Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Camp in a tent in a different place each month of the year 2015
by bobbernumber3

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 01/23/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 25
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I thought of this challenge while camped at Whisker Lake Wilderness near Florence WI in November 2014. A fun aspect of this challenge was finding twelve different places that I wanted to canoe camp and fish.
Whisker Lake Wilderness January 23-24 30°and 15°

This was a solo trip to Whisker Lake Wilderness near Florence Wisconsin. I camped on the south shore of Edith Lake only about 100 yards within the Wilderness boundary. I shouldn't have been surprised to see the large number of fishermen out for the day. Edith Lake is on the east edge of WLW with a public access. I arrived on Friday night and did not have time to get out fishing. I talked with a guy fishing nearby and he had caught a few nice bluegills.

Breakfast in the morning was egg and Canadian bacon muffins.

Temperatures were very mild overnight which made camping easy. I brought in a sled full of wood from home and my truck was parked only a quarter mile away… all downhill to the tent. I drilled several holes for fishing in the morning, but had no luck. I moved to the hole where I talked with a guy last night and caught 2 trout! After lunch I tried another leftover hole, and lost a large trout.

My stove pipe got hot during the night and melted a poly sidewall strap. I thought I had enough clearance, but the support pole must have moved a little in the wind overnight. The spark arrestor worked good for deflecting the wind at the end of the stack. I had an elbow separation Friday night with a small fire going. Still had flames shooting out inside the tent! I had anticipated a possible problem when putting the pipes together so I was not surprised and had my gloves on and stove outside the tent in about 5 seconds... no damages. I have a couple repairs to make before the next outing.

Bittersweet Lake Wilderness February 7-8 15°

With my schedule, this would have to be a quick one night trip to Bittersweet Lake Wilderness near St. Germaine, Wisconsin. Allan was looking for a reason to get out of the house for the weekend so he met me at the entry. It was nice to walk in on snowmobile tracks… I used snowshoes and Allan used skis (a Christmas present). We confused the boat landing with the campsite on the south shore of Bittersweet Lake and set up the tent in a trailer parking spot which was level and had tie out trees handy. We found the campsite later and the boat landing site was better.

We snow shoed and skied into Smith Lake and Oberlin Lake. These are pretty lakes that probably don't see much usage during the course of a year. I was a little cool at night with a single rectangular sleeping bag and temperature overnight at about 15°F. Since Allan was soundly beaten at cribbage, I slept in while he got the fire going the next morning. Next time, I will stuff a shirt into the bottom of my bag to take up air space and keep my feet warmer.

We had difficulty getting the frozen tent into the stuff sack and I either need a different bag or just fold it onto the toboggan next time. We brought a small stash of wood and cut a couple logs more. Next trip will be all cut wood at the site as I won't be able to haul wood that distance.

Tuscarora Lake, BWCA March 6-8 20° and 15°

Jill traveled with me and stayed a few nights at the Harbor Inn in Grand Marais. We stopped for a nice lunch at the Duluth Grill. The waitress was very helpful in guiding us to a smaller meal choice. Jill bought a cookbook that she enjoyed reading will I was off camping. She also enjoyed the nice library in Grand Marais and went to an evening presentation on the Civil War that she found interesting.

This was a rugged trip due to the travel distance, tough "Tusc Portage" and windy conditions. Temperatures were mild but the wind chills not so good. It made fishing difficult, but I was able to catch two lake trout.

I brought too much gear and the weight made pulling the toboggan difficult, especially on the exit from Tucarora. I had to unload the sled and make several trips uphill and then reload and secure gear at the top. Also, for the work to get there a winter trekker really needs to spend extra time.

The campsite I had was great! It faced the south and was out of the wind so it was easy to enjoy the sunny weather. All camping aspects worked fine... tent, stove, sleep system, etc. I packed too much food as usual. There was a lot of learning and new experiences on this trip. I found the portage trails well traveled and easy to follow. Lake travel was a little more difficult, especially when you got off the float.

Lake Nineteen Apr 11-13 32° and 42°

Mitch and I were both worried that there would be no snow and the ice would be too weak for fishing. The ice was marginal (Mitch broke thru briefly when headed to shore) but there was enough snow to pull the sleds and toboggan. We only fished on Saturday and we stayed out all day slowly catching five keepers. A State Warden and Federal Agent visited us at the end of the day and I found out that my vehicle registration has been expired 2 years! Expensive lesson. We broke camp early Monday morning just as it started to rain and had breakfast at Jack's Diner in Rapid River on the way home.

