to Frost Lake in one day.

Sawbill – Frost Lake is a real stretch in one day through Cherokee Lake, especially solo. (We started here for the Louse: Day 1 to Wine Lake, Day 2 to Trail, Day 3 to Mahlberg)
Cross Bay – (We used this one for the Frost). Again, you can make it in one day, but we pulled up on Karl Lake and then went to Frost. (We had ulterior motives in wanting to find a site with a northern view for potential northern lights sighting.) Solo may not be reasonable in one day.
Baker Lake? – I mention this one because it would be 2 easier days to Frost (Baker to S. Temperance/S. Temperance to Frost Lake).

Our experiences on the rivers could not have been different. We did both in August, but the Louse was low water and the Frost was high water. We pulled over every beaver dam on the Frost (even the very small 4 inch ones.) We floated over 2-3 on the Frost (avoiding a couple portages). We were able to line our canoe through a couple of rock gardens on the Frost (again avoiding at least 2 portages). On the Louse, we had to portage everything end to end. We broke the Louse into 2 parts by stopping at Trail Lake. We had the option to stop on Bolgna Lake along the Frost, but it was far too early in the day. The Louse was a far tougher route at the times we did it.

Route
We did the first half of Noisy’s route when we did the Louse. (Sawbill/Wine/Trail/Mahlberg/Little Sag/Mesaba/Sawbill) We did not continue on to the Frost. We were warned by at least 2 people coming through the Frost that it was all but impassable that year. We planned 7 days and travelled 6.

Without knowing your travel habits here is a possible route that takes in the 2 rivers and your wish to visit Adams Lake.

1Baker – S. Temperance
2S. Temperance – Frost
3Frost – Afton
4Afton – Mesaba
5Mesaba – Trail
6Trail – Mahlberg
7Mahlberg to Adams
8Adams to Makwa
9Makwa to L. Sag
10L. Sag to Tuscarora
11Tuscarora to Snipe
12Snipe to Long Island
13Long Island to S. Temperance
14S. Temperance to Baker

This is 14 days of travel. That would indeed be an epic route. An easier route back (even from Adams) would be through the Lady Lake Chain to Sawbill and either out there or complete the circuit to Baker.

Here is a second plan from the north:

1Ham Lake to Karl Lake
2Karl Lake to Frost Lake
3Frost Lake to Afton Lake
4Afton Lake to Mesaba Lake
5Mesaba Lake to Trail Lake
6Trail Lake to Mahlberg Lake
7Mahlberg Lake to Alice Lake (Visit the Pictos?)
8Alice Lake to Frazier Lake
9Frazier Lake to Kek Lake
10Kek Lake to Ogishkemuncie
11Ogish to Gabi
12Gabi to Tuscarora
13Tuscarora to Missing Link (Round Lake)

There are other options here like heading out through Seagull Lake from Kek. Or you could turn south out of Mahlberg, head through the Lady Lakes, go to Sawbill and up to Cherokee and then back out through Long Island to Ham Lake.

Does this answer your questions?
01/13/2018 07:35PM
Michwall2-

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience on the Frost and Louse. I appreciate the time and effort that goes into such a thorough and comprehensive answer; it's very helpful.

"Does it answer my questions?" Yes, it answers the ones you can answer. Then there are the questions only God can answer, the questions I must answer, and the questions only my wife can answer. And then there's the cardiologist . . . since the heart attack a month after my 2016 trip!

I am planning 18 days in Sept for the loop, of which 12 +/- would be travel days. Most of the routes are about 80 miles +/- 5 or 6 miles (including the double portaging). I will have to look at some other possibilities you mentioned. In the past I have traveled 4-5 hours a day - about 8-10 miles not including meanderings. If (IF) i can recover and regain that kind of strength and stamina, I would have 12 days of travel and a weather/rest day every third day. I would have heavier packs to start (for the first week) than my 10-day trips. I would possibly take some shorter days on the rivers, maybe some longer ones later.

If it's a dry year, I'll likely not try it.

My first thought is to enter at Cross Bay, go Frost, Louse, Adams, Little Sag, Tuscarora, exit at Round Lake via Missing Link.

Besides the Frost and Louse Rivers, I am familiar with all but a little of the route - the sections between Long Island and Frost, and the section from the Cap-Boulder portage to Elton.

