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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 14 2024

Entry Point 36 - Hog Creek

Hog Creek entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Isabella; Tofte, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 30 miles. Access is a 15-rod portage to Hog Creek leading into Perent Lake.

Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1664 feet
Latitude: 47.8104
Longitude: -91.0864
Hog Creek - 36

Kawishiwi to Malberg in May

by KjerJoy
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 14, 2024
Entry Point: Kawishiwi Lake
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 5

Trip Introduction:
This was our third May trip and the first time we have tripped with anyone besides family. We weren't sure how everything would go, but it ended up being a great trip!

Day 1 of 5

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The car & canoes were loaded up the night before and we left home around 6:45 to head to my parents to drop off our almost 3 year old. He loves BWCA, but May trips are just a bit too dangerous for a little one. We reached Duluth around 10am, and putzed around the Duluth Pack Store while we waiting for Brock and Amanda to arrive to pick up the permit. After watching the required videos, we were given our permit and we all headed next door to the Northern Waters Smokehaus to grab some sandwiches for lunch. It’s tradition for us to stop at Castle Danger Brewery on our way up the North Shore, so we stopped, ate our sandwiches and enjoyed a couple beers before continuing on to the Kawishiwi Lake Rustic Campground. We reached the campground around 3pm, set up tents and got a fire going. Brock and Amanda brought steaks and asparagus and we contributed sweet potatoes and fruit. Dinner was delicious and we enjoyed a few adult beverages around the fire before heading off to bed.

The trip consisted of me, my husband, Sean, our 10-year-old daughter, Bianca (her 6th trip), and friends Brock and Amanda—this was their first trip.


Day 2 of 5

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 After a solid night of sleep, we woke around 6:30am and started packing up camp. Bianca, Brock and Amanda enjoyed some gas station cinnamon rolls, while Sean and I ate Clif Bars and had a couple Celsius energy drinks. We cleaned up camp, brought our gear to the entry point and Sean and Brock went and parked the cars. After loading Brock and Amanda and gear into the Minnesota II and the 3 of us into our Minnesota III, we pushed off from the launch around 7:30am for our journey north to Malberg. [paragraph break]

The morning was very calm and not quite as cold as we were anticipating. We reached the beaver dam into square and after getting everyone out, we were able to float the canoes and gear over the top. Rounding the corner into Square, Brock and Amanda got their first view of the burn area from the Pagami Creek 2011 Fire. Sean and I commented on how much growth there has been since our first trip through the area in 2018. We were able to avoid the portage out of Square by heading left through the river. The current and turns in the river always keep us on our toes, but we were very impressed with how well Brock and Amanda navigated and kept up with us. Shortly after we arrived on the river, we reached the first beaver dam. We again unloaded people, but could float the canoes and gear right over the top. A few more paddle strokes and we reached the last beaver dam before Kawaschong. This one requires a bit more gear manipulation for us, and we fully unloaded our canoes, carried them over and hopped back in. [paragraph break]

The paddle through Kawaschong was uneventful and we arrived easily at the first full portage into Townline. We all unloaded our gear, Sean took off with the Minnesota II and I stayed back to help get everyone else started. Brock really wanted to single portage, but his pack didn’t quite work with the canoe, so we settled on him taking his pack half way while I took Sean’s pack halfway. Amanda and Sean would come back for those packs after they completed their first jaunt across. I helped Bianca get her pack on, gave her the map and paddles and she was off. Amanda grabbed her pack and paddles and took off and then Brock and I headed to the halfway point with packs. We found a mid-way-ish point and dropped the packs before returning for the Minnesota III and my pack. Brock took off, I did a quick gear check for anything left behind and headed across the portage. At the end, Sean couldn’t find his water bottle, so he went back again to do another check at the beginning. No luck, we’d have to make do with just my water bottle for the trip. We loaded back up, crossed Townline in a hot minute and unloaded again. The portage out of Townline was repaired last summer and the new wood decking makes it so much easier to load and unload. We did the 1.5 portage technique again with Bianca single portaging and arrived at Polly on the other side around 11am. The view of Polly from that portage is easily one of my favorites I’ve encountered. We all had some snacks quick before loading the canoes back up and heading into Polly.[paragraph break]

