Bower-Trout to Ram: Cherokee - Vista Loop
by HighPlainsDrifter

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/13/2008
Entry Point: Bower Trout Lake (EP 43)
Exit Point: Ram Lake (EP 44)  
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Since 2005, my son and I have scheduled a canoe trip to coincide with his September Birthday. We now call it a tradition. Fall is a special time “up north” and our Father-Son trip would take us to the Gunflint Trail area. This was our first time entering from the east side. We followed a modification of the route that author Robert Beymer calls the “Cherokee Vista Loop” (Route #43-2 a challenging route). We entered at Bower-Trout Lake (Entry #43) passed though Long Island Lake and Karl Lake, and exited at Ram Lake (Entry #44). Overall, our loop was 47 miles, 31 portages, 2038 r of portage trail (6.4 miles), 30 Lakes, 2 rivers and 1 creek spread over 9 Days (September 13-21, 2008).
Part 1 of 11
September 12, Travel to Grand Marais: Before departure we were again haunted by the dreaded fall fire ban. A ban for the blow - down area inside the BWCA (Eastern 2/3) was posted on August 21. We were saved by late-season rains. Directly after the ban took effect, 2.85 inches of rain fell between the 21st of August and September 3. The ban was lifted on September 3.

Planning, packing, and researching for our trip were now ghosts of the past and we headed north at 5 AM. We are creatures of habit, and we stopped at our usual spots for food and fuel. We motored into Duluth at about noon, ate lunch, and then drove along the “big one”. I never stop marveling at the expanse of Lake Superior and her sparkling waters. At the Tofte Ranger Station we picked up our permit and continued on to Grand Marais.

Around 4 PM we checked into Wedgewood Motel and met the proprietors, Amy and Peter. The Wedgewood is a small motel on the north side of GM. The motel is clean, tidy, no-frills, and inexpensive (on par with a “bunkhouse”). Amy and Peter shared a wealth of information with us. They are fellow paddlers and North House Folk School Instructors (Teaching the art of bread and beer making, respectively). Following, a quick room break, we headed into town for an “Uffda Zah Pizza” at Sven and Ole’s. Along the way, we took note of the turn to the Gunflint, and located the South of the Border Café for our 5 AM breakfast.

Recommendations for our digs at Wedgewood and breakfast at SOB came from my post on BWCA.com. We called our plan the “Bannock plan”. Thanks, Bannock. I also picked up many tips about this country from trip reports and other posts. So, for those of you who write about your adventures, others do read them. Thanks for sharing.

After pizza and a few beers, we headed back to Wedgewood to prepare for the next day. In a moment of stupidity, I convinced Matthew that we should look for ways to lighten our food pack. Never ever again will I remove “too much” trail mix (my mix of M&M’s, salted peanuts, and raisins) from the food pack. Before retiring I listened to Amy’s weather radio. The big question on my mind was the direction of wind for our crossing of Brule on Day 2.


Pictures: 1) Packing and checking the list twice, 2) On Highway 23 south of Marshall, MN, 3) Lake Superior