Day 1 of 5
Saturday, August 21, 2010 Mudro Lake, Sandpit Lake, Tin Can Mike Lake - Woke up in an overpriced hotel 30 miles north of the cities (can't even remember the town name). This was not by choice...we had obligations in Sioux Falls which required us to leave much later than planned. We arrived in Ely around 12:00pm and headed straight to the Kawishiwi Ranger Station to pick up our permit. The ranger seemed annoyed while reading the rules and such but I still loved the building. Next, we headed to Voyageur North Outfitters to pick up the canoe and few other items that we were not yet ready to purchase. Great outfitter, very friendly and quick to get us going. We were provided a map which was marked to indicate fishing and quality campsites in our intended travel area. We were given directions to Mudro Lake access from the outfitter on a small advertisement map but we somehow passed the turn by 10 miles. I think I was a just enjoying the forest a little too much. After reaching the parking area, we pulled out all of our gear to re-pack. We were not able to spend enough time at home getting things packed so this was our time. I was very impressed in our packing situation for it being our first time. The first 30 rod portage into Mudro's narrows was very nice and introduced me to the difficulties of carrying a canoe on my shoulders. We also now realized that we would be double portaging our gear. The narrows leading into Mudro were a little more difficult than I would have liked. The water levels seemed low and we needed to travel slowly to avoid rocks. It being our dog's first time on a canoe was also a little challenging. A large Crane flew up and the dog jumped straight out after it. After getting him back in the canoe, I was able to make it clear this was not acceptable. We never had this problem again.... -The next 2 portages from Mudro to Sandpit and Sandpit to Tin Can Mike were not bad, but I was still trying to figure out the art of balancing the canoe. -We made it to Tin Can Mike and decide to grab the camping spot on the South side of the lake straight across from the portage leading to Horse. I will admit, we were tired but the weather could not have been better. This camping spot seemed perfect. We knew we were likely the last to enter the BW (from our entry pt) for the day, so we had the lake to ourselves. I highly regret not fishing off of our campsite because I could actually see fish swimming in the area. We made some brats over a "campfire" for dinner. The downed wood around the campsite did not provide for great fuel.
Day 2 of 5
Sunday, August 22, 2010 Tin Can Mike Lake, Horse Lake - We woke up to a beautiful morning and had some coffee and some breakfast sausages. We saw a few paddlers coming from and going to Horse. I knew I wanted a camping spot on Horse but was in no rush to leave our already excellent camping spot. We decided to have a few "daydrinks" and go for a swim. The water was chilly entering, but after being in the water for a bit, it felt GREAT! We got out and washed with some camp soap and felt brand new. We sat around camp and really took in the scenery. We decided to eat a lunch of cheese, deli meat, and pita pockets before packing up camp and heading to Horse... - We selected the camping spot just north of the entrance to the Fourtown portages. This would be camp for the next 2 nights. This was not my first choice but all the other spots were taken. We decided to paddle out and cast in a line just to see if we could get lucky. This is when we noticed the crawlers purchased at the outfitter were all dead. I am sure I kept them cool enough, I just think the 2 dozen crawlers packed into the little styrofoam cup with seaweed was not sufficient. Being a little upset we decide to go back to camp and relax. A dinner of delicious chili went down nicely.
Day 3 of 5
Monday, August 23, 2010 Horse Lake - The night brought some heavy rain and did keep me awake for awhile. The ALPS tent and sleeping bags provided by the outfitter kept us dry. We woke up to some wet ground but this dried up quickly. We had some coffee and cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast. Again, the temperature was perfect so a swim and wash was on our minds. I cannot believe how refreshing this can be... - We really wanted to make a trip to the Basswood Falls but both of us were nervous due to the pick up in wind. I know the river would have provided some cover but I had a feeling the campsites would all be taken anyways. We decide just to paddle out a try a bit of fishing. This is when the wind REALLY picked up and forced us to head back in. We were able to catch a small Northern on a crankbait. - Later in the evening we decide to do a little shore fishing with no luck. A few bites on the Daredevil and one on a surface popper but couldn't bring them in. - We had a great campfire with wood collected around the site. The firegrate really restricts how large you can get the fire, and it does make it a little difficult to get a good fire going. It takes some work to get the coals rolling...
Day 4 of 5
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Horse Lake, Fourtown Lake - A light rain in the middle of the night, but did not lose any sleep over it. Woke up to yet another beautiful morning. More coffee and some freeze dried granola and blueberrys. Lunch was skipped and replaced with a few granola bars. I was only anticipating 2 portages today, but forgot about the additional 2 not marked on the map. We now really had a grip on the whole portage process, and felt much more confident in our travel. We selected the campsite on the South end of the lake on the small half island. We first checked out the site on the South end located near the Winter trail. Too much wind coming in. At our campsite, there was an old metal wheel with old beer cans and bottles. Down towards the shore embedded within the rocks is an old thick chain. We joked that Fourtown lake should be named Tin Can Mike due to all of the rusty cans and scrap metal laying around. A dinner of Mac-and-cheese. What would I have done without the MSR pocket rocket stove? Worked perfectly. - We had a perfect "finale" campfire with wood mostly taken from the campsite on the other side of the half island. Thank you to whoever left this excellent fire wood.
Day 5 of 5
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 Fourtown Lake, Mudro Lake - The morning was much colder then all of the previous days but it warmed up quick. Some strong wind gusts but yet another beautiful day. The 140 rod portage returning towards Mudro proved to be our most challenging. Very rocky with steep drop offs. It was also one of the more beautiful portages because it seemed as if it were a carved ravine with large rock walls on one side. -In the Mudro narrows a very large beaver swam right past us. It did not seem to care we were passing by. -We both knew that we wanted beer and hot wings after our exit. We made a random stop at the Boathouse brewery in Ely. Great beer brewed right in house and excellent food. - Overall, the trip was great! I saw plenty of wildlife and amazing scenery. I am most certainly planning a returning trip next year. I plan on adding more fishing and a more difficult and lengthy route. Already can't wait to head back...