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

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 18 2024

Entry Point 30 - Lake One

Lake One 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 21 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Lake One.

Number of Permits per Day: 13
Elevation: 1230 feet
Latitude: 47.9391
Longitude: -91.4792
My son Remy and I, and my friend Keith and his son Charlie put our canoes into Lake one at 9:30 Monday morning after dropping off a car at the Snowbank Lake landing. Lake One can be tricky to navigate. On our way to Lake Two we turned East too early and ended up paddling about a mile out of our way into a dead-end bay before we realized our mistake. We blamed the fact that Lake One was split between Fisher Maps #10 and #4 for our error. If the entire lake had been visible at once on a single map, we would not have made the wrong turn. Once we got back on course we portaged the 30 rods into a pond and then portaged the 40 rods into Lake Two. The weather was nice, and there was a bit of a tail wind out of the West. We stopped for lunch on the shore of Lake Two. After lunch we canoed through the North end of Lake Three and into Lake Four. We stopped for the night at a campsite on the West shore of Lake Four, just North of the channel heading toward Hudson Lake. We had to battle swarms of mosquitoes as we set up the tents. We then had a nice refreshing swim. Because we had brought steaks along for the first night, we didn't go fishing.

On Tuesday morning we had a bacon and eggs breakfast then packed up camp and headed out in our canoes. As we canoed past our campsite, we realized that Remy & I had left our hammocks pitched between trees. We landed again and quickly packed them up. Once again we had beautiful weather. We paddled East and completed 3 short portages before entering Hudson Lake. The 105 rod portage into Lake Insula was exhausting! Lake Insula is a large gorgeous lake broken up by multiple islands and penninsulas. We had lunch at a campsite on a large island just East of Hudson Lake. It felt like we had a tail wind as we were heading East, and then as we turned North it seemed like the wind shifted and was at our backs once again. We navigated Lake Insula flawlessly and camped for the night on the island just West of Williamson Island. After setting up the tents and a refreshing swim, Remy & I got back into the canoe and tried to catch some fish. We had no luck! At 9PM that night, just as we were going to bed, a thunderstorm rolled through. That night I was awakened several times by the loud croaking of bullfrogs from the shallows around our island. What noisy neighbors!

By Wednesday morning the weather had cleared, but the wind was now coming from the Northwest, pretty much in our faces. We paddled to the North end of Lake Insula and tackled the largest portage of our trip. The 180 rod walk to Kiana Lake actually seemed easier than the 105 rod carry into Lake Insula. We headed onward into Thomas Lake where we really started feeling the headwind. We finally made it to the campsite just Northeast of the portage into Thomas Pond in time for lunch. After lunch we proceeded across Thomas Pond and into Thomas Creek after hiking across the famous Kekekabic Trail. We managed to easily run the rapids in Thomas Creek and avoid the 2 short portages. We camped for the night on Hatchet Lake at the northern campsite. It was cool and windy, so we didn't swim. There was lots of threatening weather going by to the North of us, but we stayed dry. After supper we canoed back to Thomas Creek to fish and look for moose. No luck on either count, but we did see a beaver swimmming.

The weather was nice again Thursday morning, but the wind was out of the West which was the direction we were heading. We portaged into Ima Lake and canoed across it. Before portaging into Jordan Lake, we watched a bald eagle sitting in a tree get harrassed repeatedly by a seagull. The narrow channel leading into Jordan Lake is quite beautiful. It is narrow like a river with big rock outcroppings. We paddled across Jordan, Cattyman, Adventure, and Jitterbug Lakes. We found the Eastern campsite on Ahsub Lake taken, so we camped at the Western campsite which had a great place for swimming in front of it. There was a very brave loon in front of the campsite who didn't seem to mind if we got close to it. We tried our luck at fishing, but only caught 1 smallmouth which was too small to eat. Between 5:00 and 7:30 that evening we saw a number of canoes heading across Ahsub Lake from Disappointment Lake to Jitterbug Lake. We weren't sure where they were planning to camp, but it was getting late.

On Friday we awoke again to good weather. We paddled the length of Disappointment Lake and portaged into to Parent Lake and then on to Snowbank Lake. It was July 4th, and as we entered Snowbank Lake the sounfd of firecrackers reminded us we weren't in the wilderness anaymore. After a brief splash war on our way across Snowbank, we made it to the landing and our car was still there. What a great trip!

