BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 09 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1249 feet
North Kawishiwi River - 29
2008 Trip Form Lake One to Solitude and Back
August 02, 2008
Moose Lake (25)
Number of Days:
I can hardly sleep through the night. My plan is to wake up at 5:30am and get going, but after waking up at 4am for the 3 time in 2 hours, I can’t go back to sleep. Fortunately the movie Glory is on TV and I decide to watch that to pass the time till my departure. I head out at 5:45am to Paul’s house which is just minutes away (both of us live in the western burbs of Chicago), he jumps in and we head north to I-90 and Randall road and pick Bill up @ 7am. We jump in and off we go for the 9 hour ride.
We stop for the occasional facility break and finally need to pick up some gas by the time we hit Superior Wisconsin. Paul and Bill thumb wrestle to see who gets to pay for the first fill up. Bill wins and decides he wants to pay first and realizes he should have waited as he drops $86 to fill up the mini-van. We then decide to stop at the Home Depot in Duluth and pick up some Yard Guard that was recommended in the BWCA tricks forum and some more $.99 cent carabineers( you can never have too many!).
Off we go again and we decide to wait till Ely to eat lunch at the Chocolate Moose. Bill has his thoughts on their fresh baked cookies. We hit Ely at 3:30 and pose for the Web Camera on Sheridan. After that Lunch! I have the blue cheese mushroom burger which is my absolute favorite! Bill is crushed to learn that they are out of their cookies, and vows to get some on the way out.
We hit Paragis for some last minute items and then decide to cruise the downtown for a bit before heading to LaTourell’s. Hit LaTourell’s at 6:30pm and are warmly greeted by Bob and Missy who recognize us from years past. We get our permit and set up for our MN III (we have everything else we need). Bob shows us to the bunk house. A little more primitive than I had expected, but it was clean. Had a refrigerator 6 beds (top sheets only, no blankets) and fans. But for the price it’s a good deal. We do miss catching up on the latest sporting news though! Oh well, have to wait a week. We settle in and open all the windows. I crash early, not having much sleep the night before. I didn’t want to unpack my bag so I didn’t have my sleeping bag and that was a mistake as at 1:30am the windows were promptly closed and I fumbled around in the dark for long pants and shirt. Next year if I do the bunk houses again, I will bring an extra blanket.
Forecast: Sunny with 30% chance of Thunderstorms high of 79° Low of 60°
Lakes: One, Two, Three, Four, Kawishiwi River, Hudson, Insula, and Alice
Total Miles Traveled: 21.1
We all start to stir about 6:15 and grab our gear and head down to the main building and transfer our gear to the Suburban that will take us and our canoe to Lake One. We have decided to leave our van at Moose Lake and come out there instead of a complete loop.
7:25 we arrive at Lake One. There is a group of 9 trying to get situated; they have a lot of gear and 4 canoes. They have to call back one that is already on the water for forgotten gear already. We on the other hand have 3 packs, and a small day pack with cooking supplies, we are loaded and on the water in 5 minutes.
We head off down the lakes, water is calm. I soon find myself in an interesting situation. I have never rear seated in a 3 man with the person in the middle and front both paddling. I have always rear seated a MN II. We decided if we want to get far we will keep up with the 3 man paddle, and I start to tweak my J-Stroke quite a bit, I spend more time steering in the beginning but eventually I make it look like we know like we know what we are doing (I hope!)
The portages are quick and easy. Paul announces that he will do all the portages till he says other wise and Bill and I are happy with that. We decide to float the 10r between Lake Four and the Kawishiwi. I take a small fall get a little scraped, but no big deal. As we hit the Eastern edge of Hudson the skies are becoming overcast with winds picking up out of the NW. We decide to do the 105r portage and stop on Insula grab lunch and decide our next course of action.
We hit the 1st campsite on Insula spend an hour eating lunch and deciding the weather isn’t too bad and to continue till we decide to stop. We start to head out and Insula has some good chop. The fact that I keep looking at the map instead of setting a point and heading to it doesn’t help as we fight the waves. We are still however able to maintain a fairly straight course and an average speed of 3.4mph. We continue on to the Kawishiwi and up towards Alice when we come to a fork in the river, both paths leading to Alice. We decide to go left and end up being blocked by a beaver dam that is actually a dam blocking the river not a lodge on the shore line. Rather than disturb the habitat we make the 10 min trip back to the fork and head the other way up. As we approach the mouth we can see the camp site directly across is occupied, no surprise to us as it is now 5:30pm. We head to the west and find the first campsite on the southern shore as a decent one. 3 tent pads around the main area and 4 more off various paths leading away.
