Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Kawishiwi to Polly (or The Wettest Trip Ever?)
by fitgers1

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/19/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Kawishiwi Lake (EP 37)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
Plans were started last August after our departure from EP27 on Snowbank. We decided on a south entry. Late 2010 discussions landed on a destination of Polly or Malberg. I was hoping for better fishing and long days so the summer solstice was chosen. Permit applied for and received, we began packing. Very little thought or planning was put into meals this year. Pretty much off the cuff or rather, a quick trip through Cub and off the shelves. Our trip began Saturday the 18th when Gary and his sons pulled into my driveway about 11:30. We made some last minute "I've got that and those, leave yours" We'll take my cook kit, leave yours here" kind of things and tied the old beer can on top of the van. Off we went. About 1 pm we were finally on I-35 headed north. We exited the freeway in Esko. I pointed out a few things around town, the area I spent 8 years growing up in. We took some back roads to Miller Hill to avoid the Duluth mega project. A stop at Gandor Mtn for a couple last minute items and a new pair of Keens for myself and we were again on our way - all the way to the other side of Hwy 53 to Dairy Queen. One last snack. Up the shore we went. Through the road construction at Split Rock. A stop at Zups in Silver Bay for some more off the shelf meals. One more leg to travel. Finally made it to Tofte around 7:30 pm. It was raining and cold. We originally planned on picking a rental canoe at Sawtooth Outfitters and spending the night at a campground off the Sawbill Trail, however, due to the constant rain we opted for a room at Cliffdwellers and dinner at Bluefin Bay. The rain stopped long enough for us to sit fireside on Superior's shore at Bluefin and enjoy their smore fire. It was nearly dark so back to the hotel room we went to enjoy one last night in a bed.
Day 1 of 7
Sunday, June 19, 2011 I woke up in the hotel room about 6 am. Showered and tried to wake the rest of the crew for the continental breakfast. Not long after we were all enjoying a hearty breakfast while looking over the lake. There was some good conversation with the owner and she tried to sell us the hotel. She is ready to retire and downsize. Give her a call if you are interested. The price sounded reasonable. Showered and fed we left for the outfitter and picked up the second canoe for the trip. We checked in with the rangers and watched the mandatory video. I asked the ranger "Why only plastic? That would last longer in the wild than glass or cans." She stated because it was lighter to carry in and thus easier and lighter for people to carry out. Other than that, she seemed to not really be sure. I'm still not sure why. Anybody know? North we traveled up the Sawbill Trail. West we went down Perent Lake Rd. Screeeeech go the breaks. Wet gravel hits the underside of the van. "Look!" Gary and I say in unison from the front seat. There standing in the middle of the road was a gray wolf. Where's my flippin camera! comes from everyone's mouth. The wolf stares at us for about 1/2 a minute as we look at him and look for cameras. We begins quickly walking toward us and right down the drivers side of the van. I thought he was big. As big or bigger than the mounted wolf at the ranger station. The other guys didn't think so. He trotted down the road and Gary and I jumped out to watch him. About 50 yards behind us he jumped into the woods heading south. That was exciting. Hopefully the rest of the trip would be the same. The rain kept falling. It had been falling since we left Duluth. We arrived at the EP on Kawishiwi about 11. Many boats were headed in while we were loading up to go out. Two boats came in and a guy went to get their truck. The A-hole pulled is big Infinity SUV ten feet from the water so they could load. His truck was less than a paddle from our two canoes. They putted around in the rain and loaded up. I just stared in disbelief at the bonewad for doing that. The loading area is pretty big. You could park at least 10 vehicles in there and this dingledong pulls right up to where we are loading. I suppose all in the name of not having to carry their gear 50 feet from the water. I apologize for sounding a little ticked but I was. Then one of them noticed me staring with a "Your'e a dumbass stare" and I could tell he was talking to his budding about it on the other side of the open door. Sorry, it just kind of pee'd me off. Finally they were loaded with canoes tied and they left. That allowed us the room to finish loading the boats. We put in about 1:30 and began our trek to Polly or Malberg. There was a good breeze, drizzle and rain and the temp was 62 degrees. On the far side of Kawishiwi we made a wrong turn into the last bay (my fault). We should have gone past one more peninsula and then turn. The paddling through the channel to Square Lake was very peaceful and rain free. We passed some beaver lodges, one of which I saw a footprint on. Somebody must have been trying to scare out a beaver. The first portage was a quick one of 20 r to another channel that would take us to Kawasachong Lake. On the north end of a Kawasachong bay we found the portage that would take us to Townline Lake. 190 r portage that none of us were looking forward to. I was not looking forward to it, nor did I think I would make it carrying the old 17' beer can but I made it with only a couple minute stop about a 1/3 of the way across. The Alumacraft was heavy when I set it into Townline. On the way over we met a group leaving. We helped carry a few of their packs as we went back to finish the double portage. Townline is a small lake. Gary threw a line out and caught a 7" perch from the portage. We took about a ten minute break and then crossed Townline. On the north side we came to the neatest little portage entry I have seen yet. I channel that headed inland with a corduroy pier/road on the left side for about 25 yards. Our short jaunt across Townline barely let me catch my breath from the 190 r portage and now it was time for another. 95 rods to Polly. I picked up the heavy and started hiking. A long portage for sure after just doing the previous but the feeling at the end was worth every moment of both portages. Polly Lake! The rain had come and gone, we were all sweating from being overdressed, the water was warm compared to the air. We were there. It was about four after leaving the EP on Kawishiwi. We had kept moving, not too fast or slow as we had plenty of time. Now on the banks of Polly we had to make a decision. Push through to Malberg or base it on Polly and make a day trip to Malberg. Since it was late afternoon and a bear had torn apart a campsite on Malberg a couple weeks before, we opted to stay on Polly. About half the sites on Polly were occupied. We took the site on the north end on a small point looking toward the inlet to the portage to Koma and Malberg. We made camp and had a well deserved dinner in the misty, cold rain. I didn't sleep too well that night. I usually sleep great in the wilderness or anywhere in my tent. It was cold, humid, wet and I was beat. I decided I hated my mummy bag. I couldn't stretch out without putting my arms out of the bag. When I did, I was colder. Temp made it into the very low 40's that night by what we heard on the radio the next morning. I'm sure we hit the 30's. Every muscle above my stomach was aching. I really had no problem with the cold, just that it was so damp. Day one completed. Oh yeah, Mike caught a walleye soon after entering Polly. A sign of good fishing to come?