Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Good Lake June 2015
by x2jmorris

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/05/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Wood Lake (EP 26)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 6
Trip Introduction:
Doing the annual family trip for 2015 and we picked Wood Lake as our entry point and hoping to get to Good Lake. It looks like the fishing is good there and we want to see the sunken steam engine in Hoist Bay. We are bringing a German foreign exchange student (17 years old) for his first BWCA experience. Also it will be my niece and nephews first real portages as they have only experienced Perent Lake before. We did our grocery shopping on Thursday and we went really light on food so we will need to catch fish for some dinners. I figure with 6 people fishing, someone will catch a few fish. We are also bringing two dogs with us. An 11 year old Norwegian Elkhound who is obsessed with fish and a 10 month old Dutch Shepard. I herniated my lower back two years ago and this will be my first trip portaging canoes since that happened as I feel it is strong enough nowadays. Our canoes are a 17 foot Alumacraft, 15 foot regular Grumman, and a 15 foot light weight Grumman. Something like 70 lbs, 60 lbs, and 50 lbs I believe. Not sure if the 17 year old will be able to carry one so I might be portaging all three on every portage as my dad is 67 now and my sister is unable to carry one. The other two kids are too young.

Plan is to leave at 0630 Friday morning from Duluth but we end up leaving at 0700 which is still pretty good. We make it to the entry point around 0930. There are 13 vehicles in the lot so I am a little worried about campsites but what can you do. I am the first to go on the 180 rod portage and I take the 17 footer. It’s a little muddy but I make it to the end in one trip. The foreign exchange student (Anton) makes it with the regular Grumman and I congratulate him. I go back and grab the light weight and get that over. So it appears that my back will be fine and I won’t have to carry 3 canoes. Everyone else is making good time also. We meet two guys coming out and I ask them were they were at and they tell me on Good Lake at the East campsite which is music to my ears as that is where I want to stay. We get on the lake and there is no wind so paddling is easy going. All of the campsites seem to be taken on Wood Lake so I am happy that we won't be staying on such a busy lake. The portage to Hula goes the same way, nice and easy.

Once we cross Hula we are only one portage away from Good Lake and I head off first again. I get to the top of the hill and now it should be rather easy the rest of the way. But, as I am walking the canoe starts to slip on my shoulder and as I go to correct it I slip in the mud. I try to pick up my pace to make up for my slip but it is all mud and I slip again and this time I am going down. I fall forward with the canoe on top of me. Fortunately I think I was in a low spot so the front and back of the canoe landed higher up and it didn’t crush me. I realize how fortunate I am to be ok but I am still mad that I fell. It was my first time falling with a canoe so I guess it was bound to happen someday. I walk without the canoe to see how much further and it is still a little ways. But I feel alright so I grab it again and finish the walk. Anton isn’t too far behind but he has set the canoe down however he says he can make it. The rest of the portage goes the same as the other ones. We get on the lake and I want to check the campsite in the narrows to see if we can get that one but it is already taken. So onto the one in the East and it is available. We set up camp and everyone is pleased with the site. After everything is set up we go out fishing. The girls catch a few Northerns and now we have dinner. Everyone is a little beat so we head off to bed fairly early. Kids sleep in one tent and the adults in the other and one dog in each tent.


We wake up and everyone is a little lazy. I make some pancakes and grilled salami for breakfast and I know that it is supposed to rain on some of these days but the weather looks ok for the day although it’s a little windy. Wanting to make the best of a nice day I decide that we should paddle into Hoist Bay to check out the Steam Engine. On the way we stop at the other campsite in the narrows which is open at this time. It is a nice site and I see why people love it but we find the fire still going and cans of sardines left behind. This irritates me so I put the fire out and take the sardine cans with me. The river into Hoist Bay was fairly high and we only had to pull over one beaver dam. In Hoist Bay and we cannot find the steam engine. I even talk to some other people who are fishing in the bay and they point me to where it is but it must be too deep to see as we still cannot find it.

