Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 13 2024

Entry Point 62 - Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (10 HP max). 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 33 miles. Motors allowed on Clearwater Lake only. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1673 feet
Latitude: 48.0702
Longitude: -90.3752
Clearwater Lake - 62


by paddelingruth
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 20, 2018
Entry Point: East Bearskin Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This is our 4th trip to the Boundary waters canoe area. My husband had been wanting to do a loop, in the past we have always went in and out the same way. Lakes traveled: Eastbear Skin Lake to Alder, Alder to Canoe, Canoe to Johnson Falls to Pine, Pine to Little Caribou, Little Caribou to Caribou, Caribou to Deer and Deer to Moon to Eastbear Skin Lake. My husband Dan and our dog Lil and myself left Nebraska on Saturday August 18th to camp at Spirit Mountain in Duluth. We ate at Sir Benedict's downtown Duluth across from Lake Superior. We found out that Jerry Vandiver would be there on Sunday night, it was a cool night so we thought it would be a great night to sit outside and enjoy the music. It was the wrong night but the nachos were amazing. On Sunday we headed to Ely Mn to go to Canadian waters outfitters to see about buying a used Kevlar canoe. We had not been in Ely before just wish we had more time to explore, we bought our canoe and had a great visit with them. We were headed to Rockwood Lodge Outfitters on the Gun flint trail. We still wanted to stop along Lake Superior and find Blueberries. We were happy we found them at our usual spot. We ate supper at a restaurant in Grand Marias called My Sister’s place, very good food. We then headed to our bunkhouse for the night at Rockwood Lodge. Enjoyed sitting on the dock at the lake and enjoying the nice evening. Great place to get our stuff organized and try and get some sleep.

Day 1 of 6

Monday, August 20, 2018 We got an early start however had failed to check on what time Trail Center end opened. They open at 8:00 we left the Bunk house at 6:30 a.m. it is only about 10 or 15 minute drive. We did decide to go back and eat at Trail Center and then put in. It is a great place to enjoy other people heading out and great food. Ended up one of those groups were also putting in on East Bear Skin.

We were the first ones at East Bear Skin area #64, another canoe was just returning with two guys who had been camped on Canoe Lake site #701 with a 4 star rating, that is the spot we were hoping to head to today. We were excited to hear it was empty. We were taking our time and unloading the canoe and gear, when all the sudden 3 other vehicles pulled up and started unloading their gear. It was pretty crazy with 3 sets of people putting in at the same time. Each of the other groups had two canoes each. We just kind of hung back and let them go. It was about 9:45 when we started paddling. It was a long paddle on East Bear skin, we started out with sprinkles and our rain gear on. It seemed like the other two groups were planning on camping on Alder, which worked out great for us. We crossed into Canoe and the campsite we wanted was available. We were moved in and set up by 2:30. So glad to be there and ready to enjoy the rest of the day. It was very overcast from the fires in Canada and the rainy weather. Today we explored the Canoe lake some and watched quite a few other canoes on the portage into Canoe lake come over and check out the camp beside of us. We had our T-bone steaks and Baked Potatoes for supper, MMM good! We were in bed by 7:45 p.m. Hardly any mosquitoes.


Day 2 of 6

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 We slept in until 8:00 am, had our pancakes with blueberries…. We headed out fishing on Canoe lake no bites or anything, the neighbors were out at their camp taking pictures. We decided to portage into Crystal Lake. Easy portage and nice little lake the sun decided to shine for a while. I caught 2 small mouth bass one was 17 inches long. We ate our lunch at the 1st campsite on Crystal lake, the camp is on a big rock that is really sloped. We pumped water there and it was crystal clear. While we were pumping water, we had a single canoe with a guy paddle over and ask us what was our intentions. There were a few other people on the portage waiting for his answer. We told them strictly honorable!!Ha! We were camping on Canoe just fishing here, he then headed on to look at camp sites on Crystal Lake. The sky was starting to look stormy and the wind was picking up. It made it difficult to get back to camp but we made it. It was a relief to make it back to camp. Dan cleaned the bigger fish and we had the bass for supper with mashed potatoes! Yummy! Beautiful night partial sun and no wind.


