BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 02 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1260 feet
Angleworm Lake - 20
Jordan's First Trip to BWCA - Family Trip 2010
June 30, 2010
Mudro Lake (restricted--no camping on Horse Lake)
Number of Days:
After last minute packing on Monday night, went to sleep exhausted and excited for the upcoming trip. This was my 6 year old son's first trip to the BWCA. My 2nd trip. It took a little to convince my wife to let him come along after one of our other members backed out at the last minute. I needed a little help from all of you at BWCA.com. In the end, she was either totally comfortable with my son going or she did a great job of hiding her anxiety!
We woke up around 6:30 AM to load everything into the car top carrier and the trunk. Five of us in my little Mazda Protege was pretty cramped, but not for me! I was the driver for the whole trip.
Grandpa Fred arrived around 7 AM and I could tell he was really excited. This was his 2nd trip to the BWCA and first in many years. Probably the last time he will go to the BWCA so this was a pretty special trip for him.
We left Mankato around 7:30 on our way to Bloomington to pick up my brother-in-law Mike. Once we got him and all his gear in the car, we were on our way north.
Made a stop on the north side of the cities and a few more along the way. When you're traveling with a 6 year old and the small bladder that accompanies him, frequent stops are necessary! Besides having to stop a little more often than normal and occasionally reminding him that he couldn't talk all of the time, he did a great job on the ride up! I could tell he was really excited.
We arrived in Ely around 4. We got our gear (rented MNIII canoe and food pack) and got settled into the bunkhouse. Went to the Pizza Hut in Ely for dinner, threw the frisbee around a little, and watched the Twins for the rest of the night.
Got a little annoyed by everybody and how they wanted to do things, but I kept reminding myself that it will be a great trip no matter how we do things so I should just go with the flow. Everybody was way over packed, but we were planning on basecamping and not taking many portages so I figured it wouldn't be an issue.
Around 7:30 we decided to drive out to the EP to make sure we knew exactly how to get there in the morning, along with the fact that we were excited and also a little bored by the Twins game.
Took the blacktop road north of Ely, which eventually turned to worse blacktop, and then to to gravel. Long story short, it took a lot longer to get to the EP than we thought it would. We kept thinking that we were way past the turnoff, but eventually we found the road that led to the Mudro entry. Then made the drive back. Got back to the bunkhouse around 9:30 and then the rest of our party arrived. Talked to them for a few minutes and then went to bed. I thought I would end up lying in bed wide awake, but thankfully I fell right to sleep and next thing I knew it was morning.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We awoke around 5:30 and got everything settled into the car. Made a stop at the gas station next to VNO for breakfast and made our way out to the entry point. Everything went at a slower pace than my last trip since we had nine people which included a 6 year old and a 70 year old along this year. That was fine with me because the trip doesn't need to be rushed, but it did take some getting used to because I like to go, go, go.
We portaged to Mudro and got the boats in the water. It was a very calm morning, blue skies, and a very light breeze. I was excited to see the reaction of the people on the trip that had never been to the BWCA, especially Jordan's. We sat in the MNIII with my Brother-in-law Dustin up front, myself in the middle with Jordan in front of me, and Mike in the rear. It was a little crowded, but worked out alright.
The weeds were high on the little waterway that leads to Mudro, but it was a beautiful scene, especially when the view opened up to the main part of the lake. We made a navigational error and it took us a bit to find the portage. It was kind of hidden back by a beaver dam and didn't look like a portage I had seen before. I had only been to the BWCA one other time. The Mudro area is different than the Snowbank area. A lot more elevation and rockier portages.
Made the little portage, paddled about fifty yards, and then came to the long portage into Fourtown. The sun was really starting to beat down by the time we started the 3rd portage of the day. It was about 150 rods if I remember correctly, but the elevation and rocks made it a tough portage for the younger and older guys. We had to double portage, mostly because we were packed very inefficiently.
Got all the boats back into the water and realized we had one more small portage before we were in Fourtown. I don't mind portaging, but when we only get to paddle five minutes between portages it gets old pretty quickly. We got to this portage, which was only about 15 rods, but at the end, it's about an 80 degree rock slope down to the lake. The other young guys and I went to the bottom and had the others lower the canoes and gear down to us. We loaded the canoes and then everyone came down and we got into the water and were finally into Fourtown.
These portages weren't really too bad, but they were more than I had planned for. I wanted to pick an easy route considering that we had a big variety of people going with varying degrees of physical fitness. It ended up being alright, but I would definitely choose a different route if I planned a trip like this again.
We were ready to find a campsite and eat some lunch. If the site we found was a good one, we planned on making it our basecamp. We paddled straight north across Fourtown and found a site that was a little bit elevated and faced the south. If you look at the map, there are three sites fairly close to each other. We chose the middle one. It had a view of three rock islands about 100 yards from camp.
We unloaded gear, got some water, set up camp, and made lunch.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and exploring around camp.
Jordan did great the first day. He whined a little on the portages and asked a lot of questions about when we would be at camp, but all in all, he did great! He had his cousins along to play with as well so the first day went great.
We awoke to a pretty good rain storm. This would turn out to be a recurring theme for our trip. Nobody was prepared for this rain. It was a clear and calm night when we went to bed. We had our socks, shoes, and all kinds of camping equipment sitting out exposed.
