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May 26 2024

Entry Point 29 - North Kawishiwi River

North Kawishiwi River 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 15 miles. Access the North Kawishiwi River through Ojibway Lake and Triangle Lake using two portages.

Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1249 feet
Latitude: 47.9543
Longitude: -91.5641
North Kawishiwi River - 29

Minnesota Home

by hypotomooseman
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 23, 2021
Entry Point: Lake One
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
My in-laws grandparents were from Minnesota and my father-in-law has been coming to northern Minnesota since he was a child. My wife grew up going to a group of cabins near Babbitt, MN and I have been to those same cabins several times. When we booked the cabin last summer ('20) we decided to start planning a short BWCA trip that would hopefully be a good experience for my wife and kids who has not been on an over night canoe trip before. After studying the maps and considering options we felt that EP30 would be best for our plan of base camping for a few nights. It offered lots of campsites and the opportunity to go as far or as short as we needed to without too much portaging. My daughter, Lila (Turned 3 on 6/28), kept asking when we were going to "Minnesota Home" as we planned the trip. We left home on June 21st and made a two day trip to Ely. We decided to stay the night in Ely prior to getting the water early the next morning. We ended up being up later than anticipated due to more extensive re-packing to slim down the amount of stuff we would take with us.

Day 1 of 4

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The day was finally here! I woke up early without an alarm to pack the final bags in the car and depart from the hotel in Ely. We got the kids up and loaded in to the car to head to Kawishiwi lodge by 6:00 am with a quick stop for coffee and breakfast items from Northwood Grounds. The Coffee was excellent.

The Road to the lodge was better than I had expected and was impressed with how remote the location was. We were arrived and unloaded by 7:30 am but it did no one from the lodge was there yet. It wasn't until past 8 o'clock with several groups waiting that someone showed up. Other than the slight delay the folks at the lodge were very helpful and got us out on the water quickly along with the other groups. I shouldn't have been surprised, but there were lots of folks heading out early that morning.

As I picked up our 18.5 ft, 3 person kevlar canoe I was amazed at how light it was, nothing like the fiberglass canoes I was use to. We were given the instructions to always load them in the water so they are fully floating. As we loaded our gear in the canoe I was happy that it all fit well and left plenty of room for the kids. We were on the water by 8:30 am and the wind was against us from the start, a steady force with occasional guests. Ally was a great "motor" in the front of the boat and successfully navigated us throughout the trip. The varying shoreline and small islands made navigation a bit difficult and we were glad to have studied the map ahead of time. We made several short stops to get snacks out for the kids and take a break from the wind before the portage to Lake Two. We saw a pair of bald eagles as we paddled. The first portage was empty when we arrived, which did not last long....

Soon enough we had groups pass us going in and groups coming out. Almost everyone was polite and patient as we attempted portaging with kids. Although we were slow we had a fine time and the kids enjoyed being on shore and having room to roam. We decided to have an early lunch around 11:30 at the second portage of PB&J. The kids were not super hungry, likely from all the snacking which took place in the canoe. A passing group mentioned nearly every camp on lake two was open and our hopes were high that we would find a good site.

We paddled to the north side of lake two as it seemed many of the campsites were preferable. As we paddled we found site after site occupied. The wind seemed stronger on lake two with small waves. Lila was tired and fell asleep on the bottom of the canoe after about 30 minutes of paddling. We finally made it to the entrance of Lake 3. We decided we would head out and see if any sites were available. The wind was stronger than lake 2 and waves larger. from the entrance we could see the 4 closes sites were occupied. As we struggled to communicate I accidentally splashed water on Lila and she woke up crying. We landed at a small sandy beach to re-group and come up with a plan as Ally and I were both feeling a bit concerned about finding a site.

We decided we would follow the south side of lake two and look for an open site. If we did not find one we would return to lake one. A disappointing prospect but we did not feel confident in finding a site on lake 3 with the additional wind. The paddle on lake two was much more pleasant and we passed every site occupied. Ally called back and said we would check one more site before heading to the portage, 1523. As we turned the point we saw no evidence of occupation and we were MINNESOTA HOME! The site had an excellent sandy beach landing places for maybe 3 tents (1 large and 2 smaller). The cooking area was very exposed and windy. None of the area had a significant amount of shade but the "Biffy" was in good shape and very private.

