Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 15 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

One Vessel and Two Souls (Mom and Son)

by cmorshedi
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 17, 2023
Entry Point: Farm Lake
Exit Point: South Kawishiwi River (32)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
My son, Ali, and I planned this trip over a year ago at a family reunion. At one point we thought we'd have 9 eager folks with us, but life intrudes and it was just the two of us. We were still determined to try it and take on whatever happened. Glad we did!

Day 1 of 3


Thursday, August 17, 2023 We woke early on Day One, ready for our big adventure. It has been more than 5 decades since I visited Ely, MN, and it has changed, but still retains its essential and obvious love of nature. I had to laugh as we pulled up to the motel the night before to see that there are still signs advertising Phones and Color TV in the Room! There weren’t many options for an early breakfast so we pulled through the Log Cabin Coffee drive-through and grabbed excellent coffee and yummy scones to get us going.

After an exhaustive review of the equipment provided by River Point Outfitters and viewing of the required safety video, Matt loaded us up and dropped us at the entry point for our first day. It was cloudy and windy and we were facing our largest open water of the trip right off. Luckily Matt carefully pointed out our exit from Farm Lake (NOT into South Farm Lake) and helped us get the heavier packs to the front of the canoe to help with the windy conditions. My first step into the canoe was a bit off and I ended up waist deep in the water. Oops! Seems that I’ve lost all authority as the experienced one. I reassured several spectators that I was fine, just embarrassed, and we got underway. We made it across the open water and were happy to see the BWCA boundary buoys and sign before too long! Also the weather cleared giving us a perfect day.

We had been warned about finding the portage into Clear Lake (by reading trip reports and by Matt). It is not at the overturned pine and flat rock, just a bit past there. So after disembarking we got ready for our first portage. Whoa! It was harder than we expected - longer, steeper, narrower, more roots and rocks on the path. That was a good introduction. It was the longest of any portage until our pickup spot. Ali took off with the canoe before I could hardly get used to the lightest of the packs. Eventually I got to the other end also and we returned for the other two packs and some extraneous stuff. Yes, double portaging is what you get with a senior in the group of two! At this time, we hadn’t seen a single other canoe or person.

Clear Lake is beautiful with several good available campsites, but we were on a roll so decided to keep going. The portage out of Clear Lake is easy to find from this end. I sure wouldn’t like to hunt for it from the south! As we left I wanted to go a bit farther before getting in the canoe and I almost lost my shoe in the stinky muck. There were weeds for quite a few yards before hitting clear water. Along the path we had seen flattened grass and a couple of paths off to the weedy area nearby. Maybe moose had rested there?

At this point, we started to see other people - and they were all in the campsites that we were hoping for! We decided to try for one of Matt’s favorite sites, 1131, that he had circled on our map. Nope, it was also taken. Now for a decision - go back to our original route or proceed more eastward through another short portage to an area with more campsites showing. We were already a bit off our planned route, but we proceeded on.

After a short but steep portage, we turned to our right to check out camp site 1128. Never found it and the area is quite weedy and probably buggy. It was getting late and we still had to find an open campsite and set up camp with equipment that was all unfamiliar to us. We were starting to panic! There were two more campsites not too far off. As we approached the first, my hopes sank - is that a rock or another canoe going to grab it? It was a rock! Yay, we found the most beautiful campsite ever, 1134! A beautiful fire grate area with logs to sit on and flat rocks for cooking. Better yet, kindly campers had left plenty of wood of all sizes including birch bark for our first BWCA wilderness cooking experience! I wouldn’t say that the landing was the easiest, but we did it several times and had a choice of a narrow shallow spot or along a large rock and never decided which was easier.

Our next panic was finding the matches or anything to start a fire. We remembered seeing that on the table at the outfitters, but had no clue where they had been packed. Finally we found them - in a small waterproof holder, in a small bag, in a larger bag. Critical find!

About bugs - I didn’t have any problem, but Ali found that his mosquito netting saved him from a few bites. Of course, the latrine was buzzing! What would you expect?

By the time we had our camp set up and had cooked dinner and finally got our food pack hanging safely it was getting dark. We decided that we’d stay here for two nights and have a good rest on Day Two. After Ali took a very quick dip in the dark lake, we were glad to retire for the night.

Woke around midnight to wolves howling! The louder was to our northwest and was repeated several times until a reply came from the northeast! We felt surrounded, but went back to sleep easily.

 



Day 2 of 3


Friday, August 18, 2023 Day Two was pretty much uneventful. We had a leisurely breakfast, tried a bit of fishing with no luck. Made and ate a big lunch. I was awoken from my afternoon nap by the arrival of two rangers; they just wanted to check fishing licenses, trash and alcohol plans. With their encouragement we tried a bit more fishing. Almost gave up and decided to check out the portage for tomorrow to be sure we could find it easily since we’d have a long day; then Ali caught a northern pike! They aren’t the best eating (lots of little bones), but we cooked and ate it and did our best to bury the guts and bones away from the water and camp.

Best advice of the trip, response to saying we had been lost a couple of times: "Were you really lost or just a little confused about where you were?"

Night Two: Either the wolves were quiet or we slept through them.

 



Day 3 of 3


Saturday, August 19, 2023 We got up early on Day Three and had just coffee and cereal so we could get going quickly. This was our best wildlife day. In addition to the ubiquitous birds and ducks (loons and others) and turtles, we saw swans with young ones soon after starting out, a garter snake and a Spruce Grouse with two youngsters along the exit portage, and bear scat there too!

No problem with the first portage. Then we meandered along the river, not exactly on the direct path we had planned, but close enough. At portage 895 we decided not to try the rapids even though the rangers had thought we could do it going south. We picnicked nearby and continued on. This part of the river was quite busy, mostly with day trip fishermen as far as we could tell. It was, in fact, a good fishing area. Ali caught a bass and another pike, which we released since we were on the way to our exit point.

It was hot, but my hopes for a quick dip at the exit landing were dashed. It was pretty lagoon-y there. But the shade was welcome.

We made it! Proud of ourselves for meeting the mental and physical challenges of this short trip. On our return to Ely, we celebrated with a well-deserved French bistro dinner at the Chocolate Moose!

 


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