Mid September 2013 on #32 S. Kawishiwi River

by prizes14
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 16, 2013
Entry Point: South Kawishiwi River
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
My dad and I take another trip to Minnesota. This is a little long and has a long introduction so if you want to get directly to the trip part, skip down a few paragraphs.

Part 1 of 2

This year's trip to the BWCA was kind of a rushed one that I wasn't sure I would be going on. After last year's trip, I bought all of the gear with the intention of going this year again with my dad. With the severe drought, we were still feeding cows in the feedlot all summer and dad said that he wouldn't be able to go. I also kind of put the idea of a trip out of my mind because I broke my finger playing softball this summer and it was still healing. My knee was also still bothering me from last year when I must have torn something on it portaging last year. As a result of compensating for my knee and not using it as much, my back was also starting to bother me more since my firewood cutting days. I guess your body goes to pot after you turn 30. I have a month of vacation saved up that I need to use before the end of the year and I hated the idea of just wasting it. You work all year long for a few days off and then to not use them seems like a waste.

When August came around, I kicked around the idea of going on a solo trip and then told myself that it was something I should do just for the experience. When I had finally come to this conclusion, my dad decided that he would be able to go with me. It turned out that because of the drought, our dryland corn burned up and we would be able to turn the cattle out on that so that we wouldn't have to feed them in the feedlot. It's kind of funny how the thing that was going to end my trip was the thing that allowed us to go.

In a way though, I was kind of bummed out that I couldn't go by myself. It would have been a great personal accomplishment to spend a week in the BWCA alone. In my mind I already had my solo trip planned out as if were an adventure novel of survival. I would be attacked by a bear and wrestle it to the death with my Gopro head camera catching all the action. My canoe would tip over and I would have to swim a mile to shore and I would gash myself open and have to perform self-surgery. It would be the manliest trip ever. After all, the risk of death on a solo trip would be half the fun.

September 14th was the day that dad and I left for Minnesota. Nebraska was playing UCLA at 11 that morning so the plan was to watch the game and leave after it was over. We left home, central Nebraska, around 3:30 and the plan was to make it to Minneapolis.

The last couple years we would head up over Labor Day but this year we would be leaving two weeks later. I kind of wanted to leave another week later to make sure the leaves were in full color but dad said that he needed to get back to wean calves. While the leaves would only just be starting to turn, we would have an extra 30 minutes of daylight and the weather should be slightly warmer. It turned out that if we had waited a week, the leaves would have been in full color and the weather would have been just as good.

We took my 1997 Ford Explorer again this year and had it loaded down with gear. This year, I decided to just buy all of the gear instead of rent it. This was my third time to Ely so as long as I go another time or two, I will have it paid for. Normally when I spend a week hunting or fishing, my type of camping is just putting on some coveralls and sleeping on the ground and eating food that doesn't need to be cooked. I wanted to do it right this time. I probably have around $1000 in gear and another $300 in the Gopro camera I bought. It is a lot more work though having to make sure you have everything. The food was the most difficult thing to get ready because we wanted to make sure we had enough but yet not too much. We ended up packing way too much anyway. Planning meals so that our meat wouldn't spoil was also an issue. Everything ended up working well though.

Along the way, we stopped at Stuart, IA again to get gas and some hamburgers. This was the same place we stopped last year because it is right where my tank needs filled. We arrived in Minneapolis at the usual Motel 6 at around 11:30 or so. There were some guys yelling at each other on the balcony of the motel room and a security guard had to go up to see what was going on. The motel is one of the cheaper ones in town at $65 and the customers prove this. Does this mean I am white trash? The same people would be yelling all night long at each other. The next morning, Sunday, we ate at the Country Buffet near the motel which we do every time. There is nothing like a good breakfast and I ate all that I could without feeling miserable.

We then drove north to the Quad Cities although I kind of wanted to go through Duluth and along Lake Superior. By going two weeks after Labor Day, we would also avoid that annual Duluth regional gay pride rally. That was quite an experience in past years seeing a bunch of guys in short shorts, tight tank tops, sailor hats and handkerchiefs tied around their necks. Dad didn't want to go that way because he just wanted to get to Ely. Since there was supposedly road construction around Tower, we took the road to Babbitt and then on to Ely. We got there a little after 1 and then had a bunch of time to kill. We took a nap in the park like a bunch of homeless people and then decided to drive to our entry point so that we would know where to go the next morning. We got gas before we headed out and of course there was a nice looking dark haired gal in yoga pants walking into the gas station. After my experience last year, I'm convinced that the BWCA area has the highest percentage of good looking outdoors type woman anywhere. Wow.

