BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
April 21 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1497 feet
Summary: A 5-day loop from Baker up the Temperance lakes to Cherokee, and back through Sawbill and Smoke lakes back to Baker. A fairly difficult trip.
Day 0: We drove up from Stillwater in the morning and camped at one of the 5 walk-in campsites at Baker Lake, and it was nice.
Day 1 (Baker to S. Temperance) - A beautiful day, we decided to paddle all the way to South Temperance the first day which was a great paddle with easy portages except for the last one. We picked the campsite on top of a huge rock that was close to the middle of the lake. Tried fishing some but no luck
Day 2 (Rest) - In the night, we encountered the worst storm of the entire season. While we were there 19 people had to be rescued from the BWCA. We had about 50mph straightline winds, and I'm still surprised that the huge tent we had stood up to it. We slept in and took a rest day because of the intense winds. Amazingly beautiful sunset.
Day 3 (S. Temperance to Cherokee) - We left as early as we could to beat the heat, but it was no good. The lengthy, hilly portages were challenging and by the last portage we were pretty beat. We overpacked and single portaged which led us to speedier exhaustion. Still amazing weather. North Temperance was a beaut- I wish we had stayed there instead of South. We took the southeasterly facing campsite on Cherokee on the southeastern skinny island. Neat little site.
Day 4 (Cherokee to Sawbill) - Left a little later in the day but it was ok. We took our time going down the river letting out of the southwest part of Cherokee and it was a great area. BEWARE: The area between Ada and Skoop Lakes appears to be floatable, but a dam built recently has made the portion impossible to float. Be prepared for a long portage through muck and water. A guy that we saw there said he had been going to the BWCA for 40 years at least once per year and it was the worst portage he had ever seen. By the time we got to Sawbill it was pretty hot. We paddled all the way down to the site next to the portage onto Smoke.
Day 5 (Sawbill to Baker) - Cooler, cloudier weather for the first time on the trip. We were pretty hungry (I underpacked food a little and I felt really bad) and we were taunting each other with vivid descriptions of the burgers we were going to eat ASAP after getting out. We paddled back to Baker and returned our gear to Sawtooth outfitters.
Overall great route.
Yearly Family Mens trip (Pine Lake fishing)
July 31, 2009
Number of Days:
We usually drive up the afternoon before our entry date and stay at a motel or outfitter. This year we would be staying at the Vermillion Motel in Cook. Unfortunately the Border to Border triathlon was coming through so the only thing they had available was one room with two queen beds (I sacrificed and took the floor). True to form, my uncle had to get in a round of golf that afternoon in the cities so we drove up in two groups. My father and I went up early and were able to enjoy a dinner at the Landing on Lake Vermillion (too bad there was live/loud/bad music - otherwise it was a nice dinner). We called my uncle at 6:15 to tell him what room we were in and he told us he was on the 15th hole and would be up there by 10:30 - we laughed and bet him he wouldn't be there before midnight (he woke me at 12:15 coming in the room).
Day 1 As usual I woke up very early and tossed and turned till about 5:30 - finally getting up and showering and rousing everyone else to get moving. My dad and uncle are infamous putzers so I always am a little frustrated getting going (yes I am working on that). We got bait, permit, and breakfast on the road and headed to Shamrock marina on Moccasin point - arriving there around 8:30. (Note: they have a very impressive boat storage facility with a forklift that will lift 20,000 lb boats 40 feet in the air).
We got our shuttle to the beach next to the creek that runs out of Trout and into Vermillion. We loaded up the canoes and paddled up the short creek to the portage (the water is very clear and there is a nice waterfall coming in there). The portage was a quick one and we were soon paddling on Trout. The paddle is about 2 miles and we only saw a couple of motor boats who kindly kept their distance while we paddled. If I ever do a motorized trip (i.e. when my dad get's too old) Trout will definitely be my first one - it is a very pretty lake with deep, clear water.
The portage into Pine is a 260 rod portage. There is nothing too difficult about it other than its length. We bring a lot of stuff so it is a double portage for everyone (actually I 2.25 portage and my dad 1.75 portages - I try to help him out where I can).
We paddled to the first island with two campsites on it. The last time we stayed on this lake we stayed at the western site on this island - we liked the eastern site but it seemed short on tent pads for two tents. This year we decided to take the eastern one because it is closer to a fishing spot and nicer. One tent had to be slightly sloped...
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After taking care of the bait, getting camp setup, and getting the fishing gear ready, we hoped into the canoes and went fishing. We started at a spot where we just slayed the walleyes two years ago. After two drifts over it (using Lindy rigs and minnows/leeches) we realized the weren't there so we drifted to a spot very close by and started picking up fish - there was a rock pile that got very shallow (about 4 feet deep) with mud on either side. The fish were congregated right around it and there was enough of a breeze to give us a decent drift and keep us from spooking the fish in the very shallow water.
We picked up plenty of fish and headed back in for dinner. We brought in brats and salad for the first night so we didn't keep any fish this first day. After dinner and dishes we hit the tents early and I was sleeping by 9:30.
