BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 07 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1406 feet
Crab Lake & Cummings Lake - 4
Meeting Up on Slim
June 15, 2011
Slim Lake (6)
Number of Days:
Friend Scott and I left the cities at about 430pm… make it to Ely easily by 9pm. Is 1st time in Ely; that main street has canoes everywhere! Neat. Pick up our entry permit, new map and the key to the upstairs bunkhouse at the outfitters (VNO)… then drive down the street for frozen custard (Little Red Cabin… it rocks).
Light rain is predicted to end soon, so we didn’t move in hurried fashion. Have breakfast in town, then stop by TGO for leeches and advice. Rain stops. We’re at Slim Lake entry point around 10am. Portage canoe 1st half, then return to parking lot. The other group entering today are here… 2 dads with young daughters. They ask where we plan to go, and I respond with “maybe Slim… maybe further”… which is true. What we have in mind is to camp beyond Slim for a night, but if we pass a beautiful and empty site on Slim... we might just stay there. There are 2 cars in parking lot, 2 permits per day, and 3 campsites on Slim … so it occurs to me that there may very well be 1 open site on Slim and it’s either us or them.
As we enter Slim ahead of the other group, we choose to head straight north; if the south campsite it open, we’re leaving it for the dads-n-daughters.
Overcast and with barely any drizzle… the paddling is great.
Both of the north campsites on Slim are occupied. I’m guessing dads-n-daughters are on the south site. We look for portage to Rice… but can’t find it; we find it; it’s hard to see from the water, with no typical wear pattern/scar to see.
Rice campsite is occupied; yep… 2 cars in parking lot, but 3 groups already inside. Yes, Rice is shallow and has rice emerging. We portage to Hook.
Hook campsite is sweet, with a big rock face; Scott states that it is the prettiest approach to a campsite that he has seen. I agree. We set up camp… fish a bit… eat supper (Gnocchi). Hook is a pretty, serpentine, narrow lake; it suits me.
We portage to Kenau just to see it. Water is somewhat low, which makes portage longer than stated; it is a rocky one too. Kenau is pretty… fairly small… with rocky shores. The (empty) campsite is on a big slope; unusual and cool.
We portage back to Hook and settle down for the night. No critter problems, no weather problems… just campfire and a very good night sleep.
I realize that my REI mattress has a slow leak; I wake up with a half-full mattress. Oh, well. Scott and I plan to join up with friend Rich and his daughter Elise at the Slim entry point in the late evening. We want to move our camp to Slim… but will an empty site be there? We know the south site (dads-n-daughters) will stay occupied. What’s the chance that 1 of the 2 parties that we know are camped on north Slim will leave today… on a Friday? We figure empty site on Slim not likely, and so we’ll scout Slim for an empty site but will keep maintain camp at the Hook site.
After breakfast (hash browns and Spam), we portage to Rice… then on to Slim. The northernmost site on Slim is empty! We occupy it with hammocks and some other gear, then have lunch. No one passes by, so we know no one is yet wishing for our site at Hook; still, not wanting to occupy 2 sites for long, we portage back to Rice and then to Hook.
We pack up camp… then portage gear to Rice and then to Slim, passing a group heading in (likely to campsite on Hook, which we’re pleased to have vacated before anyone desired it). We have now portaged 11 times on 4 lakes; I’m seeing a flaw to this plan. :)
The campsite on Slim is real nice. Enough room for multiple tents and the campfire area is out on a subtle peninsula where it catches plenty breeze. I’ll give it a B+ (Hook was A+). Finding down wood to burn is easy.
Slim is neat; big hills/cliffs… lots of rock… and no one in sight.
It is suppertime (red beans and rice with chicken, followed by pudding). We nap, then fish… then at 8pm we paddle down to the entry point to meet up with Rich/Elise; we notice that the middle campsite is also vacant… on a Friday. We have fingers crossed that all plans run on time; Rich/Elise need to leave Aitkin after work, get permit in Ely, then get to Slim in time to paddle before darkness; things could go wrong.
Fishing outside the entry point is beautiful; really… these big boulders and cliffs are wonderful to paddle by. Only small Smallies bite. Rich and Elise soon arrive… and we paddle north to our campsite as dusk settles. The lake is calm and the paddling is wonderful; this is a nice way to enter the BW.
The 4 of us have a great campfire that night. Today’s weather was beautiful all day. I am happy, because our complicated plan worked.
It is dry in the afternoon. We paddle to north end of Slim, where it ends in a big ol’ bog. OK… I really like Slim. Hook is the perfect size for me, but Slim has nothing to complain about. We gently paddle into the bog, between the pitcher plants… just to sit quiet for a while.
We paddle all the shoreline real slowly, admiring the views as we go. Richie catches a large walleye; large by our standards anyway. Sweet.
Supper is fresh fish, mashed potatos, stuffing + pudding.
We have a nice campfire, douse it, and sleep well.
Breakfast is Bacon Smash (mashed potatoes and bacon bits in a cup)… and we slowly break camp. It’s always easier packing to leave than packing to start :) We paddle out of Slim under the threat of rain, but no actual rain. We stop by the vacant middle site to compare it to the north site; it’s fine, but doesn’t make us regret staying on the north site. Both are very good.
As we exit Slim we look back and judge that this might be the prettiest entry point we’ve been to. I say Slim is a really nice lake; no need to continue farther than it… but if you go to Hook/Kenau you’ll be rewarded for your (minimal) effort.
** I still need to do a real voyageur-type trip thru the BW, but seriously… I’d come back to Slim for a couple of nights… and I’d definitely recommend it as a get-started trip. **