Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

WCPP: Johnson, Glenn, Hansen, Royd, "Minjim", back to Johnson
by nctry

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/02/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 12
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
On reading of Martin Kehoe's adventures I wanted to try his "Minjim" route... and catch some Joey Lake walleye.
June 1st I leave home at 4:45AM to meet my friend Jerry in Cook, MN. I arrived there at 6:00AM and seeing the amount of gear he was bringing, I cut back on my stuff a bit. We brought his 19ft Wenonah Itasca. I luckily had a big capacity. We got going at 6:30AM and made the trip in about 9 hours to Red Lake. Just before we got to Ear Falls we saw a Cow and Calf Moose. We checked in at the park office talking to Claire and getting some good advice on the park. The permit was charged for nights stayed times two people. There was no rooms to be had in town, but Harlan from Red Lake Outfitters had lined one up for us and we were in business. We took Harlan out for supper at Antonio's and had a great meal.

Thursday June 2nd we got up and ate breakfast at the Howey Bay Motel where we stayed. Great food and off we went. Once you turn off on the Flat Lake Road it's a gravel road which slowly gets rougher as you go. We saw three different bear on the road going in and got to Johnson Lake by 8:30AM. We portaged our stuff down to the lake and got things loaded rather quickly with not much room to spare... and we were off! The first portage was about 90 rods... /it started out on a floating bog that the park had placed a sort of mat on. Without the mat that part of the portage was pretty difficult. We did our first portage rather well and with no incidence. I took my pack and bucket one trip and my daypack and canoe the second. Jerry manhandled the heavy food pack with another smaller pack on it. Then he had an equipment pack and his personal pack... All on the large side. There was a 30 meter portage on the stream heading towards Donald Lake, but we chose to run the "easy" rapids instead. I was in the bow and seen a rock submerged and used the draw stoke to pull the bow to the left. Meanwhile, Jerry decided the best route was to the right around the rock sticking up behind the submerged rock a little ways. I'm drawing left and he's steering right with no communication til it was too late. We missed my rock but hit the second rock and on we paddled. Well, going across Donald Lake we found that we were taking on water. So Jerry bailed a few times and I didn't realize how much we were taking in until we got to the portage to Hatchet Lake. We empty out the canoe and got out the duct tape. We had a good ten inch gash with a couple other small holes and got them patched up with the tape. We had a few lakes to go where we could have cut the trip short so we pressed on. We got to Embryo Lake... Now, the lakes up there are named a lot for what they look like, so I wouldn't spend to much time looking at "Johnson" Lake. :) Jerry thought he saw a pretty good spot so we paddled over to it and with a storm coming had to make due in the woods a bit. We had steaks over the fire and corn on the cob. I figured at this rate the food pack would lighten up a lot each day. The storm had us in the tent by 7:30PM.

Friday June 3rd (Day 2) We got up early, but the rain kept us under the rain fly eating breakfast and drinking coffee for a bit. As soon as it let up, we tore down camp and was on the water by 10:40AM. We went to Telescope and on to Optic Lake. We portaged around some very impressive waterfalls and rapids. We met a group of guys on a portage from Milaca MN. They'd been on more of a fishing trip. I'm sure I heard them snicker at the amount of gear we had. They had a big bundle of fishing poles themselves. We got to Optic Lake where we set up camp and tried our luck fishing. We each caught a small northern which both were thrown back. Went to bed and I was so tired I didn't realize the hump I was sleeping on until I woke up in the night. I didn't sleep well at all after that.

Saturday June 4th (Day3) The wind had come up in the night and was blowing pretty good. We had breakfast and tore down camp and was on the water around 9:10AM. We paddled by an Eagle and continued on to the portage. Each portage had it's challenges and usually some wet, muddy spots. We saw Moose Plums and wolf scat on many portages. The falls between Optic and Glenn were nice also and we took a few pictures. On Glenn, the wind was coming out of the west so hard it was nearly impossible to make any headway. So we took the first campsite we came across. Wouldn't you know it would have a boat on it. While we were rigging up our fishing gear, Jerry noticed a moose a few yards away along the shore looking at us. He got a picture, but the darn thing wouldn't cooperate for me. But he was fun to see. We set up camp and then fished in the protected bay for some walleye. Jerry was the man today as he caught four nice walleye which rounded off a great supper. Then another early night in the sack.

Sunday June 5th (Day 4) The wind had died and we ate and got on the water early, like 8:10AM. We sort of trolled down Glenn Lake to Hansen with no luck. Two portages and a short one around the infamous chute into Hansen Lake were tackled with little problem and we met a group of fishermen staying at the camp on Hansen. They were having some luck and as we paddled up Hansen I caught a good eater myself. We pulled off and had lunch, eating Jerky, Peanut Butter on Rye Crisp, gorp and candy. We met another boat half ways up the lake and they told us of a good fishing spot just over the portage to Roustol Lake in the falls. So we set up camp near the portage and went over to catch some fish. My first cast landed about a 20" walleye. Including the one I caught earlier, we had another four walleye for supper... (Some for breakfast too).

