Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Loop with Lepus not Lupus
by inspector13

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/20/2014
Entry Point: Kawishiwi Lake (EP 37)
Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)  
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
In September 2013 Boonie, I, and a couple of other website members got together at the Rustic Inn Cafe in Castle Danger at the start of his annual BWCA trip. Naturally, our conversation drifted to wilderness trips, and when he learned I hadn’t taken a multi day trip in 10 years, he asked me to join him in 2014. A couple other members had suggested the same thing at prior wing things, but I guess I finally overcame that internet stranger factor and agree to it.
Part 1 of 3
Friday 9/19/14 Day 0: I met Steve (Boonie) at the Flood Bay Wayside around 10am for a casual drive to Sawbill Outfitters to rent a canoe for the trip. Along the way we stopped at Iona’s Beach SNA before having lunch at the Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay. Although it started to drizzle just as we left the restaurant, we still hiked the Oberg Mountain Trail to see how the colors were progressing.

When we got to Sawbill Outfitters we had Peter figure out how to mount the canoe on my car. I knew the factory racks were too narrow, but Peter had the same solution I had thought of: 2 by 4s. After transferring Steve’s trip gear to my vehicle, we were off to an evening meal at the Trestle Inn. We made it back to my cabin in Silver Creek Twp before sunset to finalize my packs. Steve lent me his extra bear vault to try out on the trip, and we decided to use his gravity filter and Sawyer bottle for water purification systems. We retired early after listening to a little bit of music.

Saturday 9/20/14 Day 1: Oops. My alarm didn’t go off because I failed to pull out the stem. My internal clock was working though. We were only about 1/2 hr behind schedule because I usually wake up by 6am at the latest on workdays anyhow. We ate breakfast, packed the car, and after the 1 1/2 hr drive to EP37 we were paddling Kawishiwi Lake by 9:30am under a heavily overcast sky. That 9:30 launch time became the standard for the rest of the trip. The sun didn’t rise ‘til around 7am anyway.

We decided to take alternating turns at the bow and stern; and Steve was first up at the stern. Locating the bay with the portage to Square proved to be a little difficult since neither of us was using our compass. We became more attentive after that. We also decided who would be portaging what early on.

I found the Pagami burn area very interesting. It began on the north and west shores of Square Lake and ended just as we arrived at the portage bay of Polly Lake. There was a lot of colorful underbrush, and I could tell there had been many flowers blooming earlier in the year. We met one group on their way out on the portage between Townline and Kawasachong.

Polly had people on it, including one group with a constantly barking dog. It did quiet down by the time we had found a campsite. We took the northernmost island campsite since the one nearby on the northwest shore had a note from the Forest Service taped to the fire grate saying “Campsite closed to day (sic), tomorrow, and until further notice.” This was the only night I hung some food since it didn’t all fit in the vault at first. I also survived this cool and overcast day while wearing my 100% cotton cabin clothes.

Sunday 9/21/14 Day 2: This was the first of a string of beautiful days that didn’t end until our canoe trip was over. A threesome in a canoe passed our campsite before we left, but I didn’t see which direction they ultimately headed in. As we paddled towards the portage to the Kawishiwi River, another canoe passed in front of us and headed into a bay. The 30 and 60 some year old males ended up in back of us at the portage, but since they were single portaging we let them pass. Their iciness towards us broke after our third portage meeting when we mentioned our route and its relative remoteness. They were doing the Louse River route. They would be the last people we would see until Wednesday afternoon.

A toe on my left foot began turning hot. Sure enough a blister had formed. To remedy the situation I put nylon socks on under my wool ones. It worked. I could enjoy the scenery of the portages. I did this for the rest of the trip and I wasn’t bothered by blisters again. The last portage along the Kawishiwi River to Koma Lake was nice. There are several huge White Pines and Tamaracks. When the trip was over I checked a logging history map and found we had just entered a part of the wilderness that had never been logged. A beaver dam located just before Koma Lake was a nominal obstacle.

Malberg is a very cool irregularly shaped lake. While we paddled up the northeast arm a Beaver plane flew by going north. We wondered what that might be about. I was getting thirsty and the suction required to get a drink out of Steve’s self filtering water bottle was annoying to me. I dipped and drank from my bottle in the wide bay before the portage into the Kawishiwi River; which at this point resembled a lake. I hadn’t done that for 30 years, but I didn’t do it again. I’m still OK!

Peter at Sawbill warned us about the portage from Anit to Pan. It skirts a beaver pond and the water levels have risen. He said that when he took it he needed to wade in knee to thigh deep water. We paddled down part of the trail and then bush crashed the flooded remainder.

Our campsite on Pan was nice, but came with a persistently nosy Snowshoe Hare. I’d never seen a hare seemingly look for people’s food before. Humm. Its odd behavior made me wonder what really was in the mind of the person who ascribed this lake the name of Pan. I suppose Azazel would have brought up all sorts of less than Romantic images.