BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 05 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1381 feet
Trout Lake - 1
A Windy Mudro Loop
June 09, 2017
Mudro Lake (restricted--no camping on Horse Lake)
Number of Days:
We were up at 4 and out of the house by 4:35. There were two separate 55 mph single lane construction zones on I-35. The first one was long and the second one was short, (distance wise) but they didn’t really slow us down much since we weren’t in traffic. There was also construction between Tower and Ely and that really slowed us up. We got stopped by 3 flaggers. The first seemed pretty long, the second was over 10 minutes and felt like forever, but the 3rd one was quick. We arrived at Voyageur North around 10ish to pick up our permit, leeches, and a few miscellaneous things.
We made it to the Mudro EP parking lot between 10:30 and 10:45 and were on the water at 11:15. There were a lot of rocks and some narrow spots through the river. This was the first trip with my new (to me) Bell Northwind and it didn’t take long to put a few new scratches in it. At the beginning of the 140 rod a guy said it was ‘the portage from hell’. That makes two years in a row we’ve heard that! A guy also said that to us about 9 months prior on the portage from Skoop Lake to Cherokee Creek. It seemed as though it was a little tougher (more uphill) going in but not all that bad, although I was glad when it was over. On the next short 10 rod I picked up the canoe and realized it was backward. I decided to just go with it since it was a short, easy portage. Fourtown wasn’t as busy as I expected and there were quite a few open sites.
When we arrived on Boot we saw a canoe fishing the SW side. As we rounded the bend we saw two more canoes, and then two more. One canoe chatted a bit and asked us about the weather. All sites but one of the middle ones were taken. We decided to push on to Fairy since Boot was so busy and hoped one of those two were open.
At this point we were getting pretty tired. I decided to take just the one pack across the portage and see if I could tell if either of the sites were open. It didn’t look like anyone was on the lake at all. I went back for Claire and the canoe. As we got going we could see the west site was taken but the east site still looked open.
We arrived at our site just after 3. We grabbed a snack and hung the hammock. I paddled out to get some water while Claire relaxed in the hammock. There was a bit of a breeze and it was a little tough alone in the canoe without a load. Claire dozed off and I worked on getting the tent set up. It took me forever since the tent pad was on a rock. I tried rotating it every way possible and had a hard time getting any more than two stakes in. I finally got three stakes (mostly) in and tied one corner to a large log, obviously used before for the same purpose. Other than the issues staking the tent, the tent pad was at a nice spot, almost on top of the water with great views.
The site itself was decent, but not the amazing site I had read about. We only thought it was about 3.5 out of 5 stars. Looking back on it now I’m not even sure why we weren’t crazy about the site, there was just something not right to us about it. It was getting late in the afternoon and I saw 4 adults in one canoe paddling through. I was not envious of them. There’s a good chance they had to still get all of the way to Fourtown since Fairy was full and by that time there was a good chance the last spot on Boot was taken.
The forecast kept changing. At first it was supposed to be a stormy night, then it said it would be nice, and then back to stormy again. We had Mountain House beef stroganoff for dinner around 6:45 and it was great. We sat around looking at maps and then started getting dinner cleaned up and things ready for the night. We heard something loud moving through the woods on the shore to the SE of us and even heard a grunt. We didn’t really notice it at first and I think we were being too loud and probably scared it away. It sure sounded like a moose. We were tired and in bed at 9.
~Mudro Lake, Fourtown Lake, Boot Lake, Fairy Lake
The alarm went off at 7 and we were out of the tent at 8. We had Good to Go granola for breakfast and it was awesome, maybe even slightly sugary. We were finally on the water at 9:40. It had gotten really windy Friday evening and it was still windy. I woke up to lots of lightning around 12:30. There was some rain, some wind, and lots of lightning for an hour or more.
The strong south/SE wind was blowing right at the portage to Gun. We brought the canoe up onto shore and Claire helped me lift it since the wind would have blown me over if I tried to lift it in the water. We could see as soon as we entered Gun that the site straight out from the portage was taken. We soon saw that both the far north site near the portage to Gull and the site on the south eastern shore were occupied as well.