In 2014 we went from Kawishiwi Lake north through Malberg to Pan and Little Sag (I could use this to cut out Adams and shorten if necessary), then out to Sawbill through Mesaba, Hug, Zenith, Lujenida, Kelso, so I'm familiar with that part of a Sawbill loop.

In 2015 I went in Cross Bay to Snipe, then through Copper and Howl Swamp to Tuscarora on the way to Mora/Little Sag, exiting through Missing Link to Round, so I'm familiar with those options.

In 2016 I did a loop from Kawishiwi Lake to Malberg, the Fishdance pictos, Alice, Thomas, Fraser, Cap, Boulder, Adams, and out to Kawishiwi Lake.

I am not familiar with either of the two routes from Sawbill to Frost. I most likely would not try to make Frost the first day, whether I entered at Sawbill or Cross Bay.

I've never done the Frost or Louse Rivers and would really like to do them. I've been through Adams before and really liked it, but would like to spend two nights there.

Thanks again for your reply - much food for thought, many options to think about, but still unknowns, uncertainties, and unanswered questions.



NoisyWetHermit
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01/14/2018 07:24AM
boonie: "That's an option, hermit - any particular reason you'd go that way?
"

I've been to Sawbill, Alice, and Homer areas,
but not the routes you are looking at.
It was really fun looking at the map and day
dreaming about what I would do. Thanks for
that! So my (low experience) reasoning goes:
1. Start and end at the same place to avoid Shuttle Hassle.
2. Start at an outfitter, since I usually forget something.
3. Do the long portage early in the trip.

Hermit
01/14/2018 07:47AM
Thanks, Hermit. So what are you going to do - are you going to do it too? It does get the juices flowing, doesn't it? I hope it doesn't end up being just a pipe dream.

I've been somewhat fascinated by people's long (in # of days) solos and have gradually done longer ones, with 12 days (2016) being the longest. I have liked the longer ones I've done.

I haven't used a shuttle too many times, but find the least hassle is by leaving my car at the exit and getting shuttled to the entry. Once we had two cars and did our own. I've done a couple where the exit was close enough to entry to just walk to the car. That's the way entering at Cross Bay and exiting at Round Lake would be - I've done that before and it's about a mile.

I have developed an extensive packing list over the years and use it religiously to make sure I pack everything. It becomes more necessary with each passing year!

I was hoping to do the long and/or tough portages later . . . after I ate most of the approximate 24 lbs. of food! Food weight becomes an issue for longer solos, but I really don't want to triple portage anything, although that initial climb on Fente-Hub may require it. I've done that portage before, so I know what's coming. Going out of Tuscarora is quite a climb too, but I'll be a lot lighter! The other issue with the rivers and some other places is just the sheer number of portages with all the loading/unloading, plus all the beaver dams to negotiate. Sometimes I think I'd rather do one 1-mile portage than eight 40-rod ones with all the lifting, especially if they have awkward landings.

Thanks for the input, Hermit - and keep on dreaming!

NoisyWetHermit
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01/14/2018 07:28PM
boonie: "Thanks, Hermit. So what are you going to do - are you going to do it too? It does get the juices flowing, doesn't it? I hope it doesn't end up being just a pipe dream...

Thanks for the input, Hermit - and keep on dreaming!
"


My adult son (the Eagle Scout) and I are going up in August. That will fulfill one dream. I called my brother
today and he is up for the trip too. We've camped all over
but this will be the first time to BW for both of them.
January is the month for maps and dreams and figuring
out where we will be going, and what they want to do.

My brother in law (Whatsit, on here) is planning a June
BW trip. I'm tagging along with him too.

I'm really looking forward to these two trips.
01/14/2018 08:04PM
Hermit-
Enjoy that dream trip - how long do you have and what's the plan?

I recognize your BIL's name from the solo forum (and others). Enjoy that trip, too.

NoisyWetHermit
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01/15/2018 09:24AM
boonie: "Hermit-
Enjoy that dream trip - how long do you have and what's the plan?


I recognize your BIL's name from the solo forum (and others). Enjoy that trip, too.


"

Thanks, we are going to keep it short (3 days) and take it easy. The plan is to basecamp and do some fishing. Not a lot of portages. I'm still trying to decide where to go.
01/15/2018 12:09PM
If you were on Sawbill early, you could make Gordon in a long day if you double portaged. We double portaged and made the north end of Cherokee in about 7 hours without killing ourselves.

