BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 23 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1260 feet
Angleworm Lake - 20
Solo trip Mudro to Fall Lake
September 14, 2019
Fall Lake (24)
Number of Days:
Woke up at 5 AM in the backseat of my truck in the Walmart parking lot in Cloquet. Still have 2 more hours to Packsack Outfitters in Ely/Winton. When I arrived Nick and Danielle had my canoe ready to go and after a few minutes we were on our way to the Mudro Entry Point. There had been a lot of rain in the previous week and the stream that runs into Mudro was flowing well. My dog Lou, a Shetland sheepdog came along to keep me company, not sure if that disqualifies the trip as a true solo but I will say that she didn't paddle or carry anything. She was a little hesitant about the canoe but we worked through it. Then again I have never paddled a solo canoe either so it was new for both of us. I should mention I had a kayak paddle and a back up traditional paddle. I used the kayak paddle 99% of the time. I know everyone has there preference but I can say that the kayak paddle was key for me as a solo paddler. The 3 portages in succession from Mudro to Fourtown were a little rocky but really not bad at all. Even the 104 rod portage seemed to go quick. Beautiful portages! Had a nice paddle through Fourtown, ran into a group exiting at Mudro, sounds like they had some rough weather the previous week. The 48 rod portage to Boot was a breeze and the stream and large boulders were very nice. Once I got to the Boot side of the portage Lou (my dog) decided she didn't want to get back in the canoe... I picked her up and put her in and she jumped right out. This is going to be a long week I thought to myself. A few stern words and a beef jerky treat sorted out the matter. She jumped right in on command the rest of the trip. Boot is a pretty lake with some nice rock outcroppings. I trolled a shad rap the whole way with no success. 21 rod Portage to Fairy. 42 rod portage to Gun. I was real interested in site 1889 on Gull Lake. Has a great flat rock peninsula and I heard the fishing is pretty good as well. I parked the canoe and walked over to Gull. I could see the site from the Portage and it was taken. No real time lost, my original plan was to stay on Gun anyway and start the next morning on the 327 rod portage to Wagosh. I ended up staying on the trigger site 1083 on Gun. Site is marked as 4 stars, it was alright but I kind of got spoiled this trip with great campsites! Ate dehydrated chicken and rice. Fished some top water in the "barrel" of the lake and caught some small bass and a nice pike. Trolled some for walleye but still no luck. Enjoyed a flamingo sunset. Asleep by 9.
8.5 miles traveled, 297 rods * 3.
~Mudro Lake, Fourtown Lake, Fairy Lake, Boot Lake, Gun Lake
Up at 5 AM to a calm, overcast morning. I underestimated the time it takes to breakdown camp. I was on the water by 6:30 which was perfect timing for the sunrise. A short paddle to the first portage of the day, just a little 327 rod portage. It was not a particularly difficult trail but carrying a 45# pack over a mile is never easy. About 20 yards in I found some large furry scat in the trail followed by multiple large dog prints, could they be wolf prints? The prints were consistent the whole distance of the portage and another big furry scat pile at the end of the portage. I doubled every portage this trip, even the short ones. I just wasn't in a big enough hurry to take on the potential risk of injury. By the time I had the pack and the canoe across my shoulders were on fire. This portage was a bit creepy early in the morning, it was still pretty dark and dense. Seeing the wolf sign made me think about the story of the Ely man who's dog was stalked and attacked by a wolf near Shagawa Lake. Lou would look like an easy meal for a wolf. Wolf or no wolf we made it onto Wagosh Lake. I love this lake, secluded, big trees, steep shorelines. There is one site on this lake but I didn't check it out. It would be a great lake to have all to your self, I think most people just pass through on their way to Friday Bay. I have made a note to try to stay there next time if I do this route again assuming I wanted to take on that portage again at the end of a long day??? Crossed Wagosh and made quick work of the 43 rods into Niki. I was almost into the river out of Niki when I heard it, a lone wolf howl back towards Wagosh lake! What a unique and incredible call. This further confirmed the wolf sign I saw on the portage. Later when telling the story to Nick at the outfitters he said that wolf scat has a ton of fur in it normally so I was convinced. Followed the creek from Niki to Chippewa Lake. Had a small portage around a beaver Dam there. More creek and then into Papoose. Two beautiful White Swans and their gray cygnet were on the far shore. What a safe paradise to raise their young! I saw swans and their cygnets multiple times during the trip. The creek finally ends at a massive beaver dam. 139 rods later I was on Friday Bay of crooked lake. Crooked lake was my primary destination for this trip because I have read such good things about the fishing. There is a nice current area right by the portage that resulted in a pike and a bass on back to back casts. Fishing is easy at crooked lake. I still had a ways to go at this point so I trolled and cast a few choice spots. Caught fish everywhere. Then at the mouth of Friday bay a family of 3 otters came to visit! They were way out in the middle of this huge water which kind of surprised me. Ran the border west to the mouth of Saturday bay. This was my primary fishing destination for the trip. There are no sites in Saturday bay. Found my favorite campsite of the trip, site 1879. 100 foot sand beach, privacy, great kitchen with rock tables. Tons of trees for hammocks and flat spots for tents. Also a great rock out crop for swimming with additional higher cliffs to provide epic views. This would be my home for the next two days. Did some fishing, had a fire and enjoyed another great sunset.
