BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
November 28 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1847 feet
Brule Lake - 41
Entry #43 Bower Trout – 09/9/07 – 09/13/07
September 09, 2007
Bower Trout Lake
Lizz and Swamp Lakes (47)
Number of Days:
Bower Trout, Marshal, Dugout, Skidway, Swan, Vernon
Eager with anticipation our group of four arises around 5:30 AM and we take our last showers and gear up for our 4 night, 5-day trip into the unknown. Mike Sherfy, of Rockwood Lodge, was loading our canoes and was grabbing our leeches. Ahhhhhh, almost ready! We took the same entry point and similar route last year in July of 2006. We had perfect weather and the fishing was great, so why can’t that happen again this year, right???????
Mike warned us that the water levels are unknown due to the major drought in the area, but they did receive 8 ½ inches rain two days earlier. We didn’t really care about that, as long as the fire ban had been lifted, boy are we naïve! The first two gravel roads to the entry point where closed due to the heavy rains washing them out, but thank God, the third road was open. Mike dropped us off and wished us luck; we would navigate our way back to Rockwood Lodge on Poplar Lake in 5 days.
The portage into Bower Trout was dry and easy, a very nice way to start a trip off. The weather was overcast and in the low 50’s, no rain as of yet. Bower trout usually has a small pier, but it was washed away from the high lake level. “Oh well, I guess we are going have to get our feet wet”. As we worked our way to Swan Lake, the portages would get wetter and deeper. At some points you would think the portage was the creek. As we where paddling Swan Lake, a camper on the northern campsite was yelling to us, “ the portage to Vernon is gone, there is no way to Vernon!! Down trees, high water!” A little nervous, we pushed on to see for ourselves. We did find the portage, a lot of twists and turns of a creek, but we found it. It was passable, wet, but passable. 292 rods later we made it Vernon Lake, my favorite lake on this trip.
We will stay 2 nights on the lake because the fishing was great last year. We set up camp and fished a little, I caught a decent size Northern, but it broke my line before I could pull it ashore. Oh well, maybe we will have better luck tomorrow
The second day the weather was sunny and a little windy. The temperature was in the high 50’s. A perfect September day in the BW. We caught a lot of smallmouth bass, some of them in the range of 5 pounds. It seemed like every time I would throw my jig and a leech in, I would be pulling in another trophy bass. I wished the day would never end! We let all the fish go but two 2/12 pounders. We had a fantastic fish dinner that night. This is why I come to the BW! We capped the night with some red wine and had a cigar and retired early so we could tackle Brule early the next morning.
Brule, Lily, Mulligan, Grassy, Wanihigan, Winchell
We woke up at sunrise with light rain and temps in the high 40’s. As we where breaking camp and sipping some hot coffee, we could hear strong hollowing wind coming from the north, northwest. In fact, we saw two birch trees get blown over from the wind. One, coming down across the path to the latrine, which I was just walking through 20 minute earlier. Not thinking how strong the wind would be on Brule, we headed north to Brule.
As soon as we reached the end of the portage to Brule, I could feel the powerful crisp wind slap me across my face! I heard Brule could be bad on windy days, but this looked serious. Our group had a brief meeting and decided to push on and see if we could at least get to a campsite on Brule and wait out the wind. We tied down our packs and made sure our PFD’s where adjusted correctly and headed dead straight into the wind.
The wind gusts had to be in the low 30 mph range. There was actually mist blowing off the white caps. At times, we where not making any ground at all and the swells where in the 2 foot range, sometimes crashing over the side of our canoe. And this is Brule bay!!!!! We haven’t really got into open water yet! Trying to paddle close together, just in case one of our canoes flipped, we trudged on to the first campsite on Brule bay. Of course it was occupied! So we pushed on literally hugging the north shoreline and resting every 100 yards or so. We continued to check if there would be any site open for us to wait out the wind. Everyone was taken, it seemed that we where the only ones stupid enough to be on the water during these conditions. I believe it should have been 4 miles to the portage to Lily Lake, but with hugging the shoreline and also searching North Bay for a campsite, I believe we paddled 6 or 7 miles on Brule. It took close to 4 hours to get off of Brule Lake. This was the most challenging quest that I have ever completed and we made it alive with no injuries.
Here we come Lily Lake, thank god we made it. We thought everything would be smooth sailing at this point, boy where we wrong! As we portaged to Grassy Lake, we came upon another challenge. The damn lake was empty, mud, and mush! In other words, not passable by canoe. Great! Another brief meeting, bushwhack time! My brother, cousin, and I took the packs and started bushwhacking a path to the 200 rod portage to Wanighan. I believe a half mile later, we found the portage. What fun we are having! As we are almost back I hear my dad crashing through the forest with the canoe. “F#&%ing unbelievable” he screams! Together we try and follow the path we made with the canoe between us. I tell you, it is not easy carrying a 17 ½ foot canoe through thick brush, at least it is Kevlar. Two hours later we finally made it. What excruciating pain we where in. A couple portages and lakes later we finally made it to Winchell where we stayed for the night. We had 30 minutes left of sunlight. We made camp and had peanut butter sandwiches, hung the food pack and went to bed. Not a bad day for 30 mph winds, 2 foot swells, and having to bush whack ½ mile! Ha!
Omega, Henson, Pillsbery
Waking up to sore muscles and a few scratches and bruises, we felt pretty good for being what we went through yesterday. The wind had died down, the temps where in the mid to high 40’s, but the sun was out. We slowly broke camp and headed toward Omega. It is amazing how one day could be hell and the next is heaven in the BW. This is why I come here! Not much interesting went on this day; we made it to Pillsbery and camped there for our last night. We wet our lines with no luck. There was an Osprey and its nest across the lake site, we got some great pictures. We sipped red wine and enjoyed a cigar on our last night in the BW. We turned in that night dreaming of a cold beer and a bull moose burger from the Trail Center Lodge.
Allen, Horseshoe, Caribou, Liz, Poplar
We woke up to mixed feelings that morning. We missed our family, but would also miss the BWCA. It would be a year until we could come back. We broke camp in a light rain, headed our way toward Allen Lake. The weather was getting cooler and rain was getting heavier. I am glad I purchased good rain gear. With our feet wet, our muscles sore, and our stomachs growling, we made our way back to Rockwood Lodge by 1pm.
Mike & Lin met us at the shore of there lodge. After detailing our trip with Mike, he stated that the winds on 09/11/07 where in the mid 30’s and that he had a group go out on Poplar that day and capsized on the north end of the lake. They had lost some of there gear and had to wait out the winds on the shore until someone came and got them, which was a few hours or more.
Overall our trip was very successful. This is why we come to the BWCA, not only to challenge our body, but out minds as well. Our group successfully completed our route in the scheduled time with no fighting and most importantly, no injuries. Can’t wait until next year, in fact, we have our route and date picked already!