BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 05 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1406 feet
Crab Lake & Cummings Lake - 4
Qik-n-Ez First Solo
July 30, 2011
Number of Days:
The week prior to leaving, I was alternately filled with excitement and anxiety over the trip. I let the excitement rule my thoughts and buried the anxiety as best I could. I was packed, repacked, and ready to depart at 8:00 AM on 7/30/11. I bid my wife farewell and started the 670 mile drive to Ely. An hour or two into the drive, the excitement took over completely as I dreamed of being in the woods while listening to my tunes on the car stereo. The miles slipped by as I headed north from central Illinois, Rockford, IL, Madison, and Eau Claire, WI. Hit Rte 53 North at Eau Claire with the plan of spending the night in Duluth. Arrived in Duluth about 5:30 PM, checked into the Days Inn, had some dinner and hit the sack early.
Link to Video "Overnight in Duluth"
Up at 5:30 AM and on the road to Ely by 6:30. I took the scenic route on Rte 61 so I could stop and take some video of the Lake Shore. I was in Two Harbors at 8:00 and stopped at the Black Woods for a hearty breakfast, then off to Ely via Rte 2. After a beautiful drive under sunny skies I arrived in Ely at 10:45 AM. It was good to see the old haunts of Ely's "main drag" again. I checked in with John at VNO (where I also met PurpleCanoe) and went out for some sight seeing. I stopped in at The Great Outdoors and introduced myself to Jim stating, "I hear you're the guy to talk to about catching Rats with Scales." Of course he replied, "Oh yeah, AndySG, the guy who needs serious counseling." We had a nice chat and I picked up a leech locker and some live leaches. After some more area driving to check out my entry point, back to VNO where I chatted with Lynne, moved into the bunkhouse, and went through my gear one last time. Then out for a few northern beers at Dee's (cool local's bar), on to Rock Woods for a delicious stuffed burger, and back to VNO and bed.
Link to Video "Duluth to Ely"
Up at 5:15 AM and over to the gas station next to VNO for a breakfast of coffee and a granola bar. Back to VNO for my 6:00 AM shuttle to the entry point. The adrenalin was running high as I hit the 70 rod portage to Slim. I doubled it and was enthralled at the sight that met me at the landing. I got on the water heading toward the southern most campsite on Slim. Diva had told me it was a good one. Lo and behold, it was open! I grabbed it and set up camp. Then out for some fishing, but nothing but little Smallies. None the less, an enchanting paddle around my end of the Lake. Upon returning, an older gent and I believe his grandson paddled by looking for a site,. They had just come from Rice Lake and said all three sites on slim were taken. I invited them to share my site, but they thanked me and paddled on. I made a lunch of rice soup and cleaned up the dishes.
The campsite is well used and there was little or no firewood around. So I paddled across the lake and found some small downed pines that I stripped and loaded in the canoe. Back to camp to cut them up. The sun was blazing and the temp seemed to approach the 90's. I finally got the hang of my new "Innovations" camp saw by discovering it cuts very well only if you grab the handle close to the saw blade. I also like the dual configuration it offers by assembling into both a triangle and buck saw. Out for an evening paddle, back to start a fire and a light dinner of summer sausage, Velveeta cheese and mustard wrapped in a tortilla. It was cloudy so I stashed my food and hit the sack early.
Link to Video "Day 1- Slim Lake "
First awaked at about 2:00 AM to booming thunder, lightning and heavy rains. Oh well, I'm prepared with both an innie and outie for the tent, and all gear packed and under the tarp. I go back to sleep serenaded by rain drops pelting the tent.
I awake again at 6:30 AM and find the tent and gear under the tarp are completely dry. Good! The only thing wet is my stack of firewood. Coffee, some breakfast, and out again to explore and fish. It is sunny and warm with steady winds from the NW. I am out for three to four hours with little luck fishing. The small mouth are bigger today, but not worth cleaning. Back to camp for an afternoon dinner. I try to nap in the tent but the heat causes me to start sweating. An afternoon swim sounds good and it is indeed wonderful. I rinse out my clothing after two days of grime and sweat and change to my spare set. Nice! I go out for some more fishing and while paddling around notice a couple bushwack camping on a small island. I overhear them discussing the lack of designated campsites in the area. With the campsite shortage, I have decided to stay put on Slim. I return to camp and start a fire. Everything is still a bit wet from last night's storm but I finally get it going with a big wad of pine needles. A light evening meal and some adult beverage as darkness falls. The mosquitoes disappear and the stars come out on a moonless night. They are glorious!!!! I lay on my back for a long while gazing up to identify some constellations. I never seen the stars so big. Off to bed exhausted but happy.
