BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
February 16 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
Annual Father/Daughters trip
August 13, 2012
Number of Days:
Check out a 50 sec trailor of our trip:
The car, fully packed the night before, was ready at our 7am departure time. We were not. No worries, this is expected. It wasn't till about 9am that we left the comforts of Southwest Minneapolis. Our final destination was Ely (followed by Lake Ensign).
We made many stops along the way, but our first was the most important. McDonalds. Breakfast. Soft serve ice cream cones :) The kids and I are firm believers in keeping up traditions!
We arrived in Ely after about 5 hours of driving. We went straight to the Fall Lake Campground. This year the campground had a wonderful site available. Last year, they were fully booked, and we had to find a campground further out of town. We took this as a good omen. We went to our site and I unloaded the car. The girls headed straight down to the lake and began exploring. [paragraph break]
After a few photos, we departed Piragus and took a quick ride to the Red Rock Store. My Souris River 18.5 canoe was being worked on by Bob. My buddy had somehow cracked the bottom of it a few weeks prior and it needed some reinforcements done. Bob had it back in new condition and it was all set for our upcoming trip (Bob does great repair work and I highly recommend his services). [paragraph break]
After getting some last minute lures and fishing advice, we left the Red Rock store for downtown Ely. My girls were hungry and needed to eat. We decided, reluctantly, to have dinner at the Chocolate Moose (hoping for the best with the new owners). Wow, it was a great choice. The quality of food has drastically improved at the Moose since its new ownership. I highly recommend checking them out. [paragraph break]
After dinner we headed back to camp. We enjoyed a fire. Smores. Stars. Finally, with a lot of anticipation, we went to bed.
The big day has finally arrived! We woke up at 7am and headed to the ranger station. On the ride over we reviewed all the possible questions the ranger might ask us. This is serious business because we need to pass the test to get into the BWCA. Lots of pressure. [paragraph break]
My girls passed the rangers test with flying colors. We celebrated by heading over to Brittons Cafe for breakfast. If you have not checked out Brittons before, make sure you hit them up on your next trip. It is THE place to get a home style meal before departure.
Now this is huge. Ava ordered off the adult menu (for her first time). And she came darn close to finishing the whole plate! I didn't want to encourage her to much, because I needed her in top form for today's journey. We had a lot of paddling ahead!
I used to frown at people who took a tow into the BWCA. But that was before I tried it:) About three years ago I took a tow with a couple friends from Los Angeles. That year we took the tow up Moose Lake to the border. IT WAS AWESOME. We were able to arrive in town during the early afternoon and still get into Quetico well before dinner! No more leaving at 2am to make it work! Anyway's, this tow allowed me to get the girls into Ensign with ease (and safely). [paragraph break]
So, after an exhilarating tow up Moose and Newfound Lake, we did a quick 30 rod portage and briefly entered Splash Lake. A few minutes later we found ourselves with a very nice breeze at our backs (that never happens) flying down Ensign at record speed. Things were going great. After about an hour and twenty minute paddle, we found the PERFECT campsite.
