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07/01/2020 11:48AM
Just getting back and gear unpacked from a 5 day trip from Clearwater with a loop through Caribou, Pine, Canoe, Alder, East Bearskin, Deer, Moon. Amazing weather and time spent in the BWCA. My wife and 2 younger kids noted some items very different about the BWCA this year from our previous trips:

1) High amount of traffic. We set out at 7am on day 1 to find an open campsite. The first open site was 1/2 way across Pine Lake and we had to beat a group coming from the other direction for it. We watched paddlers that afternoon looking for a site and often going in both directions several hours apart. Just before dark we invited a group of 3 to share our site for the night. They had been paddling all day looking for an open site from East Bearskin. We had more than enough room and they were very appreciative of a tent pad to sleep on. We moved to Canoe lake for 3 nights and it was more of the same. Finally heading out early on our last day we came across 2 separate groups camping at the Portages who obviously couldn't find an open site.

2) The DNR stopped by our site on Canoe Lake for a permit check. They were very friendly and following social distance guidelines. The one ranger mentioned they were meeting a lot of first time trippers who normally car camp.

3) Basecamping - In our 5 days most of the sites we passed twice never changed campers. The site on Caribou with the island across from it was being used to hang trash bags, it sure made for an eyesore paddling across Caribou.

I imagine it is a combination of many May trips being delayed and those looking to other places during Covid-19 where they might be traveling or car camping elsewhere that is now closed.

Either way, we felt very pressured to find a camp-site. The ranger even mentioned not to try and get closer to the entry point on our last night as we probably wouldn't have good odds of finding a site.
 
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MN_Lindsey
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07/01/2020 08:02PM
We came in on E. Bearskin over Father's Day Weekend Thur-Saturday and every campsite on E. Bearskin, Alder, and Canoe were taken, except the site by the portage to pine, and it was janky... so we risked leaving it, and trying back to Alder, luckily we snagged the 5-star site in the middle, but tooling around we saw lots of people on adjacent lakes.
 
mschi772
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07/02/2020 07:39AM
Yikes. I'm already preparing for a rough time as I'm taking a group of 8 to the Alder Lake area the first week of August. I was already concerned enough with just finding a site that would be comfortable enough for 8 (though 2 of us are in hammocks fwiw). I love that area, but a big down-side is that you can only go so far into that area before there's no where else to go; it's not like you can just keep going deeper and deeper until you find something.
 
07/02/2020 11:02AM
mschi772: "Yikes. I'm already preparing for a rough time as I'm taking a group of 8 to the Alder Lake area the first week of August. I was already concerned enough with just finding a site that would be comfortable enough for 8 (though 2 of us are in hammocks fwiw). I love that area, but a big down-side is that you can only go so far into that area before there's no where else to go; it's not like you can just keep going deeper and deeper until you find something."

Busy area during a busy time (I wont go anymore the last 2 weeks of July, first 2 weeks of August). Sometimes you get lucky going into Pierz or Crystal. People shy away from the dead end lakes......unless all the other lakes are full. Good luck.
 
mschi772
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07/02/2020 02:30PM
cowdoc: "mschi772: "Yikes. I'm already preparing for a rough time as I'm taking a group of 8 to the Alder Lake area the first week of August. I was already concerned enough with just finding a site that would be comfortable enough for 8 (though 2 of us are in hammocks fwiw). I love that area, but a big down-side is that you can only go so far into that area before there's no where else to go; it's not like you can just keep going deeper and deeper until you find something."


Busy area during a busy time (I wont go anymore the last 2 weeks of July, first 2 weeks of August). Sometimes you get lucky going into Pierz or Crystal. People shy away from the dead end lakes......unless all the other lakes are full. Good luck."


If it was totally up to me, I wouldn't be going to this area at this time of year either, but it was a group decision, and we have some newbies coming who could only take vacation time at this time of year and were nervous about any areas they perceived as too difficult. I've already braced them for the fact that this area doesn't have the most spacious sites for larger groups and now have told them that we need to get moving very early and to be prepared to be searching for a site for awhile.
 
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