BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 22 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 2
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.
Homer Lake solo....D'oh!!!
July 21, 2014
Brule Lake (41)
Number of Days:
I spend Sunday night packing and checking my multiple lists to make sure I have everything I need. Come Monday morning, I'm off to the woods, making the drive up from St Cloud, MN. Near Two Harbors, I have a slight worry....Did I forget to put my clothes in the car? I pull over in the Shopko parking lot, and sure enough, no clothes. Ugh. Somehow I left them at home on the table.
So it's into Shopko I go. This is a short trip, and I already have more camping clothing than I need or wear, so I'm not going to buy any more than I absolutely need. Some socks and a pair of nylon shorts should get me through, as I can wear what I have on, too. Back on the road, until....
I have a nagging worry that I'm missing something else. Sure enough, a quick check of the car reveals a missing sleeping bag. D'oh. Feeling quite sheepish, I stop at Sawtooth Outfitters to pick up a bag before driving up the Caribou Trail to head into Homer. At the lake, mine is the only car in the parking lot. Off I go, paddling "backwards" in my ugly old Penobscot 16.
It is oppressively hot. So I get lazy and figure that I'll camp on Homer instead of pushing on farther. I take the island site, get stuff set up, and try to relax. It's too hot, though, so I jump in the lake, but I can barely dry off, so I laze about, swat bugs, fish a bit, and read. It's really hot.
No fire for me tonight. I head to bed early and am awoken late in the evening by some nasty, nasty storms. Lots of wind and rain. I'm saddened to learn upon exiting that someone died in this storm from a tree falling on his tent. Terrible news, but given that wind, I can't say I'm terribly surprised that some people were injured in the storm.
The day is gray and getting progressively windier. It's very gusty by the time I paddle out of camp, having taken my time trudging around the muddy campsite while packing up. It's significantly cooler than the previous day. Periodic sprinkles mingle with the wind to make paddling west-northwest quite unpleasant, but I prefer it, I guess, to the oppressive calm of the day before. When I turn up into Vern Lake, there are surprisingly large waves for such a small lake. I fight the waves up the lake and make it to the campsite on the western side of the lake right about the time the rain starts to slack off. The wind, alas, keeps up until just before sunset.
My original plan had been to explore into Pipe and/or up into Juno today. While I'm not exactly windblown, paddling my tandem canoe backwards in wind like this isn't any fun. Plus, it's too windy to fish, so I luxuriate in the cooler weather (bug-free, too, by the way) reading books, the newspaper, and drinking Nescafe with sugar in it. This "coffee" is undrinkable when not in a third-world country or in the woods, but on a windy point with a good book in the Boundary Waters, it tastes...well, still crappy. But it's drinkable. :)
The night is uneventful. Windy all day. Pretty typical post-storm high pressure is moving in, and the skies eventually clear and stay that way for most of the rest of the trip. I finish an entire book and head to bed. I catch one dinky pike casting off shore, but that's about it. I know that sometime during the day I realized I'd not brought something, but I can't remember now what I forgot.
The book I read yesterday was "Lost in the Wild." It's about two young men who get lost on foot in the BWCA/Quetico region (I won't tell you the ending!). So I grad a map, compass, and bag and head into the bush behind camp to look for mushrooms. I'm an avid mushroom hunter, and it's become one of my favorite ways to spend a cool afternoon in the BWCA. I find TONS of mushrooms, but not much for edibles. No chanterelles yet, no king boletes, no lobsters. Most of the edible stuff I find isn't worth picking, so I leave them all alone.
After lunch, I head down to Pipe Lake to do some fishing and exploring. I fish my way down Vern and catch nothing. The paths into Pipe are easy to find and short. The fish in Pipe are very active. First cast....fish. Second cast...fish. Either I'm an amazing fisherman or these are dumb fish. I end up catching 15 or 20 on the east end of the lake, all on topwater in the middle of the day in the middle of July. It's fun.
I meander my way down the lake, fishing here and there, catching a few, and checking out the campsites when I get there. The campsites on Pipe are small, which is to be expected. The one farthest east is the best, in my opinion. I'll try to get reviews up online for those who are thinking of venturing in here. In the evening I do more fishing (without much luck) and have a nice fire. The lows tonight get down to the low-40's apparently, and the synthetic 40 degree bag I've rented from the outfitters doesn't keep me warm. If I wasn't such an idiot, I'd also have long pants and a fleece with, but those are sitting at home, too.
I sleep fitfully and am up early, ready to head home. My goal with this little trip was to see an area of the BWCA I've never seen without having to worry *too much* about big wind. Tomorrow's trip up to Brule will get me back on "old" water, but if it's windy, I'll head out the way I came in to avoid the bigger water.
The morning is incredibly foggy. I decide to head out through Juno and Brule, but not having been that way before, I'm a bit hesitant in the fog. I figure by the time I make it to the big lake, the fog will have lifted, and the shape of Vern and Juno makes getting lost quite difficult (famous last words?). So I head northwest to Juno. A few feet off shore, I'm completely enveloped in fog. I can't see either shoreline. I've never been in fog this dense before.
But...this is Vern Lake. There's nowhere to get lost, so I meander northwestish in a creepy, surreal world. Time passes, and eventually I'm at the end of the lake. Portage into Juno, head east, and it's more of the same, though the rising sun lets me know I'm heading in the correct decision, and the tops of the trees are just starting to poke their heads through the fog.
By the time I get to Brule, the fog is mostly gone, though it's lingering the bays and small wisps of it are wafting over the water. I've been on Brule a few times now, and each and every time it's been like glass. This morning is no exception. The lake is big and beautiful...there's little I like more than paddling a canoe on flat-calm big water. I'd hate to be fighting this old Penosbscot in the wind on this lake, but I'm lucky. If it had been a windy morning, I just would've exited the way I entered.
I land at Brule and start walking to the car at Homer. Guess what? I forgot my car keys in the bag, so I head back and get them. The car starts, I drive to Brule, and get loaded and on the way.
I'm sorry for the lack of photos, but I'm sure you can guess why. I forgot my camera/phone in the car.