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May 24 2024

Entry Point 47 - Lizz & Swamp Lakes

Lizz and Swamp Lakes entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 34 miles. Access from Poplar Lake by 51-rod portage to Lizz Lake and 100-rod portage into Swamp Lake only. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1864 feet
Latitude: 48.0420
Longitude: -90.4998
Lizz & Swamp Lakes - 47

Be careful what you ask for!

by bbrown6057
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 23, 2012
Entry Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
It has been almost 20 years since I've last been to the BWCA. Where do I start. I've been wanting to get back up there for years and it finally came to fruition. My girlfriend Daphne agreed to go with me since I went to the Kentucky Nascar race with her last year. We were looking for trip partners and ended up going with someone with whom she works with. I didn't personally know them very well but have visited with them on occasions and figured how bad can it be. Let me start off by saying that our trip partners were Bob and Lisa, husband and wife. Before I go any further, I must say that they are both nice people and this will be our first time doing anything with them as far as a vacation goes. The original plan was for us all to ride up together in my truck from St. Louis together. 2 weeks before we were to leave, Bob and Lisa decide to change their minds and want to drive up separately. At the time it kind of irritated me a little but we didn't say anything. We'll find out later that this was a blessing is disguise. Lisa is very quiet and quite polite. Bob on the other hand is one of those people who talks non stop but does not listen very well and is always right. We had reserved a bunkhouse at Rockwoods and the plan was to stay the night there. Change number 2! They decide to drive all the way back to Grand Marais and spend the night and meet us in the morning for our trip. Now onto the trip report.

Day 1 of 4

Monday, July 23, 2012

The plan was for Bob and Lisa to be at the outfitters at 7 a.m. sharp so we could begin our trip. It seems as though they can't keep time very well, they decide to make an appearance at around 7:45. Mike has already went over the gear with me prior to them arriving and I was chomping at the bit to leave out. Mike @ Rockwoods goes over how to portage the canoe with us both. I knew how to pick up the canoe but Bob has never done this before. After Mike shows us the first words out of Bob's mouth were "can you just leave your gear in the canoe and carry it over the portage loaded?". Mike already has his fill of Bob the day prior with his "yackety yack" and told Bob in no uncertain terms that if you do that, you will owe me a canoe and showed Bob how thin the sides on the kevlar canoe were and explained to him what would happen. A half our later we finally get to load the canoes and head out for our adventure.[paragraph break]

We start out on Poplar lake, which by the BWCA standards is a relatively small lake. Daphne isn't very fond of water and gets sea sick fairly easy so before we even started we agreed to hug the shore as best we could so that she wouldn't freak out on me. The wind wasn't acting up so the lake was fairly calm and we made our way over to the Lizz portage. We kind of got a little temporarily misplaced and stopped to take a look at the maps. It appears that not all of the islands were marked on the map. We finally find the portage and here is where the fun starts![paragraph break]

Daph and myself carefully pull up to the minefield of rocks in the water that they call a landing area and take our time unloading the gear from the canoe. After we get ours all unloaded, I look back and Bob and Lisa are trying to lift the boat and all of their gear out of the water, doing exactly what Mike told them not to do! Did I mention that Bob is always right and doesn't know how to listen? Anyway, I was in a hurry to get portaging and in my hurry, I forgot to help Daphne load a pack so she could take off. Instead I threw the canoe over my shoulders and took off. This was to be my first portage and I was looking forward to seeing if I could do this. [paragraph break]

A little about myself. Both Daph and myself just turned 50 this year. She's a teacher and I do GIS work for the county we live in. In a nutshell, we both sit behind a desk. I quit smoking 6 months prior to this trip, using that as motivation to get my fat ass back into shape. I start the portage and as soon as I look up from underneath the canoe, I notice a rock filled hill. I think to myself that "this is going to be fun" and start my climb. At around 50 rods this portage was pretty tame . I made the carry to Lizz without setting the canoe down. I made the walk back to the other side with my chest pushed out like a King I was so proud! When I reach the other side I find out then that I goofed when I didn't help Daph load up. Daph and I made another trip across the portage and I told her to stay with the packs and I would get the rest. On my way back, the 3rd time mind you, here come Bob and Lisa carrying a fully loaded canoe. Unreal, I'm thinking to myself. We finally all make it to Lizz lake with all of our gear and make the short paddle up Lizz. Daph loved the size of this narrow but long lake. I'm guessing it took us about 15 minutes of paddling to reach the Caribou portage. [paragraph break]

Both of our group unload and start this 70 rod portage. I manage to make it about ¾ of the way and I'm sweating like a man on death row eating his last supper! I laid the canoe down and rested for a couple of minutes and let Daph go ahead of me. I told her to wait for me at the end and we would walk back together and enjoy the trail together. We meet Bob and Lisa on the trail at about the half way point and actually pass them up on the way back to the end of the portage. I took one look at the 2 of them and knew they were done portaging any further. Our plan was to make it to Horseshoe lake but that has now changed. Caribou it is! They finally make it to the end and I tell them the good news. I ask if they see the site across from the portage and they say yes. I say, well it's your lucky day! We are staying here for the trip. You would of thought I was Santa Claus by the looks I got from them.[paragraph break]

