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.
Fall Colors - Homer > Vern > Juno > Brule > S. Temperance > N. Temperance
September 29, 2007
Brule Lake (41)
Number of Days:
The weather sucked - rainy and cold - but it made for more of an adventure. We were prepared, so we stayed warm and dry, and were able to test out all of our gear to it's fullest!
We paddled out of Homer on the morning of 9/29. We got a late start . . . we left the Cities later than planned on Friday, realized that the ranger station would be closed by the time we got there, and therefore took our time in Duluth with a nice dinner. We didn't have anywhere to stay - we had planned on camping someplace close, but without our permit, we thought we'd best stay off of 61. So we stayed at Lamb's Resort and slept in the back of the Suburban. It was pitch black when we came in and the campground was packed. There weren't any vacancies at any of the motels, so it was no wonder.
We arrived at the ranger station as soon as they opened at 8, watched our video, got our permit, and talked for a while with the staff. Then we made our trek up the Caribou Trail to Homer Lake. We were surprised by the number of cars at the boat landing, but we think it was mainly hunters. Pretty much as soon as we put in, it started to rain. We paddled along the south shore, allowing Luke to get used to the canoe, then turned down the Vern River and up towards Vern Lake. That was a really fun paddle. We saw one occupied campsite on Vern Lake - looked like one or more hunters.
By the time we reached the portage to Juno, it was raining in earnest and the wnd had picked up. Unfortunately, when we put in on Juno, we were paddling right into the wind. We had intended on reaching the first island campsite after the portage to Brule for our first night, but ended up pulling in to the third campsite on the north short, about a mile from the portage. It was a nice, sheltered site . . . and pretty much as soon as we got our tent and kitchen tarp up, the rain stopped.
The bad weather picked up again the next day. We only made it as far as the island campsite that we intended on reaching the day before. The wind and rain was too much on Brule, and with Luke in the canoe we were concerned about capsizing. That site is pretty exposed to a SW wind, which was the direction this day, but Sean put up an incredible lean-to using the kitchen tarp, so we could site by the fire and be sheltered from the wind and rain. We scattered leaves over the mud, found some pretty dry wood, and were very cozy under our lean-to. Our original plan was to make it to Cherokee Lake one day two, and then make our way back down to Brule on days three and four. We obviously weren't getting as far as we wanted and we were concerned about getting stuck on the western shore of Brule on day four, when we really needed to get home to our kids that day!
So we made the decision to day trip out of this campsite. It worked out perfectly. We stayed put on day two - just explored the island a bit and settled in. Then on day three, we paddled up to North Temperance. We didn't make it to Cherokee - we got a late start and were concerned about being out after dark. But what a great day trip! The portages were beautiful, S. and N. Temperance lakes were stunning - the fall colors were gorgeous.
We were treated with some great wildlife sitings . . . both golden (we think) and bald eagles on Brule Lake, a family of otters on N. Temperance, and on the way back we got up close and personal with a cow moose. The bull was nearby in the shrubs and although we didn't see him, we did see all of the trees and shrubs in his vicinity quake as he moved away from us. We were in our canoe and Sean (with his eagle eyes) spotted the moose. Looked like a dead tree to me. He put a hand on Luke's head, told me to get the camera and stay still, while he one-handed paddled into the bay. I could finally see that it was a moose and started snapping away. Fourty pictures later and we were still getting closer. Luke, thankfully, didn't seem to care. Finally we just sat off the shore a bit and watched her. She finally decided we were harmless and finished her drinking and then ambled off to find her mate.
Day four - our departure - we were completely foggedin in morning - couldn't even come close to seeing the opposite shore. We waited until 10:00, then the fog seemed to lift and we were able to paddle out. The paddle was tough - still strong winds - but we stuck with it and reached the boat landing on Brule. We left our gear and hiked back to the Homer boat landing where we retrieved our car, back to Brule for our gear, then we were on our way to Northern Lights in Beaver Bay (can't pass up their Elk pie and Fruit of the Forest pie) and then home to our kids.
I'm writing this two weeks later and I'm still wishing I were back in the BWCA!
View our photos at http://gallery.mac.com/bjscons.