Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Bower Trout - in and out
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/20/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Bower Trout Lake (EP 43)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 7
Trip Introduction:
This was a short family trip. Besides myself and Aurora, her cousins Megan, Logan, Carson and Uncles (my brothers) Clay and Ross came along.
Day 1 of 4
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

After stops in Tofte at Sawtooth Outfitters (to rent a canoe) and Grand Marais (to pick up our permit) we motor up the Gunflint Trail and turn off at the South Brule Road and then down the Bower Trout road past the sand pit to the entry point parking lot. There's only a couple of other cars parked here so we don't expect to run across too many people today. It's partly cloudy but, otherwise a really nice day and we're all anxious to get started.

Our first portage is across a level trail that sports a few boardwalks where the tall weeds of summer are leaning over the trail. This landing is surprisingly solid on this low lying lake and we quickly load up and push off. The high rising Misquah Hills beautifully accentuate the backdrop as we paddle across this scenic entry point lake. There is a boardwalk protruding slightly out into the lake at the other end of the lake signaling the location of our next portage. The footing here is extremely precarious as Uncle Clay instantaneously sinks waist deep in muck and Aurora nearly follows suit as only one leg also disappears below the knee. After the scare, extreme caution is used as we gingerly move our packs a short ways up the trail before committing to the portage proper.

There are 5 portages between Bower Trout and Swan Lake (our destination). None of them are long or gain/lose much in elevation along the way. And, they are all about the same distance (30-40 rods) in length. With the exception of the trail out of Marshall Lake they all sport muddy sections along the trail and or landings. The mud is fairly extreme in a few spots but, I find the frequency (short paddles in between the last few) to be more of an annoyance. There is also a shallow section at the narrows of Dugout lake that necessitates us to get out and walk our canoes through and around this boulder strewn stretch of water.

The middle site on Swan is occupied so we paddle past to the last site on the lake. There appears to be a good sized landing and, more importantly, it is vacant. We are all in agreement that it will suffice as our home for the next few days. As we scout out the best tent pads we immediately run across a bunch of old artifacts. This camp was once the home of an old Alger Smith logging camp and, this site still sports several indicators of that history. Besides the artifacts, there is a nice opening just behind camp which the forest is slow to reclaim. Also, there is a small creek gurgling just outside of camp that provides some easy and interesting exploration. It reminds me of the site on Moosecamp Lake. Although, I do prefer the Moosecamp site to this one.

Many hands make light (and quick) work. Camp goes up quickly and it's layout is to the kids liking as they busy themselves catching frogs and playing hide and seek. Meanwhile, Megan nestles into the hammock. While there is certainly room for us here, the main camping area near the fire grate is fairly constricted (especially with a large group like ours) so I decide to forego setting up the CCS tarp. This affords us more room and accessibility around the fire grate. And, besides being a little on the cool side, the forecast doesn't sound too disagreeable for the length of our stay. The cooler temps also aid our enjoyment of evening camp fire time as the bugs are mostly a non issue.

~Bower Trout Lake, Dugout Lake, Skidway Lake, Swan Lake