BWCA Push for John Ek Lake, anyone? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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      Push for John Ek Lake, anyone?     
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10/20/2022 08:43AM  
I am considering a May 2023 or May 2024 push for John Ek Lake. I would be interested in trying for this with two other like minded bushwhackers taking in my MN3. Day one would be a big push to get up and camp on Pan first night. Day 2 would be the brutal push into John Ek. Stay on John Ek for 4 nights and survey the lake for depth and fish. Then back out the way we came. Previous PMA experience would be appreciated but not required.

This will not be a trip for the faint of heart and quitters will be stranded until the boat comes back their way. Minimal gear, travelling light and fast single portaging, and camping in hammocks/super small tents, eating a lot of fish and/or freeze dried food.

This lake has been discussed at length on here and I think it's time we get some real BWCA.com data on it. Who is with me?
 
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10/20/2022 12:08PM  
Please be careful about your sharing your plans. Your description will rankle many (perhaps rightfully so) as there is no designated campsite on John Ek and its not part of a PMA, so there is no overnight camping allowed there. I'm not saying don't do it, but I am saying leaving out certain details might be in your best interest. I'll delete my comment if you choose to change your post.
ockycamper
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10/20/2022 08:26PM  
In looking over the maps, Pan has two designated sites, but that's it. No sites from there to John Ek Lake. As the other poster stated, it is not a PMA so that means no camping on John Ek Lake or any lake between it and Pan Lake.
airmorse
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10/20/2022 09:32PM  
The year to do this trip would have been spring this year from the north. This years spring high water would have made taking the creeks the way to go. That and the burn from the fires burning a lot of the underbrush. New growth after the fire will make coming in from the north impossible now.

This was discussed with a friend of mine, but we could not make scheduling work. Just another dream for now.
10/21/2022 09:32AM  
How can there be no PMA in this area?!?!
10/22/2022 12:34PM  
How can there be any trees left (,for hammock)after the fire?
10/22/2022 09:21PM  
ockycamper: "In looking over the maps, Pan has two designated sites, but that's it. No sites from there to John Ek Lake. As the other poster stated, it is not a PMA so that means no camping on John Ek Lake or any lake between it and Pan Lake."

I bet if you spoke to the Forest service they would grant you a permit to camp. It’s definitely worth asking.
10/23/2022 10:42AM  
Mocha: "How can there be any trees left (,for hammock)after the fire?"


The fire only touched a very small portion of that lake. But you should go check, just in case :)
straighthairedcurly
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10/24/2022 10:01PM  
bumabu: "How can there be no PMA in this area?!?! "


I have wondered that as well.

Looks like the fire was on the northern part of the John Ek per the maps and then it stretched up north and touched on part of Elton Lake (as well as Jump and Hop).
Fire map
fishnfreak
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11/26/2022 11:46PM  
Well now, John EK you seek! Seems I might know a little something about this. It was the second toughest bushwhack we ever did and it took 3 tries. When you make in to John Ek.....make sure you hit Kickshaw as well.
McKegan
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12/29/2023 07:02PM  
Good winter to explore John Ek. I have very close once from the west (Pan), anyone want to give a little more info on the North (Little Sag with the new fire burned areas) or from the South from Louse/Sova lake area? Thanks
halvorsonchristopher
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04/10/2024 10:56PM  
fishnfreak: "Well now, John EK you seek! Seems I might know a little something about this. It was the second toughest bushwhack we ever did and it took 3 tries. When you make in to John Ek.....make sure you hit Kickshaw as well."
oh my.... I need to hear more about your journey to John Ek.
Voyager
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04/11/2024 08:51AM  
I have a friend who made it to John Ek last Spring from Little Sag. He said it wasn't too bad. Incidentally, he said he never caught a single fish, though the water was still high and cold, and he didn't catch much anywhere else either.
redbeardcanoeworks
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04/18/2024 12:03PM  
That would be me, Voyagers friend.
I went to Frost last year the day that the ice came off, I think it was May 15th. The day after that we made it to Little Sag. I left my friend on Little Sag in the afternoon and made it to John Ek in about 4 hours. With the high water from the recent melt it was pretty easy. There are remnants of the portages at nearly every lake. The only one you cant find a portage on is the one into John Ek from the east because it is burned. But if you walk up the hill straight west you can see John Ek from the ridge. I did find some bottles and cans and stuff in the burn. The portages are a bit tough, only the tread is visible the rest is grown up with trees and trees have fallen down. The lakes are very pretty, there's a lot of small stream paddling. You get in, paddle a hundred yards and get out to go around a beaver dam, a tree or a rapids then you repeat. Some of the portages are really bad with burned trees down like pick up sticks, you have to push your canoe over the top of the piles. There's a lot of burn along the last creeks. I had to go up on the ridges above the creek to push through in places which was really easy once up top because the land has been nuked but hard to get back down.
It was cold, i fished many places on John Ek but not successfully. I got too cold to do much serious fishing, i really wanted to drop a weight in the middle of the lake for depth but got too cold and split. There is a really neat point in mid lake and some really cool rock formations at the far west end. My goal had always been to go in one end and out the other but I went out the way i came in instead. I got out in about 2 hours. It was really easy as i was not looking for the path just pushing through. I pack really light (20 lb pack, one paddle, no loose gear), paddle a 32lb fast canoe and push really hard so my experience may not be yours.
I would go again.
redbeardcanoeworks
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04/18/2024 12:23PM  
i guess it was the second day from Frost Lake, we made it to the lake before Mora on the day after Frost and into Little Sag the next day. I also skipped the portage into Mora and stayed with the Frost River into the West end of Mora. Now that was cool!
04/18/2024 05:12PM  
redbeardcanoeworks: "i guess it was the second day from Frost Lake, we made it to the lake before Mora on the day after Frost and into Little Sag the next day. I also skipped the portage into Mora and stayed with the Frost River into the West end of Mora. Now that was cool!"