The wind was really whipping and the further north we went, the larger the waves got. We were hoping to spend the night on Beartrap, but decided that it was a long way to go in those conditions. We came through the narrows and around the corner to the east and saw that the middle site (1084) was open but it didn’t look very nice. The trigger site looked open but it was hard to tell for sure. Lucky for us it was! We arrived at 10:20, only 40 minutes after we left Fairy. I barely had to paddle, I mostly only steered because of the strong wind.
The wind was now SW and most of it was blocked by the far shore. There was just enough of a breeze to keep most of the bugs away. I was a little surprised that the best site on the lake was open when so many others were full, but there were fresh marks from pulled tent stakes so it was clear that somebody had just left. Claire napped in the hammock and I set up the tent. We had Camp Chow grilled cheese soup for lunch around 12:30.
I faintly heard thunder off in the distance. I put the fly on the tent and got camp cleaned up. One big cloud missed us just to the north and there was another behind it. It started raining so we laid in the tent and read a little. It then got ridiculously windy and it was blowing straight in. At some point a solo kayaker stopped not far in front of our site to pump water. We think he was hoping to stay at our site. We saw several other groups, most of them coming from the east.
I tried fishing from the big rock out in front of our site with no luck. The wind died down a bit and was pretty nice for a short time, but then it picked back up again. Back in Ely after the trip someone told us we had 30 mph sustained winds that day. Two canoes came from the east and went along the north shore and then cut right across the waves to the south right around the middle of the lake when it was at its worst. This was around 4:30 or 5:00. I’m sure the waves weren’t quite so bad further west but it still didn’t look like fun.
It crossed my mind that there was a possibility that all of the sites on Gun, Fairy, and Boot were full based on how full they all were on Friday and how many people we saw going through. I hope that group didn’t have to make it all of the way to Fourtown in that headwind. We found some wood and had a late dinner. The wood wasn’t great but Claire (as always) got a nice fire going. It turned into a nice clear night. An angry bird would not stop making noise for several hours. It even kept going slightly past dark. It was rather annoying but also kinda funny. The moon came up late and it was awesome. We were in bed around 11:30 and daylight was still holding on.
~Fairy Lake, Gun Lake
I woke up at 4:15 and the moon was perfect over the tent - shining off the canoe and shining off the lake with ripples in the water. I wanted to take a picture but I didn’t know where the camera was, and I knew it wouldn’t have turned out anyway. The alarm went off at 7 per usual. There were a couple of raindrops on the tent a short time later. We were out of the tent around 8 and had Mountain House biscuits and gravy for breakfast and also a half beef stick and cheese. It seemed to ever so slowly increase to a lite rain over the course of about two hours. That put us back in the tent around 9:30-10ish.
Claire’s allergies/eyes were bad. My throat even started hurting a little bit. The rain finally stopped at 11:30. It was very calm and still rather cool, but slowly warming up. The twosome that was staying on the far north site left after the rain around 12:30. We only saw maybe one other group before that and that was all we saw that day. We had debated about heading to Moosecamp but we didn’t really want to pack up in the rain, and by the time the rain stopped we were content with just staying put on our fantastic site. If we had decided to leave after the rain we wouldn’t have been out of there until 1.
We sat out on the rock for hours after the sun came out. It was quite warm. Claire finished her book, I read the map and a bunch more of my own book. I fished with a frog and a rap for a bit. I had a jig and a leech out the rest of the time (3-4 hours?) without even a bite. We finally needed food around 6. The Good to Go curry was amazing. It even had a nice little kick and we decided it was a yearly staple.
An otter swam by and hung out for a bit finding food. The bugs started to get worse. The flies (deer, horse, etc) were buzzing ALL day and finally stopped, but the mosquitos then decided to come out. A snowshoe hare showed up in camp right after Claire got in the tent around 9-9:15. It wasn’t scared at all, and was only about 10 ft from me. It was the most gorgeous night.
The alarm went off at 7 again and we were out of the tent by 8. Another delicious Good to Go granola breakfast was on the menu. We hit the water at 9:30. The barrel of Gun, Bullet, and Moosecamp were all very pretty. Bullet may have been my favorite lake of the trip.
Shortly after shoving off from the portage on Moosecamp we passed a group of 8 heading towards Bullet. It appeared as though they were leaving the eastern site. That is the site I would have hoped for if we left the previous day, and it looks like we wouldn’t have gotten it if we did move so we probably made the right decision. It looked really nice from the water. It was rather windy again, even in the morning.
