BWCA Father/Teen Dream Trip Recommendations? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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scotttimm
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07/23/2018 12:01PM  
Hey Friends,

Hot off a nice 6-day base camping trip to Insula with an extended family group, had a blast. My 14-year-old son has five trips under his belt now, and has expressed that he would like to do a trip JUST with dad. He would like to test our limits, see how far we can go. I'm very blessed, I know! I feel like I should take advantage of the desire to hang with his old man while I have the chance.

We would go in with minimal gear, two hennessy hammocks, and we LOVE to fish. I'm guessing at least a 7-day trip, we could maybe stretch it as far as 14 days, who knows, but I'm thinking two weeks is the absolute limit. He'll be a freshman in high school this year, so I'm guessing Fall is out, we may be looking at Spring/Summer next year. I am going to check with his school to see if there might be a good Fall week to try but I'm hesitant with his first year there. He is a very strong paddler at this point, and so am I. We're both very experienced campers and work very well together, and feel comfortable pushing ourselves a bit. I don't think we have a preference which side - we've done Lake One entry a few times, Moose Lake (Ensign), and on the Gunflint side we did a trip to Ogish last year.

So, my first question is - where would YOU go if you were ME, including outfitters/campgrounds/parking lots for a night stay? Favorite loops? Second question - any advice for taking a teen deep into the BW, tips for longer-distance routes? We've mostly base-camped and schlepped in gear to keep the kiddo's happy, but this time we'd be going minimal.
Thanks for any thoughts you have, we appreciate it. - Scott and Grant



 
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giddyup
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07/23/2018 02:19PM  
I won't offer any advice, tips or suggestions for you but I just want to say, WOW, what a blessing this young man is and the relationship you have. It's so great that it is what it is and I'm sure you have put the work in to making it that way. Best wishes for a wonderful and safe trip.
07/23/2018 02:25PM  
I would do the Hunter's Island loop or a portion of it in the Q. Lot's of water falls and pictos also.
billconner
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07/23/2018 02:35PM  
+ 1 to AmarilloJim's suggestion. Should be easy 10 days, great fishing opportunities, and in summer season less crowded than BWCA. If I were planning it I might modify a little so I could enter form north side and save on permit fees.

I'd also have to think about a big chunk of border and relatively low cost and simplicity of BWCAW - like International Falls to Grand Portage or at least Crane Lake to South Fowl - or opposite. I think the Crane Lake (or EP14) to South Fowl is very reasonable fr your 10-14 days and allows some easy "outs" along the way.
BigCurrent
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07/23/2018 03:07PM  
Check out a trip entering at Little Indian Sioux. Travel through shell, hustler and Oyster to Agnes and then head up to the border and head East to Crooked. Paddle down the basswood river, horse river and exit at the Mudro EP.

More than 7 days would be good to experience all that this route has. There is good fishing all along the way and a great mix of lakes/river/topography.
07/23/2018 04:18PM  
Sorry... I don't have good advice on a long trip because I'm only able to get away for 4day/3 night trips. BUT.... I do a daddy/daughter trip w/one of my daughters each year starting when they were 5. My 13 yo just did her 5th one and my 10 yo will do her 4th one next year. That one on one time with your kid in the bwca is priceless. It's just the two of you and there's nothing better. That is the one trip for me that is non-negotiable and happens every year.

Enjoy!!!!!!!!
Jackfish
Moderator
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07/23/2018 04:39PM  
scotttimm: "My 14-year-old son has five trips under his belt now, and has expressed that he would like to do a trip JUST with dad.
"

It doesn't get much better than that! Planning is going to be so much fun.

How about Quetico?
Michwall2
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07/23/2018 06:25PM  
I have a couple of suggestions.

