BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

October 22 2019

Entry Point 26 - Wood Lake

Wood Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 13 miles. Access to Wood Lake is a 180-rod portage. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1361 feet
Latitude: 47.9691
Longitude: -91.6001
Wood Lake - 26

Parkour chipmunks, ninja rabbits, and the nighttime musings of an 11 year old adventurer

by naturboy12
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 21, 2019
Entry Point: Wood Lake
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
It was finally time to take my 11 year old son Jaden on his first trip to the Boundary Waters. He had "warmed up" for this trip with three day trips to Sylvania the previous 2 summers, and deemed himself ready for the real thing. As circumstances would go, it was just he and I on this trip, which led to some great moments between father and son. While of course you don't know my son, suffice it to say this was a challenge for him (and me, at times). In his words- "Dad, you know, I'm just paranoid of everything". Yep. Like the dark, noises in the dark, big fish, getting lost, tipping over in a canoe, etc. He's also fairly clumsy and is about to be the last kid in our household as his sister goes back to college soon and his brother left the day before our trip for Basic Training. To top all that, he starts middle school about a week after this trip. He does love the outdoors though and had been looking forward to this trip all summer. Here is our story.

Part 1 of 6


August 20th- Drive Day

Jaden and I drove up on Tuesday August 20th and stayed the night at Fall Lake Campground. The 7 hour drive was full of questions and descriptions of what to expect, interspersed with him trying to get in a just a little bit more "gaming" on his phone to pass the time. We got to Fall Lake in the late evening, set up, and went to bed right as darkness fell so we could be well rested for our trip.

 



Part 2 of 6


August 21st- Permit and Entry

We woke up Wednesday morning and drove back to the Kawishiwi Ranger Office to pick up our permit right when they opened.

We ended up back at the Wood Lake entry point by 9:00 am to start our trip. I told him the first portage was either 180 rods or 220 rods, depending on the map (I tend to believe the 220 rod measurement more). "Dad, what's a rod?" I explained that it's an old method of measuring distance. "Did they use an actual rod?" I told him I didn't know (I still don't). I mentioned it was close to 3/4 of a mile. That seemed to satisfy him. Branches, uneven rocks, and mud holes all conspired against us on this portage, but we both made it through and were ready to hit the water. We loaded the canoe and headed down the wild rice and lily pad choked stream to get to Wood Lake.

As luck (bad luck) would have it, we ran into a couple on their way right where the stream like area ends and the lake begins. They told us the wind was really blowing through the lake and to be careful. "Dad, are we going to be ok? You're not going to fall out of the canoe again this year are you?" There's that paranoia thing, already creeping in. I assured him that wasn't going to happen (it did to us in Sylvania while fishing one day in very high winds- but that's another story).

The rest of Wood Lake, Hula Lake, and the portage to Good Lake passed quickly, with a fair amount of sweat and hard work from both of us. We spent the remainder of the day setting up, taking a nap, and exploring around our camp. I had forgotten how much up and down was involved with the portages for today, and had definitely over packed for the amount Jaden could carry. Oh well, we had made it. We caught a couple fish that evening, had a campfire, and just lazed around. It was a good first day.

 



Part 3 of 6


August 22nd- Hoist Bay (Basswood) Day trip

On Thursday morning we woke up, had breakfast, and revisited the "conversations" Jaden had with me in his sleep. Every night of the trip, including the night at Fall Lake, he woke me up 2 or 3 times while dreaming. Most of the time it was unintelligible, but last night I was woke with a "Dad, Dad, Dad! What's out there, do you hear that?" He was even sitting up while he said this. After assuring him there was nothing out there, he simply said "Ok" laid back down and went back to sleep. When I asked him about it in the morning, he just said "I don't know, I must have been dreaming about a bear or something". Good times.

We paddled Good Creek up to Hoist Bay, and it was very overgrown with wild rice, almost to the point of being impassable at the Hoist Bay end.

There were also 2 extra beaver dam pullovers to deal with, and bank to bank lily pads to paddle through, We both agreed the portage to the other end of Good Lake would be an easier way to return with the water levels as low as they were (it was).

We fished Hoist Bay along with 4 other motorboats (ugh...) and Jaden caught the 2nd northern pike of his life. It was a nice fat 29" fish, which he promptly refused to hold for a picture. He caught many other pike during the trip though and held several of them, just none nearly as big as the Basswood pike. Oh well, mission accomplished- he wanted to catch pike and he did!

We checked out the old dock area by 4 mile portage and the sunken steam engine, which was further above the water level than I had seen in the past.

Jaden thought it was pretty cool to see some of the history of the area and learn about what was done here in the past. He did recommend that someone should come with a helicopter and take that engine out of the water though. Ah the mind of an 11 year old!

