Day 1 of 4
Thursday, July 09, 2020 Left sconnie in two vehicles all packed up the night before. I've got my Northwind 17, Paul and Tommy will be renting a SR 17 from the Methodist Camp in Ely. Otherwise we outfit ourselves. We packed light knowing that we had a 428 rod portage and a 272 ahead of us today. We had done quite a bit of reading to know that the 428 Trease Lake to Angleworm portage could be a bugger. The boys were whining, but the 50 year old guys were rarin' to tackle it. It was a short trip so we figured we would be able to single portage, with 2 heavier packs along with 2 lighter packs for the guys carrying the canoes. We have velcro straps for the fishing rods and paddles so they go with the boats on the portages.[paragraph break]Left at 5am and immediately hit a big old windy thunderstorm which actually caused us to drive about 35 miles an hour for the first hour of the trip. Finally were able to hit driving speed near Webster. Made it to Ely at almost 10am--later than we had planned. Paul and Tommy went to get their canoe. Ryan and I swung into Spirit of the Wilderness to get some leaches. Only larges and jumbos left, but that'll be fine. Picked up a couple dozen and off we went up the echo trail.[paragraph break]Hit the South Hegman EntryPoint and unloaded gear. We had the boys put stuff together while Paul and I brought one of the vehicles to the Mudro lot for when we exited. FINALLY hit the water about noon.I had never seen a pictograph before, Paul has seen them in other BWCA spots, so that was our first objective. Both Hegmans are beautiful lakes--but extremely busy with daytrippers. No biggie, it was nice to see so many people enjoying the wilderness.[paragraph break]Finally made it to the end of Trease Lake--and there it was--the portage. It didn't look so menacing. I wanted to see the true length, so I turned the gps on my fitbit and off we went. (1.8 miles to end --1 hour and 15 minutes).[paragraph break]All I have to say about the 100 or so yards of mudbog in the middle is this--those of you on bwca.com who said it was a challenge--did not exaggerate--it is.[paragraph break]
Finally made it to Angleworm. With the wind at our back we really enjoyed the paddle towards home. Angleworm is a beautiful lake. So beautiful that I have since picked up a hiking permit to walk the trail on a three day backpack trip in August. Well we made it to the end of Angleworm and we were pretty tuckered out. We hadn't seen anyone on the trip since North Hegman so we hoped and planned that we would go to Home lake and setup camp for the night. Made it to Home Lake and to our dissapointment, the only site on the lake was occupied. So we looked at our map and saw what we thought was a site at the north end of the lake. We paddled back and forth for about 45 minutes trying to find the site at the north end--got out of the boat a couple times but could not find it. (It wasn't til after we returned we realized this was a hiking campsite about 20 rods off the lake--one that I will find when I head back to hike!)[paragraph break]
Well, since there was no campsite--we had to take the 272 rod portage to Gull Lake. Fortunately, that is an easy portage. Fortunately there is 1 campsite left on the lake. The middle one on the north shore. Pretty site with a nice breezeway. The burning ban is on, so no need to find wood. We got camp setup while the boys went out fishing. Camp finally setup about 8pm and a dinner of pita pizza. The boys came back and said they had caught several bass and pike during their hour or so fishing. We were spent at the end of this day, but what fun and what a feeling of accomplishment. As my son says--every day in the Wilderness is a good day---there are just different types of fun on different days![paragraph break] We slept well that night! ~Angleworm Lake, North Hegman Lake, South Hegman Lake, Gull Lake, Trease Lake, Home Lake
Day 2 of 4
Friday, July 10, 2020 Today our hope was to get into Fairy lake, pitch camp and do some fishing. the wind changed from the south to the north so for the second day in a row we had a 15 mile wind at our back (that normally never happens!) Paddled through Gun Lake. What an interesting lake-it seems bigger than it is. Very pretty cliffs and structure. Saw several campsites full (again) but only a single solo boat on the lake. Easy portage to Fairy, but once there we see no open campsite. On to plan B. Hopefully we can find something in Boot.[paragraph break] Boot lake is another very pretty lake and happily we find an open campsite. The northernmost site on a point across from a huge cliff. Again--gorgeous! We learn from a paddler as we are setting up that all the other sites are full on this lake too.....whew! Glad we stopped. He also tells us that the burning ban was lifted. This is strange because things are still very dry and windy. We make the decision not to have any campfires because it just seems to dangerous.[paragraph break] This is a nice site with alot of shoreline. We setup camp and the boys headout fishing. It is just after lunch. The two dads spend time reading and relaxing and fishing from camp while the boys try to catch supper. The boys finally make it back at about 6pm. They had only caught a single bluegill, so tonight we will eat cache lake chicken and dumplings. At about 8pm, the boys head back out to fish while the dads fish from shore. Caught another Bluegill. The boys get back at about 10pm with no fish. In spite of the poor fishing, it was nice to have a beautiful sunny day of relaxation!~Boot Lake, Gun Lake
