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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

First trip to BWCA with my partner

by nazgirl1
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 24, 2019
Entry Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This was my first trip to the BWCA, with my guy. He has been up several times before, and wanted to share the experience with me. I was super excited to go, and I enjoyed it. I would like to share my newfound knowledge and experience with anyone else who has not gone, and would like to go!


June 24th Monday. Day 1. We woke up and got prepared to enter the bwca. We had rented a Kevlar 17 foot canoe from Rockwood outfitters. David had used them in the past, and was satisfied with their service and quality. I had not known what to expect , and so I deferred to his judgment. We got the permit, and watched the video about what to expect. Carl answered our questions, and asked us many of his own to get info on whether or not we were prepared, and knew what we were doing. We got the canoe and loaded our backpacks into it, along with fishing gear, and net. Carl gave us a few last minute pieces of info, and we shoved off. I remember thinking to myself “ am I ready for this”? Within five minutes of leaving the shore into the dense fog of the rainy morning, we saw and heard loons. I was amazed! It was going to be a great trip. I had never been to the BWCA before, but David had, and was knowledgeable about the trip expectations, packing, food rations, and fishing areas etc… So, I trusted him to be my “ guide” and teach me what I needed to learn along the way. The only camping I had done, was when I was 18 yrs old at a KOA campground, for one night. The last time I had gone fishing was when I was 13, and I caught a sunfish the size of 2 half dollars. So, I was a total “ greenhorn “ as they would say. I was excited to go ,and learn and experience what David loved.

We paddled through Poplar lake, and I got into my paddling groove. We synced up, and made it to Lizz lake and the first portage. I had seen pictures of the portage, and knew they could be difficult, have inclines, declines, or wood boardwalks, etc… I was not quite prepared for the first one. It was 63 rods. I knew it would be difficult with the backpack on, and since I had practiced with a half full pack, it was twice as heavy as I expected! I made it through the portage, but thought I was going to die. I was tired. I think the adrenaline was wearing off, and I was actually needing to workout to carry the backpack. David carried the canoe with ease. It was a great workout! We continued on Lizz Lake and it was a short trip. The second portage of the day was longer, at 68 rods. It turned out to be muddy and had a large incline to it. David was great at carrying the canoe, and then we came back for the backpacks. We then headed into Caribou lake, and the 3rd portage of the day. It was shorter at only 21 rods. After that short portage we were in Horseshoe Lake, and on the way to our campsite for the night. David came solo in 2011, and stayed on a campsite here, and apparently he wanted to show me it. I liked it, and we chose to stay there. It was on the South end, and was pretty secluded. I liked that it had a point and was sunny on the rocks, where the fire pit was. We set up camp. We ate chicken from a foil packet, and Mexican rice from knorr, and tortillas for lunch, and had leftovers that we ended up eating for dinner as well. We had lots of mosquitoes after the rain, and we retreated to the tent for a while, and took a nap. We were tired after the portages, and all the canoeing. We found the latrine, up the hill, and I tried it out. The bugs were bad back there, and I didn't have bug repellent on. Lesson learned! David found a spot for the bear barrel,and then we just relaxed and chatted around the fire pit. The wood was too wet to have a fire, but it was nice to see the sun come out, and have a small view of the sunset. We went to bed when it got dark.

Day 2. Tuesday June 25th. We woke up and had oatmeal and granola bars for breakfast. We fished for a while from shore, and then David wanted to go on an exploratory canoe trip, and we found the waterfall at the other end of Horseshoe Lake, and the portage to Vista Lake. We did not know it was the Vista Lake portage, or go on it until the next day. We tried fishing, and were unsuccessful. We saw a mallard duck family and enjoyed watching them for a long time. The ducklings were reaching up and eating the reeds that grew along the edge of the lake. They were fun to watch. We found the rapids that were farther down from camp, and enjoyed listening to them. We came back to camp and fished in the bay close by and we got a little sun tan. It was nice to have sun, after the cold of the morning, and the rain from the last night. We fished in camp again, and then decided we were hungry. We had a three beans sister stew, which was store bought from Sierra. It was delicious, and the portion size was enough for 2 meals. We brought Gatorade packets, which was helpful. We each had drank them already several times, and were not feeling the heat, or dehydrated at all! It started to rain again, so we took a nap in the tent. We decided to fish at dusk. It was cool because I caught a bass. David didn't catch anything, but he was helpful in teaching me how to reel in my fish, and to pick it up, and how to hold it. I didn't have a clue! We released the bass, since it was smaller than David would have liked it to be. I then, a few minutes later hooked a walleye. It fell off the hook, when I was trying to bring it up on shore, but it was a beautiful fish. It will, fortunately, live to see another sunrise. Lol! It gets chilly here at night, and I am going to wear my long underwear tonight, so I don’t wake up in the wee hours freezing. We then went to bed when it was dark.

