BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 05 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
Mudro, Beartrap River, Horse lake loop
June 13, 2009
Number of Days:
We wake around 4 am. from our hotel at Canoe Country Outfitters in Ely. We have a quick breakfast, showers etc. and are out the door by 5:30 am. and headed for the Mudro Lake entry point. We drive right by the entry point off the Echo trail, and many miles more decided to check the map, knowing that we obviously missed the turnoff road we turn around and finally make it there by 6:30. The water was to low to start at the bridge so we do the 30 rod portage and are on our way by 7 am. It rained last night, but so far today everything is looking good. We do the three portages into Fourtown Lake, and see a small jet looking aircraft buzzing just a few hundred feet over us. Never seen anything like this in all the years of traveling the BWCAW. I'm guessing it was something to do with border patrol, but didnt care for it much. The weather is great, mostly sunny, hardly any wind, a great day for canoeing! We portage into Boot Lake, crossed next portage to Fairy lake, and finally made it the North end of Gun Lake and stopped for lunch at the Northern most campsite by the portage into Gull Lake. Having two young travelers along has been great for the portages! Ive carried the canoe, a 17ft Alumacraft ultralight or the heavy #4 Duluth pack on each portage so far, and sent them back for the last pack, and whatever we didnt carry the first time across. We finished lunch of tunafish sandwiches and a granols bar and are back on our way by 12:30 pm. We get into Gull Lake and it looks like every campsite is full of people, we havent seen very many people until this point. We make it to the portage to Mudhole Lake, hop across that lake and our on our way to Trapper Lake, now there are no more people around. We do the short portage into Beartrap Lake and stop for the day at the only campsite there. We have camp set up by 4:30 pm. We eat supper, and I went to fish off shore and caught 1 small Walleye. Most of the portages so far werent too bad, some mud, but not that bad.
We're up and on our way by 7 am. The first portage is to the Beartrap River, this is part of the Sundial primitive wilderness management area or something like that. Anyways for this part of the trip the portages and campsites aren't maintained by the Forest Service. There were about 20 trees down we could step over, and one spot along the way where we had to drag the canoe over about four trees. The portage is more like a deer or Moose trail! Part of taking this trip was to see if we could actually be out and alone in the wilderness without seeing other groups of travelers! Since Gull Lake we havent seen anyone, and I have only seen one set of foot prints on the portages going the opposite direction than we are. This portage took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to do. We travel the Beartrap River three to four miles to Sunday Lake, along the way we had to lift over three beaver dams and one portage around two rapids. This part of the river has lots of curves the last mile or so, but were not in much of a hurry. We stop for lunch at the Northwest campsite on Sunday Lake, here my daughter slips getting out of the canoe and bangs her knee, and scrapes her elbow up pretty good. I get her bandaged up, then we have lunch, this time chicken sandwiches. She's limping kinda bad and with her arm the way it is we re-arrange the canoe, and she becomes a passenger for the rest of the day. We do the portage on the West side of Sunday Lake, this part of the Beartrap River is considerably wider than what we've traveled so far. We've been traveling kinda slow so far, so decide its time to get going. We do a short portage around some rapids, and when we get to the next one, we were able to paddle through it without getting out of the canoe. Along the way we have seen one small buck and two does. We were hoping to see a moose, but it wont happen this year. We come around a bend and we see the biggest beaver hut i've ever seen! It must be twelve to fifteen feet high and about thirty feet long. A short while later we come across a beaver dam thats about three feet above the water, here we have some difficulty getting over it, luckily the rightside has an opening somewhat, but we all have to get out and help drag the canoe across. My daughter sinks to her knees in mud, trying to climb onto the little bit of land there is, twice even! We make it across and are back on our way. We eventually reach Peterson Bay, then are on Iron lake. We find the campsite on the Southeast end of the lake vacant and stop for the night. We set up camp, eat some dinner, and Eric and I go out fishing for awhile before it gets dark. We catch and release three small Northerns and head back for camp. Kayla's been sitting in my chair reading since we left. We make a table and play cards by firelight late into the night.