Day 3 of 4
Saturday, July 11, 2020 We slept in today and didn't get back on the water until about 11am. Today we want to make it to Tin Can Mike. Paul had brought Tommy there for their first BWCA trip many years before. So our plan is to get to the TCM portage, send the boys over the portage with a pair of binoculars to scope out and see if there are any campsites open. (We are pretty concerned about this due to the shear number of sites we have seen full). We figure if Tin Can Mike is full, we will stay on Horse Lake and head north til we find something open. So off we go--from Boot Lake to Fourtown first then to Horse. One thing we learn is on the east side of FourTown, there are some small channels that you should normally be able to paddle across, but this year, due to the low water, you need to portage them. [paragraph break] We make it to the Horse to TCM portage about the same time as a group of 9 first timers coming through with 4 canoes. Nice young people who are very polite. Our boys had taken their canoe and went to scope out TCM while we had lunch at the portage. They report both sites at the north end are open, so off we go. We stay on the northwest site. It is a huge rock! I am fairly disappointed at first because this site has no tarping area and the two tent pads are right out on the exposed rock. To top it off we spend over an hour looking for the latrine with no luck.[paragraph break]But as I have learned in the BWCA--don't let first impressions fool you. We set up our tents and the boys throw out a line. Almost immediately they are slaying nice sized bluegills! So the dads start fishing and in no time we have supper caught for the night--big panfish that loved our leaches. [paragraph break] The boys head out to fish the lake and the dads decide to go for a walk up the rock. OH MY! It is one of the most beautiful lookouts I have vistited in the wilderness. We get to the top of the rock and we can see for such a long way. We have a beautiful view of the lake--and a good place to watch for moose this evening. The top of the rock cliff is exposed granite so as we sit down on the reindeer moss to enjoy the view--what do we see all around us but fresh ripe blueberries! What a treat.[paragraph break] Later that afternoon, I make it a mission to find the latrine. (Evidence from Toilet Paper on the top of the hill shows others did not find it either :(. Well we begin to look and finally we find it. The trail to it is almost non-existent. It looks as though several trees blew down over the winter and because people could not find it--the trail grew over with weeds and leaves. So we take some time to move the deadfall to the side of the trail so that future visitors will have an easier time finding it and hopefully not leave their "mark" around the campsite. As an added bonus as we are there--we find a patch of wild strawberries![paragraph break] Evening comes and again we opt out of a fire--it is just too dry.[paragraph break]The boys come back at supper time and let us know they had "slayed the bass and bluegills" during the afternoon. They are excited to head out at dusk to try and find some walleye...but as it turns out the night fishing was not as productive. The dads head back up the rock and look to the southwest over the creek to wait to see a moose--no such luck but the sunset was remarkable--we stay until the skeeters finally chase us away.
~Fourtown Lake, Horse Lake, Tin Can Mike Lake
Day 4 of 4
Sunday, July 12, 2020 The boys get up at 5am to go fishing and the dads sit around camp drinking coffee and starting to pack things up. About 730 its time to make some fresh blueberry/strawberry pancakes--and just like clockwork the boys are back to eat. We asked how the fishing was and they said--we only caught a couple dozen bass.....then they pulled out the phone to show us one they had caught-----it's a largemouth bass--they tried to weigh it before releasing it and it showed about 7.5 pounds!!!!! I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw the picture myself. They said the also caught "a pile" of smallies and pike around the lake that morning.[paragraph break] It is a beautiful day with zero wind. Time to pack up and head towards Mudro. TCM, Sandpit and Mudro are all calm as glass on the way out. We do see many canoes coming in and out, but everyone is respectfull.[paragraph break]As we paddle through the lakes the boys are trolling and casting as we are taking our time. Between TCM, Sandpit and Mudro they are nailing Pike, Walleye and Smallies pretty much non-stop--one of the best four hours BWCA fishing I have seen in my 10 trips and Paul has seen in his 22 trips. Two of the smallies are trophy class fish. [paragraph break] We make it to Mudro parking lot at noon and just like that our trip is over. The portage from Sandpit to Mudro while short--is also a bugger---straight up and straight down....but it is nothing like the mud bog of a couple days earlier.[paragraph break] This is the first trip I have ever been on where it did not rain. We were able to sleep without a rainfly on the tent so we had a clear view of the stars each night. It was, as are all trips, a lifetime memory with good friends, fishing and peace. in the end 4 days, 14 lakes, 15 portages and 22 miles. Two more paddling and 1 hiking trip to go in this weird Covid19 BWCA season. This was truly the most rewarding trip I have ever done.
~Sandpit Lake, Mudro Lake