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May 20 2022

Entry Point 37 - Kawishiwi Lake

Kawishiwi Lake 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 33 miles. Access is a boat landing at Kawishiwi Lake.

Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1653 feet
Latitude: 47.8390
Longitude: -91.1036
Kawishiwi Lake - 37

Malberg Basecamp

by 30Smoke
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 06, 2017
Entry Point: Kawishiwi Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This is the fourth trip I have taken with my Cousin Peter. Hopefully we will have many more of these annual trips. For the second month in a row, I left work at 8pm on a Monday to drive north for a trip and headed for Duluth, getting to the rest area on the hill just after 11pm. I set the phone to wake me at 2 am and I was headed up the North shore on my way to EP36 at Kawishiwi Lake.

Day 1 of 6

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 I met up with Peter just after 6am. He came up the night before and stayed at the campground. We made scrambled eggs and bacon for a hearty breakfast and then got our bags loaded and started paddling. This was my first trip from this entry point and it was a beautiful paddle. We went through Kawishiwi to Square and then followed the river to Kawashachong before hitting the longest portage at 187 rods to Townline. After a short paddle across this little puddle, we had 88 rods into Polly. After a long paddle across Polly, we did the three portages through the ponds to Koma, which were 17, 54, & 114 rods. Along this trail we saw many moose tracks, but no moose. Koma was littered with boulders just under the waterline, so after a tense paddle we made it to our last portage, a very beautiful route leading to the Malberg Boulder. Considering I had only slept a few hours the night before, I was getting tired, but we decided to head for the Northwest arm and campsite 1042, which Peter had stayed at several times previously. It was a hard paddle, but we put ashore about 5pm and the campsite was as advertised. What a beautiful sight. This would be home for the next 5 days as we would explore in every direction from basecamp. After eating supper, we hopped in the canoe and fished around the point until dark. There is a reason they do not call it catching! I was ready to lay down on my Big Agnes when we got back and I slept well into the next morning. ~Kawishiwi Lake, Square Lake, Kawasachong Lake, Townline Lake, Polly, Lake, Koma Lake, Malberg Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Kawishiwi Lake, Square Lake, Kawasachong Lake, Townline Lake, Polly, Lake, Koma Lake, Malberg Lake,

Day 2 of 6

Wednesday, June 07, 2017 This day would start like many, me sleeping in and Peter fishing for the predawn lunker! We finished the bacon with our pancakes and planned a paddle trip over to Boze. The Louse River from Malberg was beautiful and the water levels high enough that we were able to paddle over the partial beaver dam and skip the first short portage. The river all the way to Frond was full of boulders and twists and turns. I got to hear stories of the difficulties in passing this way when the water is low and the boulders high. After crossing Frond, it looked like we could pull the canoe through the falls and skip the portage. About half way up, I took to shore while Peter kept going until he came around the portage to my surprise and delight! We would have one more portage and then we could paddle Boze. Once across Boze, we pulled out some snacks and checked out the campsite, just a few yards south of the portage. Boze is a beautiful long slender lake with a couple small islands on the north end. We paddled around the island and were entertained by a Beaver chasing us away from his area. I got many good photographs of Mr Beaver swimming and splashing his tail. We paddled around the island and then south down the east shore. There was a very pretty rock wall to the Northwest of the island, and we could see in the forest paddling the shore. Rumor is there was a camp set up on this lake way back when, and some of the equipment was still out there. We could not see any remnants of this story, but it was a beautiful day and we had a great trip. Heading back out was just as pretty as the trip in. We decided to try fishing in front of the big boulder on portage from Malberg to Koma, but the water was shallow and the fish scarce. Again we got back before dark, had supper and plotted for our great adventure the next day. I slept well again, rising well after sunrise. Apparently, I’m not a morning person! ~Malberg Lake, Frond Lake, Boze Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Malberg Lake, Frond Lake, Boze Lake,

Day 3 of 6

Thursday, June 08, 2017 Again, I slept in and Peter worked the lake for fish. Midmorning we had breakfast and decided to paddle over to River Lake (Kawishiwi River). We paddled around for a while and came across two guys fishing along the bank. They said the fishing was awesome and the walleyes were biting. One of the guys held up a small fish and I thought “perch”? No, they were just really small Walleyes. They had their “livewell” (cooler) full of fish and were heading out the next day. I figured they would have a good fish fry. We fished for a while and caught two keepers for dinner and headed back to Malberg. After frying the Walleyes and making some Idaho instant potatoes, I took a short nap and then we went back and tried our luck for a few more fish. It was a beautiful night with the full moon coming out as we paddled back to camp that evening. We caught a few fish, but nothing to put on the stringer. As we glided into camp, we were both still full from supper, so we built a small fire and laid out plans for the next day. ~Malberg Lake, Frond Lake, Boze Lake~Malberg Lake, River Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Malberg Lake, River Lake,

