BWCA 7 day trip Sawbill Boundary Waters Trip Reports
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      7 day trip Sawbill     



Big Boooter
Guest Paddler
08/06/2018 10:14AM  
My wife and I just completed a 7 day loop that began and ended at Sawbill. July 25-July 31, 2018. Loved the entry point and the nice campground there. Also a dock to land the canoe. Sawbill outfitters has a nice little store that is well stocked if you need any last minute supplies. Prices are not bad for gear either. We have our own gear so we did not rent although they have a full outfitting service.

Day 1 - We started at sawbill and had a slight wind from the southwest which was nice. Went up through Ada, Skoop, and Cherokee creek. Portages were ok, nothing out of the ordinary. Campsites on Cherokee were full except for the far north ones. Nice campsite on the northwest shore near the portage, but we decided to press on. Went through Gordon, Long Island river, and Long Island Lake. We ended up camping in the back bay on Karl Lake. Not a great campsite but OK. Long day, but with favorable winds we made good time.

Day 2 - Went through Lower George, Rib, Cross Bay, Snipe, Copper, Hubbub, and ended up on Tuscarora. Paddled in a light drizzle and west wind all day, tough going. We found a nice campsite on the west end of Tuscarora. Note that the Fisher maps shows a long portage all the way across Howl Swamp. This is not the case due to a beaver dam that forces you to paddle across a pond that has been formed. According to the Beymer book there was a boardwalk across the swamp, but that is long gone underwater. I could see no evidence of the boardwalk, but we made it across. Saw only one other group today. Portages had a good path but overgrown. That was common on all the portages in the northern part of our loop, good paths, but a lot of underbrush, and high branches that got in our way while carrying the canoe.

Day 3 - Owl, Crooked, Tarry, Mora, Little Sag. Missed the turn on the west arm of Mora and got lost for a short time, but eventually found our way. Camped at a island site on east end of Little Sag. Not the greatest campsite. It had not had much use due to a big tree that partially obscured the site, but it was OK for the night. A few groups camped on Little Sag, but not too busy. The weather was improving and we had a nice paddle across Little Sag.

Day 4 -Elton, Makwa, Panhandle, Pan, Anit, Kivania, Kawishiwi River, Malberg. Lot of lake jumping with short portages today. Note that there are 2 portages between Panhandle and Pan that are nearly parallel. Take the path on the west side. it is much better. We took the wrong one and it was tough going. Found a nice campsite on the east arm of Malberg. Great swimming rocks, and a decent tent site. Rained on and off so we had the rain tarp up, but it was a nice evening. A few people on Malberg, we talked to a young family with two kids who seemed to be having a good time.

Day 5 - Koma to Lake Polly. We decided to take an easy day today as the weather was nice and we needed to rest up a little. Did a lot of swimming and lounging around. Found a nice campsite on the peninsula on Phoebe. We checked out the other 2 sites on the east arm and they were not that nice. One looked like it had not been occupied for a while.

Day 6 - Phoebe River, Hazel, Knight, Phoebe Lake, Grace, Beth. Slow going on the Phoebe river due to beaver dams and rocky areas. Interesting paddling with some wide Swampy areas, and then narrow channels through the rocks. Had to be careful not to beat up the
canoe. Met a young guy with an aluminum canoe and to TON of gear on a solo trip. It looked like he was going to be out for a while. Other that that no other people until we got to Beth lake. We lucked out and got the last site on the east side of Beth. Lots of blueberries in this area. The portages were improving as far as being more well trodden. The long portage between Grace and Beth was in good condition. Made it without stopping which was tough.

Day 7 - Alton, and back to Sawbill. Easy out today. Stopped at Sawbill outfitters for some ice cream snacks which tasted really good.

Overall Notes
We did the trip and a half method while portaging. I took the canoe and the light pack all the way across. My wife took one pack halfway and then went back for the other pack. I went back to get the pack that was left at the halfway point. This works well for us.
We did not see many people on this route once we got past the lakes that are near sawbill. This was surprising to us.
Portages were brushy but passable on the north part of this loop.
Lots of lake hopping and portaging.
Plentiful blueberries this time of year. Very Delicious
Did not try fishing
No cell service anywhere on this route, which was OK with us.
A great trip overall. We covered a lot of ground in 7 days.
Not bad for a 50 something couple.
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distinguished member(2059)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/06/2018 11:45AM  
That is one heck of a trip to do in 7 days. Nice area. I have covered about half of that route at different times. I'm sure day 5 was relaxing as was the last day.
08/06/2018 01:22PM  
Wow. You were busy. Did you fish any?
Big Booter
Guest Paddler
08/06/2018 10:33PM  
Did not try fishing, maybe next time.
Big Booter
Guest Paddler
08/06/2018 10:43PM  
Day 5 we camped on Lake Polly not Phoebe
08/07/2018 09:42AM  
A trip like that can feel like it is much longer than 7 days.
Good for you!
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