When we got to the entry point, it wasn't marked as well as it could have been. We took off on a trail where some vehicles were parked and walked a mile but still didn't come to water. I knew that the portage was only ½ mile long so we knew we weren't on the right trail. We then realized that there was a trail that started right near a road sign that said South Kawishiwi.

We got back into Ely around 5:30 and picked up the canoe at Cliff Wold's. From there we went to Subway to get supper. I really wanted to try out a different local restaurant but dad said that he wasn't hungry and didn't want to eat much. I look at the local food as part of the experience and was kind of disappointed that we didn't try something different. From there we went to the campground to get the rest of our stuff organized and take a shower. It was really cold that night and the hot shower felt good. Another older guy was leaving the shower just as I was coming in. The guy had told my dad earlier that he was from Boulder, Colorado and his basement had a foot of water in it from the record flooding they had a few days earlier. The bunk was also very cold because all the windows were open to it. I should have put more clothes on in my sleeping bag because I was cold all night. I think it got down to at least 34 degrees.

That night I checked the overnight futures to see what was happening with the S&P. To my bad luck, it gapped up against my ES short. Looking back, I should have just closed out my positions and not worried about it. I would be thinking about the markets the whole time I was out there. I figured that at a worst case, the market might move 100 points which would only cost me $5000. The market really is an addicting drug that puts you into withdrawal if you have to take the needle out of your arm. I love it though.

I'm not exactly sure what time we got up but I think it was around 6:30. I guess there was no real hurry to get going since it would be plenty cold for the first portage. Last year, we couldn't find the Mudro road and were late getting in but this wouldn't be the case this year. The first portage was 147 rods and wasn't too bad. We had to double portage it since we had 3 large packs and the canoe. I would be the one carrying the canoe for all the portages. For some reason, the portages didn't seem very long or hard this year even though some of them had some steep and rocky parts. I guess I knew this year what I was getting myself in to so it wasn't as big of deal. At the end of the first portage, I got to test out my new Gopro Hero 2 camera. I'm not sure that I will use it enough to get the full $300 it cost me but I figured it would be pretty cool to have HD video footage of the Boundary Waters to watch in the winter.

The Kawishiwi River was kind of intimidating when you first get on it. It is wide and long although there isn't really a current. It probably took an hour to canoe the 2.4 miles to the first portage. I prefer smaller lakes with more character because there is more to see around every corner. It seems boring when you have to paddle across a large body of water. The first portage was a short one at some rapids but we decided to just pull the canoe through the rapids. It probably didn't save any time though. Once we got past the first rapids, the scenery and lakes were pretty neat. We stopped at a narrow spot along the way to try some fishing but didn't get anything. This would be a sign of the fishing to come.

We continued to the second set of rapids and fished just below them like we were told. It looked like a really good area too. These rapids weren't as rocky so we just paddled through them although it was harder than I expected. We didn't see it at the time but there was a camp site at this spot and we would end up staying here for the third and fourth nights. On the way to the third set of rapids, we passed a camp site near them that looked like a nice one. It was taken though and we would later find out that it was occupied by 8 guys from Alabama. I would love to visit Alabama and the south sometime. We tried more fishing here but didn't catch anything. Below most of the rapids are some deep holes around 30 feet and that is supposed to be where the fish are.

The rapids here were really rushing hard and were pretty cool to see and hear. It was at this portage of about 30 rods that we really started to notice the mosquitoes. I had been reading on the BWCA forum that the bugs had been very bad in this area all summer but thought that they would be dying down. This wasn't the case. When we got to the other side, we decided to eat a Subway sandwich since it was about 2. We first needed to apply buy spray which helped a little but we were still being eaten alive. I could also tell that my arms were starting to get burned so I decided to put some sunscreen on. When I got out the spray bottle out of my bag, I realized it was empty. On the other side of the portage, I had heard a hissing noise coming from my bag but dad said it was probably just air escaping from the garbage bags we had lined our packs with. It turns out that the nozzle on the spray bottle had come unlocked and all of the sunscreen has sprayed out. All of my extra clothes were now covered in sunscreen. Luckily, dad had some extra sunscreen he put in the first aid kit.