Day 4 of 6

Friday, June 09, 2017 I believe I actually got up before 9, Peter had been fishing and even prepped some firewood. After we ate pancakes and eggs, we decided to head for Adams lake, which would involve a few portages to the Kawishiwi, Trumpline, Beaver, and Adams. We had to lift over a couple beaver dams, but made it to Beaver and jigged for Walleyes. There were none willing to cooperate with our endeavor, so after a while we found the portage to Adams, took some Loon pictures and began the portage. As is often mentioned, the Beaver side of the portage is sharp rugged rocks and once you get on shore, you are next to a wall of rock. This was a beautiful portage and on the Adams side, there was a large rock/hill and I decided that I was going to climb to the top because I could (actually to see if I could). I get very nervous at heights, but as I started ascending the big hill, I could see a route to the top. Peter chose to stay below and check out the back of his eyelids. Halfway up, I nearly put my hand on a snake (the only one I saw on this trip), but he slithered away and I was left unharmed, but shaken – not stirred! The trees blocked the view from the top, but I still had fun and pushed myself past my comfort zone. Once we got paddling on Adams, I caught lunch (a good eater northern) and we had some fish to go with the Mac & Cheese. We explored around the big island on the south side of the lake and worked our way into the back bays. Adams is a very pretty lake and I would like to go back for a few days. As we came out on the main body of water, the wind was picking up, so we headed north to Campsite 1045, where Peter cleaned the northern and I started lunch. We were graced with the presence of a Flock of Seagulls (but Mike Score was nowhere to be seen) and a beautiful mature bald eagle. I need a better camera, (got a Nikon D7200) or the Eagle’s need to fly closer! After eating, we headed back to camp, and it appeared we were going to be dumped on, but the rain never came except for a light mist. It was a long day, but a good day.   ~Malberg Lake, River Lake, Beaver Lake, Adams Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Malberg Lake, River Lake, Beaver Lake, Adams Lake,

Day 5 of 6

Saturday, June 10, 2017 I’m not 100% sure, but I think Peter went fishing while I slept in, but not too late. Today would be windy with threats of rain, but partly sunny, and we would travel a real pristine beautiful route. After the requisite breakfast of pancakes, we gathered the gear we would need for a long day trip and again started parting water. We worked our way around the peninsula in the lower part of the Northwest part of Malberg. We circled around the big bay, checking out the campsites, before heading back to the narrows and a chance to view the campsite on the bluff. What beautiful views at campsite 1053 – I’ve got to come back and stay there sometime. We continued working our way east, until we got to the bay with the portage (46 rods) into the Kawishiwi. This was a beautiful portage, and once you get past the falls, there is some really pretty river before getting out to the main lake/river. We stopped at campsite 1050 for snacks. This was a pretty site, but lots of widow makers around the site. I wouldn’t mind spending a night at this site.  After snacks and checking out the trails, we hit the water and soon found there was a westerly wind which would challenge our grit/stamina. This wind would challenge us all the way to the upper falls on the Kawishiwi, but during the trip, Peter was able to catch a couple eater walleyes as we went the length of the river. By the time we got to the upper falls, my shoulders and arms could feel the burn! This was definitely a good workout, but it would have been a much more pleasurable paddle without the wind. But sometimes more pleasurable is less remember-able. After the easy 23 rod portage past the falls, we tried fishing a bit, but were lucky we caught our eaters already, because nothing was biting. We headed back to the portage into Malberg (64 rods) as the sun was setting and were able to have our second and last walleye fish fry for the trip. What a perfect day, except for the wind.

~Malberg Lake, River Lake  


Lakes Traveled:   Malberg Lake, River Lake,

Day 6 of 6

Sunday, June 11, 2017 We broke camp and headed out of the BWCA. Everything went pretty normal, except the sun was not shining for our last day in the Wilderness. We eventually got back to Polly, and I could not for the life of me remember which arm we came from. Fortunately, Peter remembered, and we did not have to dig out the maps. Coming out of Polly, the forest is in full force. After climbing the embankment of rocks, the forest is gone to the south, where the Pagimi fire burned. It is such of contrast of forest to desolate prairie, except for all the toothpick tree trunks which have been burned, but still standing in silhouette. The mist was turning to a light rain as we entered Kawashachong. Again, I could not remember from where we came, but Peter got us right to the river and before long we portaged around the beaver dam. After reaching Square Lake, we went right past the river mouth again and had to circle back. As we got closer to Kawishiwi, I had my first Moose sighting in the Boundary Waters. I had seen moose before in Southeastern North Dakota, but this habitat seemed much better for them. After the excitement/fear of being within 50 yards of a moose (raining so camera was packed away) – but this is pretty much what we saw (not my picture, just for illustrative purposes of what I remember seeing!), except it was raining. After this excitement, it was nice to get back on Kawishiwi Lake and track across to the Entry point. Another wonderful trip wrapped up, as nice or nicer than the journey to Jordan in August of 2016.  Postscript: I had a conference in Brooklyn Center the next day, so I drove down to Wild River State Park, and the exciting part about getting to camp another night was the sign entering the park “brake for snakes” I was tenting in a Snake research Area! Oh happy days! Best part is I lived to speak of this adventure, and did not see a single snake in the state park!


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