A canoe country meditation...four solo trips
1. Hunting Shack River canoe route. I stayed at the Jeannette Lake campground nearby (where my family camped in my youth in the 1960’s). This is between two sections of the BWCA, but outside the wilderness. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5356692.pd
2. Slim Lake to Hook Lake. This short route is a few miles north of Ely, off of Burntside Lake. A great route for beginners or for short trips. I rented a Wenonah Encounter solo canoe to try it out. This is the largest the Wenonah solo canoes…it was OK, but I liked canoeing my Bell Northwind 17 better for the added stability. I took out the back thwart and used a drop in seat--worked OK. (Next solo, I'll rent or buy a Souris Quetico 16)
3. Kawishiwi Triangle. This is a classic BWCA route SE of Ely. I entered at Farm Lake, which means canoeing past a lot of cabins and boats initially. The Triangle is beautiful route with only two longish portages (that aren’t too bad). The Kawishiwi River splits on the east end and rejoins later outside the BWCA, with portages in and out of Clear Lake providing the western edge of the Triangle. There’s good fishing, especially below the rapids. I took my time and explored Conchu Lake as well. There were interesting log pilings on the North Kawishiwi on both sides of the river near my campsite (adjacent to the Conchu portage); which I think may have been used for log storage back in the logging era (1899 to 1920 or so). I'm reading Miron Heinselman's book (Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem) which has wealth of information about the early logging practices with specific references to the logging between Lake One and Farm Lake.
4. East Bearskin Lake to Alder Lake. Just off the Gunflint Trail, north of Grand Marais. These are longish East West lakes. I camped on a really nice site on Alder Lake, just past the little island, where I was entertained by a family of otters.
This was my first solo canoe outing; I had wanted to find a partner to go into Wabakimi...maybe next year. Next year tentative canoe plans include doing Woodland Caribou with my wife--Leano Lake entry; two weeks with the Wabakimi Project; a possible BWCA (or Missouri Breaks) trip with my brother's family; and another solo outing. I'd love to do interior Wabakimi trip if I find a willing partner.
Lastly, I addressed the threats to the BWCA in my video report. I encourage all those who love this wilderness to support the fight against sulfide ore mining. There’s groups, like Save The Boundary Waters https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/
And Friends of the Boundary Waters, http://friends-bwca.org