BWCA ? Saganaga Lake and Cap Lake - Boulder Lake Portage Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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senior member (55)senior membersenior member
07/26/2020 09:08AM  
We're planning a trip for probably 10 days or so after labor day.

One of the loops I was looking at was from EP 54, also called Adams Knife Loops in one of the book guides I have.

It has the last day coming down back to EP 54 from Saganaga Lake. How much of an issue will wind and motor boats be? Rather not deal with either.

It also has the Cap Lake - Boulder Lake Portage. Heard mixed things about this portage. Anyone hear have any idea what we should expect? Might be through here mid-September.

Wondering if we should find another route.


Think we are doing EP 52 (Brandt Lake) The Kekekabic Beaver Loop
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07/26/2020 11:15AM  
In 2016 I went from Cap to Boulder, but it appears your route goes from Boulder to Cap. I did not try to take the shortcut, but simply followed the Cap-Ledge portage to the top and took the obvious path south to Boulder. It was good trail uphill to the turnoff, and pretty good trail down to the bottom with some up and down, but seemed longer than some have stated. There was one deadfall (no real problem) near the top which has probably been cleared by now. At the bottom there was a steep drop to the creek, which was a bit of challenge to get across, especially solo. There were some mud sections on the other side before a good landing on Boulder. I would not want to be trying to get a load up that steep section.

I wouldn't avoid this portage, but I'd try to avoid going north out of Boulder.

The beginning of your route will take you through some lakes that are subject to the recent food storage order, so plan accordingly for the possibility you may have to camp on one of them.

You might want to consider alternate routes that will avoid those, as well as the wind problems of Seagull. I'd worry more about the wind than motor boats.

Another note is that going south from Little Sag to Kawishiwi River, you'll likely encounter some flooded out portage and bushwhack. We did on a 2014 trip.

senior member (70)senior membersenior member
07/26/2020 11:33AM  
krole: "It also has the Cap Lake - Boulder Lake Portage. Heard mixed things about this portage. Anyone hear have any idea what we should expect?"

I was just through the Boulder-Cap portage(s) last week. There's actually a couple of ways to get between those two lakes. I ended up thoroughly exploring both (to put a positive spin on it ;) since I was working with two different map sources that each showed one route but not the other, and unlike you I didn't research it ahead of time.

My McKenzie map showed the portage north out of Boulder Lake being continuous and forming a T with the Cap-Ledge portage. But I had also noticed before my trip that the portage data I had loaded onto my navigation app didn't show the T occurring, and instead showed a westward paddle along the narrow east-west channel north of Boulder, and then a short portage north into Cap Lake. I had decided ahead of time that I didn't believe the McKenzie map (I had been on the Cap-Ledge portage a few years ago and didn't remember it forming a T with another portage), so I planned to take the other route.

I took the portage north from Boulder to the east-west channel north of Boulder, got back in the boat and paddled west looking for the portage north into Cap. I was going from memory because I don't like to look at my phone while on a trip, I just use it to record my track for review after the trip. I found a couple of promising spots that looked like they might be the portage but they both petered out. There is a massive beaver dam (that looks like it's been there for a few years) at the west end of that east-west channel. It turns out that the dam has drained the western end of the channel (water flows from east to west), so that it's not possible to paddle to where the portage into Cap starts. However after more scouting it turned out to be pretty easy to just land by the beaver dam and get to the start of the portage on foot. (It makes the portage L-shaped, and maybe doubles the length of it. There's a lot of hummocky grass and a few hidden logs to trip on in the drained area so caution is of course advised). But that got me to Cap Lake...

Ultimately my route was to Ledge Lake, so I then headed east on the Cap-Ledge portage. About half way through that portage I came upon the T shown on my McKenzie map. So it turns out I could have bypassed Cap Lake all together. I put my gear down at the T and hiked the trail southward back to the east-west channel north of Boulder, just to check it out (as you can see in my gps track below)

My McKenzie map wasn't exactly correct though either, it showed the portage north from Boulder going straight through with no change in direction or indication that you couldn't just trudge along all the way (maybe you could before that beaver dam flooded the upstream end of the channel). You have to get back in the boat at that channel, and as you can see from my gps tracks (if you're heading generally north along the route) there is a short offset to the west by paddle before you could get back on the trail and head for the T with the Cap-Ledge portage. I completely missed seeing where the portage picked up again heading north to the T (I guess I just wasn't expecting anything so soon after getting back in the boat).

I certainly didn't get through this area in the most efficient manner ever, but it was a fun adventure (in hindsight anyway ;)

So the route has been modified somewhat by beaver activity since my maps were made. I think there needs to be a direct line of communication between the beavers and the map makers when the beavers decide to alter a route. And my old paper maps should be automatically updated.

Here's a few pictures:

My gps tracks:

My McKenzie map (crudely marked up after the trip):

View of the east-west channel north of Boulder from the south:

The beaver dam on the east-west channel, looking toward the west. There is an easy take-out on the right in the shade of those evergreens:

View of the east-west channel north of Boulder from the north:

07/26/2020 11:41AM  
Plenty of info out there already if you use the search (might have to be registered to use that?) function on this site. The latest one is currently on page 4 right now of Trip Planning.

Wind can always be an issue on Sag, but if you're headed east then at least you'd likely be going with the prevailing winds.
distinguished member(842)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/26/2020 11:49AM  
Saganaga is most difficult getting out around American Point and into the islands. Once you are in the islands it is pretty easy to pick a route that is mostly sheltered from the wind. Try to get on to Sag early in the morning. Maybe camping on Ottertrack would be good with a fast breakfast. If you are approaching the area for your last evening and there are no winds consider pushing on to Saganaga and out into the islands to camp, taking advantage of the calm. There are lots of campsites. That gives you a certain easy exit.

Motors are there but only 25HP and usually moving pretty slow. The lake has a lot of hazards for motors.
senior member (55)senior membersenior member
07/26/2020 12:14PM  
Thanks all, great info. Especially brulu, now if I didn't post this I wouldn't have that great up to date info from last week. :)

The route from EP 54 Seagull is actually coming up from Adams to Boulder to Cap.

We have bear cans and Ursacks if we did end up in a spot with the food storage order.

The other option at the top of the list was going in at EP 52 Brandt Lake for what was called the Kekekabic Beaver Loop. That route still has Cap to Boulder in it. As of now I think we're leaning with this one. Working on a detailed route in caltopo now.


Think we are doing EP 52 (Brandt Lake) The Kekekabic Beaver Loop
07/26/2020 04:02PM  
The order does not seem to allow Ursacks since they are not "solid, non-pliable material", but would be acceptable if "hung 12' clear of the ground and 4' below the branch it's hung from, 6' horizontally from tree trunks". But you won't be on any of those lakes if you do the loop from Round Lake.

The Kek Beaver loop would be nice. I've been on all of it except the Ogish Kek part or the north alternative at the start. I went Bat Green Gillis.
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
07/26/2020 10:19PM  
You're welcome krole!
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