BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 05 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
Horse River May7-11
May 08, 2004
Number of Days:
I leave work at 2:00 and go home to finish packing. Gas up the car, load the new Prism on top and hit the highway at 4:15 bound for Ely and a rendezvous with the platy festers at Cranberries. Approximate ETA is 9:00. The drive up in non-eventful save for the occasional gust of crosswind that makes my heart jump as the canoe flexes to absorb the blow. No problems, but I do still hate car topping a canoe in strong crosswinds.
I arrive at Cranberries at 8:30 well ahead of my time and see Nibimocs Mazda with Becca on board along Sheridan Street. Having never met Becca yet that is my first stop. I walk over to her, gently stroke her bow and admire the beauty. I am sure I was there for only a few seconds, but I enjoyed every moment.
After this brief interlude with the stripper, I make my way to Cranberries. I find Nibi, Ragamuffin and Kevin in the restaurant where they are finishing dinner and having a beer. I sit down and order a Leini’s Creamy Dark to wet my whistle. Hoho and his friend David walk in to find us in the restaurant. We chat for a little while before heading over to the bar.
You can tell it is off-season. It is now 9:30 on a Friday night and save for the platyfest crew, the lady behind the bar and three on stools the place is empty. Next weekend will be a different story I am sure. We continue our conversation and end up leaving Cranberries about 10:30. Rags has to head back to Moose Lake, Hoho and David to Farm Lake and Kevin, Nibi and I to VNO bunkhouses. Kevin is also headed in, in the morning for a weeklong solo entering EP16 Moose River and headed for LLC.
Nibi and I talk about the trip, discuss the route for tomorrow and morning plans. We hit the sack about 11:00 and will wake up about 6-6:30 for breakfast at 7:00.
Mudro Lake, Sandpit Lake, Tin Can Mike Lake, Horse Lake
Nibi and I wake on time and head to Cranberries for a quick breakfast at 7:00. After a couple of omelets we are off to EP 23 Mudro Lake entry.
The drive along Echo trail is fine save for the BMW who thought he was driving at Lemans and almost takes Nibi and both out on a curve. We arrive at Chain Saw sisters a little past 8:00 and head up to pay for our parking.
It is at this point I notice I forgot to fill my water bottle at VNO this morning so I ask one of the sisters if they have some water. It has been so cold yet they have not turned on their water so I end up buying a bottle of water from them to get me started. Nibi discovers he made the same error and buys a bottle as well. We have a short conversation with the sister and head out.
We take our time unloading, getting gear organized, canoes outfitted, and boots on etc. After a few minutes we head down the short portage to Picket creek with the saloon dogs following us. The retriever acts like he needs to join us, but soon departs leaving us in peace. It is a fairly calm morning with broken clouds and temps in the upper 40’s, great weather to start the trip.
Both Nibi and I have a moment with our new canoes introducing them to the BWCAW and Nibi Christens Becca’s bow with Picket Creek water before we climb on board and put our paddles in the water.
What a feeling that first paddle stroke is. The canoe responds, the slight breeze in my face, the calm water being broken by the stroke, the swirl and whirlpool in the water and the slight wake as the bow cuts through the water. Nibi and I check each other’s trim and we both are in good shape. I bought a new CCS pack for in behind me for most of my gear, which fits the canoe like a glove. I also have a daypack with my food that rides in the stern providing weight and trim up front
Nibi and I wake and I am making egg mcmuffins for breakfast. They are English muffins, fried eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese. Beaglefur inspired me to do these after he brought them on our 4 solos trip into Angleworm last October. Man they taste great and gets us off to a good start.
After breakfast we head out to explore the eastern shore of Horse Lake and head toward the Horse River entrance. First stop is the tall cliffs to the east of our campsite. It looks like they could have held pictographs, although I have never heard of anyone finding any and we see none ourselves.