Option 1 Sawbill Lake Entry 38. Go west through the Lady Lake Chain to Polly Lake. North to Malberg. Southwest to Alice. (Visit the pictographs on Fishdance Lake). Head northwest out of Alice to Thomas and Fraser. Continue north to Kekakabic and further north to South Arm of Knife. (Visit Thunder Point). Head east to Eddy Falls portage. Turn south through Eddy, Jenny and Annie Lakes. At Ogishkemuncie turn southeast headed to Gabimichigami. Head south to Little Sag and then turn southeast again through Mora to Whipped and Fente. Turn south at Fente to head through Hub to Mesaba. Continue south to Zenith Lake and the Zenith to Lujenida portage. Paddle the Kelso River to Kelso Lake and find your way back to Sawbill. (You can cut out the first day or so by getting a shuttle to Entry 37 - Kawishiwi Lake). This route is 8-10 days of paddling. It will take you through a great variety of the BW ecology, geology, and fishing.

Option 2. Sawbill Lake Entry 38.
Sawbill east through Smoke and Burnt to Kelly. Head north up the Temperance River watershed (Jack and Weird Lakes) to South and North Temperance Lakes. Turn west at N Temperance through Sitka to Cherokee Lake. Turn North again to Gordon (take a side trip to Frost Lake if you feel you have the time.). Continue North to Long Island Lake, Karl, Lower George, Rib, and Cross Bay Lake. Turn west to Snipe, Copper, Hubbub, Howl, Tuscarora Lakes. Continue west to Owl and Crooked then turn south through Tarry to Mora. (Here you can turn south and head back to Sawbill per option 1 or) Head west through Little Sag. Turn southwest through Elton and Makwa headed to Malberg and Polly. At Polly turn east and head back to Sawbill through Hazel, Knight, Phoebe, Grace, Beth (Lady Lakes Chain), and Alton.

Alternate routes with more solitude (and more work) include using the either the Frost River or the Louse River (or both) to move east or west north of Sawbill.

I have done versions of both routes with my kids about the same age as yours. Both are memorable. Some great scenery, great fishing lakes, varied river and lake paddling.

Edit:
Sawbill is a great entry. Huge parking lot. There is a campground right at the entry. There is also an outfitter right there (Sawbill Outfitter). (Sawtooth Outfitters is also at the beginning of the Sawbill Trail). The Sawbill Outfitter has most items and services you would need. You can find a link to their website on the list of outfitters supporting this site. Sawbill Lake is a crossroads of its own right. (There are 4 routes in and out.) . :Edit

Hope this helps.
07/23/2018 08:23PM  
A lot depends on how much you want to travel vs. fish, as well as whether you plan to single portage vs. double. If you're going to single portage and travel until late afternoon, you could cover a lot of territory in a week.

Michwall2 has given you a couple of good options, each of which offers other options. I've done big chunks of each at various times and really enjoyed some of the more remote parts. From the Cross Bay EP #50, the Snipe-Copper-Howl-Tuscarora traverse was memorable. And on to Mora to Little Sag and several ways back.

I've gone up through EP #37 and down to Fishdance to see the pictos and up through Alice-Thomas-Fraser, but then across Sagus, Cap, Boulder, Adams. Have also gone NE out of Malberg to Little Sag, then Mora, Whipped, Fente, Zenith, Lujenida, Kelso (see the dolmen) and out Sawbill.

There are lots of variations for a long trip, and even more if a shuttle is used.
lundojam
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07/24/2018 08:07AM  
In my mind, putting on miles and concentrating on fishing are conflicting. I like to hunker down in an area for a couple days at least to dial in the fish. Maybe you should travel hard for 3 days, fish for 3 days from a base camp, and 3 days out again (or something.) Or, if you have 2 weeks, do a week of each.
If it were me I'd base camp for a week in a fish-rich area, and then do a week-long adventure loop.

Either way, you are livin' the dream and are sure to have the trip of a lifetime.
07/24/2018 09:08AM  
I find it easier to figure out patterns if I move. Don't get me wrong if I come across an active school I will stop for an hour or so to enjoy the bounty. But once you figure out a pattern you will find other fish if you move. I am usually packed up and on the water by 5:00 AM and setting up camp somewhere by 3:00. I can fish and travel a good 15 miles or so a day doing this.
scotttimm
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07/25/2018 07:55AM  
Thanks, everyone, for the awesome recommendations. This thread is saved and will be the starting point for me to do some research and quality map-geek-out time with my kid.

