BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 03 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1664 feet
Hog Creek - 36
The Polly Lake Bluff Charge
August 28, 2001
Number of Days:
I’m guessing it was the beginning of September when we shoved off on Kawishiwi Lake on our groups first Dadless trip with goals of camping on the Polly Island. This time we were calling all the shots. 100 pounds of food for 5 guys on a 4 and a half day trip did seam a bit much. After a leisurely day facing north we arrived to find the island all to our selves. After not really planning for a lunch, priority one was setting the beef on fire. One pound of steak each is not all that much for growing 125 pound greenhorns after a days work, but finding a place on the grill did seem challenging. The 5 pound grill was excessive but at least it ran on light weight charcoal! Making sure we all ate healthy, we accompanied the steak with butter loaded corn-on-the-cob. While dinner was cooking Dogger found a dead jackpine branch filled with unopened cones and draped it across his chest like Rambo would a with a slew of 50 caliber bullets then began shooting them via slingshot straight up into the air so they would randomly land on the patrons peacefully answering the dinner bell. Just about any teenager would applaud such an act. After a low-fat 3000 calorie dinner we left Benz, the non-fisherman at base and cut open the glass of Polly for a couple of northerns and bass. Once the big flashlight in the sky dimmed we began our first of many traditions: Shots of WI proof-EC around the first nights campfire. Sugar plums were clearly soon dancing in all of our heads and we hit the hay with ease at an unknown time. This is a picture of Vanny's cut of beef.
The next day was on the calender for some time. After fishing Wolverine Lake from shore years before it was time to bushwhack the 85lb Alumacraft for the first time. The creek from Polly started with a couple of pull-overs. We could paddle 100 yards at a time before finding yet another easy pullover in the form of either a small beaver dam, fallen tree or rock. To our amazement we ran into a St John's father/son duo coming up the creek from Kawasachong Lake. The elder explained he took the creek many years before as to skip the portages but water levels were much lower in his hay day. They looked miserably tired but after a respectfully short chat we were both on our separate ways. Soon after we found the spot were the river turns West so we started bushwhacken East. Can’t explain how fun we were starting to have. Punching the canoe through the thick, what I think was, alders was perfectly difficult for our first voyage. After a short distance we came upon a neat bog stained beaver pond that was clearly a creek at one time. Now a short paddle to the beaver damn area that led up to Wolverine. Just before reaching the crest of the lake, Benz got stung ‘by 4 ducking bees’ but shrugged them off with ease. He did wish we brought some of the EC to 'clean out the wounds' in jest though. Wow, the second day and all was going to plan. Not knowing his own brute strength, Dogger quickly sets a record that still stands for placing a lure 35 feet up in a tree. In awe of such a feat Benz grabs the video camera and we all unload a bunch of sarcasm. Ironically, Benz next cast follows suit with a nice sized shoretree of his own so we hand the camera to Dogger and the favor is returned on shiettalk of casting. We were on Wolverine and life really started to make sense. One after the other we were slaying hammerhandles. Effortlessly drifting down the lake we caught a northern off every other cast. Yes they were the most stunted growth, black dot, scrawny little buggers this side of the Pecos, but its was addicting. Promising 100 northerns and coming up with just over 50 in an hour of fishing still made it feel purdy good. In a very odd looking final box score, fish 38 was Benz first ever caught game fish which after some bad advise he kissed for good luck. Before we meandered back to camp we had a picnic with a troop of friendly ants on the tip separating the Southern bays. This picture is from the picnic.
Once back at camp we cooked spaghetti like Ricky Ricardo cooks rice. Plumb full we coated the carb's with some EC for good luck and started fishing for bait. With the use of wicker basket plates we shewn a light in the water and wait for a minnow to swim under the plate and then simply lift the wicker up or shoot the water on shore and put them in the pail. Grabbing crawdad's as well we filled our first pail in laughing time flat. Soon after we filled one of the canoes with water and started our own 'canoe-well' as our current warehouse was full. Knee deep in fun Vanny's ears pop up like an analogy coming soon. From stumbling giddy to rock sober he glared towards the food pack with wonderment. The 450 pound Polly bear was standing up and pawing at our food pack that was now hanging only 9 feet in the air. With rocks, pots n' pans, and hatchet type defenses we started letting it know we DIDn't know what we were doing. Once Benz hit the beast with a rock the brute dropped onto all fours and started charging us. Not knowing it was a bluff charge it was every man for himself, running every which way flaring arms in the air and screaming like little girls. Well that might be a bit exaggerated but you get the picture. When a bear 3 times your size starts running towards you at night from 30 feet away you'll have a hard time standing ground. The old joke ran trew my head that explained ya didn't have ta outrun the bear but it would help ta outrun yer friends. To this day I can still fell the ground shake when the bear started letting us know who the boss was. Nothing we did could chase it too far away as every 45 minutes or so the game would start all over again. I've seen a some bears before but the Polly bear was huge and experienced. While hugging the campfire and playing the 'who's the boss of Polly Island game' the sun came up giving us the sense of advantage. Literally licking our wounds because Dogger brokish two toes in one of the skirmishes, we started marching across the island in form the British would applaud. Following the rendezvous points was not hard as the bear didn't read the leave no trace handbook. Cleaned up camp and hit the morning hay hoping it was all over.
Woke up well after noon and packed up camp. The jokes on the paddle back to the trucks were endless and helped keep our spirits up on an internally defeated group. Our first trip was now over. In the back of my mind, still to this day is- "someday I'd like a nice black rug for the living room". In the end, all we lost were 2 more days of the trip, most of the food, Vanny's Duluth Pack, and 2 of Dogger's toes.
I got to admit, the shredded pack makes a great conversation starter aloft a corner in Vanny's cabin.