That night I woke up several times to rain, often heavy downpours.
I woke fairly early on the 2nd day - around sunrise and got up and out to a slight mist. I made coffee and waited for everyone else to wake up. The weather looked like it would be scattered rain all day (and it sure was). My uncle and I went out to fish in the morning while my dad relaxed around camp and Zack slept in. We picked up a few fish here and there but were disappointed to find that they sure turned off since the night before. We had lunch which consisted of crackers, Gouda cheese, and foil-pack tuna fish mixed with mayo. It is always a hit.
The afternoon was pretty much the same for fishing - a few here and there but nothing great. We caught a few smallies, northerns, and even ambitious sunnies on Rapalas - but only several walleyes. Every hour we would throw our rain jacket hoods up to sit through about 15 minutes of rain.
We did get one of the best rainbows I had ever seen - it was a full one and very vibrant.
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We finally got enough eyes for a fry and headed in for dinner. I like to deep fry them up there - even though it is a hassle, everyone loves it that way. [img]http://i289.photobucket.com/albums/ll210/wb4syth/BW09/IMG_2224-1.jpg[/img]
Pretty much the same evening - in bed early and reading by night fall.
As the days progress on a trip I tend to sleep better and better. I still got up early but felt more rested. This morning looked a little clearer but still had the potential for rain.
Rain Shelter: [img]http://i289.photobucket.com/albums/ll210/wb4syth/BW09/IMG_2199-1.jpg[/img] Everyone else finally got up and we headed out again to fish. The day was sort of odd with occasional wind but longer periods of dead calm and sun (which is near impossible to fish shallow water in for walleyes). We picked up a few small ones in the morning but no keepers. We had lunch of fried summer sausage, bagels and cheese - a very tasty and filling meal. The fishing didn't get any easier so we headed to a spot we had a little luck with a couple of years ago, trolling along the way. We only picked up a few keepers and decided to explore other areas (with no greater luck). We finally headed back and cooked up the few fish we had with a side of mac-n-cheese with spam to fill us up. Pretty much the same evening.
This morning we awoke to howling wolves - very cool!. It was also fairly breezy. We decided we would give our usual spot only a couple of drifts and then explore for other spots if nothing hit. Well nothing hit so we started trolling.
At one point I said "let's head across the lake to the north end" I was watching my graph and watched the bottom drop down to about 17 feet as we paddled away from a shoreline. About 400 feet out it started to come up and topped out at 8 feet and then went back down. I said "stop, we're trying here". Sure enough we picked up a bunch of fish, we had a nice drift breeze and every pass would produce a couple of fish.
We quickly picked up enough for a lunch/fry and headed back in for lunch.
After lunch I decided to crush an empty fuel canister (Coleman power max). I was using a can opener on my Leatherman to puncture it (having lost the key a while ago), it slipped and I put a deep gash into my finger. Right away I knew it was a bad cut - about an inch long and deep (almost to the bone) on the inside near a knuckle. I held it tight while my dad and uncle opened the first aid kit. Every time I would release pressure the blood would flow. So we put some type of wound cleaner on it, slathered some gauze with bacitracine, wrapped and taped it up. I cut a finger off one of the latex gloves in the first-aid kit and taped it over my finger to make the whole thing water proof.
After that excitement we headed back out fishing. The wind had picked up and there were now small white caps on our new found hot-spot. We fished in calmer areas but were only frustrated with no fish. Finally the wind calmed slightly and we headed back out there.
We were using our water bucket as a drift sock and even that didn't slow us down enough due the brisk winds. Finally we just anchored up over the hump (my uncle and Zack had forgotten their anchor bag back at camp so they quite). We proceeded to catch fish after fish - I was basically vertical jigging while dad was still lindy rigging (casting it out a little and letting the wind push us back and forth). We decided it was enough after dad snagged and cut off both of his lines and headed back in for dinner. We had hash browns with fried summer sausage. We packed up a few things to make it easier the next morning and then hit the sleeping bags.
Another wolf howl awakening. The last day was uneventful as we packed up and were on the water by 8 am. On the way out, my dad and I saw a cow moose and calf off in the distance. The paddle out was a little tougher as we had a crosswind from the north but it was manageable. We arrived at our shuttle meeting spot an hour early and luckily had cell service - we called them and they picked us up. We were on the road by 1:00.
Of course we did the traditional Gordy's High Hat stop in Cloquet - we stop there every time we go in on the west side.
Regarding the fishing; we had 1.5 days of great fishing and 2 days of "where the heck did they go?" fishing. We caught walleyes in 4 fow to 14 fow. The surface temp was around 65 degrees.
It won't be long before this particular trip will need to be to motorized lakes. My dad is getting older and there were a few times I was concerned he might get hurt. I also noticed that his paddling is slowing down.
This was the first time we used a drift sock in the BW (like I said, we used our water basin\bucket) and it will be in the canoe every time we go out fishing now.
I have found that I am getting more accident prone (adding scars and chipped teeth this year) - I need to be more careful and think about what I am doing...