I think we are planning for the BW - just to cut down on costs, though maybe with enough time we can save up for Quetico. I kind of like the 3 day in, 3 day base, 3 day out idea. Any other ideas are very welcome.

Can't wait.
Scott
heavylunch
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07/25/2018 09:18AM  
I am surprised how "uninterested" I was in doing the border route years ago when I was a kid but now that I am older and trying to help my aging mom see the last few lakes on the border that she hasn't seen I wish we would have maybe done it "growing up".

Reason #1: For whatever reason it will be easy to remember the route years down the road. I am talking 40 to 50 years down the road. In comparison, I have been on 40 or maybe even 50+ trips, all kittywampus routes that are hard to explain to people who don't know the area. Even then friends and relatives wouldn't really be able to "relay" the information. But they would remember that you all did the whole BWCA border route.

Reason #2: People seem to ask which border lakes I have been on and it would just be easier to say I have done them all.

Reason #3: There are some beautiful areas on the route and the landscape does vary substantially from one end to the other (Fowl to Lac La Croix/Crane).

Reason #4: Makes a good xmas card story and there are lots of "historic" portages, markers, and some pictographs along the route for memories.

My 2 cents:

PS Watap and Rove are the only 2 BWCA border lakes I think I haven't been to. LOL
pswith5
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07/25/2018 10:54AM  
I agree that you are a lucky man. Son looks like a big strong young man. I hear you when you say that you want test yourselves but, don't overdo it. Listen and watch for any unspoken signs. Little Indian Sioux loop would be a good suggestion. You can put on some miles without too many grueling portages. If you loop down through nina- moose there is a little hike back to LIS entry. Maybe you could send your boy to go get the car. ;) we will watch for a trip report.
BigCurrent
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07/27/2018 08:58AM  
scotttimm: "
I think we are planning for the BW - just to cut down on costs, though maybe with enough time we can save up for Quetico. I kind of like the 3 day in, 3 day base, 3 day out idea. Any other ideas are very welcome.
"


That is a good idea and with that in mind here is my recommendation. Very manageable travel days and great fishing.

Moose River North EP
Day 1 - EP to Agnes
Day 2 - Agnes to Iron
Day 3 - Iron to Crooked (Friday/Thursday Bay)
Days 4,5,6 - Fish Crooked area
Day 7 - Crooked to Lower Basswood Falls
Day 8 - Lower Basswood Falls to Horse
Day 9 - Horse to Mudro EP
InvertedEgg
member (9)member
  
07/29/2018 12:48PM  
Michwall2: "I have a couple of suggestions.
Option 2. Sawbill Lake Entry 38.
Sawbill east through Smoke and Burnt to Kelly. Head north up the Temperance River watershed (Jack and Weird Lakes) to South and North Temperance Lakes. Turn west at N Temperance through Sitka to Cherokee Lake. Turn North again to Gordon (take a side trip to Frost Lake if you feel you have the time.). Continue North to Long Island Lake, Karl, Lower George, Rib, and Cross Bay Lake. Turn west to Snipe, Copper, Hubbub, Howl, Tuscarora Lakes. Continue west to Owl and Crooked then turn south through Tarry to Mora. (Here you can turn south and head back to Sawbill per option 1 or) Head west through Little Sag. Turn southwest through Elton and Makwa headed to Malberg and Polly. At Polly turn east and head back to Sawbill through Hazel, Knight, Phoebe, Grace, Beth (Lady Lakes Chain), and Alton.


Just got back from doing Michwall2's second option almost exactly in reverse (adding in a detour down to Fishdance between Malberg and Makwa), with a 14 year old, a 17 year old, and our dog. We took 15 days, so had lots of down time. It was a blast, and other than some choke points (Sawbill to Cherokee, mostly) very lightly populated. Highly recommend!
gannettpk97
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07/30/2018 12:18PM  
I started taking my kids on canoe trips when they each turns 6. They were told they could go only if the were good swimmers. Well they were all fish by 6!

My youngest daughter is now 32 and we will be entering the "Q" on 8/10. Can't wait for the long talks in the canoe and around the campfire!