My turn for dinner tonight, so I start the fire and toss on the corn on the cob while we set up our tents. The corn is devoured! And I start preparing the second course of mac and cheese with hard salami tossed in. Again this is devoured.
Paul and I decided to take a quick trip on the lake and Paul gets in some rear seat time as he has never really had the experience. He picks up quickly (most likely by ignoring everything I told him) and we head back. We spend some time around the campfire and eventually head off to bed around 9:30. I lay on top of my bag with no shirt until 1:30 then I crawled into my bag, not a bad night at all.
Forecast: Sunny with 40% chance of Thunderstorms high of 77° Low of 56°
Lakes: Alice, Kawishiwi River, Trapline, Beaver, Smite, and Adams
Total Miles Traveled: 10.2
I wake up at 5:30 walk out to the edge of the lake, there is a gorgeous fog rolling off the lake it is still overcast. A Bald Eagle that was in the tree 10 yards to my left swoops down in front of me and glides across the lake. I am content to watch it as I know I have no chance of getting the camera out in time.
It starts to drizzle a bit and I am excited! I get to try out my new CCS tarp that I had gotten a week before the trip. So I set it up myself (the others are still asleep) with no problems. Luckily I had cut my cords according to Kanoes Method and I have to tell you that is genius! Worked Great! Thanks Kanoes!
I then took a straight 6.6 foot branch that Bill had found and used it for the center utilizing the tennis ball method that Bumabu showed me before the trip. Then of course it stops raining! Oh well. I pull out my journal and start writing; I look to my left and see a Bald Eagle feather on the ground. I leave it be as I know it was illegal to even poses a feather when they were protected.
I have my breakfast of fresh eggs and hash browns as the others wake up. Bill has a Cliff Bar and Paul some Mountain House scrambled eggs.
We load up and head up the Kawishiwi. The first 20r portage is decent. The next one is 70r and is a little more challenging; I grab the canoe on this one and am stopped halfway by a down tree. I slide the canoe to Bill on the other side and he takes it down the rest of the way. The paddle up the Kawishiwi is beautiful; the sun is out the rock formations are inspiring and the waters calm. We see 2 other canoes the whole time. This is the solitude we are longing for. We head into Trapline and we can tell by the portages this is an area less traveled. We hit Trapline and the water lily’s are in full bloom. I was able to take some really good pictures along the way. The lily pads themselves carpet the lake. We hit the portage from Trapline to Beaver and discuss our options. Our ultimate goal is Adams, but debate on the route. Paul seems to think that the 50r to Smite and the 40r to Adams will be easier than the 90r from Beaver to Adams due to the elevations shown on the Map. So I agree. Paul grabs the rear seat for some more rear seat time and learning to navigate. I take the middle so I can help him out. We head up into Beaver and Paul is learning the maps as we take a couple of minor detours before he figures it out. Overall he does very well with the navigating. I know when I first learned, my detours were a lot bigger!
We hit the 40r portage from Beaver into Smite and Paul takes the canoe. Takes 5 steps and his left foot sank about 6 inches into the mud. He has to pull hard on his foot and his sandal straps breaks so he is standing with one foot up a pack and a canoe. Quite funny to see actually. I throw on my pack quickly and transfer the canoe to my shoulders. Our decision to take this route couldn’t have been more wrong. The portage is very overgrown and hard to maneuver between the trees. I then come to a rock that is 4’ difference in elevation and have to crawl up it with the canoe and my pack. Good thing I had the legs zipped to my shorts! That had to be one of the most exhausting portages I have done to date. But the satisfaction in its accomplishment is unmatched also.
We are able to float the canoe through the last portage into Adams and head for the one Island campsite on Bumabu’s recommendation. He was right, great little spot. Well shaded, nice rocks on perimeter to dry clothes out on. We go for a swim and hang out for a while.
