BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 20 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 9
Elevation: 1653 feet
Kawishiwi Lake - 37
July 01, 2013
Number of Days:
Rather than having to prepare a meal right away when I arrived at my entry point, I stopped in the town of Two Harbors and picked up a sandwich at the Sub Way Shop. That turned out to be a good decision that I’ll likely do if I come this way on a trip again.
I stayed the first night at the Kawishiwi Campground. It was nice and quiet with only one other camper there, so I had my pick of the other 4 available sites. I ended up taking site #1 because it had a pair of perfectly spaced trees for hanging my hammock. The temperature really dropped that first night. I was very thankful that in addition to my diy underquilt, I had brought along a cheap car sun screen to help insulate my back side. Turned out that I had a very good and comfortable sleep in my new War Bonnet Black Bird hammock.
It was the start of a beautiful day with mist covering the water as the sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon. Very picturesque. I packed up my canoe and began my journey at 7:30
As I journeyed down the stream that lead out of Kawishiwi Lake, I came upon a large doe. She allowed me to get quite close to her before she got a little skittish and moved only 30 feet away, where she stopped, turned around, and calmly watched me pass by. I intentionally don’t carry a camera with me because I want to live in the moment and experience things more fully as they are taking place. If I had brought a camera along, though, this would have likely been a good shot.
I thought I had prepared myself for the fire damage from the Pagami Creek fire that I knew was soon to come, but it was still a shock to my system when I rounded the bend of the river leading into Kawashchong Lake and saw the back drop of all the bare black & white trees stripped of life. A sad, mournful feeling came over me As I approached the next portage, I saw a rather strange sight, …I couldn’t quite believe my eyes at first. There amidst all the fire damage, it looked like a large, heavy piece of tree trunk was being suspended and held up by small two inch strips of mere tree bark on each side. As I got closer to examine it, what I found was that the trunk portion was hollow inside, … all that remained was just the shell of the surrounding bark. I found it interesting and unusual how the fire had burned this tree to leave this most unlikely looking formation. Okay, Kodak moment number two missed. I’ll admit that a picture of this would have been worth a thousand words (to you the reader, anyhow) - - but can you imagine it in your mind?
It was a little past noon, so I decided to stop for lunch and ended up staying the night at site #1072 on the northwest corner of Polly Lake. It appeared to be a very popular site. Absolutely no down/dead wood to be found anywhere. Still it was very scenic with a number of other nice features. I set up my hammock and tarp in an area tucked more towards the back of the site. I used my trekking poles to set my tarp in “porch” mode for the first time. It gave a nice open feel to my surroundings. While I was tightening everything, a woman paddled up onto the shoreline and called out, checking to see if anyone was at the site. Turns out “I” was. Ha! I wanted to relax and take a short nap, so I went and hung a red bandana and propped my kayak paddle closer to the water so people could tell that the site was occupied.
I read some, then took a nap – or at least tried to. A USFS agent came into camp and woke me up. She checked my camp permit, up to date registration sticker on my canoe, and the latrine in back which she said had recently had some work done on it. She was pleasant enough. Actually, I was glad there were agents like her who are actively watching and making sure that the rules were being followed as they should. Maybe I’ll be able to get that nap in tomorrow after lunch.
Three Whiskey Jacks (Canada Jays) came and paid me a visit. All I had to offer them was a cold, wet, left over Folger’s Single packet. No takers! I had a banana and an apple for breakfast which was convenient since I didn’t have to cook or clean up anything. I’ve become convinced that doing simple meals is the way to when doing solo trips. As other trippers had mentioned in their trip reports, I too, tend to not eat as much when I’m soloing. Not sure why that is.
I have what feels like the beginning of possible rotator cuff pain in my left shoulder. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen! It went away and really didn’t bother me the rest of the trip.
To be honest, for some reason, I’m having some difficulty getting into soling this time. Too many other people present? Not isolated enough? Too old and not in as good of shape as last year? The heat and bugs? Not sure what it is exactly. Maybe a combination of things.
The second pond leading out of Lake Polly is very badly drawn/depicted on my Fisher map. I wasted more time than I wanted just trying to find the dang portage out of there. The map is very deceptive. Fisher really needs to do a re-do on it and add more accurate detail.
