Brule Lake Loop was good to us
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.