Day 3 of 6

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 We decided to head to Pine Lake. We were ready to do the huge portage. Packed up the camp and were headed to Pine Lake. We had planned to get a camp on Pine Lake and then the next day explore Johnson Falls. We double portage. Dan carries a pack with our tent and daily gear and the canoe on the first trip, I take a pack with our chairs and sleeping bags and carry the canoe poles. We leave our canoe chairs in the canoe with our life jackets hooked in. The second trip we each take another pack, one is our food and cooking pack the other is our gear bag etc. I almost forgot to tell you our dog Lil is with us she is a Welsh Springer Spaniel, she carries her back pack with her own food and dish. She loves the portaging part, she runs and has a great time but stays close to us and if others are around she is on her leash. While we were doing the huge portage, let me tell you we had to stop and rest few times, we first met a lady and her elderly mother, found out they were on the camp beside us on Canoe Lake. The lady was 78 and we later would meet her husband who was 80 with the other daughter. They had taken their girls in the boundary waters when they were as young as 3. Just guessing the daughters where probably in there late 40’s early 50’s. What an inspiration we had a nice visit with each of them along the portage and later saw them at Johnson falls. We came across another group as we were portaging and we had started with this crew when we put in, they were on a day trip to the falls, and camping on Alder, they had a cute little girl who was 3 her first time in the boundary waters they said she was doing great. We changed our plans after doing the big portage and decided to go ahead an see the falls. They say it is about a mile back to the falls. We heard and saw many people coming and going from there. It was a beautiful day and the falls were gorgeous. They were saying they had been short on rain so the falls weren't as full as they usually are. But the water felt great and the water fall was awesome. We got to visit with the couple canoeing with their two daughters. They said they were staying in the BWCA for a week. The couple had done a trip by themselves last year to see if they still could do the canoeing and then had this trip planned with their daughters. As we saw people on the portage and at the falls we questioned where they came from and where they were going. We had planned to go on over to Little Caribou after the falls but found out that camp spot was already taken as well as most or all the spots on Caribou. We then decided we better get a camp on Pine; the wind had started to blow and we put on our life jackets and headed out into the rough waters. We stopped at the first camp site on Pine #2061 rated as a 2. The camp is way up high. I held the canoe while Dan went up to check out the site. The way the wind was blowing us into camp we had a heck of time getting the canoe into the rocky shore. It was a nice spot on top of the hill. We enjoyed our evening, we found one flat spot for our small tent. We had Mountain house meal tonight. Neither one of us said anything to the other but we both felt like we were camping close to bears etc. We just felt very uneasy that night. That night our dog was acting un easy in the tent and wanted out we thought oh no she is smelling something, then we realized she needed out to eat grass and you guessed it promptly purged and then drank and drank water. Three times this happened and we had to exit the tent find the puke and take care of disposing of it properly!


Day 4 of 6

Thursday, August 23, 2018 It was a short but long night, we had decided we had better get up early and head out in case the wind was still blowing to make it to the portage to Little Caribou. We packed up camp and beat the wind, we saw another group of canoers ahead of us and low and behold it was the one of the other groups we put in with on Monday am. We made the portage in good time. That was 24 rod portage. We checked with them on where they were headed and they indicated they were headed closer to Moon Lake for a couple of days. They were ahead of us and we thought there goes our chance at getting a spot-on Caribou. As we paddled into Little Caribou a guy yelled down from the campsite we had marked on Little Caribou site #692 as a 5 star and really had planned to head there after we saw the falls. The guy asked if we were passing thru or looking for a camping spot? Told him we were looking for a camp site to get off Pine and wanted to get closer to Caribou. Told them we were doing the loop. There were 4 guys camped up there on that spot. They invited us up while they finished packing out. It was a real blessing. We visited with them while they finished packing out. Felt like we were rushing them but they said no they were leaving and were glad to let us have the spot, they had been there all week. They had camped on Pine Lake the first night and it turned out the same spot we had just left. They even gave us homemade beef jerky they had made. We took their picture and off they went. They had two back packs that they said weight 70 lbs. and 100 lbs. plus numerous other packs and gear, they indicated they do an annual trip and had for 20 years. I asked if they share their story on BWCA and encouraged them to do so. They had a lot of good ideas for dehydrating food etc. We made our camp. The tree where we put the food pack had huge holes that a wood pecker had made. I had never seen such big holes. Dan headed in for a nap since our night had been cut short. But the sun was shining and I wanted to sit on top of the big rock and enjoy the view and peace and quiet. We headed out for some fishing on Little Caribou and had no luck. We went back to camp for supper and then tried some more fishing. Saw a lot of canoers that day. We made a campfire it was wonderful. Hugh full moon. Headed to bed.


