BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 24 2020
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.
First Solo - Baker Lake Entry
September 22, 2019
Sawbill Lake (38)
Number of Days:
The drizzle had stopped for the time being, so I took advantage by putting up the tent and getting the rain fly on. Always a bonus to have a dry tent. I finished setting up camp (tarp, collecting water, and rigging the food pack system). I tried the lacrosse ball on the end of the thinner rope technique that I had read about in a previous post for getting the ropes over the branches, but it was not the magic fix that I was hoping for. Every year I consider a bear barrel. There were two huge trees that had blown over, roots and all, near where I hung my pack. The roots were still holding soil and rocks, and they created a large wall. Glad I wasn’t here for that.
I was sipping coffee by a fire by 5:15 (thanks to the previous tenants who left some collected wood in camp), and ate a dinner of parmesan noodles and chicken at 7:30. To my delight, the clouds had started breaking and it was clear by 8:00. I am always amazed at the night sky in the BWCA, and it is one of the things that draws me back. I crawled into my tent at 9:30. I had purchased a new 20 degree bag and 2 ½ inch sleeping pad for this trip. I quickly fell asleep with my hatchet by my side for insurance. That red squirrel had been giving me the stink eye! It rained off-and-on through the night.