Monday June 6th (Day 5) Leftover Redbeans and rice and Walleye for breakfast. We got going down the portage to Roustol and on the water by 8:40AM. We paddled up Roustol and Jerry decided the two portages to Gammon Lake he'd been on were very rough. So we portaged and paddled into Hammerhead Lake and took the Gammon River up to Gammon Lake. The portages and landings were less used I think and proved to be possibly equally as tough as the two we avoided. The wind had come up and we had a little trouble crossing Gammon Lake. We had trouble finding a spot to camp and had to bushwhack a spot not to far from the portage into Royd. Again in my notes I comment on the amount of stuff Jerry brought. I was in the sack early and slept well.

Tuesday June 7th (Day 6) Got up by 5:30AM and on the water by 7:30AM. We had oatmeal for breakfast and packing up camp went well. I wasn't feeling the best, but today we would be starting the actual Minjim route mapped out by Martin Kehoe. I read about this in I had communicated with Martin and he'd sent me GPS information I downloaded in my GPS. This was a very valuable resource. We were on Constellation Lake by 9AM. The first portages on this route were not as bad as I thought to locate and were surprisingly passable. We continued up Royd Creek to the un named lake below the lake Martin calls Poodle. It was only 1PM but there was still a lot to tackle to get to Joey, our destination for a layover. So we tried to fish. We each caught a fair size northern and released them. It rained on us while we ate Chili and Banana Cream Pudding with Macaroon cookies. Jerry found a spoon back in the mossy area, I wondered if it was Martin's. Not the best campsite back in the moss, but we're comfortable. In the tent early again...

Wednesday June 8th (Day 7) Rained all night. Jerry talked about lightning hitting near us and I didn't hear a thing. That night we heard Red Lake got 3 inches of rain. We got up and had Buckwheat Pancakes and I had some bacon to break out with them. It tried to rain some but we eventually tore down our camp and on the water by 9:30AM. The portages were more remote but we found them pretty easily, sometimes using the GPS and the tracks I'd downloaded. Then we hit the section of the river Martin dubbed the Nile. Having a 19ft canoe in here was pushing the limits. This river twisted and turned sharply and I'm glad we gave it extra time. We almost missed the portage and had to back up a little. On the portage we saw evidence of Caribou. We pressed on and getting through the "Nile" section was rewarding. Then on through Lightning Lake and on to Joey. The portage into Joey was a little difficult and I had to tip the canoe sideways often to get through some very narrow areas. I saw three walleye that something killed, drug out and ate the guts out of and left the good meat to waste. We saw very healthy amounts of bear poop on this trail into "Joey Lake". We fished hard after setting up camp and only got a couple walleye for supper... But oh... they were good!

Thursday June 9th (Day 8) Layover day! We went to bed around 10PM last night and up at 5AM today. Jerry made biscuits and gravy using some of my venison hamburger for the gravy. He made the biscuits in his outback oven... My next investment. We went out and worked very hard for one little walleye. We could catch northern's. But Walleye... no! we ended up with a larger, like eight pound northern and the one walleye. We'd caught several nice northern's that day. The northern lasted supper, breakfast and lunch the next day. Many float planes going over today.

Friday June 10th (Day 9) We got up early again with scrambled eggs and left over fish for breakfast. The GPS was acting funny and locating the portage out of Joey was a little tricky. It proved to be a more challenging portage and on to a no name lake. We decided to try the creek which we dubbed the Nile 2. We jumped a large bear going into the channel and had to pull over a couple beaver dams. Then we couldn't go no further, we drug everything closer to the left bank and made our way easily to the end and got on another no name lake. When we got to the portage to what Martin calls High Camp Lake, it seemed like a highway and we cruised... Then we came upon a very wet area and had to cross a very fast stream. Once across, we were on our way to High Camp Lake. We saw a single moose shed and a double shed near the end of the portage where we had lunch. Then the next portage was a lot wetter and crossed a little crick and ended up in a very full little river. We dubbed this the Nile 3 and paddled it's twists and turns to North Prairie Lake where we camped... This was a tough day!

Saturday June 11th (Day 10) We portaged into Indian House Lake (950 meters) and then into the river I dubbed the Euphrates. Very beautiful! On Crystal Lake we saw a site where possibly a guys ashes are at with a nice memorial. and further down between Bell and Page Lakes we saw what we figures was an ultra light wreckage. And we camped on Page.

Sunday June 12th (Day 11) We were up early and was only going as far as Douglas Lake. But we decided to paddle out and stay at the roadside motel. We bathed and found a note from Mocha on the windshield.

Monday we got up and headed out... We saw 5 moose on the way out and one was a bull with a good rack. Got home at a decent hour and boy my bed felt good!