I checked out the 3 “best” campsites on Malberg Lake that I knew about. All were occupied. It was getting quite hot, and I was tired, but I decided to go ahead and paddle on to the northwest corner of Malberg where the map showed two possible sites. The first one on the peninsula was a total bust with absolutely no shade and nowhere to even hang a hammock. Rather than back track, I decided to take the risk of paddling on to the ever popular, sandy Five star site further on, ..but, as I had expected, it was already occupied.
I found a shady piece of shore nearby. Ate lunch. Decided to press on to the Kawishiwi River that lay ahead. The good part of the water level being high was that I was able to avoid two small portages yesterday. The bad side of high water level was that there was a 30 yard stretch of 2 ½ feet water in the middle of the 67 rod portage leading out of Malberg Lake! I kept the canoe on my shoulders and simply waded through it, hoping that my shoes (the only pair I brought) would eventually dry out. They did.
I was starting to get hot, sweaty and tired. I was hoping that the marginal site (#1038) on River Lake that I was forced to stay at last year would be open and available to me this time around. I remembered the site not being that great for a tent, ..but to my delight, I found that it was a much better site for hammocking with a cool, shaded grove of cedars right close to the water. It was empty, thank goodness, so I set up my hammock and tarp and rested and cooled off for an hour and a half, which really helped refresh and renew me. There was a whole lot of available wood lying around on this site. I decided to stay up and have a camp fire that night. When I finally did lie down for the night in my hammock, I was warmly greeted by a bunch of fireflies circling around on the inside of the tarp. It was amazing to me how much warm and inviting light each one of those little creatures created. It was a very pleasant backdrop with which to fall asleep.
I saw no one on my journey to Beaver Lake this morning. First real sense of isolation/serenity. I’m starting to feel more into the solo. I guess that must have been a major factor.
Because of the high water level, I was able to avoid doing another portage - the 60 rodder into Trapline Lake. All that was required was an easy lift over a beaver dam.
I stopped and checked out the sole campsite on Trapline Lake. Being elevated and isolated, it was quite inviting, but it wasn’t any good for hanging a hammock. Maybe I’ll stay on this site another time when I bring my tent.
Back talking about Beaver Lake, my destination for today. It’s one of my all time favorite campsites with lots and lots of memories …like: a friend in our group who tore the nail off his big toe (ouch!) while jumping into the water off the high rock ledge, …on an early June trip we had set up camp early on this site and were holed up safe, warm and dry under our tarp as a bone-chilling sleet began to blow sideways. As we were sitting there a very unhappy looking couple paddled by while covetously eyeing the site, …a friend in our group who caught a really big Northern on this lake, ...memories I had of spending many good hours on a really nice, flat and well shaded sitting area right along the shore which always caught a nice breeze that kept me cool and the bugs away, ...and on last year’s solo trip I was only able to stop and have lunch here because staying the night would have thrown me off schedule. So I sure hoped that the site was open this time around - - and it was! Yippee!
I set up camp, took a much needed shower (my small and light Sea to Summit shower worked great! I highly recommend it.) I took a book out on the breezy, bug-less veranda and began to read. While I was doing this I looked up, and there was a big otter with his head out of the water checking me out, ..then it nonchalantly swam off.
Near evening, rain threatened, but luckily the storm passed me to the southeast.
I caught two really nice sized Smallmouth Bass after dinner. I was atop a ten foot ledge and really had a challenge trying to retrieve them up the high rock wall.
Because of the strong wind I didn’t want to go out on the lake to fish or explore by canoe. I just felt like I wanted to rest and simply “be”. It felt good to be able to follow my inner voice. One of the very nice things about doing a solo!
It was partly cloudy, but calm this morning. Looked like a great day for paddling. Not so blasted hot out! I ran into the same female Forest Ranger again on my pass through Trapline Lake where she had spent the night. On my way out of Trapline, my canoe was able to nicely slide down the “V” created in the middle of the beaver dam. Again, it saved me from having to do the 60 rod portage. Sweet!
It felt remote in this part of the loop. I didn’t run into any other canoeists until I set up camp on the north east end of Malberg Lake. I decided to stop and camp on site #1057. I set up my hammock, and put the tarp in lock down storm mode (looks cool that way with closed “doors” and all!), ..ate lunch, ..took a quick dip in the lake to cool off, ..and around 1:30p.m. a light rain began to fall, ..followed by louder and louder, and closer and closer lightening strikes, ..followed by a true downpour with intense gusts of wind. A real gully-washer as they say. As much rain fell in a short period as I had ever seen in my 39 years of coming to the B’dub. It felt good to see how my new tarp set up and groundhog stakes stood solid and strong against the onslaught of the storm. And contrary to what all Noobies fear, -- absolutely NO water dripped down the suspension system and into my hammock. Stayed dry as a duck’s back.
