Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Brule Lake Loop was good to us
by bapabear

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/11/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Brule Lake (EP 41)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
My trip this year forced a change of plan right off the bat. It was supposed to be a chance to go with my son for the second time, my usual trip partner Terry, and his nephew Scott who would be the newbie this trip. My son’s wrist ran into a line drive off a softball bat while pitching on his church league team which broke a bone so we had to scramble with only a couple weeks to line up a fourth paddler. Terry located an incoming HS freshman named Cody from a family we have tripped with before and we were set. Scott lives outside of Eau Claire so we left about 2:15 Friday afternoon pulling a trailer with our packs and two canoes and hit heavy traffic pretty much the whole way from Portage to Scott’s place. This was about the only time we had traffic worries for the whole week. (Not once while paddling or on a portage trail did we encounter another camper!) We left Scott’s at 2:00 am with plans to pick up the permit at Sawtooth Outfitter’s at 7:00 am when they opened up.
Day 1 of 7
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Arrived at Sawtooth at 6:55 and got our permit. (either stopped or slowed down for deer 4 times on hwy 61!) We watched the video and then got news that there might be more air and boat traffic than normal because authorities were searching for a missing canoeist. With that sobering thought as we left Tofte traveling up Hwy 2 to avoid a mountain bike rally that was taking place on the Caribou Trail - not a big deal.

We started paddling on Brule Lake around 9:15 under a cool and overcast sky. Paddling primarily north we got our pattern of paddling with new partners and portaging our set of gear rather easily. Lily Lake led to Mulligan and I was thinking I was back in shape and this was going to be a breeze. After Mulligan we pulled way off to the side of the portage and had a quick lunch. It appeared we saw a faint portage trail alongside the next little lake we were to paddle on. It wasn’t much of a lake mostly 3-4 inches and hardly enough to float a loaded canoe. We struggled a hundred yards or so through the muck and got to the portage way earlier than we’d planned. My Voyageur map showed the portage to be 186 to 350 rods long. Apparently when water levels are really low the portage trail started back by our lunch site.

We had to have covered the longer distance which really was a challenge for me the first day out. Do-able but a challenge. We paddled Wanahigan Lake and entered Winchell to bright sun and the Misquah Hills towering above. Beautiful. We were also lucky in that the first site north of the portage was open and we were tired enough to “crash” into our first site around 2:30.