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September 23 2023

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

Poplar, Lizz, Caribou, Horseshoe and Meeds Lake

by paddelingruth
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 16, 2020
Entry Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
We left Nebraska at 4:30 am Saturday, got to Two Harbors area by 3:00 p.m., a lot of traffic from tourist, art sales and garage sales, we went to Grand Marais and walked out by the shore, We tried stopping to look and pick blueberries from one of our favorite places in the past but there were way to many cars and the gate was closed. We got to Trail Center around 6:45 p.m., ordered outside, malt fries and burgers, so good. We ate in our vehicle. Got to Rockwood Outfitters & Lodge by 7:30 p.m.. Found our room at the Bunkhouse, talked with the Outfitter about parking & getting a map. They are so friendly. We had been wondering about the business of the BWCA since so many permits had been sold and people seemed to be flocking to the Wilderness, so tired of being cooped up. I would have never imagined coming to the BWCA and wearing a face mask in this beautiful canoe country. But we did wear them when we had to. Dan hadn’t slept hardly at all so we were ready for bed. Dan was out by 9:00p.m. and I took a shower and off to bed, trying to sleep but always worrying about what we might forget in the am.

Day 1 of 5

Sunday, 8-16-2020 Beautiful Morning nice and calm. We left Rockwood Outfitters and Lodge by 8:20 got to the Lizz portage ( 51 rod portage) and double portage by 9:30 ready to head to Caribou. We ran into a group of 2 canoes ( 5 guys) Didn’t have a watch to know how long it took. It was a 22 rod portage from Caribou into Horseshoe. We arrived at Horseshoe Lake and it was 11:30 when we got unloaded and stopped. We stayed at campsite#672. While we ate lunch we had 3 sets of canoes of people headed out and 2 groups going on thru. We had originally planned to camp and move to different lakes but with all the people and the way campsites were taken we decided we better stay put. The wind picked up a bit in the afternoon. We got our food bag set up and the tent up. No mosquitos!


Day 2 of 5

Monday, August 17,2020 Rough night! Both of us didn’t sleep well. All sorts of reasons: ate late 8:00 p.m., couldn’t get comfortable. Got up at 4:00 am and took some Tylenol and Sudafed. Slept in a little tossing and turning. Sat outside on the big rock at our campsite for probably an hour before breakfast. Beautiful day, Sunny and warm and puffy clouds. According to our weather update 70/48. Oatmeal this am, off to fish all around Horseshoe. Dan caught one Northern, it was windy. Sun was going in and out of the clouds all day. Headed back to camp around 2:30 from fishing. Ate a snack, set up the rain tarp in case the weather changed on us. We went clear to the back of our camp, exploring and looking for dead down wood. Found enough for a campfire. Our dog Lil loves running thru the woods, jumping up on logs and climbing up on big tall rocks and playing king of the mountain. Digging in a hole to hide and jumping out at us. Lots of canoes today coming and going. So far no one is at the camp across from us. The kids who had been there at that camp were up and gone before we even got up today. We headed back out fishing all the way back to the NW Corner from our camp. No nibbles , saw two beaver lodges. We pretty much took it easy the rest of the day. Did Mountain House Chicken and Rice meal for supper tonight. Super yummy! Had another fire hardly any mosquitos. Had whiskey & Cherry mix, Good stuff. We were to the tent by 8:30. Dan was asleep right away. Got pretty cold last night. But very peaceful.


Day 3 of 5

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Up around 8:00 there was fog on the Lake. Sunny and warm this morning. Pancakes for breakfast with out our blueberries. We headed out for fishing about 10:45 went way up the other arm of Horseshoe.Dan caught a small Northern by camp and Walleye later. No other fish. Came back in around 2:00 got things put away it looked like rain. It rained for about 10 minutes. The Mosquitos moved in while we were sitting under the tarp. Was able to move back out to the Rock. No bugs. Started reading a book. Saw quite a few other groups fishing today , they said they had come over from other lakes. One guy was fly fishing last night and today. Didn’t see him catch any. Overcast now, not sure if the rain is done or what. It rained 3 or 4 different times thru supper. We had Chili Mac tonight. Saw many canoes fishing. We both kept our rain jackets on and long pants during the evening. The flies & mosquitos were bugging us more tonight, headed to the tent by 7:30. Started reading, we were lights out by 9:30. Dan was up at 11:30 said there were lots of stars, no moon. At 2:30 there was thunder and lighting off and on, Dan sat up and I said it is thundering, he laid back down. There were a few sprinkles off and on all night. Didn’t sleep much. Dan has said in the am he would determine if we were going to camp or fish for the day on Meed.


Day 4 of 5

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 Checked weather : Chance of rain at 10:00 a.m.. We headed out to Meeds about 11:00.

