BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 24 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 17
Elevation: 1184 feet
Saganaga Lake - 55
Adventure=taking your 1 year old and pregnant wife into the BWCA
August 16, 2015
Saganaga Lake Only
Number of Days:
A little backstory: my wife is 7+ months pregnant, we have a 13 month old and we decided to take our 1st trip into the BWCA. I have a decent amount of experience backpacking and paddled outriggers for 8 years, my wife has camped quite a bit growing up and is a pretty solid paddler, our 13 month old slobbers and poops a lot, has a mean high five and has never camped. We talked to our friends who have a lot of BWCA experience and had a mixed group of answers to the question "should we go with a 13 month old and a pregnant wife?" More "you're nuts" answers than yes answers for sure.
We packed up and used had reserved a partial outfitter package. We got to the outfitter and grabbed our gear and permits. We rented a 1 hp, electric trolling motor which I thought would make up for the lack of my wife paddling while she was holding our kid... WRONG.. The 1 hp kicked into high gear was only creating drag as I paddled so we ditched that idea and stowed the motor. As we got through the river and entered into the mouth of the wind devil, ie Saganaga Lake tears flowed from the 2 ladies in tow, I lost my breath and energy and we all prayed we'd live to see another day. (I did research and was well educated into the dangers of wind at Sag beforehand) We had 15-20+mph headwinds with decent whitecaps hitting us as we entered Sag. Our goal was to make it to Red Rock Bay within 3 hours with the 1 hp. Once we entered Sag our goal was to make it alive to somewhere that was vacant, didn't have rabid animals or that was overgrown or trashy. As I paddled our top heavy canoe head in to the waves as hard as I could I wanted to hook a left and head west towards the islands and bays for cover but any movement west would have subjected us to being broadside to the south waves so I paddled harder south to keep a steady pace. We finally got a small break from the wind and waves and made a hard turn west. We caught cover into the first bay by site 361 and got lost for 30 minutes thinking we were further north and west. After realizing our mistake (of taking a 1 year old AND getting lost) we headed back north west. I realized rather quickly that for me to stay married much longer I would need to find a campsite and fast so I paddled to the next visible site which was 364. I paddled hard into the landing with a screaming 13 month old in tow, being out of breath, hanging onto my marriage and happy to be alive. We got into camp after >3:20 of paddling around 6:30. We quickly reviewed the site and setup camp. We were pleasantly surprised by our luck with this campsite. Here's a quick review of the site (364): [paragraph break] Pros: -Easy landing with a decent amount of sandy beach -Nice campsite to the north of the landing -Great fire pit and sitting area around fire -Lots of nice trees for hanging and good cover -Great hammock trees and view south of landing -BEAUTIFUL view south of landing and about 200 yards south with a relatively steep climb. View of multiple islands with a remarkable sunset. -Trails and paths were kept up quite well.
Cons: -Motor traffic/noise. About 20 times a day -Below average fishing from site. Caught a large mouth after an hour of fishing -Not amazing wind break. Decent amount of exposure -A bear magnet based thanks to the previous campers: A fair amount of trash and food remnants. (Pasta at landing, peppers in woods, a few zip locks in the thicket, other random food strewn about camp) -Latrine was frequented by bears, fresh scat around latrine daily (presumably a mentally challenged bear as this latrine smelled like hell) Latrine was about 150 yards west and uphill. -Outside of kindling, good wood was hard to find close to camp. We had a good time with the views, the site and the access to the islands to the south for Northern Fishing. Caught a number of good sized Northerns (25"+) around the islands to the south (10 minute paddle from landing). I'd suggest camping here if you don't mind some motor traffic and a latrine that smells like death.
Woke up what I presume was a 1910 25 hp motor that was modified to make as much noise as possible at around...ah... 5:45... FIVE FORTY FIVE IN THE MORNING... [paragraph break] After getting up early for the morning I decided to take a couple of solo fishing trips around the area. I paddled to the bay about 100 yards south and as soon as my daredevil hit the water I got a strike from a 2 pound largemouth. It hit so fast that I thought it got snagged so I ripped the line back to untangle only to receive a nice fight. The next cast landed a 22" Northern and within 5 more casts landed another Northern, a small snake but a fun fight. I then went further south west into a bay and had 0 luck with a mepps and a couple of spoons. I went back into camp for lunch and to see the ladies. [paragraph break]After lunch I made my way back out as they were still reluctant to get back into a canoe with me or in Sag for the time being. As I made my way south to the chain of small islands I saw some beaver activity towards a more southern and western bay. I followed them in and checked them out a bit, while I was in there I had a nice view of a bald eagle. As I was paddling through the bay I spotted something crossing the channel between the 2 most northern islands, just south of our campsite island. I paddled quickly to get a view but as I got within 100 or so yards it made it to land and ran up the game trial. I am confident it was a bear, what I wasn't confident about was if it was a sow and a cub(s) as it looked to be more than 1 bear butt running up the trial and of different sizes. I decided to fish around those islands as they had a nice combo of rocks and vegetation. I decided to try a weedless frog and it seemed to be a good call. I landed 2 larger 30 and 33" Northerns over the next hour. I then went back into camp to spend a few hours with my wife and daughter. After a while of coaxing, they got into the canoe with me and we went for a little trip south around the small islands I fished earlier. I was hoping at this point to show them some of the wildlife I saw a bit earlier and we had 0 luck of seeing/hearing anything more than a tone deaf youth group paddling and signing as they made their way around the islands. As I was out fishing this go around with them in tow I brought what looked to be a 40+" monster to the boat with a mepps. As I was going to grab my net he ripped the mepps off the leader and off he went. We (my daughter's fussing) decided to call it a day on the water and made our way back to camp for some more family time and dinner. [paragraph break]
After dinner I decided to use our binoculars and literally the 1st view across the channel from us I see what looked to be a groundhog laying on a rock. As I watched longer it looked remarkably like a badger but I couldnt get a good enough view of its face other than a profile so I can't confirm but it had a greyish/brownish coat and a white and black face as seen by its profile (it also lacked a tail or had a rather small one). After my wife put our little one to sleep, she and I went up the hill from our site to a really beautiful viewpoint and watched the sunset. It was a great end of the day. [paragraph break] We had originally planned on going home on Wednesday afternoon but we caught the weather report via our radio and realized that Wednesday was going to be hellish with temps hovering around 50 for the high and a strong possibility of consistent rain. We decided to call a short trip shorter and traveled back a day early. That trip back greeted us with waves and wind from a different direction than our trip in but with the same fate: headwind. It wasn't as bad as our trip in but it was no walk in the park. It took us about 2 hours to get back as we decided to paddle North East of our site and catch a tail wind back. As much as I was really bummed to leave I was excited for my wife and daughter to be going home. My wife was a champ throughout it all and served my daughter relentlessly. She allowed me to go solo and get my fishing fix in with a smile on her face. My daughter, God bless her was a real trooper. She loved being at the campsite but HATED her initial canoe trip in. Our relationships all got better through this and we got some time to unwind. Next time we'll do so without a kid in tow.