On another trip, we did Cherokee to Baker in about the same amount of time triple portaging.
01/15/2018 02:16PM
Thanks, hooky-

If I go that way (or even the other) I'll plan to stay on Frost Lake the night before I start the river and I plan to take two days to get to Frost - I don't want to be exhausted before I start the Frost River! :) Since that's the case, I don't think there's much reason to push too hard the first day with heavy packs. Besides, I never get started as early as I plan and solo I'll have to do all the camp chores ;).
Michwall2
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01/15/2018 07:00PM
I have been thinking about your need to spend some of your food barrel before you start the Frost/Louse portion of your trip. Here is a potential route starting from Kawishiwi Lake.

1Kawishiwi Lake – Polly Lake
2Polly Lake to Adams Lake
3Adams Lake to Hoe/Makwa
4Hoe/Makwa to Little Sag
5Little Sag to Tuscarora
6Tuscarora to Snipe
7Snipe to Karl/Long Island
8Karl/Long Island to Frost
9Frost to Afton
10Afton to Mesaba
11Mesaba to Trail
12Trail to Mahlberg
13Mahlberg to Kawashachong
14Kawashachong to Kawishiwi

This route would empty about 2/3 of your food before starting the Frost/Louse River. One drawback is that it does not start or end at an outfitter, but I think it meets most of your other trip goals.
01/18/2018 04:21PM
Thanks, Michwall2-

I've looked at a lot of different options including that one and similar ones. It seems like each one just introduces another difficulty - more miles/time, another portage problem, etc. That one adds 25 +/- miles to the route and the Tuscarora-Missing Link portage is almost as tough a climb with just a few days less food. The original way leaves it until the end.

I've come to the tentative conclusion that it's probably just as good to go with the basic plan of entering at Cross Bay, going to Frost and continuing across the Louse. There are fewer miles, which means fewer travel days, and more options. I may just need to triple that section of the Fente-Hub portage with a rest day before or after.

01/18/2018 06:41PM
Boonie,
We did the Louse last June. Went from Wine to Malberg in one, tough, long, but interesting day. Aside from current and beavers dams, another thing to consider is the grade. Quite a drop from Louse lake to Malberg and I'm glad I was walking downhill all day. We had to hunt for 3-4 portages due to beavers or unclear landmarks, but we got 'er done. Any questions, let me know. Rugged, beautiful, quiet route.
01/18/2018 06:58PM
Thanks, cowdoc- I remember you posted briefly about it. I will plan 2 days for it; I want to take my time and enjoy those rivers and that country while I'm there. I'm assuming my pace will be a little slower there than say, Kawishiwi to Polly. I hadn't really looked into the drop along the route, but after Fente-Hub, I'll be happy to go downhill for a while. After the rivers I can cover a few more miles per day to make up if need be, but I also have several off days planned too. It makes a lot of food weight though.

I'll keep an eye out for that trip report ;).
A1t2o
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01/19/2018 02:16PM
What if you started at Brule? It is a long paddle across the lake but it doesn't take long to get to North Temperance. I know you could get to Cherokee in one day fairly easily, but have never been there myself, and might even be able to get to Frost on day one. Then you head straight down river and either exit at Kawishiwa and get picked up by Sawbill or head through the Lady chain to Sawbill and then get a ride back to Brule. Sawbill does offer rides to Brule and to Kawishiwa so this is certainly an option. It allows you to not have to spend as much time getting back to the starting point. An alternative would be to get a ride from Sawbill to Brule on day one.

Now, you certainly could take the Little Sag route back to Sawbill if you wanted, but the route I was talking about would minimize the amount of food you would need to carry.

If you want to go to Sag and Tuscarora in the same trip than this short cut route is probably not for you but it does at least cut out the set up for the trip and get you to the Frost river fast.
Northwoodsman
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01/19/2018 05:35PM
boonie,

Sawbill to Cherokee is a nice trip, easy in one day double portaging. Portage # 1 is flat. Portage # 2 isn't bad at all. To get to it maybe a little swampy/muddy. Portage # 3 is likely 100 rods, all flat but up and over boulders most of the way. Portage #4 is long and up and down but it's not a game changer. You will likely have to pull over a beaver dam halfway down Cherokee Creek. It a beautiful area. Once you get to Cherokee there are quite a few nice campsites but nothing between Sawbill and Cherokee once you leave Sawbill Lake. Inquire at Sawbill Outfitters because they will have good updated info relating to the portages and pullovers. Worst case scenario this is 7 hours. At this point you are almost to Frost. If you stay on Cherokee, which you will probably want to, you are 1 - 2 hours from Frost depending where you are on Cherokee. This will make day 2 easy and allow you to get rested up for the Frost River portion. That's all I know about the route.