Day 3. Wednesday June 26th. It rained last night while we slept. It was cool this morning when I woke up ( with the sun)! We made coffee, and pancakes mixed with water. They were amazing! We had real maple syrup, and it felt like we belonged in “ Little House on the Prairie”! We decided to go on a day trip to go fishing somewhere else on Horseshoe Lake, and try our luck today. We stopped at the waterfall, and took pictures today, since we didn't have the camera last time out there. Then continued out to the middle of Horseshoe, and it was windy! We had little waves to fight, and paddling was difficult for me a bit. I liked the workout and kept at it. We saw a moose calf, that we had been told about the day before. But, did not see the mother. I tried to get a picture, but it moved quickly, and so I just watched through binoculars, and saw how big and powerful it already looked. It was beautiful! We paddled out to an island in the middle of the lake, and kept our lines in the water there. It was funny, because we did not catch anything, but twice our leeches were taken off the line by something. David decided then to go explore elsewhere. We heard the loons, and wanted to see if we could see them, and not just hear them. We moved around the island, to a little bay, and they were there. We stayed and watched the couple for a long time, then by a miracle, we saw that there was a baby loon. The mother had her wing covering it up for a long time, until she got comfortable with us being there. She finally let the baby float out on her own, and I got some great pictures then! We moved on after that, and headed back to camp. We took a dip in the lake. I was pretty chilly, so I didn't”T submerge myself, but took a sponge bath on the shore. We were pretty hungry then. We cooked Velveeta Macaroni and cheese, and had some summer sausage that we brought with us. It was delicious! We both needed extra water, and more Gatorade packets, because today we felt a bit weak from the sunshine, and exposure on the lake fishing. We planned on going to Caribou Lake to camp the next night, and to be close to the portage for Friday’s exit. We packed up most of camp, and only left out what was bare minimum for the next morning to use or wear. We drank a lot of water, and went to bed early and rested.

Day 4. Thursday June 27th. We ate granola bars, and drank water for breakfast. We did a final walk through of camp, to make sure we didn't forget anything. We only had a 21 rod portage ahead of us for Caribou Lake, and then we would be there, and find our campsite for tonight. We were happy, because it was a nice and sunny day out. We had listened to the weather radio each night, and morning to see what to expect. It was nice to have the sun, and warmth. We tried to fish along the way as we were paddling to the portage, but were not successful. We had fun though. We arrived at the portage, and I had decided to portage the canoe this time. David showed me how to do a 2 person lift, and then to balance it on my shoulders with the yolk. I did just as he directed, and was able to carry the canoe with some ease. It was awkward, but fun to carry! We met a nice couple that had been coming to the BWCA for 36 yrs together. It was nice to meet them, and to have a short conversation. It was interesting that the first three days, we saw almost no one, and on Thursday we saw 8 people, all portaging, and chatted with all of them. We continued to the end of the portage to get our packs, and return to the canoe. It was nice to have the walk, and talk together. It was a wonderful chance to renew, and connect as we had been doing all week. We arrived at the end of the portage, loaded up again, and decided to find a campsite. There were more people entering Caribou, and we wanted to make sure we got a campsite close to the portage to Lizz Lake for the morning exit. We canoed around to the closest side of the lake to the portage out. There were 3 sites available. We chose the site next to the portage site. It was beautiful, and had a nice place to put hammocks next to one another, and to fish off a rock. It was sheltered, and did not seem like it had very many bugs! We were pleased with it, and stayed. We made camp and then cooked up some cheesy ravioli that David purchased from Sierra, and we were amazed at how it cooked in the bag. It was not a very good portion size for 2 people,but it cooked nicely, and had its own heating element in the bag. So, you did not have to boil the water, or use the stove to cook. We were pretty tired from the fishing yesterday, and decided to stay in camp for the afternoon, instead of doing a big trip like yesterday. We drank lots of water with Gatorade, and rested in the shade in hammocks side by side, and caught the breeze off the lake, which felt wonderful! Toward dusk we decided to go fishing from the island we passed in the middle of the lake. We also collected some firewood for a nice fire. We saw a Bald Eagle soar into the water and catch a fish, so decided to go towards him to do some fishing ourselves. We thought it would be lucky, maybe! Lol. We stayed out fishing until the wind picked up, and it got cloudy and gray looking like rain. We headed back to camp, and cooked up some dinner. We were hungry tonight. We made Rice a roni cheesy broccoli, and ate it with tuna packets and had pita bread. I also said to make the chicken noodle soup. It was good to have for extra liquids, and helped us feel better too. It all tasted unbelievable! We made a fire and had marshmallows with graham crackers, since we finished the smores that we made ( with chocolate) on Wednesday at camp. We sat by the fire for a long time and talked, and watched the sunset. We then packed up most of camp, and read in the tent with our headlamps, and then went to sleep.

Day 5. Friday June 28th. We both woke up fairly early. Our campsite was clean, and almost picked up. We made coffee, and had oatmeal for a quick breakfast. I took down the tent and put away the sleeping bags, air mattresses, and cleaned up " house" while David fished a little while, and then packed up the backpack. It was a short time, and we were ready to go. We listened to the weather radio, and found out the time, 8:45am. We were early. Yay! We relaxed a bit, and sat in the hammock for a few minutes before leaving camp. We were 5 minutes from our first portage of the day, the 68 rod to Lizz lake. It was still muddy, but we were an efficient team, and did well. We came paddling through Lizz nicely, with a little breeze from the North. It was good. When we arrived at the 63 rod Poplar Lake portage, I was going to carry the canoe. I was excited to do it again, and help David. I carried it the whole way without stopping, or putting it down. I was amazed! Yay me! It was fun to carry on my shoulders, and once balanced, pretty easy to do. We were in a hurry to get back, and enjoy the shower at Rockwood Lodge. David hurried us along the way to the lake. There was some wind, and paddling was a bit slower on Poplar. We arrived at Rockwood and got things packed in the car, enjoyed a shower, shave, and getting into clean clothes. We ate lunch at the trail center. It was AMAZING! We were obviously hungry, and tired from waking up early, and paddling, and portaging in the morning. They were quite busy, so plan to spend over an hour before you get food on a Friday after 2pm. We had plans to spend the night in Hoveland, so finished our lunch and went upon our way. All in all, it was a WONDERFUL trip! I learned a lot, and had a great time. I would definitely recommend going with an experienced BWCA partner, for the first few times out. It was great that David was so prepared, and knew what to expect! Rockwood outfitters was also wonderful and helped us with getting ready to go, in a very thorough way. I am excited to go , and will go back, hopefully SOON!! Andrea N. with travel companion and " Happy camper" leader, David H. June, 2019



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