Vance Lake May 12-14

The drive to Big Island Lake Wilderness gave me plenty of time to reconsider this trip. The temperatures slowly dropped and it was 39 degrees when I turned onto the snowmobile trail for the final 3 miles. The potholes were huge and numerous along the rough road to the small parking area. Some snow pellets hit the windshield. Better weather was predicted for the next couple days, so I crossed my fingers and set out on the May adventure. Brook trout fishing on Twilight Lake was my goal. My destination campsite on Twilight Lake was occupied! This forced me to travel on to Vance Lake which worked out just fine and I was able to see more area in the BILW. The campsites in BILW see little use during the course of a camping season, so I spent some time cleaning up pine cones, sticks and old campfire wood and rotting wood seating logs. I didn't have far to go to find more campfire wood. I spent the afternoon feeding the fire and staying warm. I also walked the portage trail to Klondike Lake to stretch my legs. The first night was chilly and I was glad to have my down booties along. I portaged back to Twilight lake on Wednesday for some brook trout fishing. The portage trail was much more scenic than yesterday and I snapped several pictures and took time to notice a bee pollinating the wildflowers. I spent a few minutes getting ready at the landing and headed out to start trolling. I threw my line in the water a little early and could see that the plug was hitting bottom. I decided to reel in and check for weeds and felt a strike just as I started to pull in the line. Wow… this was going to be easy. Well, things slowed down from there, but I did catch 4 brook trout and kept none. After a lunch break and some more fishing, I headed back to Vance Lake. It didn't look too good for fishing, but I gave it a try anyway. I didn't catch any fish there. I took another walk to Klondike Lake to take some more inviting pictures. Too my surprise, the father and son campers from Twilight Lake were there, having walked the trails on an exploring day trip. They were out for a trip of unknown length, depending on the weather. The Vance Lake campsite has a resident eagle that spends a lot of time perched above the adjacent beaver dam looking for fish. The eagle was wary and I never got into camera range without him seeing me and taking flight. Thursday was packing day and I wanted to spend some more time trolling if the weather was nice. The winds were starting to pick up, so managing the canoe solo was difficult at times. Being fully loaded seemed to help. I caught one nice brook trout, but had no other bites.

Saganagons Lake May 30 - June 6

The usual spring trip with the usual group. As always we had a good time and enjoyed the fishing, scenery and camp time. Mitch and I extended our trip with 3 nights in the Boundary Waters on Duncan Lake. This was a scouting trip for winter camping January 2016.

Isle Royale National Park July 18 - 25

Took the Isle Royale Queen IV out of Copper Harbor and had a smooth but foggy trip across Lake Superior. We had a nice chat with the Captain as we were sitting on the dock just relaxing and he gave us route and fishing tips. Jim piloted our reserved water taxi from Rock Harbor to Malone Bay and Allan and I enjoyed an interesting lunch of whiskey and M&M's. Jim also gave us fishing tips as we trolled into Malone Bay (no luck). It was an easy portage to Siskiwit Lake and the winds were very light which made for a nice trip to the northeast end of the lake where we found a nice campsite at the entrance to Wood Lake. Al caught a nice lake trout about a mile from camp.

We had a nice campsite between Siskiwit and Wood Lakes so we stayed 5 days. We explored Whittlesey Lake campsite but found it very brushy and looked to be "bug heaven". We also had no luck finding and catching walleyes, so staying at Wood Lake Camp was an easy decision. Windy conditions and white caps on Siskiwit reduced our time trolling for lake trout and we verified published reports of no walleyes in Wood Lake although it looked like very good walleye water. Thursday we made the trip to Chippewa Harbor which was not a very big move. We were able to camp in a shelter which we found to be very comfortable. Weather continued to be beautiful just as it had been all week. We met and talked with other boaters, campers and fishermen. The kayakers seemed
pretty stuck up and non-conversational. The trout fishing on Chippewa Harbor was good, but the fish seemed to run small. Jim the water taxi came in during the morning for a pick-up that never showed, so we got an early return to Rock Harbor as well as some charter fishing since we all had time to kill. We were unable to get a ferry ride back to the mainland as the captain had a full load. We were a bit slow on heading to the camp area so missed out on the last camping shelter and had to settle for a tent site. Mosquitoes were a little thick and dead bodies piled up on the picnic table during our cribbage games. A six-pack of cold beer helped pass the time before a little exploring and pizza dinner at the lodge just before closing. Up early and trolling on Tobin Harbor which was a recommended hotspot by some of the regulars we talked with last night. We caught nothing after a good long effort and returned to camp for final packing. Brunch was a leftover bagel and warm beer… mmmm!

Grand Island National Recreation Area August 20-21

Thursday morning was wet, damp, and raining so we didn't leave till 1:30pm. Jill and I stopped in Gladstone and had a slice at Main Street Pizza. After a stop for cheap gas in Rapid River, it was after 2:30pm and the weather was not improving much. It was still drizzling at the dock as we unloaded our bikes and gear and bought tickets for the ferry (which is actually a high powered pontoon). The ride was rough and wet to Grand Island We biked to Trout Bay and all the campsites were full or reserved. Reserved campsites is something new and we will be sure to do that next time. We peddled back to Murray Bay and found a real nice site and set up camp.

