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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 18 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

Solo on Lakes 1-3 before fishing season

by wxce1260
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 08, 2024
Entry Point: Lake One
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I had 3 days off the week before the fishing opener and noticed that only 8 Lake One permits had been taken over the past 4 days. I have always wanted to explore that area without the normal piles of people and weekend warriors that crowd the area so I figured this would be my chance.

Day 1 of 3

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

I didn't decide to do this trip until Tuesday 5/7 so I had no time to plan which just added to the relaxation of a solo trip. I bought a new to me Wenonah Prism off classifieds in December and was able to swing 3 days off work so I thought this would be a great time to take the Prism out for her first (with me) wilderness trip. Also since it is early May and the fishing opener was not til the weekend I could see that there was probably only a handful of people in the Lake One area. I have paddled through Lake One towards Thomas and Malberg and camped on Lake 2 once in October (when I also encountered a large number of people). It has always been soooo busy and loud that I have had no real desire to stay there during the summer, but I thought that this may be the opportunity to see the area without competing with the crowds... 1 permit was take other than mine for Wednesday, but on Friday (the day before the opener) all were gone--as was every permit there after... so I knew I had a tight window.

I left for Ely about 6am and arrived at Spirit of the Wilderness to pick up my permit at about 10am. At SOTW I was reminded of the new USFS rules regarding food storage, which was no issue for me because I always use my bear vault hidden away from camp. After that quick stop, I was unpacked and on the water at the entry point at about 11am. I was so excited to see only 5 cars in the entire Lake One parking lot.

The weather was beautiful and I saw a grand total of zero people as I crossed the portages into Lake 2. I had been thinking that I was going to paddle down to the south end of Lake 3 and setup camp at one of the island sites there and hike the Pow Wow on Thursday. But the weather was calling for heavy rain on Friday which made me think I didn't want to paddle that extra distance out. Plus, as far as I could tell there was nobody on Lake 2--and I am pretty sure not many people could ever say they had Lake 2 completely to themselves. So, After looking at the island site right by the portage into Lake 2, I opted to stay there. I really liked the fire site that overlooked the southern part of the lake-towards Rock Island Lake.

I set up camp, had a bite of lunch, then I jumped back into the Prism to check out the lake. As I had suspected, I was the only person on the lake. I paddled into Lake 3 and pulled out my binoculars and did see one of the campsites occupied there, so I turned back around and continued to paddle the entire shoreline of the lake without seeing a soul. I made it back to camp around dinner time and had a bite to eat and a cup of White Zin as I enjoyed the sunset. I went to bed to the sound of loons. (More about that on day two) 


Day 2 of 3

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Frost overnight! Well, I learned in the overnight that it is apparently mating season for Loons, and apparently my campsite was smack dab in the middle of the breeding grounds! Now, I love the sound of loons as much as anybody, but I can tell you that having 6-8 of them yodeling and doing their "mating" splash all night long is an easy way to get no sleep! However, I am not complaining. I would much rather be kept awake by loons mating in the wilderness than the sounds of humans mating in a hotel room next door!

Woke up, did some camp chores. I had to rehang my hammock because I had the head to low. I also spent some time playing around with my portable portage yoke. It took me a few tries to get it to where I liked it and where I can put it on efficiently.

About mid morning I headed out with a water bottle and some jerky and started paddling. I honestly had no plan where to go, which is the joy of a last minute solo trip. I opted to first head up the "dangerous waters" to the Lake 2 dam. There was a 15-20mph north wind blowing. The Prism had no issues as long as I paddled straight into the winds, but if I let the wind catch the side it was a bit harder to keep her tracking straight. No surprise.. all canoes act that way. I went up the river until I got just south of the campsite near the dam. There is a bit of a current near there, and with the wind coming straight down the tunnel and the fact that the water was a bit low, it was looking like the way downstream was going to give me ample opportunity to hit rocks on the way back. So, because I had nothing to prove, I decided to turn around at the current and paddle back to the main lake.

