Homer to Brule
9/7/09- We pushed off from the landing at EP 40 Homer Lake at 8am on a beautiful late summer day. There are a couple of sites on Homer outside of the BWCA, but all were empty. We saw one group of 4 in two canoes that were coming out, and then a couple with a small baby passed us on their way out. We crossed the short, easy portages and found a site on Pipe Lake. There are three sites on Pipe, all pretty small and confining. We chose the site the furthest to the East, the biggest of the three on the lake. There was a lot of wolf sign on the trails around the camp, much of it quite fresh. The middle site in the NW corner of the lake was taken when we arrived, but they left shortly after we set up and we saw no more people until the last day of our trip.
When we got to our site on Pipe Lake, we unloaded the canoe and pulled it up on shore. There was mud and bark in the bottom of the canoe and I thought I saw something that looked like a barnacle attached to the bottom behind the rear seat. I didn’t pay much attention, but when I later looked I saw that it was a stick about the diameter of a pencil, with ½” sticking into the inside of the hull and ½” outside the hull. I assume we had picked it up from a submerged tree along the way. The stick was doing a pretty good job of plugging the hole, but not workable for long. I removed the stick and patched the hole using duct tape on the outside of the hull, a small piece of latex eraser pushed into the hole (I knew bringing my drawing stuff would be a good idea!) and more duct tape over the putty. The fix held the whole trip without as much as a trickle of water entering the boat.
9/8/09- we packed up early and left the site by 8am and worked our way up to Vern Lake. Water levels were extremely high due to beaver dams at every rapids. Traveling and portages were easy due to the high water. We grabbed the site on the West shore of Vern and set up camp. We then explored the area between our campsite and the portage into Juno.
Vern Lake was affected by both the blow down and fire, but the trees are coming back and growing quickly without the competition for light that you find in old growth forests. Vern offered some nice cliffs on the Eastern shore near the NW tip of the lake.
Fishing was good for smallmouth and we caught some nice ones. We also caught a lot of Northerns, but nothing of any size. My buddy picked up a nice fat 14” Walleye that we had for dinner that night. I caught a smaller Walleye later in the day, but they were the only eyes we picked up this trip.
9/9/09- we got up early and explored the Vern River. Fishing was again great for Smallies and we caught several bigger fish. Also caught Northerns, but all were small. The beaver had been busy in the Vern River as well, with a large dam blocking off access to the Western stretch of the river. We headed back toward camp and it started to sprinkle. We battened down the hatches and put up a tarp to hunker down under. I drank coffee, read and listened to the rain on the tarp and nearby thunder (I was counting to estimate the distance of the strikes and several times didn’t get to one while counting “thousand one, thousand two”). By about 7pm, the rain had stopped and we built a fire and had quesadillas for dinner, several bourbon and waters and a good cigar. The stars did pop out once and a while through the night, but it was generally overcast and foggy.
9/10/09- we broke down camp today and headed out for the last leg of our trip from Vern Lake to Brule. The portage between Vern and Juno is nice, with the top of the hill covered with ripe blueberries. Very late in the season for berries, but we enjoyed their sweet ripeness by the handfuls. There is a steep decline near the end of the portage into Juno, otherwise this portage was easy.
We paddled through Juno and saw our first people since coming in on Monday- there was a couple at the middle site on the lake. The portage into Brule was very nice- open and easy. We again caught smallies and Northerns along the way, with the orange and black spinner bait proving it’s worth again this year. We entered Brule at Jock Mock Bay and began our search for a site on this beautiful lake. We spent three hours looking at sites only to find all but one with people on them. We finally ended up at the south end of the lake near the landing and decided that we were too tired and hungry to fight the wind in the west end of the lake. We called it a trip and drove to Crescent Lake Campground and spent the night there before driving back to Brained the next morning.
While I walked from the Brule landing back to where my truck was parked at the Homer Lake landing, Jeff saw a tan wolf at the entry to the parking lot on Brule. He said it just sauntered in and stopped and looked at him, and then kept on walking slowly into the woods. When I got to the truck, I noticed that there were muddy paw prints all over it where a bear had been looking into the windows. I drove back to Brule and when I got there I noticed that the bear had broken off the side mirror on the passenger side. Once again, duct tape to the rescue.
All in all, a very good trip. As always, I can’t wait for the next one.