We arrived on Moosecamp at 10:45 and were on the river at 10:50. We had a quick pullover what we thought was the man made dam. The water level was up so we weren’t really sure what to expect with the dams. We later came to the actual dam. Two mallards scared us when they took off just as we came around a corner in the river. They flew just a bit further down the river and landed. They did the same thing 2 or 3 more times before they finally turned around and went back north. There were a couple more beaver dams we had to pull over. One was really muddy and not much fun.
We hit Fourtown at 12:40. The wind was out of the north so we decided we may as well take advantage and head south, plus have a little shorter paddle on our way out. We checked the site furthest SW (#1112) but it was occupied. We came around the corner and arrived at site 1111 at 1:30. Good to Go Korma was our lunch and it was delicious, as all of the Good to Go’s have been this trip.
We went to look for the abandoned car near the site across the bay around 2:30. We looked for a good 20 or 30 minutes but couldn’t find it. After getting home and looking online it looks like it was further back away from the lake. That site was nicer than it looked from the water but we still liked ours better. Claire’s eyes got really bad from tromping through the woods. We got the tent up and she laid down.
A loud group of 4 men came to the site across the bay with the car around 6 pm. They weren’t overly annoying, just talking a lot louder than they needed to be and we could hear most of what they said. We had Mountain House chili mac for dinner, our favorite.
We decided to fish around 8:45-9:00. Claire caught a smallie on her second cast. I caught 5 walleyes, a couple of them were 17-18”. It was really hard not eating them but it seemed like a big hassle that late at night. We were heading home the next morning and we had most of our stuff already packed up. We only fished until 9:30 or so because the bugs got bad. Claire again got a great fire going with wet wood. It was yet another stellar night. It seemed like the sun just didn’t want to completely set. We enjoyed the fire, the weather, and each other’s company until almost 11.
~Gun Lake, Bullet Lake, Moosecamp Lake, Fourtown Lake
We woke up to our daily 7 am alarm that Claire’s dad loaned/gave us that he used to use on his trips as a pilot. It was old but was very small and worked well. We were up and out of the tent by 8 or a little before. We hit the water right at 9 after taking a little time to get some pictures. There was a strong wind out of the east as the weather radio predicted. It was a very easy paddle to the first of our last three portages.
Before the trip I had thought there was no way I would want to spend our last night that south on Fourtown. For one I thought we would have trouble getting a site, and two, I thought it would too busy being closer to the entry point. It was nice though to not have to paddle a lot of Fourtown in the wind, and other than the loudish group across the way it wasn’t very busy.
As we enjoyed our last few minutes of our third ever trip, we saw a lone guy sitting on the north shore of Mudro all by himself. He had what looked like a canoe pack, not a hiking pack, but we didn’t see a canoe. It was odd and almost as if he was left there by someone. He seemed content however so we didn’t bother him. We wound our way back through the narrows and were off the water at 10:40 and in Ely right around noon.
We picked up a coffee and a wrap at Front Porch and headed to the Steger store. After stopping at a few other shops, we made our way out of town around 1:00 just as a nasty system was rolling in. We arrived in Two Harbors at 2:15. We had wanted to order a pizza before we got to town so we wouldn’t have to wait a long time, but we didn’t have cell service until we were basically in town.
After getting our beers at Castle Danger we were finally able to order our pizza. Turns out they didn’t open until 4! There goes that plan. We each had a beer and then shared one more. We ran into a gal my mom knew and some of her friends and got stuck chatting for 20 minutes. Then as we were about to leave, the table behind them heard where we were from and knew my parents too! We were finally on the road about 3:30.
We can’t drive by Knife River without stopping at Russ Kendall’s to get some smoked fish for my dad. There was a big storm near our house on Sunday so he drove the 2-½ hour round trip to make sure nothing bad happened. He said he saw boats a few miles away from our house that were blown off their trailer. Luckily we only had some small branches down in our yard. Even though we were starving we couldn’t decide on food and ended up waiting until Duluth to get sandwiches at Northern Waters Smokehaus. We were finally back on the road again around 4:30-4:45. Claire’s parents were nice enough to deliver our 2-½ year old and the dogs to our house to save us another 2+ hours of driving.
~Fourtown Lake, Mudro Lake