BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1845 feet
Morgan Lake - 45
Brule River Trip report
July 24, 2016
Number of Days:
I knew this portage would be long but I wanted to test myself and see what I have left in the tank. The morning was cool but damp, some mist in the air, so the humidity was high. I set off on the 320 rod portage with the canoe and my day pack. Long is not quite an accurate description for this portage. Halfway through I dropped the day pack and asked my trip mate Jim to carry it because my neck was taking a beating from the total weight. I am grateful he obliged. I was sweating so much I laughed at the thought of having taken a shower earlier that morning. That freshness was gone in 20 minutes.
Once I reached the end I gladly set the canoe down - okay I dropped it down. After a brief rest we doubled back to get our portage packs and did the whole crazy thing again. I was so relieved to have that done but glad we were both able to do it.
The breeze we got when padding across Morgan was very welcome. We hit the portage to Jake Lake with no issues and did the same with the portage to Vista. Our first choice of a campsite was the top rated one on Vista. I was bummed when we saw it was taken but we turned right and headed to Horseshoe to scout out our second choice.
The portage in to Horseshoe starts off as a creek but dries out. After Morgan Jim handled the canoe portaging giving me a break.
We paddled up to the mouth of the Brule River and saw that our second choice site was open. We landed and scoped it out and decided it would be home. There were many mounds of moose droppings so we saw that as a sign we may see a moose. Pretty smart huh? All in we took about 4 and a half hours to get there.
We set up camp and enjoyed some Alpine Aire Gumbo with some pork and venison sausage tossed in for flavor. Totally delicious. We hit the tents about 10:00 because we were both pretty wiped out. Gear winners: Granite Gear Quetico Pack, Neos Overshoes, 5.11 Tac lite pants (Love the pockets), REI Flex Lite chair, Emblerit stove with Nesbit stove inserted using denatured alcohol for fuel. Very clean and easy. Gerber Strong Arm fixed blade knife. Gravity filter I rigged from a foldable nylon bucket, a Sawyer mini filter, and some tubing. Worked great! Gear losers: Seattle Sports 40 liter dry bag backpack - attachment point for strap on top came partially off. That's what gorilla tape is for I guess.
Woke up early and did our usual Starbucks Via coffee. We took a trip around the upper arms of Horseshoe dropping a line now and them with no success. Fishing is not our focus and that is a good thing because we really aren't good at it. We checked out four empty camp sites on Horseshoe but agreed the one we had on Brule River was too good to leave.
After lunch at an empty site we headed back and hung around fishing from shore. We had quite a few hits on our lures but the fish weren't taking the hook. Jim did land one which you will see was probably the smallest Perch in the BWCA.
After dinner - Mountain House chicken fajitas with wraps and some Mexican style rice we paddled in to some little coves to fish for a bit. Back to camp for a fire and some bourbon and it was lights out.
Gear winners: Bridgford Sandwiches - packaged sandwiches of the MRE type. Super easy and pretty tasty. Whatever little weather radio Jim brought from Wal Mart. After the sun went down we picked up a country music station out of Canada somewhere. Nice to know the weather forecast too. Gear loser: Cold Steel Finn Wolf folding knife. Super sharp scandi grind blade but too hard to close.
Woke up to some rain, but it passed quickly. Sometimes my bright ideas aren't so bright. Keeping with the thought of challenging myself physically I thought we could day trip over to Misquah lake and walk the portage to Little Trout which I had read was one of the hardest in the Boundary Waters. How hard could it be? I mean we did 320 rods to Morgan lake twice with gear so we could do this right?
Paddled out of Horseshoe through Vista to Misquah. Tossed on our day packs and set off for Little Trout. OMG what a brutal trail. 200 rods of pure hell. I don't know how anyone could portage this with a canoe. If they can my hat is off to them. Once across we ate some lunch and then did the return hike. If you ever think of trying this don't.
We headed back to camp pretty much exhausted. As we turned in to the river I saw something coming out of the brush on the bank about 100 yards ahead of us. It was a moose cow. She saw us but didn't take off. She stepped in to the river and right behind her were two calves! I couldn't take pictures fast enough. We kept our distance and watched them eat and swim in the river for about 15 minutes. She kept an eye on us but since we stayed a respectful distance away she was very calm. She headed up the river and came out on land right next to our camp site. I took some video but I am not sure if it will load here. No doubt the highlight of the trip.
Dinner, some bourbon, radio, and star watching then off to the sleeping bag for me.
Welcome back Otter -Cool morning but sunny. We decided to do a small loop out of Horseshoe. We went down the lower arm to Gaskin, portaged over to Jump, then to Allen and finally back to the upper arm of Horseshoe back to camp. We met up with some Boy Scouts from Kansas City Missouri who were doing their own day loop. On the portage from Jump to Allen two otters were giving us a lot of attitude. While we hiked the portage they slid down the creek adjacent to our trail and met us at Allen lake where they chattered at us some more before swimming away. We ate a shore lunch and enjoyed the great weather.
More fishing from shore but no success. Enjoyed the last of my bourbon and listened to the weather radio for the forecast.
Gear winner - my camo Chicago Blackhawks hat. One of the scout leaders was a St. Louis Blues fan and had no love for my beloved Hawks. I took the opportunity to remind him they had won three Stanley Cups in the last 6 years. He was well aware of that fact.
Cold early but nice later. Seems the temp got down to the low 50's but sleeping was great. We packed up and shoved off after breakfast at about 9:00. We took it easy knowing the Morgan portage awaited us. We split carrying the canoe this time which made it more manageable. Had a quick bite to eat then back for our portage packs. It was warm and we were pretty worn out.
We headed back to the outfitter and learned with each canoe rental you get a free beer when you return. Bonus! I opted for diet Pepsi since I was driving. No worries, I made up for it later.
Clearwater let us use their shower room so we could clean up before we headed off. Such nice people there. Eric is so chill and a great resource.
Off we went to stay in Two Harbors for the night where I met my beer quota by way of a few cold Blue Moons.
All in all a great trip. Some tough portages but no one got hurt and we saw some moose.
Gear winner - Nemo Mezzo Loft 30 degree sleeping bag. Like a quilt. Nemo Astro insulated sleeping pad. Best sleep on any camping trip I have had. Great for side sleepers.