Day 5 of 6

Friday, August 24, 2018 Got up to a drizzly day. Dan got out our tarp and made a place for us to sit while it rained. Had brought a paper back book a Western “The Green River Trail” so we started reading this. Dan had needed to work on our camp stove and needed some oil to put on the pump of the stove. To get some oil I suggested he take the fishing reel apart and so he did. It worked, now the stove was working again. We had lunch and the rain had let up so we headed out fishing again, no luck. We had the whole lake to ourselves. We decided on Saturday to pack up and head out early, to head toward Moon lake so we would be closer to the take out on Sunday am.


Day 6 of 6

Saturday, August 25, 2018 : We were up by 6:30 and in the canoe by 7:30. As we carried all our gear down to the canoe and water we both smelled a horrible smell. We both thought it was for sure some animal scat and possibly bear scat. As we loaded stuff in the canoe we both looked at the same time for where our dog was and here she came from the side of the camp and as she approached she reeked! She had rolled in the scat that we smelled. Since she sits in the canoe by Dan we had to try and get that smell off of her. So she got thrown in the lake. That helped but she looked at us and wondered what she had done. She didn’t mind the smell. Since we were starting so early we just did granola bar an trail mix, as we left Little Caribou it was misty. We had packed our food bag so we could do lunch on one of the lakes. The portage into Caribou was a short 24 rods. We saw some eagles on Caribou but I didn’t get any pictures. Most of the campsites were taken and we saw a couple of other canoes headed toward Little Caribou. We reached one side of Caribou by 9:00 a.m. and headed to the portage to Deer lake. The Deer lake campsite is right there at the portage into Deer Lake. It had a sandy beach. The portage leaving Caribou into Deer Lake was horrible it was rocky and a lot of tree roots everywhere and everything was wet. It made it slippery and hard to walk and I have no idea how my husband kept upright with the canoe on his head. We decided to keep going and headed to Moon Lake. There was one canoe on Moon lake and one couple was fishing there. There where three campsites and two had campers. We ate our lunch on that lake and debated about taking the last campsite and staying until Sunday or go ahead and head out. It took us a little to find the portage and head into East Bear Skin. What a long paddle. We couldn’t believe the portage into East Bear skin from Moon was 183 rods. It seemed shorter. There was a very steep climb up and even a very steep flight of stairs. We got misted on a few times, but the sun started shining when we left Caribou Lake. I was down to wearing my shorts and tank top. We paddled for what seemed to be forever. We arrived at East Bear Skin Portage at 2:30. We looked around East Bearskin campground to see if we could get a camping spot, but we decided to try for the Bunk House at Rockwood so we could have showers. We got the bunkhouse and wonderful showers for us and the dog. We were able to lay our gear out so it could start to dry. We then headed to Trails End Restaurant for a wonderful meal and great reminiscing. We did a little drive on Gunflint Trail before headed back to Rockwood. We talked over our trip and choices we made. I really do enjoy the portages and just the beauty of the paths and all the cool things we see between the lakes. It is always a new adventure. We were Thankful for a good trip and safety. Felt very successful that we did that huge portage between Canoe and Pine. We survived.

A couple of notes for next time: 1) take a watch…. we used the camera in military time to figure out what time it was, one of us usually wears a watch, I like to write down what time we left and how long it took us to get to different portages. 2) take a couple of ink pens…. the pen wouldn’t write most of the time, so therefore lots of stuff doesn't get written down and it gets forgotten 3) we would rather not do a loop next time, we spend more time packing and moving then enjoying the trip, it is very stressful to worry if we will get a camping spot or not. While we did enjoy the Lakes we prefer going to a lake and setting up camp and doing day trips…….