We fished for awhile on Caribou no hits no luck. Checked out several camps, they were all busy. Did the portage from Caribou into stream which is 2 portages like 12 rods. Very Rocky! One portage to the next was a stream of low water with lilly pads and lots of rice grass. I hate paddling thru that stuff, quite a work out. We headed into Meeds. Checked out a campsite for lunch, met some college girls on the portage between, they had camped at Meeds came in thru Poplar, told us they did the huge portage. They were headed to Horseshoe. We took a swim at the campsite cool water but refreshing. We need that after those 2 portages. Dan caught a small mouth base on Meeds, we tried and tried no other fish. There was two other canoes fishing also. We could hear Thunder and the sky was looking like rain. While we were fishing Dan mentioned why he sat up the other night when I said it was thundering, he said he heard wolves, that is so weird because I also thought I heard wolves but neither of us said anything until then. We then decided we better head back to camp. Thank God we didn’t move camp this am and do this.With not much sleep I am beat. It was a leisure paddle from Caribou to the portage going, but coming back we were trying to beat the rain. We didn’t make it. It sprinkled on us on Caribou about the time we got to the portage to Horseshoe it really let go. Dan stood the canoe up and leaned it against a tree so we could all stand under it for awhile, Lil didn’t understand what we were doing. We had our rain gear but we were already wet. It was a cool rain, but the temp must have been around 75. Sunny most of the day. We waited out a couple more down pours and then headed to our camp on Horseshoe. We couldn't see from where we were standing in the woods but behind the trees there was a a wall cloud, we put the canoe in the lake and loaded and then the wind caught our canoe and blew us across the lake and it opened up just as we got to our camp. There are jagged rocks all around our landing to our campsite, the wind was pushing us right into the rocks. It was all we could do to paddle the canoe and make that turn into our campsite landing and avoid the jagged rocks. I had mentioned Dan put up a tarp a few days ago so we were able to get out of the rain. It was 6:30 when we got back to camp. We were able to have our Mountain house meal of Chicken and rice and Raspberry crumble for dessert. If you have never tried the Raspberry Crumble you have to it is amazing. The flies were bad on Meed so we were glad we didn't camped there. The loons were at our camp site today before the rain. Dan helped me with the dishes and we got to sit down. Sent out another in reach message home. We had blue sky's for the rest of the evening, but tonight it is cooler/damp feeling. Looks like we have new neighbors right across from us. No body else out fishing or portaging tonight. At this point we hadn’t decided if we were headed out Thursday or Friday. Tomorrow is Thursday. My sister was in the hospital in Columbia Mo when I left on Saturday, they had started 5 day treatment of meds. Hope she is better, praying for her and my niece and my brother they all have covid. It is so hard being out of touch with everyone. That is what we like about the In reach, they can send us a message and we can message them each day where we are and how we are doing. I had made arrangements with my other sister that she would send a message if things got worse.

I don’t’ know how my husband does the portaging with carrying a canoe on those dang rocks. He is amazing. I still have trouble with different canoe strokes, and Dan puts up with me. I pretty much paddle on one side until I get tired, then I switch, and then he switches, he does the steering. I do understand and get how to back paddling without being told. Like I said Dan is amazing and very patient with me. I am tearing up tonight thinking, just tired and lack of sleep and worrying about my sister.


Day 5 of 5

THURSDAY, August 20, 2020 Last night we had a lot of Thunder/lighting and some rain, windy for awhile. This am when I looked out at 8:00 am it was foggy. We heard someone on the portage early. We don’t know how they avoid the rocks with the fog. It is cool this am 62 degrees at 9:35, suppose to be a high of 72 today with clouds. Lil was ready to get out of the tent this am and do her morning run. She runs around with Dan, she just loves it. My hair is gross today, from all the rain yesterday and it has been since Saturday for a shampoo.

Today we had oatmeal, Dan checked the in reach for weather update. It showed a 70% chance of rain Thursday evening, heavy rains on Friday. The flies were really bad on Wed and so far this am. It is hard for our dog, they just won’t leave her alone. Dan decided we should pack up and head out today. We had slept in and took our time getting ready to go. We were packing up all over camp and our dog was following right along. When we started taking down the tent, we looked over and she was just standing there with her head resting on a big log like she was pouting. She loves coming here and so do we, so quickly it is time to go. She is with us 24/7 we were loaded and headed out by noon. Left a stack of dry firewood for the next group. As we headed to the portage, there was a family coming in. The dad had been here lots and loved Horseshoe, they had really expensive fishing poles. Would love to know if they had any luck fishing.

The fishing was another reason we left, we had fished on Horseshoe all over Caribou and went to Meeds, just a fish here and there no meals! We met one other group coming in on Caribou, they were headed to Vista. We enjoyed the beauty of Lizz Lake, Long and narrow. Had a couple of loons tell us goodbye then on to Poplar. We were back to Rockwood Outfitters and Lodge by 3:15. We unloaded our canoe, Dan got the truck and talked with others just getting back from different put ins, they had no luck fishing either. We took showers and headed on the road. We stopped in Duluth for supper and gas. We made our calls to family and my sister had just gotten released from the hospital and all the rest of the family were doing better. We drove straight thru to Nebraska got home at 4:15 am on Friday.

Time to plan the next adventure.That would be delayed for us in 2021 as a couple, I decided to fall and brake my femur in my right leg in Feb 2021, while snow skiing. I wasn’t up to a canoe trip by Summer of 2021. Dan did go with our dog for a solo trip in July 2021, more on that later.


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