BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 22 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 11
Elevation: 1802 feet
Sawbill Lake - 38
June 18, 2023
Number of Days:
I worked until 230pm on this day. But all my stuff was packed and we departed Duluth at 4pm. BWCA trips starting late are always a big concern especially during a busier time of the year but it is what it is. We grabbed some food/dinner at the Holiday in Two Harbors and grabbed a tall boy IPA to drink before setting sail.
Once we arrived we drank the beer and made our way into Kelso through Alton. It was about 7pm by the time we were paddling and made it to Kelso pretty quick. First site was taken but the other two were available. Had all 3 been taken we did make note of a northern site on Alton that was not taken and 8pm ... probably was going to remain open.
We took the middle site and quickly set up the tent and a cheap walmart screen tent that I brought without the big poles. Made some hot chocolate mixed with whiskey and played some Cribbage as we listened to the annoyingly loud mosquito hum outside the screen.
Today is the day of the hike. We wake up and have some quick coffee with some quick snacks like salami, cheese, and granola bars. Fill our water containers, get the compass, map, deet, head nets, etc and make way for the old fire tower remains.
The paddle all the way up the dolmen rock was very easy. And like advertised pretty much across from it was the trailhead next to the dock pilings that Savage Voyageur kindly pointed out to me. I only brought one bottle of water on the hike which turns out was a mistake. Left the other one in the canoe so we would have some when we got back.
The trail was very hard to find and stay on. Early on we lost the trail and then trying to find it again was near impossible. So a little bushwhacking until we found another red tag (seems to be one every 100 feet or so) and then finally we got to the beaver dam. Fairly simple to walk across it but then trying to find the trail was again near impossible. We chose wrong and were back to bushwhacking. Its about 80 degrees with no wind and the mosquitoes and deer flies were atrocious. I kept pulling the gps/phone out to see if we could find the trail and we eventually did between the two peaks if you want to call it that but it took a lot of effort and luck. That is also where we ran out of water :/
But once on the trail again it was simple to find the tower. Looked around and took some pics before heading back. This time we were able to stay on trail all the way to the beaver dam. My father was starting to heat up a bit so I filled the empty water container and doused him to bring his heat down. After about 30 minutes we started down the trail. Made it about halfway and ... lost trail again and back to bushwhacking yet again. This was frustrating as walking back to find the trail would have been incredibly hard to do but so was going forward. Struggled on that last 1/4 mile but made it out.
That moment made me reconsider just picking a direction and walking out of the BWCA... pardon my ignorant comments in the survival topics of old haha.
Once out we drank the water and went back for a nap. We left camp at 10am and returned at 530pm so it was quite the day. After the nap we made some brats, drank some whiskey hot chocolate, and then headed to bed.
Next time I would bring the water filter with... or just more water. Also I was attacked by a Spruce Hen and I yelled and jumped pretty good as my dad laughed.... But about 3 minutes later another one came out attacking him and literally one of the only times I have seen him jump :D Those things are quite unexpectedly loud.
This was just a relaxing day. Woke up and made grilled pb and j for breakfast. Played some cribbage. Went swimming to get away from the sun. No shade anywhere and no wind... into the water was the only option to cool off. That evening we went fishing and we caught small pike and small perch until my dad lost his pole. First time ever for him. I had him back paddling for me cause I was snagged. During that moment something hit his line and I watched as his hand just missed the pole and then it disappeared into the water. He didn't have much line out and it was fairly deep so we concluded it might have been a pike that just hit it hard. I tried dragging for it with a treble hook and heavy sinkers but no luck. We then went back to camp to make dinner. Noodles with butter, salt, and pepper.
Decided to do an early exit. Get ahead of the wind and all that stuff. Made coffee, broke camp, stopped at Tracks 'n' Racks on the way home for a beer and appetizers.