You are about the same distance from Frost if you Start at Cross Bay EP. You just have a lot more portages (they are also much shorter) and more options to find a campsite. You also don't hit any large water like Cherokee or Sawbill, which really aren't that big as you know.

Starting at Brule is an option but the wind on Brule can be impossible and the portages into Cherokee are pretty tough. You could also head to Long Island Lake from Brule and get to Frost that way.
01/26/2018 08:30PM
Thanks to all-

I've looked at a lot of entries and route options with the following in mind:

1. It's an 18-day (17 1/2 actually) trip in Sept., 12 1/2 travel days, 5 extra days
2. Conditions and circumstances permitting, I want to do the Frost and Louse Rivers
3. It's best to do these E-W, downstream
4. I want to spend a day on Adams if possible and go from Ledge to Hoe
5. No really long, hard days; enjoy the journey some
6. Options to change, shorten if things aren't going well

With all that in mind . . .

The shortest, easiest way to Frost lake is from EP #50, Cross Bay. The route double portaging is 83 +/- miles. Tentative plan is . . .

Day 1, Karl Lake
Day 2, Frost
Day 3, Bologna
Day 4, Afton - This is my first "decision point", where I decide whether to continue to the Louse River or head towards Mora and Plan B

Day 5, Mesaba
Day 6, Trail
Day 7, Malberg - This is my second "decision point", where I decide whether to head around to Adams and Ledge, or just go through Pan to Little Sag. It will likely be Day 10 when I arrive here, having used 3 of the extra days somewhere.

Day 11, Adams
Day 12, Adams
Day 13, Ledge (or Hoe)
Day 14, Little Sag
Day 15, Tuscarora
Day 16, Missing Link
Day 17, extra used somewhere in there
Day 18, 1/2 day exit to Round Lake, walk to car, get to Grand Marais for dinner

None of these days are over 10 miles, some are considerably shorter. Obviously, that's not exactly the way it will turn out, but seems a doable plan with some flexibility to adapt to conditions and situations.





01/31/2018 09:30AM
I really like that plan, boonie, especially all the flex days to use as you see fit.
01/31/2018 10:02AM
hooky: "I really like that plan, boonie, especially all the flex days to use as you see fit."

Well, on a trip that long, there's going to be weather! And at my age, flex days are a necessity :)! The other good thing about it is that some of the days are short enough to stretch into a longer day if necessary or desirable.

I have my permit and I'm psyched! Now if everything else works out.
Michwall2
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02/01/2018 12:44PM
Looks like fun. You have enough days/flexibility to make it enjoyable.

Have a great trip!
02/01/2018 12:51PM
Thank you, Michwall!
02/23/2018 07:35AM
That's the way I would do the route boonie. Combing the Frost and Louse has been on my bucket list. One note on the possible route through Pan......do some recon on the portages up to Pan. I recall one or two being flooded and people paddling or dragging canoes through flooded brush. Check mcsweems videos maybe. Have fun dude!
inspector13
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02/23/2018 09:18AM

Steve did the recon 3 years ago. The flooded portage was between Anit and Pan.

02/23/2018 10:41AM
Thanks, cowdoc. Inspector13 and I are probably two of the people you remember bushwhacking through there on our 2014 trip from Kawishiwi to Little Sag to Sawbill, but I remember mcsweem posting about it, I think from the other direction and maybe more recently than our trip. I'm hoping to go around it through Adams, but do have some experience with it.

I need good Sept water levels, cowdoc, so you get out there and do that rain dance this summer ;).
Atrain
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02/23/2018 11:29AM
boonie:
I'm contemplating an 18-day trip, so it would be a BIG trip report ;).
"


As a late twenty-something deep in the corporate grind, I am extremely jealous. Someday...
02/23/2018 01:09PM
inspector13: "
Steve did the recon 3 years ago. The flooded portage was between Anit and Pan.


"



I had forgotten about that. Overall then, I'm glad he knows what trouble he's getting into no matter which way he goes.
inspector13
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02/23/2018 01:45PM

It sure felt strange being able to paddle down part of that trail.

 
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