BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 26 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Moose Lake - 25
Brief April Solo
April 10, 2010
Number of Days:
By the time I get gear assembled, the house picked up and finish the drive it’s 8:40 when my paddle hits the water. Luck is with me, the wind from the WNW is shaped by the lakes to provide more push than push against and I am able to make Prairie before ten. I am passed by two motorboats heading out and one tow boat heading back.
Birch Lake passes quickly. The portage to Carp is void of footprints. I turn away from the border and make my way to Sheridan. In 83 I took my first “non-organized-group” trip to the Quetico with a college roommate –up the Man Chain and back via the border- figure this is a good opportunity to re- visit “the Men”. The portage to Sheridan is beside a sweet cedar adorned falls. On Sheridan the wind is quite brisk, the lake attractive, clear water and a great rise of rock just to the east of the portage.
I give up on the single portage about halfway to That Man, the footing too difficult to make it worthwhile. That Man begins with a fine vista and the wind picks up as my progress gives it room to run. 2/3’s of the way down the lake I’m surfing on small whitecaps, moving fast but having to paddle hard to keep the boat on point. I pull close to the long thin island to scope the campsite and two guys appear on the shore and hail me as I stream by. The campsite on the next NW point is very attractive from the water but too close to company (the first people I’ve seen in my last six Q trips) to consider.
So it’s on to No Man and then surfing down This Man to a site on a tall shoulder of rock with a nice landing (pebble beach), a bit of shelter from the wind, terrific vistas and a soft level tent site. It’s a bit trampled and afflicted with sawed-off stumps but good enough for the night. The wind steadily increases and by 6:00 is howling down the lake blowing foam off whitecaps.
By dark the wind is a gentle breeze. When I wake near midnight it’s dead calm and way too quiet to fall back to sleep.
There is frost on the tarp and ice in my water when I rise. It is dead calm and silent except for a bit of birdsong (robins, chickadees, crossbills), the pounding of woodpeckers and the occasional drum of grouse. No loons, no white throated sparrows, no spring peepers.
I break camp as the first hints of a breeze puff down the lake. This Man goes on and on. The water on Other Man is cloudy, but light in color. The portage from Other Man towards Bit (crossing the divide [from Basswood River to Maligne]) is tough but short, a steep climb, swamp, naked rock and then a steep drop. I see northerns basking in the shallows on Bell, am impressed by the elevation change (going down) on the portage to Fran. Slate is beautiful with tall rocky shores. The water on Saganagons is shockingly low for this time of year, the paddle down the swampy bay that holds the portage to Lilypad slowed by “bottom suck”.
I set up camp on an island on Jasper. The island is very dry, the campsite high above the water, decent views and one good tent site. It is warm and windy; I change to shorts and a t-shirt and slowly put up camp. Like yesterday the wind reaches a peak near six o’clock, tossing spray up on the windward side of the island.
At dusk the wind dies and clouds slowly cover the sky. I am forced to kill a couple of mosquitoes. When I turn in for the night it is again too quiet to sleep, every dry rustle of leaf clear and impossibly loud.
Water level is too low to paddle the creek in the middle of the Jasper/Ottertrack portage. Ottertrack (it was named Cypress the last time I was here) begins with a high rock wall opposite the put in. The lake is vast and calm, the ripples of my passage slowly spread and mar the surface. It is not until I begin to travel the border that the breeze emerges again. I take my time along the great cliffs on the Ontario shore, scoot across the border to look at walls of snow and ice that cling to the southern shore.
I cross the long wet and swampy portage to Plough. The stream that flows along the start of the portage is still capped with ice due to the shade of the cedar forest. The portage is beautiful but looks to be quite challenging in wet conditions. I paddle and let the wind push me down Plough admiring the large pines that rise from the steep shores. The portage to Emerald passes through tall cedars, stretched by the lime-rich soil. I stop at the northern campsite on Emerald to make coffee and consider my options and decide to stay for the night rather than push on to Moose lake.
I fritter the afternoon away by exploring the cedar and white pine forest behind the campsite. I climb to the top of the ridge east of the site that falls away in tall nearly sheer cliffs to Emerald lake. Clouds gather and thicken but let go of only a few drops.
The wind is up in the morning, though the site is calm I can hear it streaming through the trees on the ridges above. The waves build on the last open water on Emerald and again in the open water on Carp. Birch, Sucker, Newfound and Moose all present challenges more from the power of the wind than actual waves. On Newfound I greet my first loon and another on Moose. There is one truck in the parking lot.
Bungee dealee fumble- when the toggle slips just as you are about to secure your paddles resulting in sudden rupture of silence.
Bungee dealee curse- word or words uttered immediately following bungee-dealee-fumble, number and complexity of structure increases with fumble repetition.