It wasn't too far across the next lake where another set of rapids and portage was. This set of rapids wasn't too bad so dad pulled the canoe up them since his feet were already wet from earlier. The paddle to the fourth set of rapids was another long one at 3.1 miles. It was at this portage that we saw four canoes with some 20-30 year old guys and maybe a couple older ones. One guy was in an Alabama shirt and hat so I asked him if he was from Alabama. They said they were. I'm not sure I would like to travel in a group this big. It just seems like too many people to have at one campsite at a time.

From here we went north for a while and then cut back west to where the Farm Lake entry point originates. This was more like a lake area. We checked out the three campsites and chose one that faced the south and had lots of trees around it and a good kitchen area. I really liked the site compared to the other two that were more open. It was maybe 4 or 5 in the afternoon so we quickly got camp set up and started to cook. Supper tonight was hamburgers, corn and stuffing. It was a very good meal and I was impressed with it. I was stuffed but wanted to eat all I could because of the number of calories I would be burning. It would be a full moon on Thursday but it was out in full force with it being a clear night. I kind of wished that I could see the stars but the moon was too bright. While I was standing there overlooking the lake and the moon, I kind of wished that I could have been there by myself to just enjoy it all on my own and sit there. It was so peaceful being away from everyone and enjoying the night sky. People who haven't visited the BWCA have no idea what I am talking about and they are missing out. I would trade the everyday rat race for this any day. Total portage distance for the day was 0.7 miles and paddling distance was 9.5 miles.

It was probably 8 when we went to bed. Our tent was on a slope and dad said that he kept sliding down hill that night. I wasn't on that steep of a slope but still enough to kind of bother me. Both our hips hurt that next morning and dad said it was probably because of the extra pressure from sleeping on an incline. The next night I would sleep with my feet uphill and I did sleep better. Otherwise, I slept halfway decent. The next morning we got up around 7:15 to get the eggs, hashbrowns and sausage ready. It was another tasty meal. We would be base camping here for another night so we just took a day pack on our trip today.

The plan was to head up the river towards Lake One. We got to the fifth set of rapids on the river which were about 4 feet tall and the water was really gushing over them. It was here that we fished a little while. I caught a northern pike about 20 inches on a Mepps Black Fury but couldn't catch anything else. We took a bunch of pictures of the rapids and then continued on to a small pond before the sixth set of rapids. These almost looked like a water slide because the drop was probably at least ten feet from the top to the bottom of them for 100 feet or so. This portage was the steepest one of the trip. There was one area on the east side of the portage that was stair step steep with a tree in the way that you had to maneuver around. From there it was another 2.3 mile long paddle to the seventh set of rapids that take you to the Lake One area.

Dad pulled the canoe around a few rocks and then we decided to paddle up the remaining rapids. It was much harder than I expected. I put everything I had into paddling but we weren't going anywhere so I got on my knees, put my paddle into the rocks and pushed us up. It’s a wonder I didn’t break my paddle in half. It would have been much easier just taking the portage which we found out on our way back that was probably the flattest and widest portages of the trip. The area after these rapids was very scenic with the river really narrowing down and winding around small islands. This was my ideal type of area. We fished for a little while here because there was an older couple maybe 65 years old that were at the portage. They weren't moving so we just decided to pull in and portage. They said that they were from Colorado and were just here for the day. However, they would be staying around Ely and taking daytrips around the area for a month or until the weather got too cold. They were obviously retired and living the life. That guy was lucky to have a wife that enjoys going to the BWCA because even living in rural farm country, I just don't know too many women that would find this much of a vacation.

At this eighth and final set of rapids we would cross, there was a submerged canoe at the top of them that had been there a while. I can't figure out why anyone would have tried to go down them because there was no way you could safely travel down them. Perhaps they were not paying attention at the rapids and got sucked down them. I would like to know how the people got out because either they had a long walk ahead of them or else had to ride with someone else in a canoe. After another short paddle, we had lunch in the shade on some rocks. I think dad probably wanted to take a longer break but it was about 2 and if we wanted to see the burn area on Lake One, we needed to get going. After another portage, we were finally to the large lake part of Lake One. It was a big lake compared to where we had come from. The wind had also picked up to around 10-15 mph which made for a difficult paddle. It wasn't quite white caps but I had to paddle extra hard to keep us moving forward. All of this just to see where the fire had burned a few years ago. I'm not sure it was worth it but since I am a person who likes to accomplish things and check them off my list, I had to do it. I could tell my body was getting worn out for the day, but just kept paddling as hard as ever because we weren’t going to get anywhere taking it easy.

