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Guest Paddler
06/24/2007 12:59AM
I've been reading this forum and getting some good tips from it. I have a question for all you experienced people. I am going on a BWCA trip next month with 5 other people (we're all female if that makes a difference) for 5 days. Two of us are pretty experienced, have gone on weeklong trips, have been canoeing ever since we can remember. Two are experienced canoers, but not portagers. Two I have not met (friends of one of the people in the second type) and will probably be in the bow most of the time. We're going in 2 canoes (my grandparents live outside of Ely and own two canoes, and we're cheap college students who don't want to pay to rent a third). Our entry point is Fall lake. We have two options for the route for an exit point of Mudro. I was hoping you could give an honest opinion on which route we should take.

First route-
Days 1 and 2: Fall -> Newton -> Pipestone Bay -> mouth of Basswood River.
Day 3: layover near Basswood River. Maybe take the mile portage with only the canoes and explore the river for a bit.
Day 4: West down Jackfish Bay
Day 5: Jackfish Bay -> Sandpit -> Mudro

Second route-
Days 1 and 2: Fall -> Newton -> Pipestone Bay -> mouth of Basswood River.
Day 3: Down Basswood River
Day 4: Down Horse River. Camp in Horse Lake
Day 5: Horse -> Sandpit -> Mudro

If we'd be paddling against current on Basswood and Horse Rivers that may be bad. I'm not sure what direction the current flows on either river. If you know, please tell me :)

Thanks for your help. Happy paddling!
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senior member (66)senior membersenior member
06/24/2007 04:24PM
I just did a very similar 5-day Fall-to-Mudro trip with my Dad and brothers a couple weeks ago.

Except for the fact that we were sharing the route with a group of 40 Boy Scouts from Kansas City (making it difficult to find open sites along the way) it was great.

Here's what we did (and I was with some novice campers/portagers too):

Day 1: Fall Lake to just past the Lewis Narrows on Pipestone Bay.

Day 2: We did the 340r Horse Portage. It's flat but long...the novices in my group weren't too happy (we double-portage.) We kept going...hoping to camp near Lower Basswood Falls on Crooked Lake, but they were all taken. We ended up cheating by staying on the Canadian side up near the Pictographs. People paddled by about every 10 minutes heading to or from the pictos. Don't expect solitude. But all the Falls are nice.

Day 3: Stayed there.

Day 4: Went up (yes up, but there's not a strong current) the Horse River. Not a problem. I believe we had to pull the canoes over 1 Beaver Dam and 1 small rapids. With inexperienced paddlers, you may need to get out and pull over at least one more. We decided to go beyond Horse Lake and stayed on Fourtown.

Day 5: Exited on Mudro (along with about 20 other canoes that log-jammed the remaining portages.) Ugly.

So...I think the best part of the trip is the Falls and the Pictographs...and I would reccommend you do Option 2 and have your lay-over day up there, near Lower Basswood Falls. From there you can see Lower Basswood Falls, The Pictographs on Crooked Lake, as well as Wheelbarrow Falls.

But if you think the 340r Portage will be a deal-killer for some of your novices, or that you couldn't make it to Lower Basswood in 2 days, go with option 1, but you'll be missing out on some pretty sights.

Have fun!
Canoe Dude
distinguished member (380)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/25/2007 02:57AM
Last year we did a loop starting and ending at Mudro up the Beartrap river and down the Horse river on the way out. The pictos are a neat site up the basswood river. You would be going against the current on the Horse, but it really won't make much of a difference. Sites will be a hot commodity around Lower Basswood falls, we were lucky to nab one a little more North of the rest. Finding a site on Horse Lake can be tricky around the weekends I think, as we didn't find any open at about 2 pm on our way out. We had to move on to Tin Can Mike lake where we picked up the only open site. Your trip should be relatively smooth with little or no portaging in the beginning. Here are a couple pics of the pictos:
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