AS soon as we arrived at camp, the girls rifled through their packs to "help" set up. Almost immediately, they found their swimsuits. The next thing I heard was two load screams followed by a splash. The girls had run straight into the lake for about an 1.5hr long swim. [paragraph break]
While the girls swam, I was getting the tent set up and the camp situated. I was listening intently as the girls splashed around enjoying the moment. Things were going better than planned.[paragraph break]
When the girls finally came out of the water they immediately requested that I take them fishing. Without any further delays, we set up the fishing poles and headed out. This is actually the first year we decided to fish. I really wish we hadn't waited this long. I had my reasons for not taking them in years past, but they were obviously ill founded. Oh well. Live and learn. [paragraph break] Within 30 seconds(and on her very first cast ever) AVA had her very first fish on line. Literally 30 seconds! It was about a 4 pound small mouth bass. And it put up a fight! I quickly grabbed the net in one hand and my iphone in the other. I caught the catch on video and have since forwarded it to about 150 people. It is hilarious. She did a great job. That being said, it did appear at times that the fish may have been reeling her in instead of the other way around![paragraph break]
Well the fishing only got better. In the span of about 2 hours my girls caught about 15 really decent sized fish. Mostly small mouth, some pike and Walleye. They are now hooked on fishing and cannot wait to do more! The only thing that concerns me is they now have a warped sense of how long it can take to catch a fish! [paragraph break]
Oh, a side note. I always thought my grandpa was a horrible fisherman. He never seemed to catch any fish around us. Now I realize he was probably a really decent fisherman. He just decided to spend his time watching/helping us fish, so he could see the excitement on our faces. I literally didn't even unpack my rod and reel. And I never had so much fun fishing! [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
Well, we got back to camp and started our fire. We roasted hot dogs and beans. We capped dinner off with smores. The girls and I stayed up for hours hypnotized by the fire and all the stars.[paragraph break]
I woke up at about 6am and picked up around camp. I took this time to enjoy the solitude. The girls woke up about 730 and went off to fetch some wood. Wow, they grabbed a ton! They put my other camping buddies to shame! After the wood was gathered, we made pancakes and headed off for some more fishing. This time there was a guide and a group at our fishing spot. They were pulling the fish out left and right. The girls did ok, but it was not as easy as the previous days trip. Partly because we tried to respect the other groups space. Partly because the were not biting on the same bait as the night before. Regardless, they caught seven fish that day. We split that day up fishing, swimming, fishing, snacking, taking naps, and more fishing. the girls also did some exploring and found some pet toads (or frogs..I don't know the difference). [paragraph break]
As late afternoon[paragraph break] approached, we noticed it looked like a storm was on its way. The guide that was at the fishing spot warned us big winds were coming (and a lot of potential rain). We ate dinner quickly and I buttoned down the tent real good. We packed up camp as much as possible and went to bed early. The rain started about 8pm.[paragraph break]
Check out a quick video of our departure from camp: [paragraph break]
Unfortunately my plan to avoid the wind, by leaving early, did not work. It was blowing pretty hard. Luckily the waves were not insane yet, though some small white caps were starting to appear on the lake. It was a close call. I was not sure if we should just wait the wind out, or give it a shot. After some discussion, we decided to give it a shot. I figured we would learn real quick if it was more than the three of us could handle. I told the girls our plan was to get on the lake and decide within a minute or two if we should go back to camp or try to make it to our pick up spot.
At this point I was not expecting much from my girls. I was expecting them to paddle for a minute and stop for 3...maybe stop all together. I was wrong. They paddled for an hour straight, and I do mean non stop. I have some great video of their efforts. My girls paddled a lot harder than I knew they were capable of paddling. They actually put some of my friends paddling efforts to shame. After an hour I said we are taking a break behind an upcoming island. They didn't want to stop. On a day lie this one, most of my buddies attempt to stop behind every rock possible ! They were having a blast.[paragraph break]
After an hour and half of paddling in 15-25mph gusts, we arrived at the portage. We set up a spot on the the other side of the portage (to wait for our tow) along the side and out of the way. We arrived very early, as our ride was not supposed to get there till 1030. Oh, I forgot to mention it was raining very hard at this point. We changed out some of our layers and set the canoe up on a branch (to sit under and block the rain) and we proceeded to make hot oatmeal and coffee under the canoe with my little jet boil. [paragraph break]
We ended up staying under the canoe for a couple hours and met many people entering and exiting. We met a very nice family that was originally from Minneapolis but had been living in Israel the last 28 years. They were very kind. We also met a lot of "newbies" coming into the BWCA for the first time. [paragraph break]
The funnest part of sitting in this area is it makes for great people watching. We witnessed many veterans flying down the portage with ease. We also witnessed several families who were obviously on their first camping trip into the BWCA. [paragraph break]
Well, after several hours, our tow arrived. We were grateful for the tow. Moose Lake was EXTREMELY wavy and there is no way I would have been able to paddle back with the girls on this day. [paragraph break]
My girls were smiling during the tow and did not want to go home yet. This is good. Every year I add a day to our trip or a little longer paddle. I am very careful though. My goal is to always make the trip just a tad to short, thus creating a strong desire to return. [paragraph break]