BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
February 26 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1802 feet
Sawbill Lake - 38
Long Weekend at Kelly
August 19, 2010
Number of Days:
Left Shoreview early in the morning, headed towards EP 39- Baker Lake. In the van are me (David) and my son Isaiah, my friend Scott and his son Skip. Atop the minivan are 2 canoes… my not-made-for-the-dbud 16’ Mad River Adventure and Scott’s 17’ Lund aluminum. As always, the canoes rest upon two 6’ barbells; why buy expensive bars when you can securely affix inexpensive, strong bars?
Before noon we were at Sawbill Outfitters… to pick up our permit and browse thru the store.
At early afternoon we are at the Baker Lake entry point. Our intentions are to get to Kelly (not far away) and set up camp. Scott and I were here 2 months earlier, exiting; at that time we thought this was a pretty area that we wouldn’t mind loitering at for a weekend; now we are set to do that.
The Baker Lake entry point is super easy to put in/out; access is right on the lake… and it is very scenic; I like it. At the 1st portage, to Peterson, the difference in water level between June and August becomes apparent; we portage sooner and longer, over unruly rocks… though these portages are still short. We pass people moving in the opposite direction; we pass pleasantries; they are from Shoreview too.
After Peterson comes Kelly… and on Kelly we find an open campsite, but then tool around a bit to compare it to other campsites; 1 other campsite is not as nice and the others are taken; we go back to the 1st campsite… which is on the peninsula opposite the portage to Burnt.
Weather is great… campfire is nice… and we sleep fine.
Weather is great. We fish… trolling the shores all along Kelly. Dad’s fish more than kids, who opt to hang at camp while we dads paddle. We caught a walleye and a smallie… but there isn’t much action.
Just before supper the Forest Service folks visit; they check our permit, check the latrine and make small talk. All is in order; the visit was fine.
The campfire involves wine, cheese, crackers and trivia. Soon after we retire to our tents, the rain starts; we sleep well. During the moments at which I wake in the night, I think I hear critters outside… but that doesn’t interest me much; I fall back asleep quickly.
Rain with short respites, followed by more rain. I get up and make breakfast in the rain, and we soon adjourn to the hammocks under the tarp to play cards. At times like this, the 5-gal bucket with gamma lid shines… because it is clean in the rain, easy to access and get snacks out of… and the doubles as our card table. At lunchtime, it’s still raining… and we’re still playing cards, dice and killing time.
I look up from my cards and see a bear nosing about our cleaned dishes… about 30 feet away. Wow! I immediately jump up and shout “Hey! Hey” and clap my hands. The others are startled as the bear scampers away. I tell them a bear was just there; they didn’t see it. I always wondered what I’d really do if I saw a bear, and now I know; I’d instinctively do what I’ve repeatedly read that I’m supposed to do. :) The bear looked neither small nor real large… and so I wonder if he was a cub or not.
Fast forward 2 hours; we’re playing cards down by the lake when Isaiah looks up and sees that same bear, nosing around; Scott and I see him too, a couple of us shout and he runs off; we grab pots and bang them long and hard for a while, to encourage him to keep moving on. Only Skip hasn't seen the bear.
Weather is clear… we paddle and fish more… and we see no more hints of bear while in camp.
But after nightfall… yep… I’m pretty sure I can hear him walking around while we’re in our tent; we’re leaving the next day anyway… but at this point, I’m thinking I’d break camp for sure in the morning regardless. I left all gear in the open, all packs opened… and hung the food pack + garbage far away and high up…, and so I don’t see much reason to go chasing bears in the night; I go to sleep. It turns out my buddy Scott heard him too… and did not sleep so well.
The morning is cool; I have my long shirt and rain coat on just to stay warm in the chill air. I see no evidence of a bear visit; perhaps I was just imagining stuff.
I retrieve the food pack, Skip joins me and we start breakfast. Bear! Skip sees a bear, and yells to scare her off; the kid is good! Skip says this bear was bigger. I didn’t see her, so I start walking the edges of the treeline looking for her. Yep; then I saw mama, about 25 yards in; she is much bigger than the other bear. We bang pots and yell… and she walks slowly away; she does not scamper like her nosy cub did.
Well, we woke Scott and Isaiah, and the presence of a persistent bears, one apparently taught by mama how to rummage for scraps, is beyond doubt now. Time to break camp! We ate quick, and split. We portaged back to Peterson, then to Baker.
Goofy observation: the bears saved our rainy day from boredom; once the cub showed up, we weren’t sitting around focused on the rain anymore.
Our goal was met: we enjoyed a short base-camping trip with our boys. Scott and I agree that our next trip with these boys will need to be more active; we’ll move from camp to camp with them.
OK, we encountered bears... and probably did some things right when doing so; I don't think I gave them any positive reinforcement (no easy food).