BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 05 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
September 10, 2005
Number of Days:
Put in at Mudro Lake, parking at the Chainsaw Sisters’ Saloon. Our route took us from Mudro to Sandpit to Tin Can Mike to Horse Lake. The portage from Mudro to Sandpit Lake was pretty steep and rocky on the backside. I’m glad we weren’t going up the hilly side! Sandpit to TCM is longer but very easy, being an old railroad bed from the logging era. A nice boardwalk keeps you from slogging through the muck on the last bit of the walk.
As we were on the portage in to Horse Lake we noticed a low flying float plane. I thought that curious, as I didn’t think they could fly that low over the BWCAW. As we set out in the canoes on Horse, we could hear aircraft noise, then all of a sudden just clearing the tree tops, a big, yellow water scooper plane rumbled over.
We found out later that it was a lightning strike fire that started on Friday night. There is an island with a campsite on the north end of Horse and an adjacent site on the shore. Apparently the fire started about 200 yards in from the shore campsite.
We made camp on the west side of Horse, across from where the Horse River exits. It is a pretty nice site. There was room for 3 tents in the main area and Jesse put his on a point on the back side of the main campsite area.
Saturday evening was a pig out night for dinner. We all had some sort of fresh food to cook. New York strip steaks, brats, venison steaks, baby red potatoes with fresh red and green peppers, cold milk – it made quite a feast! The night was warm and clear with absolutely no bugs! We decided to move our pads and sleeping bags outside and fell asleep watching the stars and the Northern Lights.
The party that had been camped near the origin of the fire paddled by and related their story. They said it is surprising how fast you can break camp when you have a forest fire close by! They ended up taking the island site for the remainder of their stay on the lake. We paddled down to that end of the lake later, but couldn’t see any signs of the fire from the water. However, we were surprised to find the shore campsite occupied by about a half dozen people on a fire cleanup crew . Aside from tents and camping gear, they had a gas can, a pump and hose that ran from the lake up to the fire area. They were there to prevent any flare up, though they said the air crew had done a good job of wiping it out.
We checked out the nice sand beaches almost directly across the lake from our campsite; just south of where the Horse River exits. The campsite adjacent to the Horse River exit is very nice, but very well used. Previous campers had fashioned a nice live well out of rocks in front of the campsite! Dave caught a small northern near the beaches and in the process of getting it unhooked got his fingers hooked very well. They paddled to the beach and Billy and Charlotte helped get the hooks out. Even after cutting the barbs off they had a difficult time of it!
It sprinkled a bit that night and into early Monday morning.
The rain let up early and we broke camp fairly dry, heading out about 10:00 AM. The first portage out of Horse towards Fourtown was pretty easy, as well as the 2nd one which was only 10 rods long. We were dismayed to find that there was a 3rd and 4th portage that were not marked on the map! I guess in very high water maybe you could line the canoes through. The 3rd is another 10 rodder and the 4th about 5 rods. It was on the 3rd where the rain caught us and really started coming down. We waited it out under tarps and canoes until the thunder and lightning had subsided. We had a quartering tailwind across Fourtown to the Boot Lake portage, so paddling was a breeze. After a brief foray down the wrong path we got on the trail to Boot. By the time we finished the portage the rain was done and it was getting humid. It felt good to shed the hot raingear! We looked at each of the campsites on Boot as we made our way up the lake. There are 5 sites on the lake, the 5th up being occupied at the time. The 1st site would only accommodate two, maybe 3 tents, so that wouldn’t do for us. Site #2 is good for 2 tents; that was out. Site # 3 could squeeze in 4 tents if you had to (and if someone didn't mind sleeping on an ant mound!) but we wanted to check out the 4th site just in case. We were glad we did! Camp was made at 3:30 PM. It is a really nice site on a small bay with easy room for 4 tents and 5 if you needed to. It is spread out so everyone has their own space. There are a couple of trails to hike around to the point and back to a beaver pond – just a very pleasant site!
We had a nice evening, catching smallies and sunnies from shore after supper. There was a light sprinkling of rain late in the night, but the sun came out before long the next morning.
With the sun out we were able to dry our things off. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon bits on tortilla shells we did some more fishing from shore. Fishing with leaches and crawlers produced a lot of nice sunnies and smallmouth again. I didn’t realize there were so many pan fish in this lake! The day turned overcast and threatened rain, but it never came. After supper we four guys paddled up to the north end of the lake while the two women protected camp.
Fishing where a little creek comes in was really good with crawlers and leaches. Sunnies and smallies would bite as soon as the bait hit the water – some of the smallmouth were quite sizable! Billy and I watched a beaver crawl up the bank where the creek comes in. The creek and swamp on the upstream side of the lake is very beautiful – prime moose habitat!
This evening was cooler than it had been; good for sleeping! The skies cleared up overnight and we were serenaded by wolves howling a couple of times before we went to bed.