When we finally started to head back, it was around 4. We would need to hurry to get back to camp at a decent time to get supper made. My guess is that we had 7 miles to go. On the first portage going back, dad forgot the tackle box so I had to go back and get it. I had my head cam going and decided to run back on the portage to get there faster. This was probably a dumb thing to do because if you take a wrong step, you could easily roll an ankle. I made it fine and when I watched the footage later, it looks like it is being played in fast forward. There wasn't too much eventful stuff that happened on the way back and we arrived in camp probably a little after 5. Dad would say later that these first two days had him completely exhausted. We did push pretty hard and I probably should have backed off a bit for his sake but he didn't complain too much. For being 65, and traveling at a 31 year old's pace, it probably was a tough couple of days.

I wanted to clean off a bit in the lake so I changed into my swimming trunks and headed in. It was maybe only 65 degrees outside anyway but the water seemed even colder. Standing in it wasn’t bad but when I submerged myself, it took away my breath. I cleaned myself up as best as I could and did my best impression of a Baywatch lifeguard coming out of the water shaking my head back and forth. I had my video camera going and I look really funny. What is even funnier is how I am stumbling around in the water like a drunk. There were rocks everywhere in the water and it was very hard to walk. That was why I looked like I was drunk in the water. It is pretty funny to watch on my camera and I laugh every time.

Tonight we had mashed potatoes and 3 polish dogs each. Dad didn't think they were cooked well enough so we really cooked them well until they were completely charred black. It was a little unnecessary I thought but dad was worried that since we had thawed meat sitting in our pack for two days, we should made sure they were cooked well. It was still a good meal. I slept better this night. Total portaging for the day was 0.8 miles and paddling was 10.6 miles.

The next morning, Wednesday the 18th, I got up around 7 and got all of my gear packed up while dad was still sleeping. I don't know how he didn't hear me but he slept through it. I fished for a while and lost my Mepps Black Fury that I caught the fish on the day before. That lure didn't get much use. With dad still sleeping, I decided to fry the eggs and bacon. He woke up around 8 and I had everything ready for us to eat. Another great meal and I really amazed myself. I ate better this whole week than I normally do cooking for myself at home.

It was about 10 in the morning when we finally had everything packed up and ready to go when I started to lose my vision. This is the first sign I get for when I am going to have a migraine. I should have known that there was a good chance of getting one because I usually get one every 3 or 4 months and it has been that long since I last had one. It about made me sick to think that I would be getting a migraine because they put me completely out for at least 4 hours and usually the whole day. I took some asprin which rarely help and laid down for a while. Fortunately it was a very mild migraine and after 30 minutes I just decided to live with it and head out. A lot of people say they have migraines but have no clue what it is actually like to have one. Mine are so bad that I go blind, puke and it feels like someone is hitting you in the head with a bat. There are times when they hurt so much that death seems like a much better option. So unless someone can relate to that, don't go saying that your little headache is a migraine.

We paddled west closer to where the Farm Lake entry is and did some fishing. Dad had me drop him off at shore while I did some fishing on my own. It was here that I would land the only other pike of the trip. He was another 20 inch fish. I was just happy to get something though. He bit on my other red Mepps spinner. The hook wasn't coming out the easiest and when I put him back in the water he was just floating. After a few minutes I didn't see him anymore so I hope he swam away and just didn't die. I fished around another hour or so and we headed back south down the river to get a campsite and be closer to the entry point. Our goal was to take the campsite that the guys from Alabama were staying at. After one set of rapids, I didn't realize that my map was folded at the wrong place and that I was actually looking at the wrong part of the map. I thought we were somewhere that we weren't so when we got a few miles down the river and to a portage, I didn't think it was the right one. Instead of actually checking it out to make sure, we paddled all the way back up the river to the rapids. Once I realized my mistake, we had to paddle down the river a third time. This error took us an extra hour and a half, 4.1 miles of paddling and really irritated me. It would kill most of our evening.