The paddle through Polly was quick and we commented on how empty the lake seemed. We had yet to see anyone. After a little navigation mishap, we found the portage out of Polly and started our jaunt on the Kawishiwi River. The first two portages went by very quickly. We all just carried what we could as they’re so short. The final portage into Koma was a bit longer, so we again employed the 1.5 portage technique for Sean, Brock, Amanda and me. Koma was a quick paddle to the portage to Malberg. We completed that final portage quickly with everyone carrying what they could. Bianca really enjoyed the big rock at the end of the portage, and we finally saw another canoe with someone fishing by the rapids. We took another look at the map to figure out what campsite we were headed for, loaded up the canoes and took off. By this point it was in the mid-60’s, and none of us had been prepared for the warmth. We were all pretty warm and getting a little sunburned. We arrived at site 1051, our desired site around 1pm, took a quick survey and decided to unload and get settled in. [paragraph break]

Amanda and I set up our tents and sleeping pads, bags and clothing sacks while Sean went to hunt for a spot to hang a tarp. Once tents were set up, I got started on the task of making delicious freeze dried lunches while Amanda, Brock and Sean finalized the tarp set-up. We had purchased a new tarp from REI a couple days before the trip and didn’t have much experience with it. Between the 3 of them, they got it figured out and set up nice and high back in the cedar woods, ideal for the rain we expected at some point during the trip. Wednesday afternoon we spent time around camp. Brock and Bianca went fishing, Amanda was working on a friendship bracelet and Sean was scouting firewood. At some point, Sean and I went hunting for a bear tree and were able to track one down kind of on the shoreline away from camp. With the new food storage requirements, we decided to purchase Ursacks, despite always hanging our pack anyway. We just wanted to be dually covered. We found a decent tree, got the ropes set for easy hanging near dark and then continued to search for firewood. Sean was processing firewood, and I got a good fire going so we could start in on our potatoes for dinner. Brock caught a northern pike from shore, so we fileted it up to eat with our potatoes. After dinner, we cleaned up, hung out around the fire and passed around the Jameson until it was nearing dark. We all got our teeth brushed, toiletry bags into the Ursacks and Sean and I went to hang those on our previously set ropes. They went up easy and we returned to camp. Bianca went to bed first, around 9pm. I joined her not too much later than that and Brock, Sean and Amanda hung out around the fire for a bit longer talking.


Day 3 of 5

Thursday, May 16, 2024

I had listened to the weather radio before bed, so I knew that Thursday would be much cooler with a significant chance of rain. We finally rolled out of bed a little after 8am and layered up. It wasn’t raining yet, but it was definitely chilly. The predicted high was upper 40’s for Thursday. We got coffee and hot chocolate made and started in on breakfast. Brock, Sean and I enjoyed freeze-dried breakfast skillets and Amanda and Bianca shared biscuits and gravy—with some REALLY crunchy biscuits. We’ve found that there is always a learning curve to the freeze-dried meals, and this one particularly requires a bit more “skill”. The biscuits really need to be pushed to the bottom of the bag and mixed in well, it also probably needs a touch more water than indicated. Despite the crunchy biscuits, they both really enjoyed the flavor. We got dishes done, the warm water felt glorious on chilly hands, and Sean, Brock and I went fishing for a bit while Amanda and Bianca played cards on a towel on the ground. Brock caught another northern, and we were able to get a fire going and get the fish cooked up before the rain started around 1:30. We all put on rain gear and prepared for a rainy rest of the day. Thankfully, there were no major downpours, but with the cold weather, it made for kind of a blah afternoon. Brock had a genius idea to put rocks on top of the fire grate so we could keep our fire going in the rain, but otherwise we mostly hung out, fished from shore and tried to stay warm and somewhat dry. It rained lightly all day and finally stopped for a bit in the early evening. Sean and I took out the canoe to check out some of the other campsites that were near us. We were only able to find one that looked really overused, open and rough. Not one we’d like to stay at in the future. There was supposed to be another site in the same bay, but we couldn’t find it and the rain had started again, so we decided to head back to camp to warm up. We had more freeze-dried meals for dinner, cleaned up the dishes and brushed teeth so we could hang our bear bag. Bianca retired to the tent first, probably around 8:30, I followed around 9 because I was really chilly and damp from the rain. Sean, Amanda and Brock hung out for a bit longer and then headed for bed.