Today we are going to go see Curtain falls and do some fishing. I was up by 6 am. and let the kids sleep in til about 9 am. We have breakfast then off we go for about a mile paddle to the falls. We stop at the portage and pull the canoe out of the way. We walk the half mile or so and take some video and pictures of the falls. It was well worth the trip! We come back to our canoe and one other canoe is at the landing, but one of there group turned over in the current. They're okay, just wet, but didnt lose any gear thankfully. We decide to fish from shore on the edges of the current, Eric had a large Northern following his jig and twistertail, but no luck getting it to bite. We decide to get back into the canoe and fish down further in the current where we've seen another group fishing for the last couple hours. Within a few minutes of fishing with a white jighead and leach I pull in a 24 in. Walleye! Maybe ten minutes later I catch a 21 in. Walleye! This is great I'm thinking. We continue catching Walleyes over the next hour, plus we pulled in five smallmouths the largest about two pounds, and one Northern about 26 inches. We got talking to a group of eight guys down here in four canoes and between them they have only caught 2 walleyes and a bass. I gave them two Walleyes, and the one bass I caught earlier and we headed back to camp. Along the way we stopped and took some pictures of the five Walleye we kept, then cleaned them, and crossed the lake to camp for dinner! Of all the years i've been comming out here this is the best fish dinner we've had! So far every part of this trip has been perfect! Our bellies full, my daughter wants to play cards again, so we find some rocks and build a card table and play again late into the night! Tonight we had a very beautiful sunset, and aern't sure if we should move on in the morning or stay another day.
We decide since we still have a long way to go, and not sure what the weather is going to be like over the next few days, to head out for our next destination. We are packed and on our way by 9 am. Another late start, but thats ok. We are more carefull going up the current to the portage by Curtain Falls after seeing that canoe flip yesterday, and being fully loaded again. That didnt look like to much fun! We do the portage over the falls and head for Sunday Bay. We paddle, and paddle, and paddle for most of the day, past Saturday Bay, then Friday Bay. I think my daughter is taking the scraped elbow thing a little too far since she's been sleeping off and on all day in the middle of the canoe! We stop on the Canadian side for lunch, at the car narrow's. This is my second time trying to find this place, missed it last year, but the story goes there is an old 1929 ford car someone drove out here 80 or so years ago that broke down, but we were unable to find it once again. I even tried to walk around the island to find it, but the woods were to thick, as were the tics, so I gave up and went back to eat. We still have to cross Friday Bay and Thursday Bay, and now the wind has started blowing. This part of the trip has been what i've been worrying about since getting caught out here two other times in high winds. We make it across both, but two to three foot waves, I really dont care much about paddling in them! We are getting tired after traveling all day and have yet to see an open campsite since we left the portage from Curtain Falls. After crossing Thursday Bay, and what we could see of the campsites there all being filled, the next two we get to our also filled. We make it another mile, and are hoping this one campsite I was told about wouldnt be occupied, I'ts down a narrows, and wasn't on the maps until just a few years ago, we were lucky and found it empty after a long day of paddling. We set up camp, ate some dinner, then the kids went for wood, so I fished and caught another small Northern. Once the wind died down, even tho it's a great campsite the mosquitos got angry with us. Once we had the fire going it got a little better, so we played cards again, then called it a nite.
We grab what we need for the day and head out to see if another campsite about a mile a way that i've stayed at two other times is open. If you look at a map its the Northeastern campsite on Crooked Lake. We get there and it's open so we drop off Kayls and the food pack, fishing gear etc. then head back to our campsite from last night and pack it up to move. We get everything there then basically just sat around most of the day. I read the book "The Root Bear Lady" about Dorothy Molder who lived on Knife Lake for five decades. Easy reading and took me about four hours to read. Quite the fascinating life she had. Kayla and Eric slept most of the day. They finally got up and we set up camp, usually thats the first thing we do! We go and fish the Canadian current and I caught a 21 in. Walleye, an hour later thats all we have so we stop and clean it, then head back to camp for dinner. We eat this fish and some beaf stew, then make brownies for desert. Not to bad of a meal! Later on Kayla wants to play cards again so we do. The one thing i've noticed from this spot one year ago is how much lower the water is, at least two feet lower. Oh ya and no bugs here! This site is one of my favorites just because of that, its very open, and this being my third time at this site, i'm sure next time i'm up this way i'll stay here again, if it's open!