I put up my CSS tarp as we have decided to stay for 2 nights. Can’t find a long enough stick for the center pole. Of course Bill reminds me we should have hung on to the one from Alice, but oh well. I decide to use the method I saw in the forums by PJ by attaching a line to the center of the tarp up to a tree. Worked great! Thanks PJ!
Tonight is Paul’s night to prepare dinner and he pulls out the freeze dried Mountain House. Beef Stroganoff, one of their better offerings. He also had the blue berry cheesecake for desert. Was more of a yogurt, but sure tasted good!
We got a nice fire going and pulled out the deck of cards and played some Gin. I also pulled out the Jiffy Pop, managed to set the bottom on fire, but the top was still good enough to eat.
At about 8:30 we start to hear a group coming into Adams and they are singing Christmas Carols of all things. They head toward our island and see us, the group leader then informs the girls they need to quite down as they are not the only ones on the lake. They paddle to the eastern shore and set up camp. We here them a couple times but nothing to bother us. Just teenagers being teenagers.
Forecast: Sunny, high of 75° Low of 54°
Lakes: (Day Tripping) Adams, Beaver, Trapline, Kawishiwi River
Total Miles Traveled: 15.1 (round Trip)
I get up around 7 and again bring out the fresh eggs and hash browns (with Tabasco of course). I then hear some noise from across the lakes and soon realize its wolf pups at play, too cool. Then it sounds like Mom put an end to the play.
We pack up a small food pack and head out for our day trip. Our goal is to head back down to Beaver, Trapline and to the Kawishiwi and then turn East and head towards Pan Lake to explore that area. The waters are calm. We decided to take the 90r portage we had avoided the day before and find it very easy. Then again we didn’t have any packs! We come across the group from the night before they were a group of 1 Adult male, 2 Adult Females and 5 teenage girls who are on day 16 of 22. I had to think about that one for a minute. 3 weeks! I wish I could get 2 in! It turns out they are an outreach group of at risk teen girls from all over the country. We ask the guy if they are having fun and he admits “they are, they just don’t know it” Kudos to those leaders who take on the responsibility of such a group.
We talk with them for a bit, one of the Female leaders asks us if we could hear them last night, I said only a couple of times, nothing bad. Then she tells them “See you ruined their experience.” I was a little taken aback from this. I felt bad for them and told her didn’t bother us at all. We aren’t old and cranky. But she wasn’t convinced. I hope she didn’t come down to hard after we left.
We trek our way down the same route we came from the yesterday till we get to the Kawishiwi. We then head east and enjoy this beautiful area. Can only recall seeing 1 group the whole time we were out there.
About 12:30 the winds start to pick up behind us and we stop at the last camp site before Kivaniva Lake to have lunch. We realize the trip back is going to be a long trip back because of the wind which seems to be picking up even more. We abandon our plan to go to Pan Lake and start the trek back to our site on Adams.
The wind is really moving against us now as we head west. I start to see white caps on the water. With 3 of us paddling we make some headway hitting about 2.8 MPH. In some spots it barley seems like we are moving at all. We get to the point where the river heads north to Trapline and we see 3 guys in an aluminum canoe ahead of us paddle up and get pushed back out. They try again and get pushed back out.
We go for it and make it through, but that was hard paddling and we were only moving about 1.6 MPH. We finally make it up to Trapline and are relieved that its narrow width and blanket of lily pads keep the water calmer. We hit Beaver and more of the same fighting the wind. We push on and make it back to our site on Adams. We were quite satisfied that we had the metal to fight out the wind like we did. We take a late afternoon swim and then dry out. I pull out the Ritz crackers and sliced pepperoni. Bill’s night to make dinner and out comes the Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini. It wasn’t bad but I tell them guys next year the dinner you prepare has to have at least one time be of something other than Mountain House. They grudgingly agree so we shall see.
We play some Gin Rummy but the mosquito’s have been given clearance for take-off at 9:30 for the evenings sorties, (seems like Bill was the target!). So he heads for cover. Paul and I move down to the rocks on the shore and stare at the night sky.
Lying on my back I saw at least 5 shooting stars and 4 satellites in orbit moving through the sky. I have to tell you I felt like the stars were all around me, felt like I was in a 3D movie. We could see the nebula dust also. It was one of the most incredible nights I can recall in all of my trips. Finally went to bed, but with the clear night came the cold and bundled up in my bag and fell asleep.
