Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First Solo - Baker Lake Entry
by Blugold82

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/22/2019
Entry Point: Baker Lake (EP 39)
Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)  
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
This would be my first solo trip after about 10 previous small group or tandem trips into the BWCA. I was putting in at Baker Lake – Entry Point 39, base camping on Burnt Lake, and leaving via Sawbill Lake. I had been excitedly planning for this trip since the middle of July. Besides Sawbill, I had never been on any of the other lakes I would be passing through.
Day 1 of 4
Sunday, September 22, 2019 I headed out from home at 6:30am to pick up my solo canoe and catch a ride to the entry point from Sawbill Outfitters. I was well ahead of schedule, so I stopped for a quick bite at the Coho Café at 10:30 before continuing on to Sawbill. I was finally on Baker Lake by 12:45. It was warm for the middle of September, in the low 70’s, but there was an off-and-on drizzle, which I didn’t mind. The portage from Kelly to Burnt is one of the toughest that I have experienced. Just like I had read in previous posts, it was very rocky and wet. I met two hunters on the portage who were looking for grouse. Since I was double portaging, it took me 45 minutes to complete. I had worked up a good sweat, but I was paddling on Burnt before 3:00. I checked three sites that I had considered, and only the south-facing peninsula site (site 925) was available.

The drizzle had stopped for the time being, so I took advantage by putting up the tent and getting the rain fly on. Always a bonus to have a dry tent. I finished setting up camp (tarp, collecting water, and rigging the food pack system). I tried the lacrosse ball on the end of the thinner rope technique that I had read about in a previous post for getting the ropes over the branches, but it was not the magic fix that I was hoping for. Every year I consider a bear barrel. There were two huge trees that had blown over, roots and all, near where I hung my pack. The roots were still holding soil and rocks, and they created a large wall. Glad I wasn’t here for that. 

I was sipping coffee by a fire by 5:15 (thanks to the previous tenants who left some collected wood in camp), and ate a dinner of parmesan noodles and chicken at 7:30. To my delight, the clouds had started breaking and it was clear by 8:00. I am always amazed at the night sky in the BWCA, and it is one of the things that draws me back. I crawled into my tent at 9:30. I had purchased a new 20 degree bag and 2 ½ inch sleeping pad for this trip. I quickly fell asleep with my hatchet by my side for insurance. That red squirrel had been giving me the stink eye! It rained off-and-on through the night.