Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 22 2024

Entry Point 38 - Sawbill Lake

Sawbill Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Tofte, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 25 miles. Access is a boat landing at Sawbill Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 11
Elevation: 1802 feet
Latitude: 47.8699
Longitude: -90.8858
Sawbill Lake - 38

Jack lake wildlife adventure

by stok0099
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 20, 2021
Entry Point: Baker Lake
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Wildlife galore! Except for walleye.... This is an annual trip for us, but different lakes every year!

Day 1 of 4

Monday, September 20, 2021

Our annual trip started out significantly different than most. We had favorable tail winds, and our kayaks effortlessly floated us from portage to portage, and low stream to low stream. We are more seasoned with battling head winds and using significant effort to move our vessels through white capping waves.

The couple portages were not bad, some ankle biters throughout the trails, some scrapes and scratches causing bloodied ankles (which a leech found) and some of the largest downed trees I have ever seen. Note: Likely they’d been laying for a decade, but the winds that took these down must have been pretty impressive.

We found the small streams within Peterson and Kelly Lake to be very low. There were the remains of many of travelers scrapped against the rocks below, though it wasn’t a significant amount- this was a testament to the lower than average water levels. We did have to get out of our kayaks and push/pull them over a few spots.

The winds helped the paddle, but behind them some cool air and rain that followed. And it came down quick. Right when we felt like bragging about the favorable conditions, the rain started. Rain, winds and storms do not break our morale, we embraced it.

As the paddling started to became a little more aggressive we came around a bend on Jack Lake and there he was - standing tall, and stoic a huge (especially from a kayak vantage point) bull moose. He looked at us, and confidently knew we intended him no harm - more likely he sized us up and dismissed us as a threat. After a few minutes of gazing he disappeared into the woods, and our paddling picked up. After that, the rain wasn’t even a real thought (for a while). With adrenaline and excitement of being 2 hours in and seeing a moose pumping, rain wasn’t going to deter us.

We found the exact site we had planned on, on the main east point of Jack lake. It was an elevated site, and after online reviews and some cross talk with other adventurers this was “the site to have.” We thought it was an okay site. The view wasn’t great (maybe late fall it’s better), and the tent pads were okay, but had standing water from the rains. Little things like good placement for tarps ect were lacking. It’s tough though to critique anything while in such a great place.

We managed to get a tarp up run the rain and waited until dark when the rain died down to set up camp. We ran into a couple small bunnies as we were setting up too! After getting a pathetic fire going, we grilled up a steak had a drink or two and went to bed.


Day 2 of 4

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

We awoke to a large flock of Canadian Geese honking right next to us. They sounded as if they were in our tent, but of course they were just off the shore on a rock. We made some coffee and headed out to find the walleye on Jack. Instead of walleye, we found a plethora of smallmouth bass. We caught multiple quite large smallmouths, mostly just on a hook and a worm or leech. We even caught some right off shore at our sight (see pic)! The lake was filled with geese, ducks, multiple beavers, snow geese, and bass. A full day of fishing, and only one small walleye to show for it (let it go, 13"). We feasted on Taco's for taco Tuesday that evening and enjoyed a quiet peaceful night.

Although most of the day was quiet, the forest service aircraft scanning for wildfires, and likely supporting the Greenwood fire efforts flew by daily and often.


Day 3 of 4

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Another beautiful day! We were awoken once again by the geese. They definitely are loud!!! It was super foggy, to the point where you couldn't see across the super small lake. The sun burned the fog off pretty quickly, and we set out for another day of fishing. We ventured off into weird lake, which involved a paddle up the "river" that entailed of lots of weeds/lillypads. As we were fishing near the portage into weird, a two man group was paddling by. They asked us what sight we were on, and after we told them, they asked if they could join us on the sight. We were taken off guard with this questions, as we have never been asked that before. I would be curious to hear what other people think of that? We come up to honestly get away from people, but also don't mind company a times. We told them if they couldn't find a site on weird, they could come back and join us. It was still early (2pm), so it wasn't like it was going to be dark soon.

We brought one walleye back (16" or so) and ate it up for an evening snack (see pic). We hung out at the sight enjoying a nice fire and had some brats for dinner. We stayed up later that night, and around 1030-11pm we heard two bucks (more likely) or moose fighting. The sound of antlers smashing into each other and grunting was really cool. It sure sounded loud, so we believe they were moose, but that may just be us wanting to embellish the story. Either way, it was very neat to hear.


Day 4 of 4

Thursday, September 23, 2021 An absolutely beautiful day!!!! Warm, sunny, calm, and quiet.

On our way out, the paddle experience isn’t comparable to the past. It was the quietest, most calm paddle I have ever experienced. If possible, it was too quiet as if we were alone on a different planet. It was pretty awesome - and we didn’t come across a single group on our way out.

As we paddled through Kelly Lake we spotted what initially appeared to be ducks playing in the water, as we got closer we assumed maybe these were beavers. But, as we got even closer it was the beavers nemesis, a playful bevy (I looked that up) of otters. They were loving life. Fun to watch them.

An interesting takeaway happened at the entry point on Baker lake, a fellow whom had traveled from Wyoming asked how often we came out to the BWCA. We told him we averaged this into an annual trip and baffled he laughed and said “you live this close and only come out here once a year?” ... well stranger, you won’t get a disagreement out of us!