Forecast: Sunny, high of 72° Low of 53°
Lakes: Adams, Boulder, Cap, Roe, and Sagus
Total Miles Traveled: 6.0
I wake up at 5:20 to use the latrine and decide to stay up and catch the sunrise. I was able to get a couple of good pictures of the sun peering through the trees.
I had my blueberry pancakes for breakfast simply add water and shake, and boy did they hit the spot! We don’t’ linger to long, we pack up and head north towards Boulder. We miss the 10r and 20r portages but not an issue as we float the canoe through without scraping or bumping any rocks. I let Paul rear seat today and I grudgingly take the middle. He has gotten pretty good with the rear seat and navigating as well. As we hit Boulder the skies start to darken and a light drizzle starts, we put on our rain coats and head towards what we know will be an interesting portage.
The portage is the 135r one that runs from Boulder and joins into a “T” with the 200r one that runs from Cap to Ledge Lake. There is a small narrow lake in the middle of the portage. As we approach the portage the landing it looks nice and wide open. As we start up it becomes a bit overgrown and hilly, but nothing we don’t have any problems with.
But then it gets interesting. We approach the small lake in the middle, Bill is in front with full pack and 3 paddles, Paul with the canoe in the middle and I was in the rear with my pack and the small day pack. Bill looks ahead and the lake looks more like a bog with a path through matted down grass. He proceeds to move himself carefully through this path and then sinks his left leg up to his thigh in mud. Paul calls me up to help but Bill gets himself out and moves more to the right on the matted down grass. He continues on as Paul and I watch from the shore. Paul puts the canoe down and we both look to the left and notice that the portage actually had taken a sharp left but Bill had missed it as it was only 8” wide due to overgrowth. As we realize this, Bill is hooking to the left toward this path he doesn’t know about, he is 50 yards ahead of us and I can only see his torso up because of the grass. As we call out to him and he disappears straight down! I throw of the day pack and my pack in about 2 seconds and charge in. As I round the corner I see Bill up to his chest in mud and water. He had the paddles horizontal in front of him that kept him from sinking further into the hole he created. He uses them to pull himself out like a soldier using his rifle to snake along the ground. Just then another traveler appears approaching from the opposite direction and tells him which way to go. He also took a picture of Bill.
At this point I start to head back, sink in the 1st mud hole that Bill did with my right leg because I am laughing so hard (as is Paul) at Bill’s misfortune. The other traveler yells to us that that isn’t the portage to which Paul and I laugh even harder because we already knew that. We grab our gear and take the sharp left and skirt around the bog till we catch up with Bill who has pulled himself out. Smiling we tell him that wasn’t the path (like he didn’t already know!) We talk a few minutes with the other traveler and his partner (who has caught up with him) at the correct crossing for that small lake. We float the canoe 20’ and continue up the portage. I take the canoe from Paul at the top and head toward the “T” once again.
It’s starting to drizzle again and all of the mosquitoes decided to pay a social call to me under the canoe and chat. Thank god for Permathrin! Too bad it doesn’t stop them from buzzing the tower!
We head through Cap and then into Roe Lake. The rain has stopped and the sun is starting to show. Roe Lake has a really cool winding path through all the tall grass and lily pads, kinda settling after that last portage. We his Sagus the sun is fully out and join up with the route we took in 2007. We take a spot we have used in the past along SE corner of the lake @ 2:15. It’s a secluded spot up on a hill with nice shade and overlook.
We have our lunch and set up our tents and take a short swim. I then head to the lake with my dromedary bag and filter and start to fill it. I then hear a grumble in the distance and see a storm front moving in. The storm looks about 20 minutes away, so we quickly put up our Tarp and gather our gear under it which last for about 40 min. Nothing too serious just a good downpour.
Then it’s my turn to prepare dinner. I pull out the Mountain House Beef Stew which is pretty good. I will have to try making my own next year though. The sodium in these packs is a killer! The storms come again at 8:20 and last for another 20 minutes. We watch the cloud formations which look really cool for a bit, and then I decide to catch up on the journal. I head to bed at 9pm to the rain drops falling from the trees to my rain fly. Kinda soothing actually.