We both took our time setting up camp and getting everything organized. Daph and I were completely outfitted while Bob and Lisa only rented canoes. Bob and Lisa brought enough gear to outfit an army. Queen size air mattress, 4 man tent, six (1) gallon jugs full of water, 2 boxes of wine, and who knows what else. Needless to say, they brought way too much stuff, irregardless of what I advised them to bring. Did I mention that Bob doesn't know how to listen?[paragraph break]

We got all of our chores out of the way finally and at around 3 it was time for them to partake in one of those boxes of wine. Daph and I decided to start a fire in the grate and commence to make dinner. We had fresh steak and tators and got all done eating. I had some bacon going on the grill that we were cooking ahead of time so we could eat it the next morning. This is when things start to go bad. Bob proceeds to jam as much wood into the grill as humanly possible. Looking back on it, I should have said something, but I was there to relax and didn't want to cause any stress between us. Well five minutes later we have a fire that they could have seen from Ontario and up in smoke went my bacon and the skillet (lid).[paragraph break]

One skillet down, Bob uses almost all of the firewood that we had collected and it wasn't even close to being dark yet. We make another wood run and enjoy the fire, somewhat that is. About this time the alcohol has kicked in and motor mouth decides it is time to start trying to be funny. Well of course everything he says is funny to Lisa and the two of them are having a ball. Meanwhile Daph and I are just looking at each other with this WTF did we get ourselves into look. We all finally decide it's time for bed and Daph and I play a game of Farkle in the tent. I'd say about ½ way through our game, I hear this noise coming from their tent. It sounds like 2 hippos over there fighting over territory. I've never heard two people snore this loud. She would stop, he would start. It went on like this for hours and poor Daph and myself finally fell to sleep sometime around 2 a.m., give or take 3 hours.


Day 2 of 4

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We awake early the next morning to a beautiful scene. Mist hovering over the water and perfectly clear blue skies. I was hoping to see this on our trip and bless the good man upstairs he obliged us! How beautiful and serene this was. We took a few pictures and I fired up the coffee. I looked in our food and grabbed some freeze dried eggs and proceeded to make some vittles. Daph didn't want any eggs so I was going to digest the whole thing. WRONG! This was the most vile thing I've ever laid my taste buds on. I've tasted shoe leather that had more taste than these so called eggs had. I give up on these and grab a breakfast bar we brought along and called it good. [paragraph break]

Bob and Lisa were up before us somehow and already wolfed down their breakfast and we all decided after cleanup that we would try out luck at fishing. I got a tip from Cowdoc about the little bay on the NW side of Caribou and we decided on testing out our abilities to land some fish. We grab our fishing gear and our 2 way radios and head out.[paragraph break]

We all head up to our spot when we get beeped on our radio. They decide they are going to try elsewhere and we try our luck at the spot. I manage to catch only 1 little smallie and that was it. Bob and Lisa decide they want to go swimming on the way back so we tell them we'll just meet them back at camp and after lunch we'll head down to Horseshoe lake and see what it all looks like.[paragraph break]

Bob and Lisa get back from their swim and are ready to go before we eat our lunch so we pack up a light day pack with trail mix and some candy bars and head out. This portage is short and sweet. Daph and I make it to the end and are resting when Bob and Lisa show up without their boat. They decide they just want to see what the lake looks like from the landing and that they were not up for another portage. Fine by me! Daph and I set off to check out a couple of sites that I was wanting to stay at and only one of them was unoccupied so we ate lunch there and looked around the site.[paragraph break]

I'm glad we took the site on Caribou. That was the best decision I made on this trip! The skeeters and flies were terrible on Horseshoe! It amazes me how from one lake to the next there could be that big of a bug difference. Our site on Caribou was virtually bug free while this site on Horseshoe was a breeding ground. Daph and I decide to paddle back to our site on our Caribou. We take off and low and behold the wind is in our face, AGAIN! How is it that whatever direction you seem to paddle, the wind is always in your face? After a few choice words with each other, we finally make it back to our site where Bob and Lisa are on box 2 of wine. Great, just freaking great! Daph and myself chill for a bit when Daph comes over to me and tells me not to go over to the rock where Bob and Lisa are. It seems as though it's topless sunbathing on our site. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against this, except for the fact that people were coming and going to the portage, and also the fact that the 2 sites across from ours were occupied. I once again kept my mouth shut and just chalked it up to experience. After all, who was I to say that she can't show her ta ta's to any and everyone coming through?[paragraph break]

Later that evening we all sit down to dinner, eat until we can't eat anymore, do the dishes and now it's time to get some firewood for tonight's fire. I had mentioned a few times throughout the day that we need to collect wood for the night but that fell upon deaf ears. Did I mention that Bob doesn't listen? Anyway we scavenge some wood and proceed to relax.[paragraph break]