The next morning was clear and sunny… a perfect day for biking. Trip took all day and we were lucky to get to the dock in time for the last ferry. Dinner was at Hardees for a thick burger and fries.

Timber Lake - Ottawa National Forest September 23-25

West of Iron River a few miles on Hwy 2. There is a sign for Timber Lake on Forest Road 3905. Follow a 2-track in about ½ mile to a parking area. There was a truck parked there when I arrived which surprised me for the middle of the week. The fairly smooth and level trail is about .8 miles long to Timber Lake which is marked by a small sign that indicates campsites on the east end and west end of the lake. I loaded my gear and headed for the near (east) campsite, but did not stop to check it out. It was a nice calm day so I toured down to the west campsite. The landing was poor or non-existent, but I pulled in anyway to check. The site was little used and did not offer much for level tent pads. So I headed back to the east campsite and found it to be better than it looked from shore. There was a large fire ring and a good supply of cut wood. This site was large and fairly open but also was lacking for good tent pads, but I found an adequate spot a short ways back from the water and fire ring. After setting up my tent, I spent some time trolling and locating for brook trout, but had no luck on either count. Two other guys were out fishing and I could see from a distance they were fly fishing. They seemed to be working shallow weed beds. I felt my chances would be better trolling the deeper cool water hoping the trout would hang out there. I marked some fish on my locator, but had no strikes at all. On my paddle back to camp, the other guys were headed to the landing and we had a short chat as we crossed paths. They were fishing from a small jon boat with folding chairs. They reported catching several small fish and stammered when I asked “Any keepers?”. I think they probably had a couple undersized fish. I used plenty of the firewood the first night and really enjoyed the peaceful setting. There seemed to be plenty of different types of owls in the area as I heard their calls at dusk.

Using the same tactics and tackle the next morning proved better… one important change was made. I started with too much weight and my baits were probably running too deep. When reeling in to do a bait check, I had a strike close to the surface near the canoe. It was a small fish, but enough to change my presentation. It seems these trout are feeding on hatching bugs so when they are hungry, they are moving toward the surface regardless of water temperature. I ended up catching five trout and keeping two… a 17” and 17-1/2”.

Craig Lake State Park October 11-13

Mitch and I met at the gas station east of Craig Lake and parked his vehicle after transferring his gear into my truck. We were about 18 miles from the park entrance. It was a beautiful fall day with blue skies and nice temperatures. We were surprised at the number of vehicle in the parking lot 7 miles from the entrance. It was an easy double carry from the parking area to the lake and we were soon loaded and on the water. It was less than a mile to our chosen campsite on Craig Lake. Later we explored other sites and decided this was the best choice. Plenty of space, fire ring and outhouse we included. Someone had also built a bar-height table between two trees that we took advantage of. Mitch did well

catching walleyes but they were all small and about 12”. The wind kept me busy positioning the canoe and I felt good when I did finally catch a fish… a small 12” walleye. We the wind became too strong, we took some time and explored the two DNR cabins on Craig Lake. We headed back for lunch and afterword portaged to Crooked Lake for some fishing and exploring.

Crooked Lake, Sylvania Wilderness November 2-4 38° and 40°

62 degrees Tuesday afternoon forgot ketchup, missing silver flashlight, found prescription sunglasses fell off front deck of canoe and jammed wrist.
hot dog fork worked well in stove fishing closed Oct 31 Loon campsite on Loon Lake is nice, stayed on Crooked Lake, Fisher campsite. Pine campsite on Clark Lake is supposed to be nice registered at kiosk and free camping after Oct 1 Loons were in fall plumage. Quotes I found interesting from a calendar I had along:

If you're going to do something wrong, at least enjoy it. -Leo Rosten.

Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another -Madonna.

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there. -Yogi Berra.

Pretty Lake Quiet Area December 2-5 29° and 33°

This was to be a winter trip, but with the unusual weather this year I packed the canoe and went exploring at Pretty Lake Quiet Area north of Newberry Michigan. This was lucky because in a normal year I might not have been able to drive to the campground as access roads are not plowed and it would be too far to hike. I selected a campsite back from the lake to get out of the wind. The campground was empty and would be a nice place in the summer. The lake was clean and clear with a nice sandy bottom.

Friday I was able to hike to 4 or 5 lakes in the area. Trails are flat and wide. In the afternoon, I went canoeing just to enjoy the lovely weather. I trolled but didn't really expect to catch anything and I was right.

So I was able to camp in a tent in a different spot every month of the year 2015. I really enjoyed the challenge of finding twelve different spots to enjoy and being able to share a few of the trips with good friends.