BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1653 feet
Kawishiwi Lake - 37
An out and back for the first time
July 21, 2009
Number of Days:
Technically our trip started out the day before. We left Milwaukee, WI at 12:30pm for Tofte, MN. We had quite a drive ahead of us: 10 hours to reach The Cliff Dweller on HWY 61. We, also had to find a Dunhams Sports somewhere along our route which proved to be more difficult than we thought. My aunt said we could borrow paddles from her, but she didn't tell me that they were these old wooden ones that looked like if I would hit a rock would smash into a million pieces. So we needed to buy new paddles. We foound a Dunhams in Rice Lake, WI and bought our paddles, then continued on our way. We arrived in Tofte, MN at 11:00PM, checked into The Cliff Dweller and quickly went to bed because we planned on getting up at 7:00am. Before I stepped into the room, I took a moment and breathed in the crisp fresh air.
NOW it is Tuesday, July 21st, 2009.
We slept till 8am instead of 7am. We prepared for rain because that is what the weather was showing prior to our trip. And yupp it was raining and looked awful out. We had our nice continental breakfast and re checked everything. Then we made our way over to the Tofte Ranger Station to get our permit. We watched the video that everyone talks about and was on our way to the entry point. We got to entry point 37 by 10:45AM and luckily the rain stopped for a moment. There was one other group there getting out on the lake when we pulled up. After unloading and then loading up the canoe that group was gone and we were on our way. one minute later it was raining, five minutes later we were lost! (Remember first time ever) It came to a point where I wanted to go left and my girlfriend wanted to go right. We went with her decision and she was right. Felt sheepish at first, but I am glad I listened to her. Then we saw some people, asked if we were heading in the right direction, got a yes and we were on our way.
Our ultimate goal was to get to Malberg on the first day, once we passed the first portage we realized it wasn't happening. It was muddy, slippery, wet, and of course the sun came out while on our first portage. Steam rose from the ground while mud and sweat ran together down our faces. We overpacked, we knew it right away.
After three, almost four hours we only made it to Kawasachong Lake. It was back to raining, so we decided to try and find a campsite on this lake. There was only one taken, so it was pretty easy. We took a nice campsite on the east side of the lake. We then set up camp and thank heavens it had stop raining for the time being to set up camp. By nightfall we were exhausted and made our steak and potatoes. I did some fishing and caught a couple northerns. Bedtime. Pretty sure a bear came in our campsite at night, but we hung our food well and he/she was gone.
We woke up pretty early today, about 8am. That is early for us! We got our food pack down from the tree and cooked eggs, toast and outmeal. Everything was wet because it rained hard during the night. Suprisingly, the tarp we rigged up, stayed up. I tried starting a fire, it started a lil bit, but eventually burned out. Everything was too wet and I am not the best firestarter. I drank some coffee, she drank some hot chocolate. We cleaned up, made our lunches for the day and packed up camp. The portage to Lake Polly is normally not hard, but we forgot to change the pads on the yoke and this was the first time I properlly carried the canoe on my shoulders. The old pads were not pads at all. It was like metal was sitting on my shoulders. It slowly dug into my shoulders creating marks and eventually brusing them. We had to double portage, so it took awhile because those two portages combined equal at least a mile.
We got to Polly and headed to the east side of the lake because we were told the fishing was good over there. But then again it is July so finishing anywhere isn't that good. We found a nice campsite, there were some other groups we could see and hear on Polly. We were again tired, so we just paddled around Polly and tried to do some fishing, caught a baby northern and released it. Soon night came upon us, we cooked chili and had apples. Did some night fishing, caught a couple northerns, released them. Had some tea, mosquitos got bad, went in tent to bed. This night was quiet and no rain!
We woke up later today at 9am. I guess it must have rained sometime during the night because things were wet again. At this point, I am just sick of everything being wet. Can't get a fire going again, start to cook eggs, toast, and oatmeal again. Finished breakfast, cleaned up, we made lunch and headed to Malberg for a day trip. My shoulders hurt twice as much because they were bruised from the day before. Never imagined how tough portaging can be. Today was the first day it wasn't raining every couple of hours. However we heard thunder continuously throughout the day in the distance. Thick, black clouds would miss us, keeping the sun shinning. We paddled around Malberg, tried some fishing. Didn't catch a thing, didnt help it was the middle of the day. We were going to go up into Kawishiwi River, but we felt we didn't have enough time. We then headed back, my poor shoulders.
We got back to camp around 6pm and started to make dinner. We made a freeze dried meal called I can't believe it's cheese pizza. It was ok, the breading as a crust was fine, the sauce we weren't fond of. We cleaned up did some night fishing, didn't catch much and went to bed. Then it poured and stormed all night long. Sounded like knives were trying to cut our tent. Sheets of rain hammered us all night long. Didn't sleep much.
Woke up around 7:30AM. And by woke up, I mean rolled over and looked at the watch with tired eyes. Didn't sleep a lot because I was in protective mode for my sweetie last night. Got out of tent to see damage. Tarp was blown down, everything was wet, and it was cold and cloudy. Realized we had to pick up camp today to move closer to the entry point today. Got the pack down made the rest of our eggs and oatmeal. Had coffee and hot chocolate. We then picked up camp for a long paddle and portage to Kawishiwi Lake. Of course when we got on our way the sun came out and I had wet jeans and a sweater on. We crossed the portage between Polly and Kawasachong. After that I couldn't put the canoe up on my shoulders any longer. It felt as if my shoulders were bleeding. We double carried the canoe for the two short portages that lead us into Square. We continued to paddle into Kawishiwi and found a campsite close to the entry point. Set up only what we had to and relaxed a lil bit. We really didn't do anything for the rest of the day, we made macaroni and cheese at night. Went to bed early because we wanted to get on the road early because we had a long drive back. It rained again in the night.
We woke up around 7am, ate quickly and packed up. We were on the road at 9am.
I know I made this trip sound a little depressing, but we did take away good experience from this. We both decided we do want to come back, but we will pick an entry point that is closer to more stuff, and not so many portages. Or we will change the pads on the yoke so it is a little easier.
I will remember the quietness of the BWCA when it wasn't raining, and I will remember sun bathing on a giant rock and almost falling asleep. I will remember that even though my girlfriend and I got frustrated with each other at certain points, we over came it and it shows how strong our relationship is. And we will not overpack next time!
If it wasn't for the weather, I think we would have had a better time. The weather was rough on us newbies, but it didn't turn us away from the bounday waters. Plus a lot worse could have happen.