Once back in Good Lake we catch a few more Pike for dinner as we are troling back to Camp. Back at camp and it is starting to look like rain. My dad filets the fish as I set up the tarp. The rain begins and it is one of those steady ones where you know it will be quite a while before it lets up. We eat the fish with some soup and hide under the tarp. My nephew wants to hear a scary story so I tell him my favorite one. The kids retire early and the adults stay up just talking before bed.


Today is a lazy day. Most of the group just wants to relax. We have more pancakes and salami for breakfast and then my sister and I hang out in the hammocks. My nephew didn’t sleep very well after the scary story so he goes back to bed and my niece isn’t feeling the greatest so she also goes to bed after breakfast. Anton wants to go fishing so my dad takes him out. Not much happened during the day. My dad and Anton get back from circling the entire lake and they have 2 Pike and a Bass for dinner. After dinner the kids go to bed and the adults stay up again. This time we are standing on the shore looking at a glow over the western horizon and trying to figure out what it is. We also see a spot light doing a circle and we figure it has to be at least 10 miles way. We figure the spot light is Fortune Bay but we are dumbfounded by the orange glow in the sky. Our only guess is Ely but it is like 1 in the morning and I seriously doubt Ely is that bright. We take in the night for a while and then head off into bed. My nephew starts calling for his mom saying he is scared so she has to bunk with the kids for the night.


We wake up and yet again have pancakes for breakfast. It is another lazy kind of day. The two boys try to make boats with birch bark sails but neither one really works. I tie up an anchor and fish the south east bay with the two boys and we have pretty good luck. Soon enough my dad and sister join us and my dad catches a Walleye on a Rapala with a leader. Seeing this I tie up an orange Rapala with no leader and right away catch a nice Walleye. We are going to have a really good fish dinner tonight. On the way back in my nephew copies me and starts trolling a Rapala and lands a huge bass. I normally won’t keep a big fish but this is his first big fish in his life and he really wants to keep it so we do. We have 4 Pike, 2 Walleye, and a big bass for dinner tonight. The boys tell me they will eat all of it but I am doubtful. During dinner I explain to my nephew why we usually let the bigger fish go and he seems to understand. The boys impress me by eating all of the fish and for once they aren’t complaining that they are hungry. Tonight we all go to bed early as we want to be up early and get a good start to the next day.


We wake up at 0545 and I start to make the last of our food, a little oatmeal before we break camp. We want to get out before the winds pick up. I am seriously dreading the first portage as I know it has a long hill in the beginning. We must have left camp around 7 and started the trip back. I make the portage with the 17 foot in one trip and once again go back and grab the other canoe. This time Anton is taking the lightweight, but that doesn’t matter. It is just really nice that he can get one over. Once we are on Hula we see a big Golden Eagle sitting in a pine on one of the islands. He doesn’t seem to mind us but nobody has a camera out so we just take in the moment and press on. Hula to Wood Lake is still an easy portage. Once on Wood Lake there is still no wind and it is an easy paddle to the last portage. There is nobody camped on Wood Lake on the way out which surprises me. At the portage Anton is first to go and I follow behind with the canoes. I really don’t remember there being so many hills on this one, so about 3 quarters of the way there we both take a rest. We make it and I tell him that we are going to take turns on the last canoe and he is ok with that. Everyone else did a great job on the portages. Load up the canoes and packs and head to the Chocolate Moose for Lunch. Awesome food there for those who haven’t been there.

Conclusion: We caught a lot of fish and had pretty good weather without any bugs. Not much more you can ask for there. Anton had a good time although he said that he prefers beach camping and that he probably wouldn’t do it again but that might change when he looks back on this trip.

After we got back to Duluth we were informed that the glow in the sky was probably the forest fire in Canada. It is crazy that you can see it from that far away if that is actually what it was.