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, but we did entertain ourselves for quite a while watching two chipmunks that had been hanging around since the time we arrived the day before. They would bounce from rock to rock, onto the bench, firegrate, log pile, and our gear bag with ease all while coming within inches of us without worry. Jaden thought they would make a great parkour team.

We listened to the weather radio, heard the words "frost advisory" and figured that was enough to know. It had been cold when we woke up this morning (47-48), but tomorrow was promising to take that to a whole new level.

 



Part 4 of 6


August 23rd- Fishing Good Lake and Indiana Lake

Thursday night passed into Friday morning fairly quickly, and while it didn't get nearly cold enough to frost (41), it was certainly chilly when we stepped out of the tent in the morning, only to be met with a thick, impassable wall of fog. Jaden had only woke me up twice with his dreamy mutterings that night. I remember a "Dad, Dad, Dad" followed by something that didn't make any sense, and my only response was "Jaden, I'm right here, you're just dreaming, go back to sleep". The second time I definitely heard "leave me alone" and not much else. I figured he was arguing with his brother, so I didn't even respond. We spent the morning waiting for the fog to lift in camp.

Mid morning we headed out for a day of fishing, with both of us catching some nice bass- both smallmouth and largemouth. Jaden boated the fattest and heaviest 18.5" smallmouth I had even seen, and I fully expected it to be a 20" fish when I first saw it. Two casts later he landed an 18" largemouth.

I caught the longest bass of the trip later in the day on a windy Indiana Lake- a nice 19" smallmouth from a small weedbed near a beaver lodge.

We finished the day with another campfire and continued antics from the chipmunk parkour team, and went to bed happy about the last few days on Good Lake. While we did see a few canoes pass through during the 3 days, we otherwise had the entire lake to ourselves, as the other site never had anyone stay.

 



Part 5 of 6


August 24th- The move to Wood Lake

Saturday morning we woke up, broke camp, took a quick goodbye picture, and made our way back to Wood Lake.

When we got to Wood Lake, we were lucky enough to get the site in the narrows just as a father/daughter combo that had spent the past few nights there were packing up to leave.

We set up camp, ate an early lunch and spent most of the afternoon checking out the east end of Wood Lake, including a great overlook area about 1/4 mile from our camp.

Throughout our time setting up camp, and during the evening after fishing, we noticed a couple large rabbits hopping around the trails of our campsite. They were fast, sneaky, and not too worried about us being around. We decided they were ninja rabbits, well trained in keeping that campsite safe, and let them go about their business.

Jaden was tired and had a headache, so we hung out in the tent reading as the sun set. We could hear lots of mosquitoes buzzing around (almost none on any other night), and could hear the rabbits as well, running back on forth on the trails and through the brush around our campsite. 15 or so minutes after dark, the mosquitoes buzzing stopped, so I went back outside for a final campfire. I could see the rabbits from time to time off on the edges of camp by using the red light on my headlamp. While sitting on the log bench, I heard a rabbit hopping behind me, so I slowly turned around. I could see it standing less than 5 feet away from me in the red light. As I stood up to turn around and try to take a picture, the rabbit jumped right towards me and then straight up in the air, probably 3 feet off the ground. I don't know how, but that ninja rabbit changed directions in the air and took off the opposite direction when it landed. I wish I could have gotten a picture!

 



Part 6 of 6


August 25th- Goodbye Boundary Waters

The last night and final morning of the trip came quickly, and once again overnight Jaden didn't disappoint. I went to bed thinking that a ninja rabbit almost jumping on top of me would be my most vivid memory of the trip. I was wrong. Jaden woke me up in his normal way sometime afer midnight- "Dad, Dad, Dad" followed by "I think there's water in the my sleeping pad". I tried to ask him what he was talking about. He was now sitting up, eyes open and headlamp on next to him on the tent floor. "I think water got into my pad from the nozzle you use to blow it up". I asked him how that could have happened. He responded "I don't know, but it did and I'm sleeping on water". With that, he laid back down and went to sleep, his headlamp still on in his hand. I didn't even have time to respond. It was a fitting final memory of our short time on Wood Lake.

We paddled out and got onto the portage out of Wood Lake. Jaden had not been looking forward to this as it is uphill the entire way back. We made it up the final hill after our double portage, and all I hear very loudly is "FINALLY!" as he walked to the edge of the parking area and dropped his pack. He even asked if he could go hug the car.

The drive back home was long, but judging by the conversations we had, Jaden will be back to the BW in the future. He may not come every summer, but he did enjoy things enough (fishing, campfires, and food, in his own words) to come back again. It was a great trip with a great kid, and I hope the extra time I spent with him over our 6 days away from home helps ease the life transitions he's going through.

 


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