We paddle slowly and easily and take our time looking for wildlife, spring plants and flowers and anything worth taking a picture of. Nibi takes numerous shots and I take some. We inspect the two campsites just north of the entrance to the Horse River. The first one we come to has its fire area right off shore and looks like it could take a bigger group. It also appears to get a lot of use. The second one also looks like it could handle big groups and would lack privacy as everyone coming and going from the river would pass by.
Nibi and I head toward the mouth of the river and the first portage. The wind is stronger out of the south today and we need to work a little to make our way against it. Back in the bay and a few little islands and it looks like great exploring and photography awaits us.
As I head around the most easterly island I hear some crunching and chewing back in the marshy area full of last years reeds and stalks. I see nothing save a couple of ravens up in the tree nearby where the noise comes from. I continue to paddle slowly and know I have the advantage of being upwind from the animal. Is it a Moose a deer what is eating back in the marsh? I signal to Nibi to be quiet and point to where I suspect th
We awake to a strong wind out of the NW that is whipping up whitecaps all over Horse. It is hard to stay in camp with the cool temps and 25+ mph winds gusting above that. The plan today was to head to Fourtown and find the old truck, but that plan is put on hold for now.
Nibi decides to head over to the east shore of the island out of the wind so we secure the camp and grab what we need and head over. I bring my journal to write in, we both grab snacks and lunch and go to wait out the wind.
We decide to stay put and see what the wind does this afternoon. If we can hit the water after lunch we will still go to Fourtown. If not we will save the trip for a different day and time.
Lunch comes and goes and the wind is stronger than this morning. We will stay put and hope for an evening paddle-but getting to Fourtown is out for today.
We nap, read, explore and talk. A relaxing yet antsy day. We both want to go someplace, but know that would be foolish. Later in the afternoon as the wind begins to slow we see one pair of canoes head around a bay and into the horse River and then later another set of 3 canoes heading for the portage into TCM. I suppose these groups waited for an opportunity to paddle and now are trying to make their planned destination for the day-either Lower Basswood for the first group or out for the second.
Finally it appears the wind has died enough to paddle. Nibi and I launce-which is no small feat in the wind that remains and paddle in the lee of the island. As soon as we get around the corner and the wind hits us I get a little nervous. The wind is variable and still strong. It comes from many directions and it is hard to keep track of the waves and keep from going parallel to them and into a trough. I make a dash for a bay and the lee of a shore and decide I am
Departure day. I am excited to get home and see the family, but sad to leave after such a short trip. I wake first and start tearing down camp. Looks like a nice day for a paddle. Light E-SE wind, partly cloudy and it has warmed up over night. Probably in the 40’s after being below freezing last night.
I pack as Nibi awakes. It is about 8:30 now and time to leave. Nibi and I say our good-byes and the wind is picking up. What was no wind about 30 minutes ago is now about 15 mph from the east. I guess paddling the west shore is out-I will need to stay on the east side sheltered from the wind.
I begin my paddle thinking about the trip, the drive home, the wildlife I have seen etc. I now focus my attention on the paddle. I know I will see the rest of the protage clearing crew that enters today. Portage Keeper, J-Stroke, SEA and one other should be met sometime this morning between here and Mudro.
My first sign of how my day is changing occurs as I cross the bay and the entrance into Horse River. The east wind is really gaining momentum now and pushes me hard as I cross the bay. I decide to head into the wind a ways into the bay to avoid being sideways to the waves. After heading in and getting toward the far shore I make a quick tack and head with the wind back toward the main part of the lake. No problems are encountered, the maneuver goes smoothly and now I am racing with a tail wind. This is fun. Glad I am heading more west than east today.
The narrows are a bit of a challenge as the wind builds up going through but no big problem. I make the portage into TCM and decide I should not waste too much time as the wind continues to pick up and I can see there will be rain and possible storms sometime today. I make Tin Can Mike put in and paddle across again hugging the east shore. The next tw