Morning was clear and cool until the sun was up over the trees. (That’s when we felt the benefit of a southeast facing campsite!) Breakfast consisted of tuna and mayo on toasted bagels topped with melted cheese – ummm! We decided to head up to Fairly Lake to try for Walleye since we hadn’t caught any in Boot. Met a party of four solo canoes on the portage to Fairy. All we caught on this lake were smallies, sunnies and a few small northern pike. It is a pretty lake though, with two campsites. The site on the west will hold 2 tents. The site on the east is a 2 level affair with room for up to 7 tents! We found some old moose droppings at this site. Came back to camp and caught enough panfish for a fish and potatoes dinner.
The morning dawned a bit breezy but it turned partly cloudy by late morning. Breakfast this day was huge flapjacks topped with peanut butter and slathered with maple syrup along with slices of summer sausage shish-ka-bobbed over the fire. Oh so very tasty! Relaxation and exploration were the agenda for the day. We hiked the small trail over to the next campsite. (the last one up the lake) It is a nice site; on a point directly across from tall rock cliffs. This site also spreads out a bit and there is room for 4 or 5 tents. Later we checked out the area to the other side of our campsite. There are a series of beaver dams and ponds leading back to a large flooded swamp where we watched a pair of otters swim and play. We crossed the beaver dam and came out on a peninsula right in front of camp. There we found where a bear had unearthed a nest of turtle eggs. Thursday night was another gorgeous one with the moon nearly full. We slept well and woke to lovely weather the next morning.
The lake was glassy calm this morning, a warm and sunny day. We had a big breakfast of flapjacks and fish.
We had used the “BWCAW Ziploc food storage system” for our fish fillets the night before. This consisted of placing the cleaned fish in a Ziploc bag with a rock in it. A string ran from the bag to an empty pop bottle for a float. We placed it in about 20 feet of water (the fridge) for overnight storage. It sure works well for those fish caught after supper. The fillets were cold and firm for breakfast frying! After breakfast we went for a swim; bobbing around in life jackets.
Dave and Jesse in one canoe, Billy and I in another, we set out to do some exploring. We paddled over to the tall cliffs across from campsite # 5 and climbed up. One can get a great view up and down the lake from here – very pretty!
Next we went south to a boggy area on the lower west side of Boot. There is a small creek coming in from the bog that you can paddle up a short ways. There you can get out and walk on a literally floating grassy bog. There are holes of open water and out of curiosity we stuck a 12’ dead spruce stick into the water. We couldn’t touch bottom! It is awesome – I can only imagine what it would be like under the bog with lights and scuba gear. Well preserved carcasses of unlucky moose and ancient Americans? It’s fun to let the imagination run!
Back at camp we had a late lunch and did some fishing around shore. Dave and Jesse paddled just across the small bay we were on and fished from shore. Just back in the trees they found an old but apparently never used campsite toilet. It looked like it had never been placed on a pit. How it got there is a mystery.
We arose at 6:00 and started breaking camp. Instead of cooking breakfast we opted to just eat a lot of the snack type food that we had left. That would save us some time.
The day was cloudy, but not too hot or windy - good for traveling.
The trip down Boot and portage into Fourtown was uneventful, but we did see a lot of people. Most of the campsites were full. We were glad we had saved the portage from Fourtown to Mudro until last now that our food packs were very light. We call it billy goat portage. Bogwalker gives a good description of this portage. To quote:
“The three portages between Fourtown and Mudro. Each one by themselves is not bad, but they are work as you have only 5 minutes of paddling between the different portages
Coming from Fourtown the first portage is short and is a climb up a steep hill if the water is high or a scramble over rocks if water is low. This is the easiest of the three in my opinion.
Second one is long and hilly and has been called the Mule Trail. You will work hard on this one. This year it ends at a Beaver Dam that actually is a good thing as it makes loading the canoe a piece of cake.
The third one is a boulder field that you can turn ankles on easily so watch your footing especially if it has been raining.”
(Bogs... thanks for the accurate description!)
It is a short paddle across Mudro to the creek leading up to the Chainsaw Sisters Saloon. In high water the creek is easy, but this time there were rocky areas to pull over and you could only paddle about half way up the creek before you bottom out. A portage across a dry swamp brings you to the parking area. I must admit, the soft boggy portage felt good under my feet after the rocky one from Fourtown!
-We used tortilla shells instead of bread. The wheat tortillas traveled well. Plain flour shells crumbled.
-Bagels toasted on foil over the fire worked well. English muffins probably would too.
-Bring more bait next time. We were out of live bait before our last day.
-Next time we will pack more toilet paper. Dave brought plenty and was willing to sell us some by the last day – only seventeen dollars! On our way out of Fourtown we heard distant gunshots from hunters. Someone remarked that maybe it was campers fighting over the TP!
-I will put up with the weight and bring more fresh fruit. It is such a nice treat by midweek.
-A loaf of hard French bread and some pizza sauce will come with next year.
- Always bring dry footwear for around camp.
-My off brand Thermarest type pad was OK if the ground was smooth and I was on my back. I tend to sleep on my side though so next year I’ll have to find something thicker.
Perhaps a Big Agnes? We'll see.
All in all it was a very enjoyable trip. This was the 2nd year entering at Mudro. Perhaps next fall we will try an area new to us.