8.8 miles traveled, 513 rods * 3.
~Wagosh Lake, Niki Lake, Chippewa Lake, Papoose Lake, Crooked Lake
Up at 5 AM but no travel today. Fishing Saturday bay and having a fish dinner was my only objective for this day. First cast, pike. Second cast, bass blow up on the pop r. I had the bay all to myself. I decided to do some trolling to see more of the bay. Picked up a nice 17" walleye right off the bat. Dinner was covered. Kept trolling. Another nice walleye for dinner. Two was more than enough. I ended up releasing 2 more, an 18" and 22" all caught trolling a husky jerk. I casted and jigged soft plastic swimbaits but no walleye. Canoe fishing for walleye without a depth finder is a losing proposition in my opinion. Covering water is the way to go! After I lost count of how many fish I caught for the day I headed back to camp. Relaxed my sore back and did some reading up on a high cliff with huge views. Ended up eating walleye with a side of ramen. Spiced the walleye with blackened seasoning. Great relaxing day. Had a nice fire and retired to the tent for journaling and reading.
Up at 5 AM and on the water by 6:30. I have to leave this wonderful spot in the world. I would have no problem base camping at this site for a week! But my Garmin Inreach says I had some wind and storms in the forecast. The morning was perfect and calm, so far so good. I trolled the whole way. Picking up fish here and there. Im heading east now on crooked, back tracking to cross Friday Bay. As I pass the island site in the mouth of the bay I heard a crashing and saw a big brown streak take off into the trees and the stomping that sounded like a clydesdale barreling through the forest. Though I didnt get a good look I knew it could only be a moose. I thought maybe he may try to swim for it. I paddled to the backside of the island and sure enough about a 100 yards away was the rack of a bull moose cruising across the water! I turned on the jets and caught up to him, I paralleled him for probably 100 yards capturing video and snapping pictures. I was careful not to get too close so he didn't get scared and try to change direction. I know moose can swim along way but he was making a huge crossing over deep water! Once he made it to the Canadian side it was steep and he couldn't find a good spot to get out. This allowed me an extended viewing as he kept getting in and out of the water trying to find a suitable exit. A truly amazing experience! Well after that I didn't care much what happened, check the moose and wolf experience off the list! No major wind yet but starting to build. I still had to cross Thursday bay. Lots of great camping sites between Friday and Thursday bay, made a mental note for next time. While crossing Thursday bay I ran into what at first I though was a snag. As I reeled closer I found a huge pike had taken my husky jerk! I have caught and seen some big pike with my largest being 44". This one was every bit of 40". I had him to the boat but then the wind pushed me one way and the fish made a huge run the other way, the hook pulled... Obviously it would have been great to get a picture but having a fish like that in the boat in the middle of that bay would have been pretty sketchy. There was no suitable spots to get on shore either. I get around the point and make a sharp north turn. At first I think i missed something but then I head East were the lake slims down to maybe 50 yards wide and the current really becomes visible. I guess I am officially in the basswood river? Looks like a great fishing spot but I have to keep moving. Thunderheads were building to the south. I made it to my planned campsite at noon. Site #1855. It is a big open site, and is rated 5 stars but I didn't really care much for it. It does have a nice cove all to itself which is why I picked it in the first place. Didn't matter, rain was almost on me. I got the tent up and pulled the canoe to a safe place right before the clouds opened up and the wind howled for the next 6 hours. Lou doesn't like thunder. I was a little nervous she may just jet if she heard it while we were outside. Luckily I had her in the tent before it got to loud. I'm not much of a napper, though I did dose for maybe 30 minutes. 