Link to Video "Day 2 Slim Lake"
I sleep sound and long crawling out of the tent at 7:30 AM. A breakfast of coffee, Hungry Jack hash browns and precooked bacon, Then clean up and I'm ready for more adventure. I load the canoe with fishing gear and a day pack planning to paddle the 4 mile length of Slim, then portage into Rice and perhaps Hook Lakes. I paddle into the wind but have a hard time keeping the Wenonah Prism tracking straight without having to switch sides every three to five strokes. I try to j-stroke but the turn of the paddle has to be so radical that I lose momentum. I try a slight rudder after each stroke and that is better, but not fast enough to suit me. I resign myself to switch as often as required to maintain progress into the wind. I circumnavigate the north end of slim and then back down to the Rice Lake portage. The portage landing is a beast with a shallow rock garden extending at least 20 feet off shore and another 20 feet on shore. I almost fall twice on slippery, angled rocks but make it out. A party of three is double portaging out so we chat and they offer to carry my day gear as we head toward Rice. Very nice folks and we chat more on the Rice Lake landing. I thank them as they leave and offer to help, but they have very little to carry on their second trip. They have just vacated the only site on Rice and as I begin to explore the lake, another party arrives at the landing and asks if the site is taken. I tell them no and they make a beeline for the site. I paddle the shoreline of Rice casting a spinner in hopes of snagging a Northern or two. Not a nibble or a swirl. Where are these fish in this hot sunny weather? They must be feeding at night. It is getting to be mid-afternoon so I decide to return to camp thankful the wind will be at my back. But Noooooooo! A third of the way back the wind has switched and is in my face again. I arrive in camp hot and sweaty and go for a cooling swim. Ahhhhh! The pause that refreshes. An early dinner and cleanup and I'm ready to relax. I do manage a short nap and get up at 6:00 PM for some fiddling around camp. Then I start a fire and have a light supper of tuna and cheese wrapped in tortillas. Because of the nap, I stay up late enjoying the last of my adult beverage and listening to the night sounds. The stars are out again but not as bright as the previous night. It's going on 11:00 PM so I hit the hay.
Link to Video "Day 3 Slim Lake
I sleep late again until about 8:00 AM. My last day here with a scheduled pickup for 3:00 PM. So I take my time organizing the gear for packing and have a late breakfast of cheesy hash browns and precooked bacon with coffee. After some more goofing off I strike the tent and tarp and finish packing everything up. After a final patrol around the site to ensure LNT, I'm off at 2:00 PM, and finally, with a white capping wind at my back, its an easy paddle to the takeout portage. I land and unloaded the canoe with a feeling of sadness to be leaving. But also invigorated that I had done, albeit an easy, solo trip. Down the trail with my heaviest pack and halfway I meet the VNO crew member coming to pick me up. He offers to proceed to the landing and fetch the canoe. I agree thinking these boys sure know how to hustle a tip. I meet him again as I go back for the light pack and odds and end I intended to carry with the canoe. It is a nice 140 rod walk there and back, and I savor it deeply. I hop in the van and the VNO crew offers me a cold Hamm's beer. I immediately chug down half of it and it is the best beer I've had in a long time. I make a mental note to increase my gratuity for this young man. We arrive at VNO about 4:30 PM. I check into my bunkhouse room and hop in the shower. Oh does that ever feel good. Cleaned up I head out for The Great Outdoors to find out what I did wrong fishing and say goodbye to Jim. He's not around so across the lot to Mike's to buy some Schell's and Summit beer to take home. Then to Piragi's to look about a bit, and over to the Ely Steakhouse for Dinner. I order the walleye dinner with one filet fried and the second blackened. Homemade coleslaw and rice pilaf for sides. Everything, especially the blackened walleye filet, is incredibly delicious. Back to the bunkhouse to finish packing for an early start home tomorrow.
Link to Video "Day 4 Slim Lake"
I say goodbye to John and Kevin and thank them for their fine service. I'm on the road a 8:00 AM planning to stop in Two Harbors for gas and breakfast. I enjoy the drive and spot five or six deer along the roadway. Stop at the Holiday for gas and go next door to Lou's to pick up some smoked lake trout and homemade jerky to take home. Then a hearty breakfast at the cafe and I'm headed home. Another lengthy stop at Ehlenbach's Cheese Emporium north of Madison for some more goodies to take home for the Misses. I arrive home safe and sound at 9:00 PM. The wife wants to know all about the trip so I screen my videos for her while enjoying cocktails. A pleasant evening and off to bed to dream of the next trip.