BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
November 29 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1500 feet
Brant to Tuscarora via Little Sag Route:
Bat - Mud
Gillis - burn area is evident:
Peter - first lake trout:
Little Sag - green trees again!
Mora - gorgeous divide of burn and green
Tuscarora - second lake trout!
Missing Link - with lighter food pack, the portage is OK
A paddler's guide to type 2 fun
July 29, 2023
Number of Days:
After a quick stop at Frost River to Pick up our permit, Jesse and I headed up the Shore. This is my first trip without my dog, Amelia, since I got her 6 years ago....and it feels a little weird. She gave me a disbelieving look when I gave her a little snuggle and hugged my girlfriend goodbye and left them at home without me!
We had a great late lunch at Trail Center and checked into Tuscarora. Found our bunkhouse and chatted with Andy for a bit....he assured me that once we headed west of Little Sag we would see very few other folks. Then we drove up to the Magnetic Rock trailhead and hiked back tot he rock. Jesse had never been there, and the last time I was there was a year after the Ham Lake fire. Now the jack pines are getting tall and it's a very different landscape- cool to see the regrowth. Jesse got all kinds of cool readings off different pieces of the rock- one slab that had fallen off was way more magnetic than the main pillar.
We hit the hay early, and were asleep quickly.
Up with the birds and waited around until the kitchen opened, then stuffed ourselves with coffee, fruit, sausages, and french toast.
By 715 we were on our way to the Round Lake parking lot and on the water. There was one short detour for Jesse to get out of the car and herd a suicidal grouse off the road. I love the way we've become a smoothly oiled canoe machine! We both know what has to be done and who is gonna do it.
We saw a couple groups headed out, and one camped on Brandt, and we admired the new stars between Gotter and Flying. Found a fishhook on one of the portages, but this would end up being almost the only piece of trash all trip.
Got to Bat early, probably around noon. The first site on Bat was open, lots of cedar trees and a nice flat tent site so we grabbed it. Got pretty windy in the afternoon, lots of thunderheads floating by but no rain. Jesse spent some time frog watching, then went out to gather wood. There's a really nice rock under the trees- like a front porch. Only real downside to the camp is that the latrine is clearly visible from the kitchen.
Almost as many portages today, but less up and down and more paddling, so it felt better. That strip of portages from Round to Bat is just...annoying. Talked to a couple groups coming out of Little Sag- one recommended 2 campsites in particular for either blueberries or a sandy beach. The first one on our route was gorgeous- elevated kitchen, shady tent pads, private latrine, and a trail up onto a bluff absolutely filled with blueberries. Protected from the wind, and incredible amount of downed wood close to camp, and a beautifully constructed firepit.
We had "iced" coffee to celebrate finding a home base to explore Liitte Sag from. Smoke is getting worse- you can smell that burning plastic smell and my eyes are irritated. Found a quarter on the tent pad and picked blueberries for pancakes in the morning.
So, on to Pan. I hadn't looked much at the portages along this section except to note that they all looked pretty short. If I HAD looked at descriptions, we wouldn't have taken the fake horrible not-really-a-portage out of Panhandle! At least we figured it out with just the packs, swore a little, walked the real portage back, bushwhacked over to our canoe, and paddled over to the very nice, wide, not full of branches that hate you portage. LOL! There were lots of footprints on that awful fake portage, so at least we weren't the only ones to be fooled....but still. I was going to rate it a one for least well maintained.
Looked at both sites on Pan and took the eastern one. Better shade and it's so hot. Smoke is moving in again. We drank loads of water, ate lunch, and swam. By 330 the site was getting really decent shade. Sweet Potato Chili Mac for dinner was delicious. ~Little Saganaga Lake, Elton Lake, Makwa Lake, Panhandle Lake, Pan Lake
Saw two groups before noon, but we've really seen very few people this year. Skies are threatening rain and it's cooler today. Collected firewood, set up camp, picked 2 cups of blueberries. Saw a grouse on a portage trail, and in camp a snapping turtle and garter snake. ~Pan Lake, Anit Lake, Kivaniva Lake, Kawishiwi River
Beaver was a lovely lake, with so many tall red and white pines, but I'm glad we kept going. Took the campsite down the east arm of Adams, small but very private. Lots of well chewed moose bones lying around, and a tiny cone of fossilized poo at the bottom of the latrine with no TP left. Not sure anyone else has camped here this year.
Started the solar shower heating, and Jesse renovated a trail that leads along the shore to a cedar grove and then up a cliff. We're halfway through the trip now, so this is our second layover point.