As soon as we woke up, we put everything under the tarp (thankfully I hung a tarp as soon as we got to camp, even though there was not a cloud in the sky) and tried to stay out of the rain ourselves.
It stopped raining a couple hours after we woke up. We got around to making breakfast, hung everything got wet and talked about what we were going to do that day. Turns out that we didn't do much of anything. Mostly sat around camp and did some exploring. Some of our group got out and did some fishing. Some of us hiked the trails around camp. Canoed out to the rock islands. The younger kids put on the life jackets and swam out to the islands while I canoed with them. Good times. Relaxing. It was fairly windy so the fishing was tough.
Jordan started to get a little bored the 2nd day at camp so I lightened up on him and told him he could play with the lego set that he brought. He was in the tent for a while playing legos. I wanted to find a balance of making him camp and come up with things to do on his own along with letting him do what he wanted. I didn't want him to come away hating his experience because he was bored the whole time.
We went to bed a little more prepared the 2nd night. Good thing too because it stormed again.
This was the day of our daytrip to Basswood Falls. Woke up and it was very calm so we figured this was the time to go. Ate a quick breakfast and got ready to go. We weren't sure how long it would take us so we wanted to get going.
Went north on Fourtown and due to a navigational error, we went too far north. It took us about an hour longer than it should've to find our first portage. Almost decided to just go back to camp, but didn't. Found the first portage, then paddled a little, took the 2nd portage and found our way to Horse Lake. Crossed Horse Lake and made our way to Horse River. Water was running pretty slowly. Had to pull over in a couple areas where the river narrowed and there were too many rocks.
Portages were all very easy. The first portage was lined with boards and was kind of neat to walk through. Kept going down the river and made it to Basswood Falls in about 3 hours including our little detour. Ahead of schedule so that was nice, especially considering the four people that went. It was myself, Mike (26 years old), my son (6 yo) and his cousin Nick (13 yo).
The Falls weren't as great as I thought they would be, but it was still worth the trip. We spent about an hour at the Falls. Ate lunch, did a little swimming. Jordan thought it was pretty cool that we were in Canada. Took some great pictures by the Falls.
Started the paddle back and as soon as we got to the river we realized it was going to be a lot harder paddle back against the wind. The wind really got funneled by the river and it seemed like we were barely moving. It really sucked. Eventually got out of the river and onto Horse Lake.
I was kind of worried about the waves once we got out on Horse. From the little bay when we got out of the river, we could see white caps. Considering the inexperience of all of us in big waves I was concerned. I didn't want to show it and get Jordan scared so we just kept pushing. I just told myself that even if we tipped, we have no gear, the water is warm, the sun is shining and nobody will get hurt. It will just be a big inconvenience. Had it been May or October I would have been worried.
Waves were probably two to three foot rollers. Not bad as long as we kept ourselves aligned right into the waves. The canoe was about 17 feet long with a lot of weight in it so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Last year we had a twelve foot canoe that did not handle well in waves. This was much different. Turned out to be a lot of fun in the waves and wind. Only downside was that it was tiring. Probably a mile or so across the middle of Horse.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. Made it back to camp around dinnertime.
As soon as we got back to camp, the others told us that the weather radio said there was a great chance of big storms and lots of rain Saturday night. We made the decision to leave Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning to make sure we didn't get windbound or have to leave in a downpour and thunderstorm. It was mostly a unanimous decision. A couple people wouldn't have minded staying, but with the kids and grandpa, they knew it was probably best to play it safe. For me, after that long trip, I was ready to leave the next day as well. One thing I learned is that for a basecamping trip, three nights is enough for me.
Jordan did great again. I was worried that he wouldn't like the long daytrip with all of the portaging. He whined a little, but for the most part did great. He almost fell asleep on the long paddle back. I had to keep reminding him to drink water because it was a warm day and I didn't want him to get dehydrated. When we got back to camp we ate dinner and then I told him he could play in the tent if he wanted. I figured he had a long day and did great, so he could do what he wanted.
Woke up to another beautiful day. A little windy again, but the longest portion of the paddle out was the short trip across Fourtown. Not much to say about the trip out except that when we got to the portage with the steep rock face, someone in our group decided that we should just pull the canoes (gear included) up the small rapids so we didn't have to carry everything up the steep face.
I didn't want to cause an issue with the older guys by disagreeing since it wasn't that big of a deal, but it turned out to be a really bad idea. The water was about four feet deep in spots with lots of rocks and boulders. Someone could have easily gotten an ankle caught and either twisted or broken something. The older guys walked the portage while us younger folk pulled the canoes up the river. Not something I would ever do again. Got a pretty good gash in my shin from one of the rocks. At least it will be a scar to remember the trip by!
We were pretty tired and happy when we got to the EP. Got everything loaded and made our way to Ely. Talked to a bearded fellow that was in for 14 days. They were waiting for their outfitter to come pick them up. Said they were from Colorado if I remember right. If you are a member of this site say hey!
Ate a BIG lunch at DQ, felt like crap and we all made the drive home. Most everybody slept the whole drive back to Mankato so I cranked up the radio and relaxed. All in all, it was a great trip, great memories, and a lot of fun. Not sure if we will ever take a big family trip like that again though. Hard to organize and plan, and with that many different personalities, it was tough sometimes, but I'm still glad we did it.