Enjoy!
08/01/2018 10:28AM  
Just got off water last week from my dream trip with a group of 16 and 17 year old Eagle Scouts is it pushed us. Started at 25 and headed east to Frost Lake and did Frost and Louse rivers on back to back days popping out at Marlberg then the Kawishiwi to Insula then North to Ensign then back to starting point. Very strenuous trip with 68 named lakes, multiple rivers, and 104 portages. 126 miles. Trip of a lifetime.
RetiredDave
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08/01/2018 06:01PM  
I took both of our daughters on 'Daddy - Daughter' trips when each turned 13. I will never forget those days and nights, and I am so thankful that I was able to do it. We've all been up since, but never as twosomes. So I guess what I'm saying is, go for it, you will NEVER regret it!

I can't recommend one route over another, there is so much to see in the BW/Q wilderness. The time spent with your son will be priceless. Thank you for being a great father to our next generation of people on this planet.

Dave
Sartellite
Guest Paddler
  
10/15/2018 05:54PM  
This is a trip I did with my son at the same age. His first trip to BWCA he was 2 months old....been there at least once a year ever since, he is now 21. You've been as far as Ogish, start at Seagull keep going to the south arm of Knife lake make sure to visit the cliff at the west end of the island. Take the border route back to Sag the only killer portage is the monumental portage. This is an easy 7-10 day trip. We moved everyday but spent the last 4 nights in different sites on Sag. Make sure to bring some cash with you and take a day trip into Quetico to see the pictographs and the waterfall. There is a national forest campground at trails end. We always spend the night before we go in there so we can get an early start
cyclones30
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10/15/2018 08:31PM  
BigCurrent: "
scotttimm: "
I think we are planning for the BW - just to cut down on costs, though maybe with enough time we can save up for Quetico. I kind of like the 3 day in, 3 day base, 3 day out idea. Any other ideas are very welcome.
"



That is a good idea and with that in mind here is my recommendation. Very manageable travel days and great fishing.


Moose River North EP
Day 1 - EP to Agnes
Day 2 - Agnes to Iron
Day 3 - Iron to Crooked (Friday/Thursday Bay)
Days 4,5,6 - Fish Crooked area
Day 7 - Crooked to Lower Basswood Falls
Day 8 - Lower Basswood Falls to Horse
Day 9 - Horse to Mudro EP"


This. Good sights, good fishing, good route in general.
PineKnot
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10/15/2018 09:28PM  
Dream Trip? Sounds like me and my son not too long ago. Since he played football, we had to go in June. We fish. And the fishing is much better in Quetico. Yeah, it costs a bit more, but it is a dream trip. No comparison with the BWCA. You can afford it. You won't need an RABC for your son, and his rates are lower than for you. I took my son on a 10-day loop, tow to PP, through Basswood Falls into Crooked, Argo, through Brent, down through McIntyre, North Bay and Tow back from PP. Great fishing. Lots of rain. Lots of great memories, and many trips together since then.

My advice? Don't skimp. Consider it an investment. It'll pay untold dividends down the road. My son, Ben, caught trophy smallies in North Bay, but nothing compared this fish on Crooked....

10/16/2018 09:09AM  
We love to fish also, and while we travel most days, we always stay at at least one site for 2 nights, so we can take an entire day and concentrate on fishing instead of packing up, traveling and setting up camp.

On travel days, I always feel like I haven't spent enough time fishing...
scotttimm
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10/16/2018 09:39AM  
cyclones30: "
BigCurrent: "
scotttimm: "
I think we are planning for the BW - just to cut down on costs, though maybe with enough time we can save up for Quetico. I kind of like the 3 day in, 3 day base, 3 day out idea. Any other ideas are very welcome.
"




That is a good idea and with that in mind here is my recommendation. Very manageable travel days and great fishing.



