1st time poster on here, although I've lurked on and off for a bit. I've been to the BWCA 4 times over about 8 years.
This year I am (possibly foolishly) going to take about 4 newcomers with me. So including myself, there will be 5 people along very familiar with backpacking/canoeing, no-trace ethics etc...
I have 1 specific question, but am open to any tips or advise you wan to toss at me...
1.) I want to do a "base camp" sort of trip. I'l like to hear your suggestions for a 1 day paddle in, set up camp, stay a couple nights, paddle out quick sort of trip. I figure 2-3 nights in the wilderness is a realistic expectation.
-priorities are fishing, minimal portages, minimal big lakes as I'll have inexperianced paddlers with me, and somewhere close to ELY, oh and please help me dodge the burn area.
Ensign Lake is a great base camp lake meeting your wants. I've been doing that in Ensign for 20 years and it never disappoints- especially in June for good fishing. Just don't be fishing my spots cause I'll be there again this June:)
I always pay for a tow to get across Moose and Newfound Lakes. This saves some valuable time when you've got a short trip planned.
I think a base camp is wise for newcomers. No matter how much camping, backpacking, and paddling (whitewater,float trips, or even flatwater NOT on a big or windy lake) it is still a 'new' experience.
I'll second the tow across Moose and Newfound to Splash/Ensign. Gravy minimal portaging and paddling plus good fishing will bring the new guys back for more no matter what weather you experience. Ashigan Lake is a short portage from SE Ensign and smallies seemed very hungry there a couple years ago. I was bad down in the back and had 3 new guys with me and this last-minute option was a cakewalk. We were pleased.
Keep an eye on the weather and wind DIRECTION and do some daytripping. CBO (Canadian Border Outfitters) was great for us for this trip! They are on Moose. (We stayed at their lakeside rooms, walked right to the dining room, then the dock...for cheap.)So are some others listed on the left in the 'outfitters' tab.
Check out the 'map' tab on left too; for some brainstorming.
I'll echo the EP23 to either Fourtown or Horse recommendation. You have a little work early on but the payoff is well worth it. If you go to Fourtown you also have the option of taking a mini loop daytrip up to Gun then thru Moosecamp & Moosecamp River back to Fourtown.
I see you're my neighbor of sorts, just a few miles to the West. If you're interested we're having a northern Illinois / Southern WI / All are welcome BWCA board camping get to gether the weekend of April 20th by Rockford. Look for the thread called 'Northern Illinois Wingnite' or something to that effect.
You can get whichever permit suits your plans best.... If you get EP22 then yes, no camping on Horse but you can still hang out there during the day. If you want maximum flexability then get the #23 permit, the put in is the same location regardless. I believe the #22 'EP' was created for those who planned to go Mudro to Fourtown directly, or thru Horse up the river to the Lower Basswood Falls area.
It's a popular entry point, the initial difficulty & pain in the rear of the 3 portages from Mudro to Fourtown is well worth it for the scenery and area in general. Lots of people go there for the fishing, which is why it's popular.
I can't speak to crowdedness, as my only time thru the area was on the way out from Gun last September. I recall seeing most, if not all, sites on Boot were occupied. We were paddling by fairly early on a Friday morning.
Best advice I can give, is if you're planning on going to Fourtown or anywhere in that vacinity, get in as early as possible. Since you're going to have mulitple boats, bring walkies too if you have them. You can always have 1 boat stop at an open site while the other boat goes & scouts for other open campsites.
The maps section of this website can be useful in getting info on campsites based on people's reviews. Also, check out trip reports - lots of useful info can be gleaned from them as well.
About Horse and Fourtown...very popular lakes, but Horse is easier to get to and has more nights with all sites taken. Fourtown doesn't usually get "full", and there are sites on the small lakes.
Also look at Big Moose lake, south of the Echo Trail. Two portages, smallmouth, walleye, and northern. Can have wind problems. If water levels are low the stream in can be a problem...not usually a problem in June, however.
What is everyone's thoughts on Lake One Entry point (30) for my half newbie trip?
seems like very minimal portaging between lakes 1-4 and some of the surrounding lakes. it also appears campsites are abundant. I'm guessing this may be a busier set of lakes with the easy access though...
I would also suggest the tow to Splash & then camp on Ensign or Ashigan, We had a great fishing trip there I stayed on Ashigan one trip & we killed the Smallies, stayed on Ensign once too, fishing was ok, but not as good as Ashigan.
Just an FYI, every time I have been through Horse Lake its been full, very popular lake.
A road is a dagger placed in the heart of a wilderness.
-William O. Douglas, in Ghost Grizzlies
thanks to all for your input. i ended up choosing EP38 based on multiple variables.. I feel kinda dumb NOT picking one that you all had mentioned, but Sawbill fit my dates and seemed to also fit what i was looking to get out of this trip!
man, im excited now. Can August 10th hurry up and get here?