So next I decided to paddle into Rifle Lake. I got to the portage and was welcomed by a pair of swans who were very curious about the canoe and came over to take a look. I took the portage from Lake 2 into Rifle and holy smokes!!! Talk about a character builder! Most of the portage is nice and wide. It has a number of large and beautiful white pines along the way... but the second half as you get towards Rifle is a doosey! I included a photo below of the final hill/rock portion heading down to Rifle.

After I played around at Rifle for a while I headed back to Lake 2 and decided I wanted to see if I could find the portage that goes from Lake 2 into the Rock Island Lake PMA. So, I went all the way back to the creek that comes out of Rock Island (The other photo attached to this day on the report) I could tell this was going to be a chore as the beavers and blowdown had made this look impassable. But for the fun of it I thought I would give it a try. The old portage is not that difficult to find and I was able to crawl over and under and follow it for about .25 mile before it came to a rock face in front of me...deadfall to the left and a beaver pond to the right. I decided I didn't care that much, so I turned around and headed back to the canoe. I did come across some wolf scat and some older moose scat on the fairly obvious portion of the old portage. Now, it was getting later in the day. I only saw 1 group way in the distance today paddling into Lake 3. That was it! I was pooped, the wind was still stiff, so I decided I was going to head back to camp and read for a while before I went to bed. I checked the forecast on my Zoleo and it said rain at 10am on Friday, so i thought I would turn in early to paddle out before the rain hit the next day.


Day 3 of 3

Friday, May 10, 2024

The loons were loud again last night and it froze again. Fortunately I had stopped at Piragis and picked up a used BA 0 degree sleeping bag that they had for sale. I brought this out instead of my 20 degree down bag and boy am I glad I did!

I rolled over in my hammock around 6am. I quick checked the forecast and it said rain was supposed to start in my location at around 0830. So, I rolled out of bed, had a cup of coffee and packed up to leave. I was at the portage into Lake One by 0715.

As I approached the portage, I was reminded that I was indeed on the number lakes the day before the fishing opener. I landed my boat at the first portage and about 30 seconds after stepping onto land, from the lake one direction came the FIRST group of the morning. A group of 4 canoes headed into lake 2. The first 2 of their 4 canoes were preceded by their unleased dog who was the first to greet me at the landing. I was double portaging, so I grabbed my first load and headed to the little pond between 1 and 2. At that landing I found the 2 other canoes from the group I had just met, plus another group that had landed with their 3 canoes! They had opted to crowd the portage rather than waiting for this group to complete. Also, I saw another group of 4 canoes just heading into the middle lake as well. I assumed they would wait until the other groups were off the portage. I rand (yes ran) back to get my second load and now there is the first group I met, plus another group who had come behind me from Lake 2 at the landing... so basically 3 groups at the landing into Lake 2 and 6 canoes. I was getting a bit frustrated. I grabbed the rest of my gear and headed to the other side... where to my surprise the 2 canoes were joined by the other group of 4 who did not wait..... now 7 canoes at the landing! I may have sounded a bit angry as I got into my boat and squeezed by them reminding them of the fact they were being really rude by crowding the portages,,,,, As I headed to the shorter portage that went into Lake 1, there was another group at that portage, so I waited in the water for them to complete their portage. As they were still on land and I was waiting--the group that had come from behind me PASSED me on the water and went to the landing regardless of the group that was already there. It definitely was the visual definition of a Clown Show!! Why are people on the number lakes so bothersome!

Well, finally I waited long enough for everyone to disperse and I was able to go across the portage and actually had a nice paddle the rest of the way to the Entry Point. The channel that goes by Kawishiwi Outfitters was especially quiet and pretty! I included a picture below.

I arrived at the EP and just as I finished packing up the Prism on my car it started to rain so I timed that perfect! In all, to have Lake 2 to myself for 2 days was remarkable. But the trip out reminded me why avoiding Lake One during most of the year needs to be a top priority! I fell in love with my Prism! I have 4 more permits this summer--all at much more remote entries, but this trip was certainly worth the last minute decision!


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