Day 1 of 5
Tuesday, August 02, 2016 With this being my first trip I wanted to get an early start. Alarms were set for 4:30 and our guide Ryan was going to pick us up at 5:30. We woke up to the sound of rain and rolling thunder in the distance. This didn't dismay me in the least. I just thought, "Ah, it will pass soon." Well, after slowly enjoying my last shower for the next 5 days, I got dressed putting on my rain coat and boots. We finalized our gear and triple checked everything until Ryan came to pick us up. It rained the whole way up to the Echo Trail. We unpacked the van and got everything ready for the portage. Nothing like my first time portaging being in the rain. Ron had never done the portage to Angleworm. We both fully underestimated this portage. We knew we had to double portage but thought for sure that we would be able to go all the way through with out stopping. WRONG. We made it about 1/4 of the way before stopping. Around the half way mark (when going down the hill to Spring Creek) I saw my first grouse. We got about 10 ft. from it before it even began to get nervous. I thought for sure we had to be closer than half way. I thought for sure we would just go up and down the next ridge and be there. WRONG again. We made it to the little beaver pond. Without checking the map we assumed we had made it. Ron and I put our packs down, scurried back to grab the canoe and food pack. After a 5 min adventure around the beaver pond and referencing the map we found out we were only about 2/3 of the way there. To our dismay, we got back on land and finished the portage. About the time we finished the portage it quit raining, finally! We made it to the real Angleworm lake at last. It felt great to be at the end of the portage and to be able to paddle instead of walk.
We paddled around the lake and I cast around testing my luck with a crankbait. We knew we were going to camp on Angleworm since neither of us had the energy to do another portage. The first campsite on the east side of the lake was gorgeous but we concluded we wanted to get to the north end of the lake so we didn't have to paddle far in the morning, once we decided to leave. We knew eventually we wanted to stay around Gull Lake for 2-3 days, but weren't dead set on anything. We set up camp on the northern most campsite of Angleworm. This is a great spot. You have a nice flat rock ledge like a bench for washing up and landing the canoe. We quickly set up camp and made lunch.
After relaxing a bit, we went back out to fish. I caught the first fish of the trip, and my first one ever in the BWCA. It was a pretty nice pike about 26". It was good enough to be dinner. We fished some until dinner time. Ron caught a Northern on a buzzbait. It missed the bait the first time and came back to hit it again right next to the boat and about hit Ron. We soon made our way back to cook up our two pike for dinner and relax until it was time to get some much needed rest.
Day 2 of 5
Wednesday, August 03, 2016 Ron woke up much earlier than I did and got the fire started. I woke up somewhere around 7 after a very sound night of sleep. Ron started to cook breakfast once I got up. We had bacon and eggs and it was pretty good. We packed up camp to head to Home Lake to do some Walleye fishing because Ron had caught some there on a previous trip. Our plan was to eventually get to Gull lake and set up camp there. We covered the short portage to Home Lake. At the end of the first part, since we had to double everything, we ran into a group (the first people we had seen and the only for the next 3 days). After talking to them they said "Go to Beartrap, it is awesome!" They also mentioned walleye which made me go crazy because that was one of the things that excited me most about this trip. We then hit high gear since there was only one campsite and they said it was open. I think we set water speed records for a canoe. I did take a few minutes to make a few casts at the north portage out of Home Lake because it looked great for smallmouth. I caught nothing. Now on this portage we had something that can't be explained happen to us. Ron and I are walking along the portage and about halfway to the lake, off to our left we heard a tree snap. There was no wind that day. This was not a dead tree either the noise had that sound of a sapling about 8-10" in diameter snapping. That crackling and popping of a live tree. The noise came about 100 yards off the portage in some pretty thick cover. We couldn't see what made the noise but it was enough for us to stop and look at each other and go, "What the ????" Unsure of what made the noise we moved a little faster than before. We reached gull lake after a fairly decent double portage. We made a few casts as we paddled across Gull catching nothing. From there we moved into Mudhole lake. The portage was exactly that, a mud hole. We didn't take long to cross Mudhole, portage and get into Thunder Lake. Thunder's southernmost campsite had us thinking twice about going to Beartrap. It had a beautiful rock point coming out but we continued on. Ron and I covered the 5 rod portage into Beartrap by just carrying the canoe fully loaded. Now on Beartrap, we knew we were in the right spot, it was beautiful. I knew only having one campsite this was the place I wanted to be because I didn't want to see people. Another one of my main reasons for being up here. We paddled across the lake west, towards the campsite. This campsite deserves more than 5 stars, it is simply outstanding! The fire pit and makeshift bench were phenomenal. There were plenty of flat rocks too to serve as tables.