Forecast: Sunny, high of 68° Low of 52°
Lakes: Sagus, Shepo, Fraser, Thomas, Hatchet, Ima, and Jordan
Total Miles Traveled: 9.5
We wake up to a chilly morning; I finish off my hash browns and have a Mountain House scrambled eggs with bacon (YUK!). I need to bring more pancake mix, bagels, fresh eggs or something next year. Freeze dried breakfast sucks We pack up and head for Jordan along the routes we had taken in the previous year. You can tell we are back in the mainstream as we start to see a few groups here and there. All of the portages are easy as they are well traveled.
We catch some really calm paddling on Hatchet, we watch a flock of baby ducks with their momma cross in front of us, one gets cut off and we stop to allow it to go ahead of us, all with momma closely keeping an eye on us! Had to think of when animals attack for that one! By the time we hit Ima the wind has picked up again and we have to paddle briskly for a bit, but it seems to me that it’s just not as exciting or challenging when you have been there before.
As we head up the channel on Jordan from Ima, we notice a canoe with just one person in floating around by a rock formation. Then I see a person run from the 15’ cliff and plunge into the water. He is shortly joined by another jumper. We approach and are invited by the group from Denver to join in. Paul being a High School swim coach and sky-dive instructor needs no convincing and I agree after learning that the water is at least 15’ or more deep. We pull in and take off our boots and such and climb the cliff. Bill floats out to grab some pictures. We do 4 jumps thank the group and head off to find a camp site. We grab the northern most spot on Jordan and set up. It’s a sunny spot which allows us to dry off our gear and clothes.
About 2 hours later Paul and I decide to head back to do more cliff jumping. As I head toward the canoe a black snake hears me and runs for cover (and I almost do the same) I am not a snake person to say the least. Bill and Paul find this amusing. Anyway we head to the canoe and set out. Paul then gets the idea to tip us about 20 yards from shore and learns a canoe is not so easy to flip upright in the middle of a lake! So we pull back to shore and flip the canoe and head back to our jump spot. We make 3 more jumps (man that never gets old) and head back to camp.
Its Paul’s turn again for dinner and another Mountain House night, I have the Chicken and Noodles which isn’t bad, but again loaded with sodium. We finish our game of Gin Rummy from the other night which I win and play some Texas Hold’em using twigs leaves and stones as 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s. We never finish as the mosquitoes keep buzzing. We treated our clothes with Permathrin but that doesn’t stop them from annoying us.
We head to bed, it’s another cool night but nothing too bad.
Forecast: Sunny, high of 71° Low of 49°
Lakes: Jordan, Cattyman, Gibson, Ashigan, and Ensign
Total Miles Traveled: 6.7
Wake up at 6:30 and help myself to 2 breakfast bars, can’t bring myself to eat another Mountain House breakfast. We pack up and are on the water by 9:20. Paul and I draw sticks to see who gets the rear seat today and I win. So in the middle goes Paul!
It’s our last full day in and we have a tow pick-up on Splash Lake tomorrow at 1pm. We decide to find a spot on Ensign to set up to be close in case the weather goes bad on us. I’m not too trusting of the 10 day forecast we got before we left.
As soon as we hit the Jordan to Cattyman portage I know it’s going to be a lot of congestion. We run into the first group of a Boy Scout Troop from upstate NY near the Vermont border in 3 canoes. And boy do they have a lot of gear. They see us, know we are fast movers and courteously allow us ahead. They tell us they are trying to catch up with the second part of their group and we may run into them. Sure enough by the time we get to Gibson we catch up with the second part of their troop and wow, I think the outfitter set them up with everything they could get their hands on. It hurt to see how much gear they had. Coolers and everything! Then I remember my first trip in ’03 and realize I can’t criticize too much. But I never brought a cooler! Then again they probably didn’t have to eat Mountain House as much as I did! We hit the Ashigan to Ensign portage and boy is it full. There is a Girl Scout troop of 3 canoes and 6 girls and 2 leaders coming in. Kudos to those 2 leaders, the oldest of those girls looked to be 12. This meant they had to portage those aluminum canoes themselves. Hope they didn’t travel too far! Oh well we hit Ensign and it seems like we are leading the 7th fleet. I count 11 canoes from various groups behind us heading out. I think we saw another 5 going in.