The campsite near the rapids where the Alabama guys were staying was still occupied by someone so we went on farther to check out some sites. The wind was coming up pretty good and we just wanted to be done for the day but none of the sites looked very good. There was one site just south of the second set of rapids that had no cover and a mud hole where the tent was supposed to sit. The mosquitoes were also horrible here. We canoed back directly to the second set of rapids to the site I didn't realize was there when we passed if two days earlier. This was a really nice site on a peninsula with a great view where we would stay the remaining two nights. We cleared some rocks away to set the tent down and had camp set up quickly. There was a rusted hatchet in an old tree stump that looked like it had been there for a while. I would imagine that it will probably stay there for quite some time and be used as a community hatchet. The hardest part in this place was finding good firewood because it was on a peninsula with not many areas to spread out and find wood. Luckily there was enough already by the fire grate to get us by. With the mosquitoes swarming around us, we got the fire going quickly to give us some smoke. I consider myself a fire making expert but dad seems to struggle with it.

Wednesday night's meal was tuna helper which was more than enough for us. We might have had stuffing this night too along with other side dishes. I ate all that I could because I didn't want to throw anything away. It was probably around 8:30 when we got to bed this night and I slept decently but not the greatest. Last year I slept like a log each night but this year that wasn't the case. Dad said he slept as good as ever. Total portaging was 0.2 miles and with my error, we paddled 13.1 miles that day.

Thursday for breakfast we had blueberry pancakes and bacon. It was overcast this morning and just looked like rain. After our morning chores, we fished near camp until it looked like it was going to start raining hard and then went back to camp. I fished from the bank and had a pike take my lure but he came off right at the shore. Dad got his line snagged from shore so we had to take the canoe out to get it loose. He must have been hooked into a log and I couldn't get it out. Just when I was about to break the line, it came loose. From there we headed south to the portage that goes to Gabbro Lake. We didn't portage over it but did walk down it just to see what it looked like. It was raining off and on all morning but we didn't put on our rain gear because it didn't seem like it was raining hard enough to put it on. We were pretty wet though. Down this portage was an old dam that had been built of rocks and a wooden fence. Who knows how old it was. Our original plan earlier in the week was to fish Gabbro on some hot spots that the guy at Cliff Wold's told us to try. With our luck fishing, we decided it probably wasn't worth the effort. Besides, we kind of needed an easy day of paddling. We fished around some more and I had a pike take my five of diamonds spoon. Just as I got him to the boat, he came off. I would only land two pike the whole trip and have two others get away.

We took lunch at another campsite not far from ours and then tried fishing near the rapid where the Alabama guys had been staying. No luck here either. The sky got darker and started to rain a little so we headed back to our camp for the night. The rain continued for quite some time but we were able to get a fire going to cook supper. The rain let up for about 30 minutes which was just enough time to get my sweatshirt halfway dry. However, it started to rain again and was all for nothing. Unlike some people who say not to take cotton clothing, that is about all I take. The BWCA is far from being ‘Nam during the 1968 monsoon season. We take an aluminum canoe so we can get close the bank to unload gear and not get our feet wet. I didn't get mine wet the whole time and didn't have any problems getting gear unloaded form the canoe. I don't mind rain much either because coming from a farm, I've experienced a lot harsher weather conditions than being wet. I would prefer dry and partly cloudy though.

Thursday's supper was a vegetable type soup but we didn't add as much water and it was more like a thick stew. Without adding all the water, it tasted very salty because it wasn’t diluted enough. It was almost to the point where your mouth burned because it was too salty. Other than that, it was a good hearty meal. We had plenty of extra food tonight also but instead of dad throwing it back in the trees or burying it, he just threw it in the water along shore. I told him that he wasn't supposed to do this because, if nothing else, other people would see it and it is disrespectful. I wouldn’t want to see someone else’s leftovers.

With the rain set in for the night, we decided to call it a night and go to bed at 7:30. This would mean we were in the tent sleeping for about 12 hours until the next morning. Friday when we woke up, everything outside was soaked. I can't imagine being in the BWCA for a full week when it just rains on you. Just the cloudy weather put a damper on my mood. It was the same last year at the end of our trip. It was cloudy and cold which left us leaving in a somber mood. We didn’t portage any gear this day but the walk to and from Little Gabbro Lake gave us a portage of 0.8 miles and total paddling was about 3 miles.

The struggle this morning would be to get a fire going. All the wood was completely soaked and since there aren’t any hardwood trees to get firewood from, you have to make due with trying to light a wet sponge. After a lot of smoke and lighter fluid, we got the fire going. It was easier than we had expected but I have been known to be able to resurrect a week old dead fire just by finding one small burning ember. This morning’s breakfast was one of our easier ones. We just fixed oatmeal and ate an apple, rolls and some other stuff we had leftover. I ate as much as I could again because it is much easier carrying the food in your belly than on your back. Our next step was to tear down camp. My Timberline 4 tent was all wet and muddy and I didn’t really want to put it away wet but there was no option. Our clothes and sleeping bags were also damp but we put them away anyway. It was maybe 10:30 when we finally got going.


