Kawishiwi to Malberg and out Sawbill via the Lady Chain
We spent Wednesday night at a hotel in Tofte and made the drive up the Sawbill Trail arriving at Sawbill a little before 8am. After organizing and packing the rest of our gear, we picked up our permit and got a shuttle from Sawbill Outfitters over to the Kawishiwi Lake entry point. We were the first shuttle to Kawishwi of the year for Sawbill. When we arrived one car was in the parking lot, so we claimed we were the second group into Kawishiwi of the year.
On the date of our departure, Sawbill was mostly free of ice but Alton was still iced over but we were hopeful it would be out by the beginning of out trip.
Within a couple minutes of leaving the landing on Kawishiwi Lake, we encountered very light sleet/snow for a few minutes. A fitting start to the trip.
High water levels made for an easy paddle up the beginnings of the Kawishiwi River into Square Lake were we encountered the beginning of the Pagami Creek Fire damage. Last time I was through this area was about three weeks before the fire spread east rapidly to Square and Kawasachong.
Fire damage on the Square to Kawishiwi River portage.
More fire damage along the Kawishiwi River.
Just before we hit Kawasachong, Molly pointed out "that rock looks like a Moose" then added "It IS a moose!" A cow with two calves was back in the woods a little. The first moose I've seen in the BWCA in 21 trips.
After the moose excitement, we paddled across Kawasachong, hiked over some downed trees on the portage to Townline Lake, crossed the portage into Lake Polly, and made our way to the north end of the lake to continue our trek down the Kawishiwi River. It was cloudy and cool, but no rain so we had no complaints.
A little break for pictures at the end of the portage just south of Koma Lake.
As we neared the portage into Malberg, Molly spotted a second moose sitting on the north shore of Koma. Unfortunately, this cow immediately got up and walked into the woods with a calf once it noticed us. It was quite the sight when it stood up and walked into the woods. She was massive.
There was an incredible amount of water flowing around the infamous rock between Koma and Malberg.
After one last paddle up Malberg, we decided to camp on the site that sits up above the lake in the narrows just west of the middle of the lake. As we paddled by the campsite adjacent to the portage into the Louse River, we noticed the grate area was entirely under water!