Some of those going had some young kids with them and brings my thoughts back to my son who is 4 now. He was just as excited as I was about the trip and he knew he wasn’t going. 2 more years I tell myself and I will get to bring him to this exciting wilderness.
Anyway we scout a couple of camp sites on Ensign and can tell they are overused. We finally settle on one on the far western shore in a cove near Perdu Lake. It’s adequate but not too much shade or places to hang the tarp from.
We set up, Paul and Bill pull out their books, and I take a 2 hour nap. After I get up Paul and I toss the Frisbee around for a few minutes, then hang out. I take out my journal and begin to document the past 2 days. At 6:15 Bill prepares dinner and to my surprise it’s Mountain House! What a Treat! Anyway it’s the beef stroganoff so I can’t complain much. As we are eating we start to hear thunder in the distance. Paul and I debate about which way the storm is going and he is right for the moment, it’s to our west, but then I remind him of how we got rained on by the same storm 3 times in ’05 when the wind kept shifting. He agrees with me and we string up the rain tarp. Again Bill reminds us we should have kept the first stick form Alice but oh well. I find a decent one, but it is too short so I lash it to a paddle. That was interesting. For the first time in my BWCAW experience we decide not to hang the food pack. Mainly because there isn’t much left, and I figure the Bears wouldn’t be in this area due to us being about 1 mile from the portage. So we toss the bag under the overturned canoe.
About 8:30 it starts to drizzle and we sit under the tarp for about an hour and then decide to head to bed. At 9:45 my tent is lit up by lightning really kind of cool to watch. Then the rain really starts to come down and doesn’t stop for about 3 hours. The whole time I am enjoying the sounds and then the wind starts to get going and I see the top of my tent shift about 6 inches with each gust.
I try to call to Bill and Paul but they can’t hear me through the rain. I have my windbreaker/ rain coat in my tent, but quickly realize my rain pants are in my bag outside under the tarp. Luckily there was no need for me to leave my tent. The storm lets up and I drift to sleep.
Forecast: Sunny, high of 71° Low of 49°
Lakes: Ensign, Splash, Sucker, New Found, and Moose
Total Miles Traveled: 7.7 (2.3 Paddle, 5.4 on tow)
Wake up in the morning and decide again to finish my breakfast bars and leave the Mountain House eggs in the bag. Our pick up is for our tow back to LaTourell’s is at 1pm on Splash so we have plenty of time to let our things dry before packing . I decided to write in my journal as I didn’t have a book. I started to reflect on what I learned this year and what I can do differently next year.
1. I am ready to try Grand Marais next year. 2. Less Freeze Dried Food! (esp. breakfast) 3. More Yard Guard! 4. Bring a book 5. Make my own trail mix, I always end up with one ingredient I don’t like in the store bought stuff. 6. I need to find some light weight durable tent stakes. Mine have had it after 2 trips. I think I will try the ones that MSR makes. 7. Bring a lighter. Bill had one but didn’t tell me till half way through the trip and a box of matches later. 8. Hand lotion to deal with dry skin. I had some pretty bad cracks that would bleed from time to time. 9. Sudafed Sinus in the Med Kit’.
We left our site at 11am and head to Splash, I make the suggestion to paddle up north just to check it out as we have time to kill. As we approach the campsite on the east side Bill see’s a giant butt running from us. A black bear we assume. We start talking in whispers and slowly paddle up 10 yards from the shore and finally see him looking at us. It is magnificent. This is the first time I have seen a black bear in the wild. He looks at us, as I grab my camera and zoom in; he huffs at us and walks into the trees and out of sight. The way he did it almost makes me think he told me where to stick my camera! We slowly paddle back and forth along the shore trying to get another glimpse of him, but he is gone. I then realize we are only 1 mile from where we camped the night before, and he could have easily gotten to that food under the canoe. So much for my theory!
We make the last portage and play in the rapids for a bit. I am able to set the camera up for a timer shot. I’m in the middle Bill on my right and Paul on my left. We pick up our tow and head to LaTourell’s for a fresh shower and fresh clothes.
We head back into town for beer and blue cheese mushroom burgers with bacon at the Chocolate Moose. The first thing Bill does is buy all of their cookies. I pick up some of Dorothy’s root beer at Piragis and then it’s on the road to go back home. Discussing and dreaming, of course, of our trip in 2009.