Part 2 of 2

The last day out is always a struggle to want to savor every last minute while also wanting to just get out so that you can take a shower and head home. The last day in the BWCA is always the worst. I tried to fish some spots on the way out that looked good when we came in but still didn’t catch anything. I would give almost anything to have someone with me who knew how to catch fish so that I could do it myself. We fished for a couple hours and did some exploring on our way out. When we got to the original set of rapids, I went back for the last pack, took a leak and just stood there looking back at where we had just come from. I probably won’t ever be back to this area and just wanted to take it in one last time.

The final stretch of the river heading back to the entry point seemed like it was twice as long as when we went in. There isn’t much to see on the way back. Right before you get to the entry point, there is a fork in the river with a campsite. We took the wrong way and tried to loop back around the islands to the entry point. Unfortunately, the rapids and rocks were too much for us to get around so we had to backtrack around the island. I was mad at myself again for costing us another 30 minutes. This was my second navigation error of the trip. I think since the route is all river, it was harder because you had to make sure you weren’t missing a fork in the road.

At the entry, we saw a middle aged man with a high school aged boy and girl who I assume were his kids. We also passed two guys from the Minneapolis area who were carrying the canoe together with all their gear in it. The portage was a half mile and I actually passed them again on my return trip to get the last of the gear. It looked difficult to me but they didn’t have large portage packs and were carrying a bunch of little stuff in the canoe. I thought it was kind of odd that with only two permits per day available, both groups were coming in at the same time. It didn’t seem to take too long to get our gear loaded up and hit the road. As soon as I got to my phone, I had to turn it on and see what the markets were doing. There was big news that week that moved the markets up against me pretty hard. At least I had some longs to counter it.

It was around 2 when we left the entry point and dropped our gear off at Cliff Wold’s. I had assumed that we would take a shower at their campground before hitting the trail but dad said that we could just hit the road and take a shower at the motel tonight. Compared to last year, I didn’t feel nearly as dirty and didn’t really need a shower at that moment anyway. I still looked like a dirty savage with my jeans black with dirt, my half grown beard and a shirt with a few large stains where the sunscreen leaked on it. I wouldn’t say I smelled bad but as a friend of mine once said, you get that musky wild boar scent that actually smells good to yourself. If only I could bottle that stuff. I think most guys know what I am talking about.

We still needed to eat so I was hoping again to try out one of the local places. Rockwood and Britton’s were closed and dad didn’t seem to want to look for another place so we ate at Dairy Queen. I wanted to get going too but still wanted to try out a local place. At DQ, the girl at the counter was really nice looking. Tall, dark haired and thin. She might have had some Ojibwa Indian blood in her to give her that nice exotic dark look. We got a hamburger and some ice cream and just relaxed for a while. I guess you would say that the only reason we had time to relax was because it took 10 minutes to get our Blizzards made. This gave me time to catch up on all the news that I had missed out on for the past week. It is amazing what all goes on in the world when you have been away for a while. I didn’t miss it one bit though. While I was away, I learned that the markets went higher, that the pope is now in favor of gay marriage and abortion and that there was a shooting in Washington D.C.

I went to the bathroom and when I looked in the mirror, I realized that I hadn’t seen my reflection for 5 days. I was proud of how dirty I looked. We got done eating around 3 and when we went outside it felt freezing cold. The outside temp was 52 degrees but eating that ice cream really made it seem cold.

We headed west on the main drag through Ely and I gave dad my Gopro to take video of the town so that if I make a video of my trip, I can put that in there. The ice cream we ate was a little too much and it was all I could do to eat the large Blizzard. For as long as we were in range, we listened to one of the radio stations in Ely. I think it was called “End of the Road Radio.” They were just talking about new changes to their website and some local news but for some reason it was interesting. It reminded me of public radio and how life seems simple. It was lightly raining on us for about 3 hours just enough to be an irritant. I would turn on my wipers for a minute and then have to shut them off.

