Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Sawbill Loop to Cherokee
by altaylor4

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/01/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
Real quick notes on our trip. I jot little notes about the day each night before bed. First trip into the BWCA for 3/4 of the group. My dad has been to BWCA/Quetico when much younger. Nice start to a hopefully long lasting tradition.
Real quick notes on our trip. I jot little notes about the day each night before bed.

Sat Sept 1 2018 Met Dad, Chris, and Mike in Duluth. Lunch at Grandma's bar. Traveled to Tofte to pick up BWCA entry permit. Continued on to Crescent Lake campground to consolidate and organize equipment. Ate brats for dinner. Weather was warm but comfortable. Campsite 12 with lake access was nice. Calm lake early AM for sunrise.

Sun Sept 2 2018 Woke up early with plans to get to Sawbill Lake and in the water by 8 am. Got in the water close to on time, however, discovered a leak in Mike/Andy aluminum canoe and had to paddle back to outfitter to rent canoe. Headed in to BWCA with overcast skies. First portage into Alda Creek 80 rods was challenging and a good intro into what was to come. Short paddle thru Alda Creek to a very mucky portage 80 rods. Had mud up to knees at the landing. Rain came after this portage but was short lived. Another short paddle to a longer Rocky and muddy portage. Finally finished our portage with a 180 rod portage to Cherokee Creek. This was long but mostly dry and maintained. Cherokee Creek had small Beaver dam to traverse. Got to destination lake by 3ish PM. Checked a few sites but opted for one near our future portage. Steaks and mashed potatoes for dinner. Andy sprained ankle after anchor for hammock failed. Quite sore and difficult to put weight on it. Hanging out bear bag was an adventure but we were able to get it up to a mildly acceptable height.

Mon Sept 3 2018 Sleeping in felt great. Mike woke up early and had already caught the biggest fish of the day. Got breakfast of eggs, ham, and coffee together while we gathered wood and cleaned up. Went fishing for several hours around lunch time. Mike 1 northern early Am. Chris 1 northern and one that got away. Craig two northern (one kept, one released) plus a possible bass that got away. Andy one northern. Had summer sausage and soup for lunch. Fish and Rice for dinner. Filleted fish on island near our site. Left the fish remains for the bald eagles stalking nearby. Plan to head to new site tomorrow with potential for a longer day of paddle/portage.

Tues Sept 4 2018 Woke up around 630 to get packed and ready for the day. Breakfast of oatmeal and coffee (bwca pourover). Got to the portage by 9am. Challenging portage with a fair amount of up and down. Ended in Sitka lake for short paddle and 80 rod portage to N. Temperance then to S. Temperance. At S. Temperance rain started falling in steady sheets. Longest portage of the day from S. Temperance to Weird Lake (240 rods) was flat but long and complicated by the stream that was forming due to rain. Arrived at Kelly Lake for camp at around 4 via Jack Lake. Mist was strong with a steady wind into our faces. Picked camp that would shield from wind. Beef stroganoff for dinner. Struggle remains with bear bagging and these pines. Too wet for fire. Hoping for a clear day tomorrow for more fishing. 1 more night at Kelly camp.

Wed Sept 5 2018 Wind picked up over the evening. Clothes were blown off the line but no additional rain. Chilly and windy in AM. North facing camp did not allow for much sun. Put up wind block with tarp which helped some. Overcast skies eventually cleared to blue skies. Fishing outing was unsuccessful but a very beautiful paddle. Bear bagging was more successful today by throwing to higher branch. Meals today were eggs/ham, chili, and taco chicken burritos. Move out if camp to last site tomorrow likely at Smoke Lake.

Thur Sept 6 2018 Chilly AM. Kelly lake was not visible early morning due to mist from lake. Light breakfast and coffee before heading out for light travel day. Hiked 230 rod portage which was challenging but fairly routine now. Short paddle across Burnt lake and 90 rod portage into Smoke. Camp set up before noon. Some fishing done today with minimal luck. Summer sausage for lunch and buffalo chicken Mac and cheese for dinner. Perfect bear bag tree today.

Fri Sept 7 2018 Lazy day today at Smoke Lake. Breakfast of coffee and egg burritos. Dad and Chris went and did some fishing. Caught small walleye. Andy fished from shore caught bass, walleye, and Pike. Fire in evening with dinner of pork rice and beans. Return to Sawbill outfitter tomorrow as early as possible in order to get back on the road home.

Sat Sept 8 2018 Up early before sunrise to pack up camp. Departed camp at around sunrise. Portage between Smoke and Sawbill was mucky initially but cleared up after the swampy landing. Peaceful paddle on the way home. Made it to Sawbill before outfitter opened. Wifi was a nice luxury. Checked in with everyone back home who were all safe and sound. ~Sawbill Lake, Cherokee Lake, Kelly Lake, Burnt Lake, Smoke Lake


Lakes Traveled:   Sawbill Lake, Cherokee Lake, Kelly Lake, Burnt Lake, Smoke Lake,