Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

by Exspence

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/22/2017
Entry & Exit Point: John Lake (EP 69)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
This trip involves two brothers who enjoy a lotta adventure. The loop we took started on Little John Lake and ended on Little John Lake. The lakes we paddled include: Little John, John, East Pike, West Pike, Pine, and McFarland then Little John again (in that order). Throughout the trip we had encounters that helped shape our experience in this amazing part of the bush. Giddy up!!!
Day 1 of 4
Monday, May 22, 2017 We started our day at 6 a.m. with overcast skies in Duluth, MN. After a cup of coffee and some oatmeal we strapped the canoe on top of my car with ease and just like that we were headed up highway 61 with some Bob Dylan on the radio. We got to the Gunflint Ranger Station around 9:30 a.m.. We watched the video knowing there would be a quiz afterwards. This was not my brothers first time going to the boundary waters, but it was his first time watching the infamous video that the forest service put together. We shared laughs when the man shoos off the black bear that comes wandering into camp, and we wondered how exactly they shot that part of the video. Once we got the permit we went up the shore, and just past Hovland was the Arrowhead Trail. By around 11 a.m. we were on the water with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees with no wind and overcast skies. These were great conditions for paddling. Because of the amount of rain we had received in recent days the water level was high enough at our first portage for us to stay seated in the canoe and just barely coast over the rock bottom of the narrow channel between Little John Lake and John Lake. A short and smooth paddle across John Lake brought us to our first portage. This 210 rod walk through the woods seemed short and pleasant as we were both lively at this point of our trip. At the end of the portage we decided to rig up my brother’s fishing rod and try for some fish. I paddled, and he fished as we moved along the southern shore of East Pike Lake. He had no luck fishing, so after awhile we both paddled to the end of the lake where we were met with a short rain shower as we arrived at our second portage. Before making it to land we crossed paths with two canoeists making their way east across the lake, by the way giving us a heads up that the campsites on West Pike Lake were vacant. This next portage had its ups and down and was a little wetter than the last. Otherwise this 177 rod portage was uneventful. We arrived at the end of the portage where we were met with a great view of the eastern end of West Pike Lake. We enjoyed a nice break here. The mid-afternoon wind that had started up kept us off the lake for fifteen minutes until we decided to keep moving on towards campsite #727. The wind was against us as we slowly made our way along the shoreline then across the lake to our home for the night. We explored our site a bit finding animal droppings and a moose jaw. The tent pads were fairly small, but perfect for two single person tents. Once the tents were set up we warmed up with a fire and some hamburger helper stroganoff style. As the night approached the sun appeared to brighten the final parts of the day before it disappeared until the following morning.