Moose River North EP
Day 1 - EP to Agnes
Day 2 - Agnes to Iron
Day 3 - Iron to Crooked (Friday/Thursday Bay)
Days 4,5,6 - Fish Crooked area
Day 7 - Crooked to Lower Basswood Falls
Day 8 - Lower Basswood Falls to Horse
Day 9 - Horse to Mudro EP"



This. Good sights, good fishing, good route in general. "


Awesome advice folks! SO, I'm sold on a loop through Crooked. My brother and his son are going to join the two of us...and... The girls would also like to do a BWCA trip this summer, so I am considering stacking the two trips up. My thought was to enter at Mudro, do the Crooked Loop clockwise, spending a few days on Crooked, finishing by snagging a good site on Horse, and having my wife and girls join us with a re-fresh of supplies on Horse, base-camp/day trip from there, maybe cross into Fourtown and return to Mudro. So I have a couple of more questions:
Is it worth it to leave the truck and trailer at Mudro and get a shuttle up to Moose River, or is the Crooked loop out of Mudro a similar trip?
Any recommendations for shuttles/outfitters if we did go into Moose River N?
If I put my wife and girls on our permit, can they get a day pass into the BWCA and join us on Horse, or do I need a separate permit? I THOUGHT I read somewhere on this forum that you could do that, but I am not sure.

Thanks for the help!
cyclones30
distinguished member(4162)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
10/16/2018 08:52PM  
If you still have your week before the others join you, I'd stick to the 16 to 22/23 plan. Agnes is good walleye and crappie, Iron is good plus curtain falls is a must see. Then you're right into Crooked and Basswood river for more great fishing. Crooked loop out of Mudro and back wastes more time on those smaller lakes and less to see. If you only have a few days before you're joining the others, then I'd think of that option.
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(2062)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
10/16/2018 09:47PM  
Michwall2: "I have a couple of suggestions.


Option 1 Sawbill Lake Entry 38. Go west through the Lady Lake Chain to Polly Lake. North to Malberg. Southwest to Alice. (Visit the pictographs on Fishdance Lake). Head northwest out of Alice to Thomas and Fraser. Continue north to Kekakabic and further north to South Arm of Knife. (Visit Thunder Point). Head east to Eddy Falls portage. Turn south through Eddy, Jenny and Annie Lakes. At Ogishkemuncie turn southeast headed to Gabimichigami. Head south to Little Sag and then turn southeast again through Mora to Whipped and Fente. Turn south at Fente to head through Hub to Mesaba. Continue south to Zenith Lake and the Zenith to Lujenida portage. Paddle the Kelso River to Kelso Lake and find your way back to Sawbill. (You can cut out the first day or so by getting a shuttle to Entry 37 - Kawishiwi Lake). This route is 8-10 days of paddling. It will take you through a great variety of the BW ecology, geology, and fishing.


Option 2. Sawbill Lake Entry 38.
Sawbill east through Smoke and Burnt to Kelly. Head north up the Temperance River watershed (Jack and Weird Lakes) to South and North Temperance Lakes. Turn west at N Temperance through Sitka to Cherokee Lake. Turn North again to Gordon (take a side trip to Frost Lake if you feel you have the time.). Continue North to Long Island Lake, Karl, Lower George, Rib, and Cross Bay Lake. Turn west to Snipe, Copper, Hubbub, Howl, Tuscarora Lakes. Continue west to Owl and Crooked then turn south through Tarry to Mora. (Here you can turn south and head back to Sawbill per option 1 or) Head west through Little Sag. Turn southwest through Elton and Makwa headed to Malberg and Polly. At Polly turn east and head back to Sawbill through Hazel, Knight, Phoebe, Grace, Beth (Lady Lakes Chain), and Alton.


Alternate routes with more solitude (and more work) include using the either the Frost River or the Louse River (or both) to move east or west north of Sawbill.


I have done versions of both routes with my kids about the same age as yours. Both are memorable. Some great scenery, great fishing lakes, varied river and lake paddling.

Edit:
Sawbill is a great entry. Huge parking lot. There is a campground right at the entry. There is also an outfitter right there (Sawbill Outfitter). (Sawtooth Outfitters is also at the beginning of the Sawbill Trail). The Sawbill Outfitter has most items and services you would need. You can find a link to their website on the list of outfitters supporting this site. Sawbill Lake is a crossroads of its own right. (There are 4 routes in and out.) .

Hope this helps. "


+1
 
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