We took our time setting up camp and then made lunch. After lunch we explored the lake and did some fishing. We checked out the small waterfall that I am assuming leads to the Beartrap River. Later in the evening towards what Ron calls the "Golden Hour" we picked up a few walleye. The walleye shortly became dinner. Since we fished almost until dark, we finished eating and decided it was time to wash up and head to bed. We had been in the tent for about 45 mins or so and I was just dozing off to sleep when Ron screams and jumps up and the tent moves! Now I don't scare too easily so I assumed he was messing around. I rolled over and looked at him like, "Dude what the hell?" He responds to my blank stare with, "Did you not hear that?" I was still very confused and half asleep so he responded with, "Something just ran into the tent. There was a pitter-patter of small feet then, BAM! A creature ran into the tent." I was now a little shaken up because this was my first true wilderness trip and didn't like the idea of an unknown creature running around. (Later that trip we came to the conclusion of a Pine Marten or Fisher either way we named the creature Pepe). After about an hour of constantly repeating the story to each other we finally drifted off to sleep. About 2 a.m. I woke up to the sound of heavy wind. I looked off to the NW to see some lightning. I woke up Ron and told him we needed to get any clothes off the line and double check that everything is tarped or put in the tent. No sooner did we finish and get into the tent did it cut loose. This was a pretty intense thunderstorm, but I, liking my sleep as much as I do, fell right back to sleep.
Day 3 of 5
Thursday, August 04, 2016 Woke up alive and well after the storm the night before. It was a very windy day. Ron was up before me as usual with breakfast about done. We ate and decided with the strong west wind we would let it push us over to Thunder to fish for the day. We packed our lunch with us and off we went. We caught pike here and there fishing around the shorelines of Thunder. We ate lunch and cast off the big flat rock in the little weedy bay on the west side of Thunder. We saved to pike to be an appetizer for dinner that night. The fun part of the day was when we decided to head back to Beartrap. Yeah, remember that wind that so graciously pushed us to Thunder, well we had to fight it back. It was 3 ft forward and 2 back for over 30 mins trying to return.
This is a picture of how calm Thunder was with it being out of the wind. We decided to stop on the large island in the middle of Beartrap to take a break and do some shore fishing since we couldn't hold in our favorite spot on the north end of the island. I caught one small walleye and that was it for that spot. We went back and ate an early dinner since we were exhausted from fighting the wind. We had chicken, gravy, rice and peas, one of my favorites after two trips through Cliff Wold's.
The rest of the evening was spent fishing and exploring the lake a little more. The wind did lay down and made the evening enjoyable. Before going to bed, we took our paddles and placed them on the trail that Pepe had run down. Hopefully this would deter him from trying it again. I think he may have scared himself more than he did us.
Day 4 of 5
Friday, August 05, 2016 After a great night sleep and Pepe no where to be found, we woke up fairly early, ate breakfast and packed up camp. It was moving day. We had to be at the Mudro exit the next day by noon so we knew that we should head south and get closer to the exit point, so we could enjoy our last day. We figured we would stay in the Gun/Boot Lake area. Quickly portaging from Beartrap to Thunder to Mudhole to Gull, we decided we had moved fast enough to fish for a while. I must say that I really enjoy the portage into Gull from Mudhole.