6 hours is a really long time to be in a tent but I was very comfortable and dry so I couldn't complain much. I also saw a moose and had a huge fish on that morning so it was a good day regardless if the afternoon was a bust. My tent isn't anything fancy, its a ledge tarantula, that I bought off ebay 10 years ago. It is a 2 person with a nice tarp tub bottom, double doors and a rain tarp that guys out for dry storage on both sides. This allows me to keep a pack and other gear out of the rain but still accessible through the door. Makes the tent much larger than it actually is. I can also cook my dehydrated dinners through the door in the rain as I did this night. I brought a tarp but never used it. I can see it being needed for a group or if you did have a ton of rain in the forecast but for a solo trip it was just as easy to stay in the tent. I don't know if I will bring it next time. The rained finally stopped around 6:30 pm and we fished our cove for about an hour. I don't care much for fishing after a storm, I just don't think its the best time with the pressure rising but we both needed out of the tent for at least an hour before nightfall. Had another animal encounter that night. While fishing we spooked something large that crashed through the woods. It was dusk and I never saw it but I am thinking a moose or bear. For some reasoning I just got the creeps all of the sudden. I was a little worried that my mind may play some tricks on me being alone in the woods but I never really had an issue. I think being exhausted and a whiskey drink took care of that every night. For some reason this night just felt different but not for long, I fell asleep quick!
6.2 miles traveled. 0 portages.
Wind and tons of sights today. Wind was blowing steady first thing in the morning and I knew it would only build. Traveling the Basswood River all day. My plan was to get past the big water and into the river in anticipation of the wind today. The plan was great but I did not know that the river would basically act as a wind tunnel! I started out trolling and the fish were biting but every time I hooked up I back tracked at least 100 yds. I had to put the rod away. This day wore me out more than the 300+ portage for sure. This is where the kayak paddle really shined. I was able to keep the nose of the canoe straight into the wind and even when I couldn't move forward I could at least hold my ground until the gusts subsided. Made it to table rock which happened to be the calmest water I saw all day. I wasn't really that excited about this site but did the obligatory stop. I'm glad I did! The rocks and area truly are impressive! Back to paddling into the wind... Made it to the pictographs and they didn't disappoint! I'm not sure what was cooler, the pictos or the cliffs they were drawn on? A great combo that I will never forget. Though the wind didn't allow me as much time to really study them as I would have liked. I pulled over on the Canadian side out of the wind, there is a little beach with a great view of the picto cliffs. I look down and there were some fresh moose prints in the sand. So cool! At this point I am close to lower basswood falls and spent. Each site I pass is taken and I get all the way to the falls and both sites on the falls are taken as well. I really didn't want to move on and portage further. I looked to my right and wait a minute, there is an open site! I thought I had already passed this site and it was occupied but turns out I was looking at the wrong one. Site 1549 is on a 20 foot rock ledge, it has a very steep landing and no real flat tent spots but the views of the falls make up for any short comings. I love this site almost as much as the beach site! The wind slowed a bit in the evening and I was able to hide out behind the falls. A family of otters came walking down the side of the falls and dove straight into the white water. The were having a blast playing in the current. They appear to always be having a good time! No luck fishing the falls, trolling was impossible due to all the pine needles floating on the surface of the water due to the winds. Threw top water for a bit and caught a really nice 21" bass! I also enjoyed seeing the old ranger cabin near the falls. Made a short lived fire and soaked in the view till dark.
8 miles traveled. 0 portages.