Box number 2 of wine was devoured by our trip partners and now it's time for some rum. Oh boy, here we go again! They made a drink and headed towards the tent to read before going to bed. Daph was also worn out from the days activities and went to our tent and was reading a book the Linn loaned her for the trip. Now it was finally time to absorb some of God's beauty and enjoy the fire. We heard on our weather band that they were forecasting some storms for the night so I put everything up and under the tarps before making me a mixer. I got a few of what I think are great shots of the sunset and sat down and relaxed. This is what I came for, not the fish, not the people, but to just take in what mother nature would give me and man was it worth it! I finished my drink and heard some noise coming from Bob and Lisa's tent. They mentioned that they brought ear plugs with them and before they fell asleep I made sure to get them. I made myself another crown and squirt and sat down at our kitchen area again and was relaxing. It was when I sat down that I heard some faint chatter coming from guess who's tent. It seems as though tonight is tarot card reading night. Bob was reading tarot cards to Lisa and deciphering what they all meant. I look around as if to locate some hidden cameras to see if this is really happening.[paragraph break]

After a while the reading stopped, I mixed another drink and sat down to enjoy the glow of the fire. Daph came out of hibernation once she figured out that we were alone and we got to spend some quality time by the fire. It turned out to be a great night!


Day 3 of 4

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We awoke to a wet and rather chilly morning. Let me tell you coming from Missouri where it had been 105+ for a few weeks prior to our trip, the mid 50's and rain was mighty cold! I had on my nylon pants, a short sleeve shirt, and a long sleeve shirt on top of that and I was still cold. I crawled out of the sack, put on my rain gear and made some hot chocolate. Man was that what the doctor ordered! [paragraph break]

I turned on the weather band and listened to the forecast. Gloom and doom was forecast. Bob and Lisa decided to go out and fish some and Daph and myself contemplated on what to do. The question was believe the forecast and head out or take our chances and stay. The forecast was for severe thunderstorms with a high chance of hail over night. We listened to the forecast for another hour or so off and on and it wasn't changing. The weather as of now was super calm, not a ripple on the water, absolutely no winds, and clear skies. I yell to Daph and ask is she's ready to go. She said and I quote, "you aren't messing with me are you?". She had had enough of our trip partners as much as I had, and with the possibilities of super rough water on our way out, we decided to make a choice and opt for the weatherman being correct. Bob and Lisa paddle by and we tell them what we are going to do and they decide to stay and live out the storm. As it turns out we were both right. The storm didn't hit that night, but we had the best paddling we've had on our way out.[paragraph break]

I was sad to leave early but to be honest, I was ready to leave. It was all I could do to keep from "going off" on our trip mates and their actions throughout this trip. I hope that this report doesn't sound like I (we) had a terrible time because we didn't on one side of the coin. When we were alone, it was all we were expecting it to be, beautiful and peaceful but on the flip side it was a like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone![paragraph break]

We arrive back at Rockwoods and are greeted by Linn and low and behold who do we see on the beach. Kendra and her daughters. They were leaving on their trip the next day. We talked for quite a while and I was impressed by this woman. She has more experience in the wilderness than I'll ever have, has done more tripping that I ever will, and has more guts than I do. Kendra, for what it's worth, it was nice meeting you and your daughters!


Day 4 of 4

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We made our way back to Spooner Wisconsin later that night, got some sleep and made the long journey back home a day early. All in all it was really a great trip and I would like to thank a few people for making this dream of mine become a reality. To Bogwalker, Cowdoc, Bojibob, SevenofNine, Jackfish, GSP, and everyone else who has helped this noob find his way I say thanks! Without all of your knowledge I wouldn't have been as prepared as I was.[paragraph break]

As chance would have it, we had another group from here who was wanting our site which we had planned out and it worked. I have to thank Magicstix and Ducks for removing the trash that was left behind by Bob and Lisa. It seems as though us telling them not to burn trash and to haul it all out didn't work. This is what sent me over the edge. Daph and I both told them not to burn trash in the fire pit, and to pick up after themselves. I made a few trips to our trash bag with plastic crap that they just threw into the fire pit. Come to find out after we got back home, there was trash left at the site. A full jug of water left in a gallon tea bottle, trash in the fire pit, and batteries in the water off of our site. Had I known what I know now I would have never asked these people to go. A total disregard of respect not only to us, but to the BWCA itself. Rest assured that they will NOT be asked to go back!

In the off chance that you read this Bob and Lisa, I hope you take this for what it is, my opinion. I hope that if you do read this that you take to heart what I've written here. My name and reputation were on the line here. I could have gotten a $300 fine along with a misdemeanor charge for you senseless and selfish actions. And all because you couldn't or wouldn't listen to what we were telling you. This isn't intended to hurt you, but I want this to be a lesson for all new trippers. If you are doing a trip in the future, make sure you know what you are getting into and explain the rules in detail, otherwise BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR![paragraph break]

In case you haven't seen the videos I have posted, here are the links to the pictures and of one portage. [paragraph break]

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