Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Brant Lake- After the fire
by whiteh20

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/03/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I had the chance to get a short solo trip in over the Forth of July holiday. My destination was Brant Lake off the Gunflint Trail. This area was burned badly in the Ham Lake Fire. I wanted to see what this area looked like. The burn areas are also a great way to avoid the crowds on a holiday weekend.
Day 1 of 3
-Clear, sunny day as I walk onto the porch of the Seagull bunkhouse. What a morning! I go to the office and get my permit from Deb and head to Round Lake to access entry point (52) Brant Lake.

- Temperature is climbing as the car is unloaded and stuff carried down the short trail to the lake. Round Lake is glassy smooth this morning with nary a ripple. The burn from the Ham Lake fire is very evident on the south shore. I will be paddling in the burn area all weekend. Will be nice to see how the forest is coming back to life after the fire.

- Moved my main pack towards the stern get my boat trimmed out correctly. Everything is secured and organized, ready to head off. My “stuff” consists of a portage pack, thwart bag, camera case, water bottles and spare paddle.

- After a short paddle, I am at my first portage. The portage into Ron is an easy 74 rods. I make two trips and then go back to take photos of the wild flowers. The rain during the past week has caused a color explosion of purple, white, yellow and orange wildflowers along the trail.

- Boat is loaded; I paddle the short width of Ron Lake to my next portage. 47 rods into Edith Lake. Easy, flat portage with some boards across the wet areas.

- Load up again and paddle across Edith to my next portage. 33 rods into Brant Lake. At the portage into Brant, the BWCA sign welcomes me to the wilderness.

- Another flat and easy portage and I am on Brant Lake. Brant is a twisty lake with several arms. This must have been a beautiful lake pre-fire. The lake has fire damage on all sides. I paddle thru Brant and arrive at the portage into Gotter Lake.

- The portage from Brant into Gotter is 88 rods of steep winding trail. This portage is straight up hill and straight down hill. Much tougher portage than any other on this trip.

- I get the challenging portage behind me and paddle across this very neat little lake to the Flying Lake portage.

- The map says the portage into Flying Lake is 55 rods long. The water is high enough, so I cut that to 13 rods by paddling thru a channel in the lily pads. I eat my lunch on a big rock at the beginning of shortcut portage. This portage is short and ends with a long set of stairs descending to Flying Lake.

- Flying Lake is a long narrow lake that has several portages going to Bat, Fay and Bingshick. I am heading to Bingshick so I paddle to the northern tip of the lake.

- The portage to Bingshick is thru a marshy area (full of lily pads and moose sign) that leads to a dead end with a very faint portage trail. The portage is a two part mess with a swamp in the middle. The first part of the portage is 15 rods straight down hill on a very rocky trail to the swamp. Load the boat and paddle 75 yards and then portage 13 rods over an exposed rock mound into Bingshick. Not really a very tough portage, but it is hard to find the little used trails. Ticks are out in full force!!

- Once on Bingshick I paddle to both the campsites along the northern shore of the lake. Both campsites are impacted by the fire and have little shade with limited tent sites. The site on the point (#495) is high off the lake, but there are no standing trees for tarps or the hammock. No tent pads either. (Would rate a 1- ) I paddle back down the shore and take the site across from the portage (#494). This site has a couple of small tent pads and a group of unburned pine trees to hang my hammock.

- I unpack and get camp set up then go off on a hike to Mine Lake. After my hike I paddle and portage to Honker Lake. Another small lake hit hard by the fire.

- Time for Supper. Tuna and noodles with M&Ms for dessert.

- The light is great for taking photos of the wildflowers around camp but the mosquito army is out in full force. A few pictures, some reading in the hammock and off to sleep.