One of the problems is how much the interpretations vary ranger to ranger. If relying on a more permissive interpretation, get the rangers name. Might help.
bposteve: "Being curious about this myself I asked at the Grand Marais Ranger station when picking up my John Lake permit. I was told by the ranger that as long as you are 'Traveling' the entire time you are out of the wilderness it is ok. But if you stop outside the wilderness, say to resupply or head to town for a beer, a new permit would be required. I was told it's a 'sprit of the law' not 'letter of the law' type of thing."
I recall this on a Tumblehome podcast episode of the area and she people talk about doing the border route challenge. They don't need a new permit even though they're out of the park crossing Gunflint lake
Being curious about this myself I asked at the Grand Marais Ranger station when picking up my John Lake permit. I was told by the ranger that as long as you are 'Traveling' the entire time you are out of the wilderness it is ok. But if you stop outside the wilderness, say to resupply or head to town for a beer, a new permit would be required. I was told it's a 'sprit of the law' not 'letter of the law' type of thing.
Another thing I've learned is that if you get a permit to hike one of the thru trails you only need one permit, even though you exit and re-enter.
That said it looks like our trip is being modified so this won't be an issue...
Here's a bit of trivia for you: the official corridor between the main or middle unit of the BWCA and the unit to the northeast of the Gunflint Trail (see both strighthairedcurly and billconner above) was written about by Amy & Dave Freeman in their book, "A Year In The Wilderness," on page 248.
My guess is that it is not legit, but that its never enforced. That is based on a lot of discussion with multiple USFS rangers - in person at Canoecopia and by email over several years. Only corridor crossings allow you to leave and enter on same permit - Echo and Gunflint trails.
South Hegman through Nets and Picket to Mudro was a specific example given of not allowed and is similar. If I were in your group, I'd prefer going through East Pike, but I doubt you'd be caught exiting and re-entering. Maybe in light of this past season's problems, they might be more sensitive and quicker to issue fines. Who knows?
I have done this route in the past. Typically it is understood that if you just paddle through and do not stop or camp outside the BWCA, you would still be legit. Note this is not an official answer from an authority figure, but it is similar to passing through Gunflint Lake from the Granite River and then continuing onward to South Lake. Our camp groups often do loops like what you describe.
It is an interesting question. I suggest that you contact the Forest Service for an official answer. Daniel Pauly in his book, "Exploring the Boundary Waters," writes about loop routes through Pine, McFarland (outside the BWCA), and North Fowl, but he does not address the issue of multiple permits.
To partially avoid the issue, you could simply go up the Royal River to John and East Pike. That route is within the BWCA, except for the route through N. Fowl.
You really need an expert/official opinion.
It is my understanding that once you enter the BWCA with a permit that you cannot exit and re-enter. So with that in mind I have a question...
I am route planning a trip to the east section and looking at traveling through Mountain to Moose to N. Fowl to Royal River to either E. Pike or Pine. If I start my trip with EP 60 or 61 and then work my way clockwise around back to my EP, what do I do about the other entry points I travel through? I could go through EP 70, 69, and 68 doing this loop. Is this something I need to worry about? I'd like to know what the right thing to do is.
Thanks for the input.