BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 17 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.
Father-Son Trip to Pipe Lake
July 19, 2021
Number of Days:
We had decided to basecamp on Pipe Lake after briefly exploring the very eastern end of the lake last summer and having really good fishing while we were there. It also appealed to us that it was a dead-end lake and would most likely be a place where we wouldn't see anyone else. The campsite was great for us and had 4 pads for 2-3 person tent. It was nice and open and faced west and south which allowed the wind to be blowing into the campsite the entire time we were there. Unfortunately, that wind didn't do much to drive the mosquitoes into the woods as they were very active at our site whenever during the day we were there.
Our main purpose for staying on Pipe Lake was to fish after the great experience last summer when we popped in for a bit. The fishing this time was okay as far as action went but most of the fish we caught were very small fish (smallmouth=10-12 inches and pike=12-18 inches). We mainly caught the fish on small bucktails or plastic worms and occasionally on topwater lures. Every other lure or bait choice we tried didn't produce any fish. There were a lot of factors that probably contributed to the fishing success.....low water levels, major cold front came through, east wind for the last 3 days, and mayfly hatches every night (we could hear the fish feeding on them on the surface after dark).
One morning we paddled back into East Pipe Lake and fished around that lake but only caught 1 small pike while we were there. We did stop and get out at the big island on the lake and went exploring. There were nice views from the top and we found that the raspberries were just starting to ripen on the island. We also ran across some moose sign (poop and a bedded area in the grass) while exploring.
Overall, it was a great time in the wilderness despite the fire ban, bad mosquitoes in camp, and the disappointing quality of the fish on the lake. It is always good for the soul to enjoy the quiet and beauty of the wilderness.