Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Smoke's Sawbill Solo
by 30Smoke

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/11/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
After attempting a week long solo in 2017, I thought I would try something a little shorter. I was in Duluth for a professional conference that ended at noon on Friday!
May 11 day one: Finished MASBO conference at noon and hit the road north along the shore of Lake Superior to Tofte, MN. Turned inland at this point heading north to Sawbill Outfitters on Sawbill Lake. It is always exciting to pull up there and see the Island in front of the dock. After checking everything out, I headed up to the outfitter and Luke helped get my Wenonah Adirondack checked out. After getting all my gear (too much stuff) ready for the trip, I grabbed the canoe and hit the water. I had contemplated going up to the North end of the lake and checking that out, but as I paddled, I thought it might be a better idea to just camp in the bay by the Kelso river, so I scooped up the first campsite I got to. This is a very nice campsite, getting 4 stars rating. There was some downed tree’s and other stuff to clean up, as I was the first camper on this site for the year, but I was excited to get this location.  Once I got to camp and set things up, I was tired and not hungry. Ended up hitting the tent early and sleeping until morning. Upon reflection, I did not get enough sleep the two nights before the trip and my nutritional intake was barely able to be called nutritional. Additionally, I did not stay hydrated this first day, and not eating was a mistake. This would lead to leaving early. May 12 day two: I woke up on day two and thought things had leveled out, but I still did not want to eat. I ended up making Mac & Cheese, but it was a struggle to eat it. After I finished the food, I did the dishes and took a three hour nap. Once I woke up, it was time to do something, and I was going to see the Kelso Dolman. I made it to Kelso Lake and decided to check out the campsite along the south end and the portage into Adler. The campsite before Adler was very nice, with an elevated kitchen, but I never did find the Thunderbox. I walked the portage and saw a long iron rail, which seemed out of place in the BWCA, but it wasn’t always a wilderness area. I paddled back to camp, had a nice fire and thought things were really going well. After dousing the fire, I found my way to the tent. Then I started waking up every hour all night long with cold feet. May 13 day three: When I finally got up in the morning, I quickly decided I was not going to spend another night in the wilderness. I packed up and paddled out (short paddle as I didn’t go too far in). Fortunately, I did stop at Gooseberry falls and walked out to the beach and then followed the river up to the bridge over the Gooseberry river and then took the Gitchi-Gami trail all the way around. I went from a really high blood sugar that morning to really good by the end of my hike. The view over lake Superior was fantastic. I did visit with a seagull for several minutes, as he would not leave me alone – just kept staring. It turned out to be a very nice trip, I really enjoyed the paddle on the Kelso River & Lake. Night two fire was fantastic & Gooseberry Falls State Park is worth exploring for a weekend, but after my hike I drove home. I did make a video (just talking to myself). It’s not very good, but after watching it, I realized that attitude is big in enjoying the trip. I found it interesting how my feelings/emotions changed from the beginning until the end, ups and downs. This report was tough to finish, because I still do not really understand why I had so many changes, but I think this experience really helped me last October on the Stuart River, where I can now listen to what my body is telling me and embrace the solo. So I have to warn that watching the video may not be worth your time, but I decided to link to it in case it can help someone else. I have appreciated all the help and information I have gotten from, especially Boonie. One more trip report for last year – my most enjoyable trip with my Cousin. We are heading out again on June 15th – looking forward to another great adventure with the one who introduced me to this passion. Then to Yellowstone for two weeks; two baseball teams to play on; and also find some time for the horses and chores. Busy year – hope everyone has great trips! Few pictures from this trip follow.