Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

24 Hour Canoe Challenge
by Kelso

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/13/2014
Entry & Exit Point: Kawishiwi Lake (EP 37)
Number of Days: 2
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
At midnight on the morning of September 13, my friend Matt Peterson and I put in at Kawishiwi Lake and traveled nonstop for 24 hours through Polly, Malberg, Makwa, Little Sag, Tuscarora, Long Island, Cherokee, Sawbill, and Grace until we finally stopped on Phoebe at midnight, for a total distance of 60.7 miles.
Matt and I shoved off from Kawishiwi Landing at exactly midnight on the morning of September 13. We had hoped to see a good aurora, but it was too cloudy. We were sorry that we couldn't enjoy beautiful Polly and Malberg Lakes in the daylight, but we didn't want to waste time. Portaging in the dark into Pan Lake was difficult with a lot of brush and knee deep water, but after that the portages were easier. We paused for Cliff bars and a handful of Gorp while watching the sunrise on Makwa, then kept going toward Little Sag.

The long portage from Elton to Little Sag is hilly and overgrown, so we opted to take the two shorter portages instead. The wind was calm, so we made good time from Little Sag through Mora and across Tuscarora, reaching the 30 mile mark just before noon along the portage between Tuscarora and Howl. Traveling on through Copper and Snipe, we met the first people of the day on Cross Bay Lake. By the time we got to Long Island Lake, a south wind had picked up, which slowed us down a little as we headed across Cherokee, still on track to reach our goal of 60 miles before midnight.

The long portage south of Cherokee is not difficult, but because a beaver dam has gone out on Ada Lake, the portage between Scoop and Ada is longer and muddier than before. We crossed the 50 mile mark on Sawbill Lake just as the sun was setting, then turned west through the Lady Chain lakes. It was pitch dark and we were exhausted by the time we got to the portages between Alton, Beth, Ella, and Grace, and the miles seemed to crawl past. We had to do everything very slowly and deliberately, but we pushed on across Grace and through three more portages, arriving on Phoebe Lake just before midnight. It took another last hurrah to circle around the lake looking for an unoccupied site, where we finally stopped and crashed, having traveled a total of 60.7 miles, including 8.4 miles of portages.

After sleeping for 12 hours and getting a slow start the second day, we got back on the water and paddled 16 more miles through Polly back to Kawishiwi, finishing the trip around 10 pm on September 14.

Lakes Traveled:   Kawishiwi Lake, Polly, Lake, Malberg Lake, Makwa Lake, Little Saganaga Lake, Tuscarora Lake, Cherokee Lake, Sawbill Lake, Grace Lake, Phoebe Lake,