Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Temperance River Loop
by Bannock

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/25/2006
Entry & Exit Point: Baker Lake (EP 39)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2
Part 2 of 9
Saturday June 24, 2006

High Temperature: 80

Low Temperature: 50

Barometric Pressure: 30.22

Relative Humidity 7AM: 82%

9 AM Temperature: 55

Moisture: 0"

Route: La Crosse, WI to Baker Lake in the SNF

Jim and I hooked up in La Crosse and started about 8:15 a.m. on our trip. We headed up the Wisconsin side on HWY 53 and caught HWY 61 in Duluth. The drive was very pleasant. We stopped for lunch at Subway in Rice Lake and reached Tofte at 2:45. Jim was impressed that we got there in 6.5 hours (including a lunch break, and potty and gas stops!). It is definitely the closest BWCA jumping off spot to our home.

We headed up the graveled Sawbill Trail 24 miles and 40 minutes to Sawbill Outfitters. On the way we saw 2 deer, a grouse and its brood, a chipmunk, a red squirrel and a couple of turtles. I pointed out a good moose-viewing spot, but none were there at the time.

Jim was interested to see Sawbill Outfiters. He felt as though he knew them through their online newsletter. I was interested too. I hadn’t been there in 13 years and there were a lot of changes in that time!! New buildings. Nice store. I was most impressed with the attitude of the people working there! What a happy bunch of people that truly seemed to love their work.

Sawbill Outfitters

Jim spotted Bill Hansen and started chatting with him. After a bit Jim says, “Oh! That’s right, you don’t know me.”  Bill said, “No.” with a look on his face that said, “this is kinda creepy in a stalking kind of way”. J

We watched the video, picked up our permit, and bought a few supper items from the store (including a 6 pack of beer). We then drove through the Sawbill Campgrounds to check out the sites. 

It was 11 miles to the Baker Lake Campground. On the way we spotted a cow moose and her calf crossing the road. We were fortunate to get the last site at the free campground -- site #3. I thought from being there previously (more than 13 years ago) that there were 5 campsites but we only found 4.

Baker Lake Campsite

Jim and I explored the grounds to get a lay of the land – Outhouse; Water pump; Canoe launch; Trails, and then ate our supper of tortillas, cold cuts, chips, and a beer. Mosquitoes were bad. 

After supper we decide to expand our exploration and take a ride to Crescent Lake to check out that campground. Then we continued down The Grade past Lichen Lake (Lichen? I’m lovin’ it!) to the turn off to Clara Lake where we turned around and went back to Baker.

Once back, another walk around Baker revealed the 5th site. It is down a completely different road and so is completely isolated from the other 4 sites. It is nice, though a much farther walk to the outhouse and water pump. I wish we had had that site.

Site #2, the one right next to us, was loaded with tents. There were 5 or 6 crammed into the site. There were also 5 trucks parked in front of it, but we saw no one there all day. If they were on a canoe trip, why didn’t they have their camping gear? If they went to town or were saving the site, why were their trucks there? It was already dark and still no sign of them. Oh, well.

Then at 10:30 p.m., when we were getting ready to turn in, the “Guys” show up - twelve of them. Brains replaced with testosterone. They must have been on a day trip. They weren’t on Baker so they must have been in the BW – 12 of them in 6 canoes.

They fired up their 4000-watt lantern, used a pint of gasoline to start the fire, and tapped the keg. They partied until 4:30 a.m. Such are the dangers of free campgrounds.