Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Return to Iron Lake
by naturboy12

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/09/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
I last visited Iron Lake in 2012 and was waiting for the right time to get back to that lake. During our annual "planning" phases over the WI deer hunting season, one proposal by Curt (airmorse) was an EP 16 entry with Iron Lake as a likely destination as he missed the 2012 trip. We considered other trips, as at times during the winter months we had a complete newbie interested and an odd number of likely participants, both of which would not be ideal for this trip. Ultimately our normal group size was cut in half and the newbie dropped out, leaving just the two of us for the 2019 trip. This is our story, told in as much detail as needed, so that we can remember it years from now too.
Part 1 of 8
Saturday, June 08, 2019- Drive Day/Permit Day

Curt pulled into my driveway in Neenah, WI about 7:00 AM, as we had packed the vehicle and secured the canoe the night before. A few minutes later we were on the road headed towards Cook, MN to pick up our EP 16 permit. The 6 1/2 hour drive passed quickly and the increased gas mileage of Curt's Outback was a much welcome change from my Traverse which normally made this trip.

Saturday was a hot day, the warmest of the year so far, and we watched as temperatures climbed into the mid to upper 80's across northern WI. As we hit the hill headed down towards Superior, the temps started to drop, a quick reminder that the cold and wet spring had yet to warm up the big lake. Temps bottomed out at 58 degrees as we crossed the bridge into Duluth, a 30 degree temperature drop in about 15 miles of travel. They of course climbed just as quickly as we got away from the lake, and were back in the upper 80's by the time we reached Cook.

We picked up our permit at the La Croix Ranger District office in Cook, both noting how much more relaxed the staff were there than in either Ely or Tofte. We told them that, and they knowingly smiled, admitting they just don't get the traffic that those other stations get, and "enjoyed" dealing with people and their permits. Kudos to them for all of the info and their awesome conversations. After the permit was secured, we drove around, eventually having dinner at T. Pattens Cafe in Orr, then grabbed a couple of drinks at a very busy Sportsman's Last Chance outside of Buyck before heading down the Echo Trail to Lake Jeanette.

Once at Lake Jeanette, we set up camp, swatted at swarms of gnats and waited for the mosquitoes to show up (they never really did) so we could get to bed at dark. I forgot how long the days were up there in June, and was glad the mosquitoes stayed away as we spent a couple hours lounging around the big rock overlook at Lake Jeanette campground, listening to frogs and checking out the sights of the lake and night sky and watching the squirrels chase each other around the campsite. The next day rain was forecast for the morning, so we wanted to get an early start and be on the water before that happened. Sleep came only in bits and pieces as it always does for me the first night of the trip, but it had been a good travel day with no issues or rushing around, and truly set the tone for our entire trip.