Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

South Kawishiwi River
by grimsbee5

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/04/2011
Entry & Exit Point: South Kawishiwi River (EP 32)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 8
Trip Introduction:
Day 1; The actual trip itself was fairly easy, but having 8 in the group makes it more of a planning challenge, with 4 canoes and all the extra gear, food etc - so I rated this trip as intermediate. It was a first BWCAW experience for one group member. The first portage, 147 rods from the parking lot took two trips before put in at about 11am, kind of late. Our intended destination was Clear Lake campsite 2, Forest Service #1689.

On the way saw several other canoe groups. Paddled up through the rapids quite easily, we traversed the 70 rod portage into Clear Lake only to be met by a group coming in the opposite direction also looking for a campsite. They told us all 5 campsites on Clear lake were full. To check for ourselves we paddled around the lake only to find out they were correct!

So back across the 70 rod portage we went to find all close available sites in the river were also taken. Getting late now, about 4-5pm I reckon, we started paddling back in the direction we came from. Every site taken. We met a guy in a kayak who was at the Kawishiwi River campsite 7/1702, who told us that on his map it showed an old no longer used campsite, just around the peninsular from where he was camping. He said we could also share his site with he and his wife if we wished. He showed us the 'unauthorized' site and we chose to use it for the night. He said they were leaving their site in the morning. It was actually a nice flat site, no latrine or fire grate, but for one night it was great. We were all exhausted anyway by that time.

Day 2; Our new friend vacated campsite 7/1702, so we made a beeline for it and set up a base camp there. This day was a recovery day so to speak from day 1. Later in the day we saw other groups paddling past our site also unable to find campsites? In fact we had heard of one group camping on a portage! In all the 11 trips or so I have been coming up here I have never had trouble finding a campsite. It kind of makes me wonder if all groups actually had permits? Or were there illegal campers? Anyway we now had a site and we were staying put!

Day 3; We fished and had great luck finding walleyes and bass and had a great fish meal later in the day. We also took a trip to the rapids at site 10/1131, which we paddled through and continued on to a near by 30 rod portage, that we walked just for fun. On the way back we met a husband and wife who came in at Farm Lake, and were looking for a campsite. That was about 5pm. Late that night we endured quite the downpour, but managed to stay dry.

Day 4; Time to go out. Overall a fun trip. Saw too many other groups though. Next time I will go in at a more easterly BWCAW entry point. Fewer people and better luck finding a campsite I hope.