Curious on the Frost into Mora. Was it cool beacuse you were able to run it or was it a cool bushwhack. I was on the Frost a day or two before you last year and the water was nice and high, I was able to run a couple of rapids on the Frost and skip the portage.
redbeardcanoeworks
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04/19/2024 05:50AM  
we camped at the only site on Whipped, my buddy took the portage into Mora and i followed the river into that little lake called Time Lake and then into Mora. I had to bushwhack the two pinch points, the first into Time and the second into Mora from Time. Just pretty, seemed secluded, no indication of any portages. I had to go up on the ridge beside the river. I'm not sure if it could be run. Definitely not in a kevlar boat. Probably only by white water experts in white water boats.
my friend got up to the BWCA a day before me and went into Frost in the morning. When he got there at noon, there was still ice in the center of the lake. I got to the put in at 2:00 and onto Frost Lake at around 6:30 pm and there was no ice on Frost. The portage into Frost had deep snow because of the tall cliff there. The only foot prints were from wolves. I was surprised how deep that snow was, in places we were nearly mid thigh.
All the lakes were high and the rivers and waterfalls were beautiful. There was water coming out of all the hills.
I enjoyed that part of it, and the wildness with no one else out there. But it was so cold the first few evenings and mornings that I'm not sure I'll do an ice out trip again.
04/19/2024 07:40AM  
redbeardcanoeworks: "we camped at the only site on Whipped, my buddy took the portage into Mora and i followed the river into that little lake called Time Lake and then into Mora. I had to bushwhack the two pinch points, the first into Time and the second into Mora from Time. Just pretty, seemed secluded, no indication of any portages. I had to go up on the ridge beside the river. I'm not sure if it could be run. Definitely not in a kevlar boat. Probably only by white water experts in white water boats.
my friend got up to the BWCA a day before me and went into Frost in the morning. When he got there at noon, there was still ice in the center of the lake. I got to the put in at 2:00 and onto Frost Lake at around 6:30 pm and there was no ice on Frost. The portage into Frost had deep snow because of the tall cliff there. The only foot prints were from wolves. I was surprised how deep that snow was, in places we were nearly mid thigh.
All the lakes were high and the rivers and waterfalls were beautiful. There was water coming out of all the hills.
I enjoyed that part of it, and the wildness with no one else out there. But it was so cold the first few evenings and mornings that I'm not sure I'll do an ice out trip again. "

Nice! I must of got there the day after you then. I remember that portage into Frost. There were only what looked like 1 or 2 sets of tracks through there. You and your buddy. I remember being kinda bummed that I wasn't the first one through there:-) Yeah, that snow was deep. I took my lab and she had a heck of a time going through it. If you want to check it out I have a video of the trip on my YouTube channel.
Frost River
 
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