Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Solo: Burntside, Fenske, Grassy, Bass Lake Loop just outside BWCA
by Bang

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/05/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 2
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I wanted to try out my new (to me) Prism and decided on a "spur of the moment" trip. I decided to try a non-BWCA loop for three reasons: (1) I did not have to pull a permit,(2) I always wanted to paddle and explore this area around Ely, and (3) I wondered how it would compare to a short BWCA solo. The route I chose is a snowmobile route in the winter with a mixture of large lakes, small lakes, and river paddling.
Day 1 of 2
Saturday, June 05, 2010

My starting point was the boat access at the end of the Passe Road on the east end of Burntside Lake off the Echo Trail. I chose this starting point because of its close proximity to the Dead River which leads into Twin Lakes from Burntside. I started off at 10 AM after a 4.5 hour drive from Hopkins, MN. It was a beautiful sunny morning. There was no wind, the temperature was in the low 70's and the humidity was about 80%. After a short paddle on Burntside, I entered the Dead River for a about a mile paddle to the Twin Lakes. This river can be navigated by motor boat all summer long. I only saw two boats: one at the entrance to the river and one at the end of the river at Twin Lakes. West Twin lake has no cabins on it and two campsites. East Twin Lake has a couple of cabins on it and three campsites. I took the 10 rod portage to Everett Lake which is accessible from the Echo Trail. There was no boat traffic at all on this lake, even though there are a number of private cabins on this lake (mostly at the east end). After about a mile paddle on Everett you reach the 120 rod portage to Fenske Lake which crosses the Echo Trail. After a mile paddle down Fenske Lake, I took the 10 rod portage to Little Sletten Lake. A short paddle later, I took the 70 rod portage to Sletten Lake. I saw some day trippers on Sletten Lake who had used Fenske as their entry point. On the East end of Sletten is a 120 rod portage to Tee Lake. All of the portages from Fenske to Tee lake had water running down them and were pretty muddy in places because of recent rains. I talked to one local after the trip who said that they had had six inches of rain July 3. Any elevation change on these portages is gradual and all the portage trails are fairly wide because they serve as a winter snowmobile route. I reached Tee Lake at 2 PM and was just drained because of the hot, humid day. I had drank 2 liters of water on my way in, but it wasn't enough. I set up my tent on the only campsite on Tee Lake. It is a very nice elevated site at the end of the north arm of Tee Lake where there is an outlet rapids to Grassy Lake. After making camp, I drank another liter of water and swam to cool off. I finally felt better, and decided to pick some blue berries and raspberries that were numerous around the campsite. I then decided to force myself to eat a bagel and some summer sausage, along with the fresh berries I had just picked. I had the whole lake to myself. At about 5 PM I decided to paddle the lake and troll a shad rap behind the canoe. I saw quite a few fish boiling at the surface feeding. I'm pretty sure they were smallies. I caught several smallmouth bass. They were not big, but fought well. I noticed that the color of these bass was noticeably different from a typical BWCA smallmouth. They had some vertical striping-much like perch. If I hadn't worked as a fisheries biologist in my early years, I might have thought they were some other species of fish. Tee Lake is a very dark bogged stained lake. I don't know if this had anything to do with their coloration or not. I spent the rest of the evening just relaxing at my campsite and went to bed at about 9 PM.


The pictures that follow are of: Dead River, Water lillies, Portage to Everett Lake from East Twin Lake, Tee Lake Campsite Landing, Tee Lake Campsite, Blue berries-Tee Lake, Wintergreen, Tee Lake outlet to Grassy Lake.