Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Lunetta Lake
by runner

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/24/2013
Entry & Exit Point: Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake (EP 4)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Day 1 – Ben and I left the house at 3:35 AM to drive an hour and a half into Ely to pick up the permit at Voyager North Outfitter at 5:00 AM. After picking up the permit, Ben drove to the boat landing on Burntside Lake not far from Ely. We unloaded the gear and started for Entry Point #4 on a calm, sunny, and cool morning.
Day 1 – Ben and I left the house at 3:35 AM to drive an hour and a half into Ely to pick up the permit at Voyager North Outfitter at 5:00 AM. After picking up the permit, Ben drove to the boat landing on Burntside Lake not far from Ely. We unloaded the gear and started for Entry Point #4 on a calm, sunny, and cool morning. Lucky for me, Ben knows how to read a map and take compass readings to help find the way to the portage on Burntside Lake. There are many islands on Burntside, and it would be easy to get lost. The water was calm and made for an enjoyable paddle. We didn’t see anyone on the lake, the cabins dotting the shorelines were all quiet, and no one was out boating. Ben navigated well, and we arrived at the portage marked with a sign in about 45 minutes. The plan was to do one-and-a-half portages – Ben would carry the canoe and a light pack all the way to the end, I would drop a pack off halfway, Ben would come back and pick up that pack, and I would go back to the beginning and get the last pack and carry it across. The temperature was cool (our hands were cold), no bugs were out to bother us, and the sun was shining through the trees – not bad conditions for the long hike ahead. The portage started off with a wide opening in the woods, fairly level for a few rods, and then it led into a few climbs up and down rocky terrain. A small stream crossed the portage about a quarter of the way in. I dropped my pack off just before a larger stream that had flooded the portage and walked back to get the other pack at the beginning. The second half of the portage started off through a shallow stream flooding the path; not enough to get my socks wet with one trip across. The next section had a long gradual climb for several rods before leveling off on the homestretch. The landing leading into Crab Lake was open and on a sandy beach. Ben was eager to explore the campsites on Crab to take pictures and rate the sites. I wasn’t as excited about making the trip longer with the extra stops, but I knew it was important to Ben, so I wasn’t going to keep this from happening. We stopped at three campsites on Crab Lake before finding the portage to Little Crab Lake. The portage to Little Crab was a breeze; it was short (20 rods), flat, and open. We decided to pass on visiting the campsite on Little Crab that morning and instead headed towards our final destination on Lunetta Lake. The campsite wasn’t taken! We scouted out the campsite; it had two level tent pads and an open kitchen with a view of the lake all next to a small bay. We ate lunch consisting of wheat French bread, cheese, summer sausage, pepperoni (this was a great addition to our “normal” lunches), gorp, banana chips, craisins, and crackers. After lunch, we set up our tent together, and then I finished blowing up the sleeping pads and putting them in the sleeping bags while Ben set up the tarp. After I set up the sleeping things, I decided to take a nap. Ben spent the entire time I was sleeping rigging up an incredible food pack pulley hanging system. After my nap, we decided to do some fishing and exploring around Lunetta Lake. We explored the rapids near the Hassel portage. Ben walked up to the top and found the start of the rapids; it was created by a huge beaver dam. After exploring the rapids, we kept fishing. I had a few bites on my line, but I wasn’t able to set the hook. Ben was almost able to reel in a largemouth bass (his first one ever) before it spit the hook. He caught another largemouth bass shortly afterwards and was able to bring it into the canoe. After paddling around the entire shoreline of Lunetta Lake (it only took an hour), we stopped back at our campsite. Ben cooked up some steaks, creamed corn, and peaches for dinner. We headed for bed shortly before the sun went down.

Day 2 - I woke up around 7 AM and took down the food pack to get started on breakfast. Ben woke up shortly afterwards and helped cook. The pancakes didn’t turn out as nice as other trips because Ben was cooking on the Dragonfly stove instead of the Coleman (it wasn’t working). The heat distribution on the pan wasn’t even, making the pancakes cooked in the middle and not on the edges creating a big mess when trying to flip them. We also forgot to pack margarine, another ingredient to help them taste better. We still ended up eating the pancakes despite not tasting great. After breakfast we went fishing again around Lunetta Lake. The weather was not as nice as the day before. It was cool and cloudy the whole day. Ben caught another largemouth, this one bigger than the first one. The wind started picking up so we headed back to camp. Ben decided to do some exploring on his own while I stayed back at camp later in the afternoon. He decided to hike through the woods to the portage entering Hassel Lake and hike to the campsite on Hassel. It was an adventure filled with hiking on a portage with several downed trees, seeing a campsite not used often, and other wildlife. I decided to go for a swim. The swimming area wasn’t inviting. The lake water was dark brown, concealing rocks close to the surface near the swimming area. When I took a plunge into the water, it was shallow enough for me to touch. It wasn’t a long swim, just in and out because the water was freezing. Ben cooked up a ham dinner with pears and peas. It was another nice evening as the clouds began breaking up, showing some blue sky heading our way. Day 3 – I woke up again around 7 AM to get breakfast started. It was looking like a nice day; the sun was shining, and the wind had died down during the night. We cooked up some pancakes along with oatmeal (I wanted oatmeal and pancakes). After cleaning up dishes and making sure camp was in order, we headed out on a long 6-hour day trip to Cummings Lake. We packed lunch for the way and our fishing gear. As we were paddling onto Little Crab, we noticed a large group staying at the one campsite (we hadn’t visited it yet), so Ben was a little disappointed he wasn’t able to see it then. We sighted a Bald Eagle on the river perched on a tree leading into Korb Lake. We tried getting a picture but weren’t able to take it fast enough before it flew away. The water level was high, so we didn’t have to do the 1 rod portage around some fast moving water and rocks. We saw the campsite on Korb Lake wasn’t taken, so we stopped to check it out. The Korb Lake campsite is up on a cliff overlooking the lake. It had the kitchen area right above the cliff with the fire grate facing away from the lake. The wind had started picking up and we could feel the breeze from above. There were a few decent tent pads further into the woods in front of the kitchen area. I liked the view and thought this would be a great campsite to come back and stay at someday. We took the 70 rod portage leading to Cummings after exploring the Korb campsite. Ben and I put out our fishing rods trolling the Eastern side of Cummings. Ben reeled in several good size smallmouth bass. We stopped at the three campsites on the Eastern part of Cummings. I liked the second one the most with the sand beach and pines. All three, though, were very nice campsites. As we were completing the loop back to Korb Lake we decided to stop and fish at the portage by the rapids. Ben had great luck right away! He reeled in a good size bass after a few casts. Shortly afterwards, he reeled in a huge largemouth bass (19-20 inches). This more than made up for the one he lost on Lunetta. We both went for a short swim as the location offered plenty of sun and cover from the wind before packing up to go across the portage. We stopped at the Little Crab campsite on the way back to take pictures; the previous campers had left. When we arrived back at Lunetta at 2:00 PM, we decided to stay at camp the rest of the day eating up the food and relaxing in the sun. We had bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado wraps for dinner that night, one of my favorites. That evening we packed up everything we could to prepare for the early start the next day. Day 4 – We woke up a few minutes before our watch alarms went off at 4:50AM and started taking down camp. We were all packed and on the water at 6 AM, a half hour ahead of schedule. The weather was sunny and mostly calm. There was a slight breeze, but nothing significant. We made good time paddling averaging about 3.6 mph. We did the 408 rod portage again the same way as before, except it was warmer than the first day. The wind started picking up when we were halfway across Burntside, so we were glad we got an early start. We made it back safe and in good time (2 hrs 51 minutes).