I get up about five am. the kids are still sleeping, so I fish from shore and have no luck. I get a snag on one pole so grab another and fish for another hour then get it snagged, so I grab another pole and maybe another hour goes by and it gets snagged! Still no sounds from the kids! I make some coffee, kinda getting bored, so get out the video camera and watch a wood pecker for about ten minutes, I grab the canoe, bang it on the rocks as I pick it up to haul it down to the water, and that wakes them up! Next thing I hear is my daughter screaming :"DAD I HAVE A TIC! After all these years she finally gets a tic in her! How lucky can someone be? I remove the tic from her, then we make some biscuits and gravy for breakfast and off we go fishing finally, after we got the three poles free of their snags. We catch three more Walleyes and seven Smallmouths. We keep the Walleyes for lunch, fillet them and head back to camp. We eat good again! The skies have been getting ugly. We've been hearing thunder all around us, but so far every storm has missed us. We have had beautiful sunshiny weather all week! We sit around camp the rest of the day. I've had enough fish for three trips! Kayla wants to play cards again, but Eric and I are all played out! We had beef stew again and the last pack of brownies for desert. We got set up to hang the tarp if it storms, but were lucky enough that we never felt a drop tonight. Kinda weird how it rained all around us but left us dry!
I wake up at 5 am. the rain is a steady drizzle. The kids want to try and make it out today. I've made it from Mudro to this point in nine hours before, and they're ready to go. So we pack the tents up wet. What weight we've lost from the food has been replaced by water. So off we go! Kayla's paddling like she did the first day out! We are averaging four miles an hour! In no time at all we are at Lower Basswood Falls. We spend a few minutes taking pictures and a short video then are off again. We head towards the Horse River and all i'm wondering his how low is the water. We have watched our shore line the last three days drop by two to three inches each day! We get to the first portage ok, cross it, and where we could paddle up the current last year was all rocks! We unload the canoe, no way to drag it through this spot, and get loaded and back on the way again. I start wondering how bad is today's traveling going to be! Then the next thought is how much fun is our next challenge going to be! We do the next portage ok, then the next rapids we get to there is a group of six portaging around what used to be rapids. We find a small spot and push are way up with our paddles and never get out of the boat. The next rapids we got to, it was similar from the last, but there was no way we could just push our way up. So Eric, jumps out and drags us up the rapids! We finally make it to Horse Lake, with all three of us paddling we are making awesome time! We do the portage to Tin Can Mike Lake. We see another deer and the campsite on our right as we pass through. Then we do the 160 rd portage into Sand Pit Lake. Were making awesome time, but up ahead we have the last portage into Mudro! It was hard last year coming in. This year going the out was very hard. Its only eighty rods, but you gain a good 100 plus feet of elevation. With the wet pack and tents etc. on my back it was the worst portage of the trip, but when we completed it, we had overcome everything we had to to make this one of the best trips I have ever had! We were back to our vehicle by 2:00 pm. Kayla had her cell phone back! Eric has a life time of memories, and me, well I'll start planning my next trip!
This trip was the first time I have brought freeze dried food. We had a few different brands of them. They were: Backpackers Pantry, Mountain House, and Natural High. We had beef stew from both Backpackers and mountain, the mountain brand was alot better than backpackers. We had chilli mac from mountain and that wasnt bad. All the meals were decent, but in my opinion I didnt care much for the backpackers pantry food or did any of the others in my group. We also had three cheese lasagna, it was ok but wish I had some rolaids to wash it down with. We had denver omlets they were ok. We also had scrambled eggs with baco bits. Three of us agree they were disgusting, but we kept them down. The cereal with blueberries and granola was great plus it stayed with you longer into the day. If I ever bring this type of food in again Id stick with cereal for breakfast. Well I hope you all enjoy what I have written. This is my first time trying to post a trip. Plus i'm not a writer at all. This is all off the top of my head two weeks after it happened and I have left a lot out as far as portage distances, campsite conditions and what they were like. Enjoy your travels! I've yet to have a bad trip!