Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Brule with the kids (ages 1 and 4)
by x2jmorris

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/22/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Brule Lake (EP 41)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 6
Trip Introduction:
Growing up I loved how my dad brought me on yearly sometimes twice a year trips to the BWCA. I have some of my favorite memories up there. I always knew I wanted to replicate this for my kids. So this is my 4 year olds 5th trip and my 1 year olds 2nd trip and I am fortunate that my father continues to join on these trips.
Buying the permit:

I always procrastinate before this trip. Buy my permit in the last week for the end of August pending what days off I have. Never any issue but this year all my top picks were gone so I was stuck with Brule which was more than I wanted to take on but the trip must go on so I grabbed the last permit.

Before departure:

So my trip was to be drive up Thursday after work and camp near Brule. I knew going Friday morning I might struggle to find some sites so I wanted to get as close as possible to get a head start on the other 9 groups entering. The plan is leave after work on Thursday, meet in Two Harbors, and aim for Baker Lake campground and hopefully find a spot. Then depart early for Brule and hope to find a site fast.


So I wake up at 4:30 am and head for work. Do my shift and get home at 3 pm. I now have 1.5 hours before my wife arrives with the kids. So this is when I decide to start packing as I procrastinate for whatever reason. Anyways I get it all together she shows up and we load the truck and are on the road by 5 pm. On the way to Two Harbors she keeps asking if I packed this or that and a few of them I did not. She was not pleased by those answers.

We get to Baker Lake campground at roughly 8pm and there is only one group there so perfect. We set up camp, drink some beer/buttershots and make it an early night. We probably crashed around 10pm.


Alarm goes off at 5:30am and I struggle to push snooze. It goes off a couple more times and I finally am up at 5:50. I get out and take my rain fly off and transition my wife and kids to the truck so they can continue sleeping. After I am all packed up I check on my father and sister and they are near packed up too. We are on the road at 6:45am and to Brule around 7:20am.

We load the canoes and are on the lake at quarter to 8 and I decide to aim north and check all the campsites along the way to North Bay. Lake was glass and perfect for paddling. All the campsites were taken. So as we sit in North Bay we try to decide should we head west or east to check. My sister just wants to be done paddling by this time as we now have a slight breeze and neither canoe wants to be in big winds on Brule. I had spoken to a guy who recently came out and he said the east was full constantly so... I decide to go west to Cone Bay and if that should fail to head south to Jack Mock Bay and if worse came then we portage to Juno.

We arrive to the edge of Cone Bay and I have the choice of checking the little bay east of it or to check the 5 sites that are actually in it. I decide on the one closest and it was open...however it was small, rocky, and overall not great. My father and I decided to drop off the girls and check those remaining 5 sites out in hopes that one is open. Plan being to drop him off and get the rest of the group. As we get out there we start seeing another group heading the same direction so we check the two we can first and of course were taken and it appeared the other group came up empty handed in the ones they checked. So we are stuck with what we have. Before heading back to camp I intercept the other group and advised them where not to go and what I would do if I were them which was stated above.

Back at camp we get everything set up. Sit and relax for a bit and then my father, oldest daughter, and I went fishing. I set my daughter up with a twister tail on a jig and just let her go to town. I go jig and worm and right away I see tiny perch and hook one. I then hand her the pole so she can catch it which she does.

Then a little while later she has her lure in the water and all of sudden the pole almost flies out of her hand. She has the "what is this" look and I tell her to just reel. She gets it next to the boat and its a pike of course and I just reach down and grab it. In hindsight I don't know why we didn't have a net but oh well.

Anyways I snag one more little perch and then we head in for a little bit of fish and hobo dinners. During dinner we find a tiny snake and I walk around trying to scare people. I succeed in scaring my wife quite well.

After dinner we have some hot cocoa and Rumplemintz and then head for bed.


We wake up and I have to get to cooking our breakfast which is sausage, toast, and eggs.

Also had to boil water for our coffee. My sister starts looking at the coffee and starts freaking out. Turns out I got decaf....oops. So now we are drinking grape drink mix that happens to have caffeine so we don't get headaches. Coffee still tasted good though!

My father likes to explore and so he took my oldest daughter to trek through the woods. Turns out they found an old building of some sorts. 40 foot ceder timbers with huge nails in them. Still laid perfectly in a square and still on the rocks they used to level it. Notches were still there where the cross beams went across. Also found lots of old wire that was probably used for fencing something in.... we figured horses to tow logs across in the winter...or maybe moonshining? Who knows I guess. Also found some old old glass bottles and tin containers. We also came across 3-4 root cellars....according to my dad but he grew up around this stuff and making similar stuff so I take his word. Pictures were tough to take but in the cellar you can kind of see the tree roots going flat and then a log laid lengthwise underneath that and that was ontop of a bed of rocks. It was clearly a dug out area if only the pictures were better. He figured it was probably pre 1920 stuff with the condition it was in.

We laid around quite a bit just hanging out. Snacking and drinking and taking turns taking naps. Eventually my father, daughter, and I went out fishing again. This time it was a lot slower. I eventually got sick of not catching anything and said I wanted to try one last spot out that looked like a good area for pike. It was about 7 feet deep and I could clearly see the bottom. My daughter was bouncing her twister tail off the bottom as I was moving near the area I wanted when all of a sudden her pole just bent over. Since I knew she was bouncing bottom I figured instantly a snag and looked down into the water to see if I could see where it was at and to my surprise it was a huge pike. I was instantly surprised and looked back at her to try to coach her on what to do but at that very moment the pike decided to roll and take off which snapped her line. I saw it up close and I would say it was probably in the 35 inch range. Almost like he grabbed it next to the boat just to give her the experience. As I was telling her what happened and my dad was turned around talking he pole bent over and he just pulled it up and the pole snapped in half. The fish never got hooked and he was stuck with a broken pole. We tried a few more times for it but it never bit again. My daughter felt let down like she messed up and wanted to go back to camp. It was about dinner time so we did.

When we got back we sent my wife and sister out to try but they also had no luck. We made dinner and then proceeded to the alcohol again. It was a late night for the kids too. We knew we were leaving in the morning and kind of went over how early we should leave. We still wanted to avoid the wind so we settled on skipping making breakfast and just eat snacks instead. Off to sleep next to our little creek that ran right by our tent pad.



We left a little later than anticipated but the wind was only starting to pick up. We made it back with zero issues. Three other groups were coming out at the same time and one group was putting in. So it was a little cramped at the launch but its a good size area. We always stop somewhere for lunch on the way out and we decided on Schroeders sub shop this time. Couldn't have asked for a better trip. Nice weather, hardly any bugs, and secluded on a big lake.

Here are some random pictures from the trip