BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 24 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1406 feet
Crab Lake & Cummings Lake - 4
Crab Lake: A Jewel
August 26, 2007
Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake
Number of Days:
We quickly unloaded and began the trek. It has grown to 420 rods (latest Fisher map)and while not tough, the beginning requires your attention; the 2nd half is just a walk (a long walk) in the woods. We doubled portaged and were done in under 2 hours. Once on Crab Lake, we headed for an arm of the lake where John had identified a site he thought we would like. On the way, we noted that the first 2 sites we passed were occupied. We found the site John had marked on our map and decided to spend the night. We had originally intended to get to Little Crab on Day 1 but this was a great site; it fit us perfectly, with good views and privacy. Also, truth be told, we were tired and ready to relax. We found a great landing area and were soon ashore and setting up camp. Our first night dinner was a tasty stove cooked steak (fire ban was in effect), along with bourbon for me and chardonnay for Bette, while we reflected on a wonderful day 1.
The winds had grown stronger during the day but nothing we have not experienced. That night however, I did wake up around midnight to a howling wind. I guess I let my imagination run a bit wild because I got up and put on my pants and shoes, made sure Bet's pants/shoes were handy (she slept through the whole experience)and sat in the darkness of the tent listening for cracking tree limbs. I had an escape route and cover picked out (2 large boulders to the right of the tent)but fortunately nothing dramatic happened. By 2:00AM the winds were diminishing and I fell back to sleep; awoke at 4:00 - the winds were gone and I slept til 6:30.
But for now, we had to turn back as thunder could be heard. We got back to camp to secure the campsite and wait out the rain. We cooked under the tarp and went to sleep to the patter of rain drops. We do enjoy the tranquility that a gentle rain brings at night. It certainly was a well needed rain but not nearly enough to end the fire ban.
With our Day 2 explorations shortened due to storms, we wanted to continue paddling around, also letting the gear dry. We were so pleased with our site, we were not in a hurry to move. After playing with a rambunctious squirrel, using bread on a fishing line, we took off for the day. I fished a little cove with good success; both northern pike and small mouth were hitting my lure. We then paddled around Crab to check out open sites, an activity we enjoy. As most sites were unoccupied, we were able to get out and look around as we pleased. We took notes on several sites and had lunch at one in the west branch. We did not see any paddlers and the 2 sites occupied when we passed on Day 1 were now vacant. The fishing continued to be good although nothing of any size. By this time, the winds had built so it became a chore to paddle. We returned to camp, feeling that our touring had given us a good understanding of the lake.
A nice evening, with temps down to 43. The chill sent us to the tent and warmth of our bags; we slept well.
Back at camp, around 4:30, we took turns taking a sun shower. Then I sat, fairly clean, with a cigar in one hand and a rum and mango tea in the other. All days should close so nicely. As we called it a day, we noted a full moon and a chill in the air.
Explore we did, stopping at numerous sites, looking them over and noting pluses/minuses (it is a favorite past time of ours). I fished certain areas, with moderate success; before long, the wind was building and it became a chore to paddle into to. We found the portage to Clark Lake, then turned around and went with the wind all the way back to camp. Once at camp, I got restless so decided to head back out, drifting with the wind, using jig and leech. Small mouth again cooperated but nothing of any size. I headed back and started to break down tarp, etc since we planned an early return to Ely the next morning. It was another cool night; tonight we missed a camp fire.
The wind had built up again but we were a little stronger and now accustomed to it; the paddle back to the public boat launch was uneventful. We found familiar landmarks so didn't have any directional disagreements on the return. We did however have a nice feeling of accomplishment.
Mitch arrived in the van, right on schedule; we loaded and took off for NCCO, with a really cold beer in hand.
Back at NCCO, we showered, changed, visited with John and then went into Ely, where we spent a few relaxing days at the Grand Ely Lodge, along with visiting the Dorothy Moulter Museum, the International Wolfe Center and just being tourists. While a weeks worth of paddling may have burned a lot of calories, we compensated by visiting and enjoying a number of Ely's food establishments.
While there, we had a great visit with "The Great Outdoors", whom I finally got to meet and thank him for previous advice. He is very informative and gave us another, more scenic route, to get us back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. We enjoyed the route which took us through Finland and south towards Duluth.
A great trip for us. Our return in 2008 is ensured.
POST TRIP MUSINGS - 1. This was the 1st time we kept to 1 site (base camped); although this site was perfect for us, we would probably limit our stay to no more than 3 nights in the future. 2. While I will always prefer a camp fire for the evening, the fire ban did not lessen our BWCA experience; the lack of an open fire has become less of an issue for me. 3. The wind was a big consideration for us throughout 2007; whether in the BWCA, Vermont or the Adirondacks, we had more wind than in prior years. For me, wind is more troublesome than rain. 4. While we enjoy solitude, no one got to see the BWCA cap that Bette wore and the tee shirt I wore. 5. Finally, a sincere thanks to so many on this board for your advice and suggestions. Much appreciated!