BWCA 6 Day WCPP September Trip Boundary Waters Group Forum: Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
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   Group Forum: Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
      6 Day WCPP September Trip     

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donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
10/07/2021 05:01PM  
I went out for a 6 day somewhat leisurely trip starting and ending at Leano. The plan was to paddle through the Kilburn Lakes and access Paull via the Surgeon River, then head back to Leano via Elephant Head, Jack Boot, and Bunny. This was one of the few approved routes at the time.

In mid September, the park office and the Fire Management Headquarters were approving entry into the park on a case by case basis, but by the time I actually took my trip, permits were available online.

Due to high winds from the south, I decided to take the 1000 meter portage out of Kilburn to Upper Kilburn, where I saw the first indication of this year’s fire. The island campsite on the west side of the lake appeared unusable as the entire island had burned. I did not stop to investigate as I was battling a pretty stiff headwind. The portages out of Upper Kilburn were good until the last portage into Paull. The first 75 to 100 meters heading north were almost unpassable due to downed trees and heavy erosion caused by recent rains over barren rock. The trail was still visible in the lower areas which were still green. There were a couple of other areas on burn on this portage, but I did not have too much difficulty with them. It took me a little over an hour to finish the 275 meters triple portaging.

What I found on Paull was really discouraging. Heading west from the portage, the south side was thoroughly burned, as was the large island to the north. The Gucci island campsite was unusable due to downed trees on the tent pads, as well as on the hill up to the kitchen area. I believe the site can be reclaimed with some intense chain saw work. I ended up camping on the peninsula site to the west on the north shore, which was unaffected by the fires.

I exited Paull via the Bird River. The most recent fires had not touched this area and the trip out was uneventful. Of note, there is a bonus portage heading into Elephant Head which is not marked on the route map I was using. Additionally, The water level was very high on Elephant Head due to a beaver dam blocking the stream flowing out of the lake at the portage.

Despite finding a flat tire on my vehicle upon my return to the parking area and the extent of the fire damage on Paull, it was a good trip. I had planned more time for this trip than I would have otherwise because of the reduced daylight hours in late September and am glad I did.

Of note, there was quite a bit of work being done on the Suffel Lake/Irium Lake Road. Crews were clearing trees along both sides of the road, most likely for a fire break. They were grading the road as well, so there were only a few really rough sections.
 
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10/07/2021 05:57PM  
Glad you got up there. Feel your pain on Paul, and on Upper Kilburn. Obviously, there's so many more areas like that after this season. But still great trips to be had.

The road work...both directions? Longlegged road was never recommended, but it would be interesting from an access perspective if that were made usable again.
 
donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
10/07/2021 06:28PM  
It appeared the road work continued south of Mile 51 Road. I have heard horror stories about the road from Ear Falls, so I have not ever gone that way. Back in the mid 90s, I made the trip to Leano using the South Pakwash Road from Redditt. I would like to see that road maintained as it has the potential to cut a couple of hours off the drive.
 
10/08/2021 05:29AM  
That would be nice! It's over 11 hours from the twin cities to Leano for me...shaving a few off would be great.
 
Wes44
member (31)member
 
10/18/2021 12:47PM  
Thanks for the report. Any chance you could share some photos of the burned areas? I'm considering a trip next year that would take us through some burned areas and would like to get a sense of what it's like.
 
donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
10/22/2021 06:46PM  
I do have some photos and videos I hope to upload within the next couple of weeks.
 
10/22/2021 08:05PM  
Thanks for sharing. I’ll be adding some of your observations to my map in case I manage to get there next year. Look forward to seeing any photos or video you post.
 
Wes44
member (31)member
 
10/23/2021 11:50AM  
Thanks so much! Look forward to seeing them.
 
Coldspringtripper
member (12)member
 
10/30/2021 01:22PM  
Thanks donr for your reporting of this area. So devastating to look over the map and see so few open and unburned regions now after these past 5-6 years. I have 6 portages listed on my map between Paull and Elephant Head. East campsite on Elephant Head lake is awesome but,.. likely burned now.
Hoping over the next few years, we will hear about regions within these fires that went unaffected. Portages that won't be too horrible to get through let alone clear.
Great to hear about them (?) grating the Iriam road - it has gotten really bad over the past few years. My muffler paid the price in 2020.
I'm looking to get into Lund Lake and regions west of there next year.

Glen
(my woodland journeys)
 
donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
10/31/2021 12:17PM  
Glen,

The portages between Elephant Head and Paull were unaffected by the latest round of fires and were in good shape. The Chrismar map shows only 5 portages and I always forget to mark the location of the one not on that map.

I have sorta looked for the camp site on Elephant Head with no luck. I believe that island burned in 2017. Have you stayed there recently? I have either been on my way to Paull or returning to Leano when paddling through the area. I never invested much time scouting so I may have missed it.

Don
 
Coldspringtripper
member (12)member
 
10/31/2021 02:57PM  
Don, great to hear those portages weren't affected - although that region was burned in 2016. I guess perhaps my favourite campsite is saved after all.
NE site is really nice. Island site I could not find.
 
donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
10/31/2021 03:16PM  
I can confirm the NE site is still viable. I camped there my next to last night.
 
10/31/2021 07:26PM  
Thanks much for your report and I too am looking forward to your photos.
 
donr
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
 
11/01/2021 03:02PM  

Campsite on Upper Kilburn


Paull Lake looking west from peninsula campsite


Paull Lake peninsula campsite


Start of the portage from Paull Lake toward Elephant Head Lake - Bird River


Misty morning on Elephant Head Lake


Campsite on Elephant Head Lake


Leano Creek
 
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