Day 4 of 5

Friday, May 17, 2024 We had already made the decision that we’d return to Polly on Friday to make for an easier exit on Saturday, so after waking up around 8am, we started packing up camp. We all had Clif Bars, Coffee or Hot Cocoa and some water with Mio Squeeze Caffeine for an easy breakfast. It took a bit to pack up, but we hit the water around 10am. It was a nice, sunny day again and we enjoyed the reprieve from the rain. The portages were handled similarly to the way in and we made it to Polly around noon. At that point, we saw several people on the last portage into Polly as well as a handful of people on Polly. It was Friday and it was much busier than Wednesday. [paragraph break] Sean and I had always wanted to check out site 1073, and it was finally open, so we stopped off and looked. It was a good site but facing the wrong direction to get wind through. The bugs were already getting bad, so we decided to continue south and see if we could find a better site for the bug situation. The sites we were looking at on the west shore were taken, but surprisingly, the island site 2013 was open. Sean, Bianca and I stayed there on Bianca’s first trip in and enjoyed the site, so we decided to take that one. The breeze was blowing through fairly aggressively, but it definitely helped with the bugs. [paragraph break] We had some salami, cheese and trail mix as a nice pick me up before starting on camp chores. We again got camp set up, this site has an amazing tent pad area. Sean went in search of firewood, but being an island, he didn’t have much luck. He found a few small sections of wood and got that processed so we could get a fire started eventually. Amanda scared a grouse out of its nest of eggs while walking to the bathroom, so we continually joked with Bianca about catching a grouse for dinner. Obviously, we did not catch grouse for dinner. Brock helped get the bear tree ropes set up, this site also has an amazing bear tree. Once everything was set up, we had another delicious, freeze-dried lunch and then Sean and I paddled to the shore to our south in hopes of finding some firewood. [paragraph break]Amanda, Brock and Bianca stayed back and worked on getting a fire going with what little wood we had collected. Sean and I ended up finding a decent amount of firewood, so we loaded it up in the canoe and returned to camp. Amanda had made a neat oven out of rocks on the fire grate so we could cook potatoes in it and had gotten a fire started. The guys got started processing the wood while Amanda manned the fire and I put the potatoes in the “oven.” We ended up with plenty of firewood to get good coals under the oven and keep a nice fire going off to the side. While the potatoes cooked, Bianca decided she wanted to practice with the flint and steel. After about 45 minutes of solid work, she got a nice little fire going using birch bark and the flint and steel. Sean and I were incredibly impressed with her determination, as that is not always a strong skill she exhibits at home. She was proud of herself as well and it was neat to see her accomplish that. Dinner was freeze-dried meals over potatoes and we were all very satisfied. The potatoes were amazing in the makeshift oven that Amanda made and we’re definitely going to do that in the future. It was genius! Sean and I did the dishes, and then roasted some marshmallows over the fire. By this point, the sun was going down and the wind whipping through camp was starting to make us cold. We all huddled around the campfire and Amanda, Bianca and I started working on new friendship bracelets until it got too dark. Bianca went to bed around 9:30. The rest of us stayed up and watched thunderstorms roll in to the south of us. They all seemed to go around us to the southwest, and watching the lightning across the sky is always impressive. It does put a little but of a lump in my throat as I don’t love camping in thunderstorms, but still so powerful to see nature in full force. Eventually, we all went to bed, hoping to get some solid sleep for the paddle out the next day.