Gathered water to filter later and Jesse fished some more- caught something big that got away and had lots of small fish investigating his bait, but nothing of eating size.
Back in camp we had backwoods charcuterie....olives, jerky, cheese, triscuits. Had a large mixed flock of chickadees and siskins move through camp, and also saw a family of mergansers, an osprey, hummingbird, and so many bluejays. Had a rainshower while having dinner and a larger one overnight.
Very pretty site full of youngish white pines. One we called the leaning tower of treeza because at some point it fell almost all the way over, and all the branches on the top of the leaning trunk became leaders. There is what could be a rusted out stove and a gas can in the woods east of camp. Cut some wood, had iced coffee and sat in the shade.
Just at dusk we heard a beaver repeatedly thwacking it's tail. Finally got out my binoculars....and there's a bear in the shallow water across the lake. Don't know if it was fishing or if it wanted to swim across the lake to where the lodge was and eat beavers, but the beaver was having none of it! Finally the bear wandered back into the woods. ~Adams Lake, Boulder Lake, Ledge Lake
Mayway was easy to access, just down a channel full of lilypads. Cookosh was a pull over at a beaver dam, and so pretty, with high cliffs and white pines. We went back to Mayway to see if we could find the old portage to Amimi...which on my map DOES have a campsite (LOL). Found the old portage and were able to follow it to Amimi. You could get a canoe through, but you'd be dealing with some serious muck before you hit open water. I did lay down a portage track on OSM. There was a cool cliff down the lake with a wolf spider as long as a dollar bill.
Paddled back to camp, chased by rain clouds that have now caught up to us. Lots of thunder but no lightning here. It's raining but we're dry under the tarp. Got dinner done and ate and then the sky opened up...torrential sideways rain and wind. Headed off to bed early. The tent did drip around one of the vents in the fly, but nothing major.
Continued on along the northwest side of Little Sag and found a pretty nice site on a rocky point with a small sandy beach on both sides. Campsite is marked wrong both on the map and in OSM. Someone arranged some nice rock tables/benches and there's lots of wood. Got showers today...always feels so good. The only good place to hang it was on the latrine trail, but it's a real long and scenic latrine trail so that was okay. Had lunch and iced coffee and cut wood before our showers. Big grey clouds scudding by, but it never rained so we had a nice fire and watched the stars come out. Kinda buggy...I had my own personal pet dragonfly harvesting mosquitos behind my chair.
The site on the south shore of Powell is fantastic for a small group. One big tent pad, and another smaller one that we used for our kitchen/rain shelter. Both are protected from wind. The rock fireplace at the top of the hill is a marvel of fire engineering. It actually looks like a safe place to have a fire even though it's exposed to wind from several direction, and has beautiful built in tables on either side. Mix of clouds and sun now.
I'm lounging in the shade and Jesse is gathering wood. Might try to stay up and stargaze tonight...we only have 3 nights left. Today we made butter coffee. Accidentally. This is not optimal! Jesse shook the coffee/cream mixture in it's little nalgene too long....it was odd but we drank it.
Good lord, everytime we get out food the wasps come out to play! They were landing in our soup bowls, on our spoons, even trying to fly into Jesse's mouth. Not cool! Running around on the rocks trying to eat without eating a wasp is hilarious but still not very fun. Clouds moving in this evening- looking like solid rain coming. ~Little Saganaga Lake, Virgin Lake, West Fern Lake, Powell Lake
All sites on Bat were open. We checked out the 2 we hadn't stayed at- the one on the north side was windy and exposed, though the tent pad is flat and sandy, probably drains well. Rocks around the fire set up to have only one of the short sides open...weird. Ended up at the middle site. It's a nice site, would be good for larger groups and kids- lots of trails around and plenty of shade if it's hot. Still drizzling on and off, but we have wood if the rain quits and a dry tent. Hoping for less moisture tomorrow.
~Powell Lake, French Lake, Gillis Lake, Bat Lake
The portage out of Brandt has been totally redone since we came through 2 weeks ago- it's uphill and out of the muck. Nicely done!
Showers and lunch at Trail center and headed home- I tell Jesse that I want to pretend that all the wet gear in the back of my car doesn't exist until tomorrow and he agrees to come over and help me get everything dried out tomorrow. ~Round Lake, West Round Lake, Edith Lake, Brant Lake, Gotter Lake, Flying Lake, Green Lake, Bat Lake