BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 24 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1673 feet
Clearwater Lake - 62
Johnson Falls Weekend Trip
July 10, 2015
Number of Days:
We hit the road from St. Paul early Friday morning for the final few hours of driving up the Gunflint. Got to the outfitter, picked up the permit, loaded up the canoe, and pushed off onto Clearwater Lake early afternoon. It was a beautiful day- mid 70s, gently tailwinds, calm water, only a few clouds. We got to the Clearwater-Caribou portage and trucked through. One thing I learned right away is that while the Bell Eveningstar in royalex is nice on the water, breaking through waves and being stable for novice paddlers, it is a pain to portage!! Weighing in at 68 pounds, those longer portages wear on you a little bit. We came across some moose tracks on the portage, and found a family of loons on the Caribou side of the portage.
We took our time going across Caribou lake, enjoying the weather and beauty. The portage from Caribou to Little Caribou was narrow and rocky, but relatively painless and went smoothly. Coming onto Lil Caribou, I was sure the lone site was going to be taken as it is so popular. However, somehow we lucked out and found it empty (besides a forgotten pair of shorts, a filleted fish on shore, and an unfire 9mm round in camp). I think a group we passed on the way in just came off that site. The site is really nice, up high above the lake with a great view. With the gentle wind up high, the bugs were virtually nonexistant, although we could hear a steady hum coming from the woods around us in the evenings. We set up camp, cooked up a few brats and baked beans for dinner, and enjoyed the evening lounging around.
While Katie slept in a little bit, I woke up early enough to take a slow paddle around the lake through the steam and watching the sunrise. We made eggs in a bag for breakfast with peppers, onions, and bacon wrapped up in a tortilla. When late morning rolled around, we decided to head to Johnson Falls. We came across the Lil Caribou-Pine Lake portage and were really taken with how beautiful Pine Lake is. This was both of ours favorite lake with the scenery. Just past the portage, there was a lot of bass slapping the water so I decided to toss a buzzbait out for a few minutes. After a few smallies were caught, we landed the boat and hiked up to Johnson Falls. The lower falls had 2 groups there so we kept going to the upper falls. We went into the water and enjoyed the cool water, took a few photos, and went back down to the lowers. There we ate some cheese and crackers for lunch. We went back down to Pine lake, caught a few more smallies, then headed back to camp. We cooked up some turkey tetrazzini and green peas for dinner, and raspberry crumble for dinner. The weather was perfect again- mid 70s, gentle winds, barely any clouds.
We enjoyed the morning with a cup of coffee and the calmness of the lake. We took our time packing up camp, and left to go home midmorning. The weather was perfect again, and we took our time watching some loons call back and forth. We came to the last portage in the early afternoon and took the packs across. The sky above Clearwater was starting to cloud up but still looked good. We took our time recovering on the walk back, grabbed the canoe, and went across the last time. When we got to Clearwater again, a huge black cloud was just past the far side of the lake; right where we were heading. We loaded up the canoe in a hurry and paddled hard. The closer we got to the outfitter, the harder the wind seemed to blow. It was a race between us and the storm to the outfitter. We managed to beat the weather back to the landing, and we were tying the last rope to the canoe when it started to rain. Call that a close one!!