Day 5 of 5

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Sean and I woke up around 5am because the wind whipping through camp was intense. We managed to avoid thunderstorms the night before, but the skies on Saturday didn’t look promising. We decided to roll out of bed around 5:30 for bathroom breaks and to get a glimpse of the water to see how bad the wind was. Surprisingly, the waves didn’t look horrible, so we decided to start the packing process. Unfortunately, it started raining, so we had the fun task of packing up in the rain. We had most of our gear laid out under a tarp, so we were able to stay dry over there, but all of the tents were wet. I hate packing up wet tents, it’s just not enjoyable. We all had Clif Bars and some Mio Energy while packing and decided to head out while the wind was still at a tolerable paddling level. [paragraph break] We left our campsite on Polly around 7:45 and as we rounded peninsula toward the first portage of the day, we were hit with very dark skies. We managed to get our gear unloaded and Brock and Sean took off with canoes and then the rain and thunder started. It didn’t seem too severe, so Bianca, Amanda and I gathered packs and headed on our way. Portaging in a thunderstorm was a fun experience, but it passed by us quickly and the rain stopped about a half hour after it started. We paddled through Townline before hitting our last long portage of the day. The men took the canoes across, and Amanda and I took Sean and Brock’s packs to the halfway point, while Bianca took off with her pack. I forgot how uphill the portage from Townline to Kawaschong is and doing the beginning twice was exhausting. I was already moving pretty slow when I arrived at Kawaschong to very windy conditions. [paragraph break]The waves on Kawaschong didn’t look too intimidating, but we knew we’d be paddling hard to make headway in the wind. We’re guessing it was about 20mph winds. We mustered up the courage, loaded the canoes and started paddling hard. Unlike other windy trips, I was never scared of the waves, but the paddling was definitely exhausting. The first portion of the river into square didn’t provide any paddling relief as we were fighting wind and current. We reached the first beaver dam, unloaded our gear, carried it up the small, rocky hillside, reloaded and started out again. The second beaver dam allowed us to unload people and pull over, but with the wind it was a big challenge to point the canoe straight and get moving again. Sean, Bianca and I managed okay, but Brock and Amanda couldn’t quite get their canoe straight and they shot across the river broadside to the dam. Amanda eventually connected her paddle with a stump and was able to straighten them out. After the fact, she said a few times that she was sure that was the spot they were going to tip the canoe. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and the next portion of the river was a little more sheltered from the wind. The current was still strong, but we were able to take the paddling a little bit easier and rest our arms. [paragraph break] The paddle through the remainder of the river and Square Lake was uneventful. We were able to just stand on the dam between Square and Kawishiwi and float the canoe over. Sean and I were amazed at the growth in lily pads on the river between Wednesday and Saturday. On Wednesday, most of the lily pads were under the water, but Saturday they had started to approach the top and were visible all around us. The difference between spring and summer through the river is amazing. I enjoy seeing it both seasons, it’s surprising how quickly plants emerge in spring. We reached Kawishiwi Lake a little after 10am and started the paddle toward the launch. Thankfully, the wind had receded a bit, so our paddling could be a bit more relaxed. We were all pretty tired by this point, and travel was slow, but we reached the launch without too much trouble around 10:45am. The launch was busy with 2 other groups packing out, so we moved our gear off to the side and waited for an opening to bring the cars down. Brock and Amanda were headed to a wedding Saturday afternoon, so after grabbing what they needed from the wet packs, they headed toward the cities. Sean, Bianca and I got the remaining gear into the truck, tied the canoes to the roof rack, and changed into clean clothes for the journey home. We ended up pulling off into Sugarloaf Cove to get one of our foam blocks reset under the canoe and hoped that was the last of the mishaps. Lunch was McDonalds in Two Harbors which we ate in the car. The wind on 35W was insane, and we ended up losing a foam block just before Pine City. At that point, we decided to get off 35W and take the back roads and slower roads to home, just hoping to prevent any more wind issues with the canoes. We arrived at my parents house around 4:30 to pick up our little guy who was very excited to see us. He can’t wait to join us in August when we head in again, this time through Sawbill. We had a good time on this trip and enjoyed the opportunity to bring in some BWCA newbies. Until next time.


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