Gull had a considerable amount of traffic compared to when we had been through here just two days before. These were the first people we had seen since Home Lake two days prior. We fished the weeds about 9 ft. deep along the west side of the lake and round to the south side. We caught quite a few pike on this lake, and by "we" I mean Ron. After an hour we decided it was time to move on even though we didn't have to much more ground to cover, or so we thought. I should have taken the high traffic on a lake like Gull as a sign. We headed over to the portage, or so what we thought was the portage without checking the map. Well it turned out not to be the portage but instead just a open spot people were hanging out. They looked at us kind of funny when we started to get out of the canoe. That was at least until we asked them if that was the portage. They laughed, said no, and pointed us in the right direction. It was off to Gun Lake now. We thought about staying on Gun Lake but that was a no-go after paddling around. We did our usual of stopping on a rock in the middle of a lake for lunch. We made sandwiches and ate some jerky. (Zup's, absolutely fantastic!!)
We fished on the rock until I got snagged so then we hopped into the canoe, got myself unsnagged and moved on to Fairy. Fairy was a really nice lake but again the campsite was full. On to Boot Lake. This is where the day starts to slide a little down hill. I made a rookie mistake and pass a site on Boot because it looked like it was a mosquito haven and hadn't been used in a while. (Yes, it was a registered site and had a fire grate.) So after a quick look of disapproval from Ron, we moved on with Ron being very quiet. We moved into Fourtown fairly quickly because the portage is short and easy.
(Remember this photo for my next trip report coming soon. This is now a must take for every one of our trips.) We started looking for a campsite on Fourtown. I'll sum this up. We went south, we went east and then eventually north. We checked every campsite and same result, TAKEN. We were now in a race against time and another group to make it to check the last two spots on the lake. We had been paddling for roughly an hour and half or better around this lake already, just so you have an idea. We hit a new gear trying to reach it to the last spots. The other group made it before us the the first of two sites which was open, lucky for them. We rounded the bend into the bay east of the Moosecamp River, and to our delight it was open. We quickly unloaded the canoe and set up camp. I really enjoyed this spot, just wish the fishing was better. After dinner we did a bit of fishing and I caught two small walleye. Both fished were released. When we got back to camp we washed up and relaxed by the fire before wandering off to the tent to rest after the long and tiring day.
Day 5 of 5
Saturday, August 06, 2016 Woke up around 7, ate a quick breakfast, drank our coffee and began to break down camp. We broke camp down relatively quick because we had hardly unpacked anything from the night before. We packed up the canoe and pushed off to head to the exit point at Mudro. We decided to fish around because we had an ample amount of time to head in. I caught one walleye after an hour of fishing so we the overwhelming thought of a warm shower got us moving south. It didn't take very long to move from one end of Fourtown to the other because we were so focused on getting that warm shower. The portage from Fourtown to Mudro is not long in distance but is definitely an exhausting one. It is a constant in and out of the canoe and also very rocky with lots of elevation change. This is not the best portage for a rookie to carry the canoe, so I didn't carry it.
We finally made it onto Mudro Lake. Now it was time to get on the winding little creek that leads to the EP, but first we had to skirt under a fallen tree across the water way. This tree had fallen so perfectly that we had to lay flat in the canoe to slide under it. Once past the tree, we made our way down the creek. Coming up to the landing one of Ryan's guys was waiting for us. He was nice enough that he carried our bags the 30 rods to the van. Sitting down in the van I knew I had finally completed my first trip to the BWCA. It was truly a life changing experience and something I will cherish forever. This place holds a special spot in my heart. I am so happy that Ron came up with this trip on a whim and introduced me to the BWCA. I have to say that I am truly addicted to it. As soon as we made it back to Cliff Wold's and talked to Ryan I began, in my head, planning our next trip.
P.S. That shower felt amazing!!! Also, Pepe is still an inside joke between Ron and I.