BWCA Back Bay Portage, or Washington Island? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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rockstaranon
distinguished member (131)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/15/2021 02:37PM  
Hello fellow paddlers!

Please let me know if this inquiry has already been addressed on another thread.

We are heading up to Lower Basswood Falls for our annual trip in mid-May. This is usually a 4 person trip, but for the first time, we have 8 people going. This changes things a bit. We typically enter at Mudro and it's about 6 - 6.5 hours up to LBF, but that's with 4 experienced BWCAers. We are now adding 4 more not so seasoned veterans which is going to greatly expand our travel time. My biggest worry is that after a long hard day of traveling, we are going to get up to LBF, a pretty popular area, and there isn't going to be a campsite available within an hour paddle of the falls. I am trying to avoid this so two of us are heading up a day early to try and snag a site around the falls so when the rest of the group gets there, we'll be all setup and ready at a campsite.

Unfortunately there are no more Mudro permits (restricted or unrestricted) available within the week before, week of, or week after our put in date, which tells me it's going to be crowded up there during our trip. So, two of us are going to get a tow from LaTourells entering from their EP on Moose, which has plenty of permits for our early entry day.

LaTourells can tow us up to Washington Island, or to Back Bay Portage. My question to this community is, which of these drop off locations would get us up to the Basswood River the fastest? LaTourells says it's about a 25 minute paddle from Back Bay Portage to the entrance of the Basswood River at the border, but looking at the map, it looks much longer than that which includes two portages if I'm reading this correctly. If we did Washington Island, we could head north, go around the hook, and skirt over the top of Basswood Lake (on the American side of course) straight into the Basswood River entrance. But this also is ALOT more big open water with the potential of some fierce in your face winds. Back Bay way looks a little more closed off.

Thanks and any info is appreciated!

 
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Wendigo41
member (36)member
 
03/15/2021 06:04PM  
I would go Back Bay. Only 1 portage half the distance and sheltered from the wind.
cyclones30
distinguished member(3899)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/15/2021 07:07PM  
Why not wait till the day before and see what the wind forecast is? Unless they've got you booked with another pickup or drop off....what's the difference to them? Yes you've already noted and had a reply on the differences....but why not use their flexibility to your advantage. If it calls for a nice calm day, go for the border. If it calls for wind, take the bay route. They're taking you on a certain date at a certain time to a very similar spot...
ericinely
distinguished member (283)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/16/2021 02:03PM  
I would take the shorter route, out of the wind with the shorter paddle. I really don't see any advantage to going around, other than avoiding one easy portage. Especially since it will be two experienced paddlers with only one canoe.
03/16/2021 10:25PM  
Rockstaranon:
You may be thinking that the tow will drop you off at the eastern Basswood–Back Bay portage, hence the 2 portages into Pipestone Bay. But the tow will go up into Back Bay and drop you off at the western portage. That portage is a walk in the park: it is flat and wide. Go to Back Bay; it will save you a lot of time.
03/17/2021 11:52AM  
I’ve done both and back bay is the faster of the 2. Also less wind issues but if you get a stiff north or south wind it can be an issue as you then have a lot of fetch.
rockstaranon
distinguished member (131)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/19/2021 10:50AM  
Thank you everyone! This is incredibly helpful. I have booked the tow to Back Bay. Can't wait!!!
rockstaranon
distinguished member (131)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/19/2021 10:52AM  
Ausable: "Rockstaranon:
You may be thinking that the tow will drop you off at the eastern Basswood–Back Bay portage, hence the 2 portages into Pipestone Bay. But the tow will go up into Back Bay and drop you off at the western portage. That portage is a walk in the park: it is flat and wide. Go to Back Bay; it will save you a lot of time."


I did think it was the eastern portage! I see where the tow will take us now to the second portage on the western side. Much easier. Thank you Ausable!
Gaidin53
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03/19/2021 10:59AM  
The other option would have been a Fall lake entry. The tow would be with Packsack outfitters. You would go through two portages with the boat on wheels and they drop you off near where the paddle only zone starts in Jackfish Bay on Basswood lake. I debated on a back bay portage tow with a Moose Lake entry this year but ended up going instead with the Fall lake option.

My goal was to have a much easier first day of our trip this year. Either of these options would definitely have allowed for that.

Ryan
 
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