Up at 4:30 AM. Just couldn't get back to sleep. On the water by 6 on a short paddle to portage around lower basswood falls. Once I got my loads over I came back to photo the river and the huge erratic at the top of the falls. Love the erratics! Traveled the river and enjoyed the nice falls and short portages. Wheel barrow falls was also a cool area. The fall colors were really showing at this point! Another beautiful calm paddle. I got to upper basswood falls area and managed to miss the big long portage. I portaged along one fall and through a campsite and then ended up paddling up another rapid that I just barely made it up. The adrenaline was pumping after that. At the top of the rapid there was a wire with an old wood basket hanging between the US and Canada side? Maybe for logging? At this point I was a little confused. I was sitting below upper basswood falls but somehow I skipped the long portage. My nat geo map worked fine for this trip but it does lack some detail and showed a bunch of different portages. I end up going to the campsite and sure enough out the back of the campsite right next to the latrine there is a portage that connected me to the long portage I missed earlier. The missed portage probably saved me 200 rods!!! I didn't spend much time at upper BW falls because I really thought the lower falls were prettier. I was finally on Basswood Lake! I got the fishing rods out and trolled for the first time that day. Caught a pike within 5 minutes. A little later I hooked a nice bass. Then I ran into another huge pike and same story, got her to the boat and she pulled the hook. I went south into Jackfish bay. Looking at a map can not prepare you for the size of this water! I got to my proposed site on an island in Jackfish bay but after looking at how big the water was I thought it may be best to keep pushing just in case the wind came up over night. I didn't want to get wind bound. I was halfway into Jackfish bay and had the option of back tracking to Pipestone bay or taking the 87 rod portage and save the paddle. I had even heard you can float through if the water is up??? Well the water wasn't up high enough and the trail doesn't appear to get used much. Down logs and mud holes. Took my first spill of the trip with the canoe. Went down on one knee but kept the canoe up. Thank god it only weighs 30 lbs, the old Grumman would have crushed me! Finally made Pipestone bay but couldn't find a site I was that excited about. I ended up paddling much further than planned and took the site across from the portage to Newton lake. I decided later this was a mistake. You can just feel the close proximity to civilization. In hindsight I should have stayed further out. But it shortened my last day's paddle considerably. I caught some nice bass and pike that evening and didn't even mess with a fire.
13.5 miles traveled. 350 rods.
Up at 5:40. Sleeping in for me this week! Quick paddle to the Newton portage. Its more like a road. Newtons falls are pretty with a nice cliff on one side. Saw my first motor boats on Newton. It is actually a really pretty lake. Made it to the portage/road to Fall lake. 3 motor boats were blocking the portage. Lou barked at them, rude huh Lou? I texted Packsack before I started the portage. I remember Nick mentioning he would be happy to pick me up at the ramp and save me the paddle to the outfitter. The outfitter got back to me and said no problem. Saved me two hours of paddling. Fall lake is pretty big! I was back to the outfitter showered and settled up by 10 AM and on the road to Kansas City. I had been planning this trip for almost a year. Buying gear and planning the route. I love the planning. I outfitted myself with everything except the canoe. This first solo trip exceeded my expectations in all ways. That is rare but I am so glad I took the challenge.
What worked and what I would do different:
- I think I did the food perfectly. Clif bars and instant coffee for breakfast, Clif bar and with jerky and trail mix for lunch. Dehydrated meal for dinner. I split a Mountain Home chicken and rice can into 5 meals in freezer bags. Threw in some ramen packets just in case the fish weren't biting. I was surprised that I just wasn't that hungry all week. I just ate when I started to feel a little warn down. Brought a pint of whiskey and propel drink mix. Perfect for one drink a night and to get back some electrolytes. -I brought a saw and a hatchet. Never used the hatchet. Won't bring it next time. But I didn't cook on fire and having a fire wasn't that important to me. -Rent or buy a real canoe pack. I used an old hiking pack. It was maxed out and straps were busting. Luckily the shoulder straps made it the whole trip. I don't think it will make it another trip. -Leaving the tarp at home. -I brought a 35 degree sleeping bag (saved me 2lbs) and it was fine because the lows never dropped much under 50. I am positive if it were much colder this bag would have been a poor choice. I will bring a 20 or even 0 degree bag next time. I will probably invest in something quality that can pack small. Also, a better sleeping pad. Mine was fine, 1" when inflated but a thicker pad that I can side sleep on would be nice.