After unpacking and setting up camp it was time for dinner. Hot dogs cooked over the camp stove were a welcome dinner to a hungry group. The tent was hot and I had forgotten how much longer the sun would be up given that it was just passed the summer solstice. I think everyone was up until about 10pm when it had cooled down enough.


Day 2 of 4

Thursday, June 24, 2021

I woke up early to get started getting the bear bag down and breakfast going. It has rained several good downpours and I was happy that our tent and site held up well. Breakfast was Pancakes and pre-cooked bacon cooked over the wisperlite using the "simmer" technique which worked great. The sun did not let up for today but at least the wind did. It was going to be another hot day.

Theo (6), Lila and I canoed down to Site 1522 - which was not as nice as our. Perhaps some better shade but the tent pads were not great and the landing was steep and rocky. The "biffy" was missing part of the seat area too. Theo and Lila both found "paddles" (sticks) for the way back and we had a grand time on our short adventure. Lunch was English muffin pizzas which were a moderate success. The sliced mozzarella was a good idea but it needed papers to keep it from sticking together so much.

Ally and Lila took a nap after lunch, but the heat made it difficult. Theo and I explored the camp area and attempted fishing from shore without much luck. After nap Ally encountered her "Minnesota chicken" likely a grouse during a trip to the biffy.

In the afternoon we hung around camp and Lila found her love of the light, powdery, fine dirt. She had her hands, feet, clothes and face all covered in it. The Lila Dirt Ball was born. Before dinner we all did a quick dip in the lake to clean of the dirt and cool down.

Dinner was rice & beans with tortillas and fruit. It was very filling and we should have cut down the amount we were cooking. The kids both enjoyed helping cook the camp dinners and cleaning up.


Day 3 of 4

Friday, June 25, 2021 Everyone slept like a rock after the hot day and were thankful for the cool weather overnight. I woke up early to cook the breakfast out on the point and enjoy the stillness of the lake. You can forget how peaceful it is to sit and just watch the water in quiet.

The breakfast of pancakes and oatmeal was a hit again with Theo eating almost 4 good sized pancakes. We planned to do a little more exploring today and packed some day bags and snacks. We first went out and looked for the trail to rock island lake but could not find it. We ended up taking a slow paddle over to the portage area to give the kids an area to hop the rocks and stretch their legs. It was hear that we realized we could see our campsite from the portage... such a short jaunt! We had a snack and took a lezierly paddle back. Since the wind had died down we decided to move the tarp to the point for some shade have nap time there. A great idea, the point was much cooler in the shade than the tent and Lila and Ally both took a nap while Theo and I read. It was still hot, but seemed cooler than Thursday.

After nap we went for quick swim and Theo was very excited, not wanting to get out of the water. At last I convinced him and we all felt better. the rest of the afternoon was spent finding the few ripe blue berries near camp, exploring trails and organizing stuff to pack up for leaving in the morning. We found a "horned" caterpillar and saw a few bald eagles too. Next time we will need to work on bringing less stuff an being more organized. Dinner was Kraft Mac and Cheese made with Gee and powdered milk. The Gee gave a bit of a different taste but no one seemed to mind, it was a hit.

Another late night to bed, but it was much cooler with everyone asleep by 10pm.


Day 4 of 4

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Our last day and we finally got what I would call a "Minnesota day". Cooler weather, a bit overcast with a few sprinkles. I woke at 4:30 and started the long process of packing. By the time we all ate and got the canoe packed it was 8 am. Not quite as well packed as the first day, but it would do.

We met a crowd a few minutes later tat the portage. They were very kind and let us go first. The rocky inlet was a challenge with the canoe fully loaded, not sure how we got out so easily the first time. It turns out the group that let us pass was a scout troop from Nebraska and they helped us carry stuff on both portages, making them much faster than I would have planned.

The paddle back on lake one was quite pleasant and calm. The length of the trip was perfect (ok I would have gone another few days) but everyone has a great time. I would summarize the days of our trip as follows:

Day 1: Anxious and tired, need to find a campsite Day 2: Hot, Tired and too much "parenting" just the kids be kids, don't worry to much. Day 3: Perfect. Embrace the dirt and make a small plan Day 4: Bittersweet.


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