BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 29 2023
Entry Point 38 - Sawbill Lake
Number of Permits per Day: 11
Elevation: 1802 feet
Sawbill Lake - 38
Sawbill, Cherokee, Frost-2 teenagers and lame parents
June 22, 2020
Number of Days:
Our 2019 was incredible and would lead to an even more amazing and experienced 2020 trip. Everything, and I literally mean EVERYTHING, I learned from this site. I spent months, countless hours, researching our first adventure by viewing every trip report, gear guide suggestion and message board possible. Yes, I'm a planner to a fault, but I am a realistic planner. I knew there were many aspects I could not control; the weather and the amount of other adventurists we would encounter were unpredictable. I spent an immense amount of time reading every trip report and exploring every link to another site. Do I think that is necessary for every BWCA traveler? No. You do you. I felt as if I had the lives of my family's memories in my hands and I did what I did because it made me feel better. Not everyone needs that, but I did ME ??
We embarked from Sawbill on June 22nd, 2020, which was the location and near exact date we left from in June of 2019. I can't express to you how much we love Cherokee Lake and this is what drove us to begin our second adventure from the same starting point. I think there is, for our family, something about Cherokee that invokes a sense of adventure. It's big, it has many islands, but it has solitude. Cherokee, if you allow it, leads to the part of the Boundary Waters that feels remote. Last year we base camped on Cherokee (2 different sites) for 6 days and took day trips to neighboring lakes. This year, we would expand and camp on the lakes we had found the previous year.
Frost. Can't emphasize enough.. Frost. A day trip to Frost Lake in 2019 led us to a year of reminiscing about it's beauty and a plan to camp there another time. After 2 days at one of our 2 favorite sites on Cherokee, we packed up with our sights set on Frost. Ok, so I'll add my own side note (I get to do that because I'm the one writing this!). Gordon Lake, the main paddle to the Frost portage, is one of my favorites! I'll admit that it's lure has much to do with an otter, my first ever encounter, that danced around us for nearly an hour in 2019; however, Gordon Lake is beyond beautiful. It has open paddles, coupled with narrow, cliff-lined travels that are, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful on this trip. I know that Gordon is more of a waterway to other areas than it is a destination, but I feel like it is a much deserved notation on this trip.
On June 24th, 2020, we arrived in Frost. We had dreamed about this beautiful sand lined beach lake for 12 months! The site we had eaten lunch on the previous year was open and we eagerly set up camp. It was exactly how we had pictured. Amazing views, sand beaches littered with calf and cow moose prints and beyond beautiful tent pads gently nestled among the most enormous growth of blooming Lady Slippers. It truly was beyond imagination and I'm forever grateful for the place we called home for the next two days. We explored this beautiful lake for the next two days as much as we safely could do. It was windy during most of the days, but the evenings were calm. We fished, adventured to unnamed lakes and enjoyed a special lake trout meal. The plan was to spend 3 of our 6 nights on Frost. After the second night, we woke to cloudy skies and slightly wavy waters. The following two days were originally predicted to be quite beautiful, so we decided to pack up and head back to Cherokee. Upon arrival, we found our second campsite from the previous year was open and we claimed our stake. Although there is a great reward in discovering new parts of the BWCA, the familiarity of this beautiful site seemed exactly what we all needed! Our camp was erected and we fished from shore, paddled to a cliff jumping site our oldest had eyed up the previous year and simply enjoyed every moment. Our 6th day was met with sunny, warm and slightly windy conditions. This would be a day trip to Town Lake. The paddle was amazing, the portage beautiful and the lake was lonely until our arrival. Our youngest would catch his first Boundary Waters fish, a very respectable Northern, which was safely returned to the waters to swim another day.
Our 7th and final day was a bit of a sad event for me. I have boundless energy in the BWCA! As much as I ache in the morning, I fine recuperation in building a fire and making breakfast for my family. I can go days with hardly eating and still feel like I can portage for miles. I knew I would miss this. I knew this would be the last day of a family trip I may never have the privilege of experiencing again . My oldest, set to begin his final year of high school, is scheduled to begin boot camp the USMC June 2021. Following his father's footsteps, it seems a calling. Our 14 yo adjusting life without his big brother seems unimaginable. Perhaps ,in a perfect world we have will another opportunity to travel the Boundary Waters as a family; perhaps not. No matter what the future holds for us as a
family or as individuals, I feel confident that we have provided our children with the skills and appreciation of the remarkable
BWCA and hope this gift will be passed down to many generations to come
I could continue on I guess with the things we've learned. Dehydrating more food, purchasing hammocks for the kids proving to be priceless and the purchase of four more comfortable sleeping pads. Again, I don't know if we can add more to the knowledge and experience from so many seasoned veterans of the BWCA. The only thing I'm certain of is that anyone with a love, appreciation and respect for the wilderness and their own family can do this. Please don't ever be deterred by people calling you "newbies" or otherwise having never experienced a trip like this. We, as a family, can only provide you with encouragement and strength. You do NOT have to have years of experience. Do your reading, have a vision and know that you are giving generations to come an adventure of a lifetime. Peace out from a 51yo mom with a dream.