BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1256 feet
North Fowl Lake * - 70
Moose, Mountain, west and east Pike Loop
August 10, 2009
North Fowl Lake
John Lake (69)
Number of Days:
After some issues with our overnite stay at Judge Magney state park Sunday night,(too crowded and we didn't know max group size was 6) the ranger kicked us out and we ended up at Mcfarland lake instead. We had initially wanted Mcfarland anyway, but couldn't reserve a spot. Steaks and corn on the cob for dinner. That night we heard an animal that we could not indentify: it is best described as a sounding like a monkey getting beaten up?!?! Martin? Badger? That rabbit from Monty Python's Holy Grail? The put in for entry point 70 is at little John lake which is right there at the Mcfarland campground, so we had on easy start albeit kind of a late one, 10:30. Litttle John to John lake was easy then a 62 rod portage to the Royal river. Royal lake was prety much a large bend in the river filled with horsetails, I had to stand up in the canoe to see our way through. This was followed by a 99 rod portage into North Fowl lake at the northern tip of which we would finally be in the BWCA proper. There were a couple of brief showers while on North Fowl and this would be the only rain we had until Saturday morning! One more 126 rod portage into Moose lake, the beginning of which was pretty muddy because of the low water levels. After scouting all 5 campsites on Moose we chose the middle one. A little small for the four tents we needed, but it worked. We had Indian food and a couple of smallmouths caught trolling for dinner. The first day gave us a good sampling of the scenery we would encounter on the rest of the trip.
After looking at the maps again Monday night and hearing the weather report we became alot more confident that we could do the loop through to the Pike lakes and John lake. Our plan then was to start early and get as far down Mountain as we could and camp for the night. There are 3 portages that skirt the base of Moose Mountain with a little bit of paddling in between. Vaseux lake was a large lily pond in between the first and second portages After getting through the portages and talking to another group heading the other way(they had 8 people also), our weary muscles and the report that the first campsite on Mountain was great talked us into going no further that day. We took the first site which was at the base of the mountain. It was a beautiful site, the only slight problem is the latrine is about 30 rods straight up the mountain! Dinner was pesto pasta with salmon, pitas on the fire grate and a couple more smallies caught from shore. One of the best sunsets was to follow...
Awoke to a beautiful sunrise... After breakfast and some early morning swimming, we started our biggest travel day of the trip. It took us about 3 hours to get down the 7 miles or so of Mountain lake in which we had a gusty 10- 15mph headwind, nothing dangerous, but it made the paddling a little slow. The portage off of Mountain to Clearwater lake was only 81 rods but was probably the hardest with a steep uphill for the first 30 and the a slow descent the remainder. I say that because all of the rest of the portages on the trip were pretty easy for it being such a mountainous area. Clearwater lake is a very pretty lake despite it being very busy and it's 10hp limit. After Clearwater was the 211 rod into west Pike where we planned on spending 2 nights. A scouting party was sent to find our campsite, as there were alot of requests to have a 5 star site. I don't know what everyone else looks for in a site, but we wanted a good swimming rock, good kitchen area, openness and breezes, large tent pads, etc... The third site across from the island had it all. We had traveled 12+ miles to get there but we made it. Jambalaya and chicken for dinner, with cheesy bread on the outback oven.(Smallmouth again for an added treat). I added that picture as it is the only one taken that night as we were watching all of the shooting stars.
Awoke to a another beautiful morning and the thought of relaxing all day. I had brought some pancake mix after following all the posts before leaving about the blueberries being in season and decided to go on the hunt. I made everyone pancakes for breakfast to start off the day. Alot of swimming, card playing, hammocking and that kind of hard work was to follow. That night dinner consisted of snacking as we had had a large late lunch of burritos. Fish was caught but we saved it for breakfast the next day. Another beautiful sunset...
Smallmouth bass for breakfast and a late start as we only planned on going to east Pike that day to be a little closer to the out on Saturday. A 177 rod into east Pike followed by the discovery that the only open site on the lake sucked, pretty lake though. So, we took the last portage into John lake, 211 rods on which I suffered the only injury of the trip. I know the risks of wearing opened toed shoes on portages, but often find myself wearing them for comfort anyway. While portaging the heaviest canoe, my right ankle rolled slightly, which caused me to bring my left foot up quickly to catch myself and in the process stubbed my left big toe and took a large flap of skin off the bottom of my toe. Let that be a lesson to all, as I have learned it a few times now. I guess I wanted to justify carrying the first aid kit the whole trip? Anyway, we thought if we don't get a site on John, oh well it's been a great trip. The first site was open abeit a little crappy, so we saved it and scouted again. The other two were taken, so the choice was made that we would rather spend a night at a so so site than leave early. When we pulled the canoes out of the water there were several leeches on the bottoms, but some went swimming anyway. When my friend got out he had a leech on his foot and in the process of taking it off it exploded and 100 baby leeches came out and were all over his foot. His remark after several minutes of cleaning them off was,"I'm just glad it didn't happen to one of the ladies." This last site was also the only one where we saw any ticks. It also contained the largest Jack pine tree any of us had ever seen. It had to be at least 40 ft. tall with a trunk 3 ft in diameter! That night we had Caribbean rice with tuna and chocolate chip cake made in the outback oven. Sang alot and talked about what a great trip it had been.
Rain fell during the night and thunder on the horizon. When we got out it looked like the shore of lake Superior got hit pretty hard by the storms. Another late start as it was the last day and nobody wanted to leave. A short paddle across John and back through little John and we were out. A short paddle across John and back through little John and we were out. A short swim/cleanup in McFarland lake(nobody wanted to swim at leech beach again) and we were packed up and ready to go home by 1:30. Now for those of you that have never eaten there, I highly recommend Hughies taco house, home of the Puff Taco in Grand Marais as your out meal. We saw on the way up and were thinking about tacos all week wondering what a puff taco was. Needles to say they hit the spot.
All in all a great trip, about 30 miles traveled, and I highly recommend the area to anyone looking at the eastern end of the BWCA for their next trip! As an afterthought, I'll be putting more pictures in the gallery, as well as the maps section and Google earth when I get time.