One thing I REALLY appreciated and grew to like was being able to use the hammock as a comfortable camp chair to sit in under the tarp to read and wait out the rain. Very comfy, dry, and relaxing! Great support for my back! Also, I had pitched the leeward side of the tarp in “porch mode” using my hiking poles so I was still able to catch some breeze and didn’t feel so claustrophobic.
I was disappointed to discover that two heavy sprayings of Permethrin on the outside of my hammock did NOT keep the mosquitoes from drilling my back through the single layer 1.7 nylon fabric. Has anyone else had a similar experience with using Permethrin on the outside of their hammock? Perhaps I just missed a spot, …but I kind of doubt it.
I saw hardly any people today! I opted to camp on the last campsite on the south/east shore of Polly Lake (#1081). I did see the same USFS female agent for a 3rd time though, as she stopped by my campsite for a routine check! I asked her if I was being followed. Ha!
The sun came out in the afternoon with beautiful billowy clouds reflecting off the mirror-like water. Truly gorgeous!
Later that afternoon I was fortunate to first hear, ..and then be able to see a mother moose and her calf walking along the shore across a narrow channel from my campsite. Later that afternoon, the sun shown like diamonds on the water, with a slight breeze to keep cool and bugs at bay. A truly idyllic last full day in the B’dub!
On my way out, I ran into a really huge snapping turtle on the portage trail. It was jet black. I had never seen a snapper when it was fully out of the water. I always thought they were green in color. Not so, apparently.
Except for having to paddle into a medium wind all morning, my exit was uneventful. I arrived back at the Kawishiwi Lake entry point around 10:45 a.m. It was a good trip, …I’m glad I did it, ..but it also felt very good to be heading back home to my wife, ..and dog, ..and friends, ..and many creature comforts. = = = = = = =
Things I learned on this my second solo trip: 1). For me personally, 8 days is a better length of time for doing a solo than the two-weeker I attempted to pull off on my first solo last year. 2). I planned a less physically demanding route, backed off some, and did a couple of layover days which made for a more user-friendly and enjoyable trip for me at this stage of my life. 3). I really prefer to do any future solo trips at the end of August/early September. Fewer bugs and fewer people. More comfortable temperatures, and more stable weather patterns. 4). Last year I learned the hard way about the negatives of taking along too much stuff. I was proud of taking the initiative to cut back on the weight and bulk of my carry this time around, - - but I strongly feel that I should be able to cut back even more. Here are some things I plan to reduce or eliminate on my next solo trip: No sharp knife (can use my pocket knife to cut cheese, etc.) No fork (never used it, only really need a spoon) Only need one larger size butane canister for an 8-9 day trip Lighter books to read (paperback only) (in summer) Only need one long sleeve shirt & one long sleeve pull-over (omit bulky hooded sweatshirt) Only need 2 pairs of underwear since Ex-officio pants have built in mesh shorts Need only 4-5 fishing lures. Eliminate fish grabber No bandana needed Eliminate aluminum cup attached to thwart and replace with lexan cup that can serve a dual function. Only need one sample/travel size tube of toothpaste Only need one tube of liquid soap that can serve dual functions of pot clean up and personal hygiene No swimsuit needed No weather radio Still less food!: - Omit gorp. Too heavy. Replace with lighter, more convenient granola bars which I can stick in my pocket for quick eating in route. - Reduce amount of crackers - Half the amount of coffee creamer - Fill small bottle of Parkay from large store-size container - Eliminate oil - Reduce amount of fish batter (since I don’t do much fishing on my solos, and this trip I didn’t even cook up any fish for a meal). - Fewer individual drink packets - Smaller portions of oat meal per meal - Smaller amount of Everclear - But MORE Spam. Yum! More than worth the weight!
Optional considerations: ? Eliminate bowl (can just eat from pot food is cooked in) ? (in summer) Eliminate long underwear since I slept in the clothes I was wearing. ? Eliminate saw ? Small Sea to Summit shower ? Fishing rod & reel
Here’s hoping you enjoyed reading this trip report. Next year!