Somewhere northwest of Duluth I got a call from my friend and fellow mountain man, Kyle, who wanted to know if I wanted to go to the Nebraska vs. South Dakota State game on Saturday. I told him that I needed to run the logistics of it but that it sounded like it would work. When I calculated where I would be tomorrow to meet up with him, it seemed to be that I would be in Lincoln about the same time that Kyle would be arriving. I told him that I would plan on going to the game. With this in mind, we decided to try making it to Ames, IA. As we got closer to Minneapolis at around 7, it was a solid line of traffic for mile after mile heading north. It was a mass exodus from the city. A guy who audits our bank told me that there is a lot of technology money in Minneapolis and that a lot of those people have second homes in the northern part of the state. My guess is that these people were heading north one last time before the weather starts to turn too cold.

Going through Minneapolis this time was easy compared to when we came through the week before. South of Minneapolis we ran into about 20 miles of single lane road construction which had us going about 10 mph. It took forever to get through that stretch. We listened to public talk radio because there wasn’t much else going on. The program was about Liberace the piano player. I don’t know why we listened to it because it just made me frustrated with the way this world is headed.

We got to Ames, IA around 11 Friday night and decided to stay at the Super 8 that we had stayed at one other time. The red dot Indian at the counter who probably owned the place hardly spoke a word of English. I should back up and say that earlier when dad was calling motels to see if they had any rooms available, he asked if there was an Iowa State football game in town. If there was, it would be hard finding a room. Both of the motels that dad called had an Indian answer the phone and neither knew if there was a game in town. I couldn’t believe that a motel owner wouldn’t know if a game was in town. Shouldn’t they be able to tell that their motels get booked up when a game is in town? I guarantee motel owners where I am from know if an event is going on that they will be booked from. This motel smelled absolutely horrible. I’m not sure if it was the air conditioner that made the room stink, if someone had fixed Indian food, or if someone was dead under the bed (I forgot to check). We got used to it after a while but it was disgusting.

No matter the motel, I think I would rather sleep outside or in a barn because they are much cleaner. People are just disgusting. I’ll never forget the time about 8 years ago when dad and I were looking for a place to stay in Spearfish, SD. We passed by a motel that was being renovated and stopped to see if rooms were available. Outside the motel was a group of 4 people drinking beer and smoking cigarettes around a fire pit. They evidently managed the place. We asked the woman how much a room was and she looked back at the group to see how much beer they had left. She responded, “how about $20?” and we took the deal. The place was a dump but for $20 you can’t complain too much. I just laugh at some of the crazy things I experience sometimes. If I were by myself though, I would have just slept in the vehicle along the interstate with all the other drifters.

Saturday morning we had a good breakfast at the motel and hit the road again. Outside of Lincoln we got into a traffic jam of people going to the Nebraska game and also a 5 car wreck. Nebraska didn’t look very good but but they still won 59-20. In front of us was a woman from SDSU who was not afraid to show off herself. She had on the really short jean shorts where the pockets are longer than the shorts and hang out the front. Her shirt was a low cut tank top that let everything hang out. After the game, we all talked for another hour and were some of the last ones to leave the stadium. The janitors and some of the SDSU players and fans were the only ones left. A security guard actually started going around telling people they needed to leave. I got home around 11:30

The total trip was 1671 miles to Ely and back and I drove about 1000 miles of it. We spent about $180 on motel, $300 for the canoe rental and permits, $40 for food and $300 for fuel. This doesn’t count any of the gear, supplies and food we had already bought. Total portaging distance, not counting the times we double portaged was 2.2 miles. Counting the double portaging which was mostly on the first big half mile portage, you could add another 1.5 miles or so for a total of 3.7 miles portaging the canoe and three packs of about 150 pounds of gear. Total paddling distance was 31.1 miles as the crow flies but we probably paddled another 5 miles fishing around and exploring areas.

Some final thoughts are that, for some reason, this trip didn’t seem as fun as last year. Perhaps it was because I was expecting to catch more fish. The mosquitos, rain and wind didn’t help either but it was still a memorable trip. People think I am crazy when I tell them that I go on vacation to work so hard physically. Most would rather go somewhere to be entertained and just take it easy. Half of the fun in going to the BWCA is knowing that you are actually accomplishing something that most people wouldn’t dare to try. Men have turned into women these days. Unless you have been to the BWCA, you will have no idea what you are missing out on. The scenery, isolation and adventure is something you won’t find too many places. As far as next year, I would like to go again and possibly in the spring to catch fish but yet I would also like to go somewhere different too. This was the third year in a row going to Minnesota. I would love to go to the south, Canada or maybe Glacial National Park.


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