BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 22 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1847 feet
Brule Lake - 41
Brule to Sawbill
June 15, 2023
Sawbill Lake (38)
Number of Days:
We've been actively monitoring this message board for several months during our prep process. Our gear was checked, analyzed, and organized. We also decided to upgrade some of the 30 year old gear and add some stuff based on what we've read here. New tent, stick stove, and bug shirt were among the new stuff.
We opted to leave our Spirit II at home and we rented a Minnesota II from Sawbill in order to save us from hauling, it from and back to PA. We camped at Sawbill the night before and had them shuttle us the next morning to Brule.
Our plan was to launch on Brule and evaluate wind conditions in order to decide camp choices. Our itinerary took us towards S Temperance and down the Temperance river, Weird, Jack, Kelly, Burnt, Smoke, and exit on Sawbill where our vehicle was parked.
The wind on Brule wasn't bad but we weren't finding an acceptable campsite so we pushed on to S Temperance and we snagged campsite 908. We loved that site so much that we decided to stay there 2 nights.
The fire ban went into effect just before we launched, so the Firebox was left behind and we took our MSR XGK stove. Unfortunately, I was so intent on wanting to use the stick stove that I neglected to pack the stove pump for the XGK (glitch #1)...idiot! So with the fire ban in place we were relegated to no-cook meals. We normally make very basic meals so not having a stove didn't turn out to be that much of a problem.
We did confirm that the bug reports were not overstated, at least for the mosquitos. There were no flies, and few no-see-ums, but the skeeters were thick. We were pretty well prepared to deal with them, though. Permethrin clothes, 30% Deet (which we used very sparingly, a little Picaridin, and Thermacell...plus the new bug shirts.
Glitch#2... The Thermacell worked for exactly 1 evening and then for some unknown reason, decided it would not light and I have no idea why. We got home and it works just fine. The bug shirts were the best $95 that I ever spent. I'm not sure that we could have endured the mosquitos along the Temperance river, they were that bad. We developed a routine of getting in/out of the tent...2-person "speed-zipping", followed up with "hunt and kill" the ones that snuck into the tent. The trips to the privy were the worst...too much exposed skin if you catch my drift. Our trip in June 2011 had almost zero bugs. This one was the exact opposite, but we handled it pretty well.
One of our goals was to catch smallmouth and I would rate the fishing as fair. But I wouldn't classify myself as highly skilled. I'm pretty much a one-dimensional fisherman...love to throw topwater lures. And we didn't always take the time to rig and fish some interesting spots. But no complaints. The bass we caught were all strong and healthy and moderate sized. They were fun.
Probably the biggest highlight of our trip was seeing a cow and calf moose swim past our camp on S Temperance in the fog at daybreak. We we preparing breakfast when we heard unusual splashing in the water and it turned out to be the cow entering the lake from the adjacent island. Soon behind her swam her calf. The scene thru the fog and rising sun was breathtaking! Our camera is less than high tech but we did snap a few pics. I can only imagine the quality photos a competent photographer with decent equipment could have produced.
We had a turtle hanging around our campsite (#928) on Jack lake. Turned out that she was there to lay eggs right outside of our tent. She spent hours digging the hole among the rocky soil. We watched her from inside the tent until dark. Then, just as we were falling asleep, we heard something inside our tent vestibule. I shined the light to see the turtle walking across our empty dry bags. And then she attempted to squeeze UNDER the tent floor! I haven't a clue what she was trying to do, but we kept blocking her from getting under from the inside with our hands. We weren't about to unzip the door because there were 10,000 mosquitos ready to drink our blood. Camp 928 was by far the worst for bugs.
We also saw lots of beavers, and a few eagles. Saw no bear or other wildlife of note.
The portages were not too bad for being a 65 year old retiree. We double trip.
Overall, a good trip. We are already trying to plan a return trip.