Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Fur Trades and Waterfalls
by CosmicCharlie

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/24/2020
Entry Point: Clearwater Lake (EP 62)
Exit Point: South Lake (EP 58)  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
After many extended BWCA trips in my teens and twenties, followed by much smaller base camping & fishing trips with my wife and son while he was young and we lived in Ely, it was great to get out again on an extended paddle/portage type of trip. My son will be a senior in high school this fall and my wife and I just hit our forties recently, and we are ready for more trips like this in the future. It was just what we needed! Joining us for the trip was my wife's brother from Florida, who has never done a BWCA trip before, but put in the work and had a great time.
Day 1 of 7
Monday, August 24, 2020

On the way up the Shore on August 23rd we drove the 7 Bridges route in Duluth and ate smoked fish at Lou's. We then buckled down all the way to CR Magney State Park to enjoy Devil's Kettle lower falls in the heat of the day. Our final destination for the night was Gunflint Lodge's bunkhouse, where we arrived in time for our evening dinner reservation. Consciously noting that the Hazy IPA I was sipping on would be my last one for a week made it taste even that much better. It was the perfect compliment to my walleye cakes from the menu. Even if a group has all of their own gear, I recommend staying at Gunflint before a trip. The inexpensive bunkhouse lodging is adequate, the food before the trip is great and the shuttle price for a drop is more than reasonable.

The next morning we took said shuttle to Clearwater Lake, getting on the water by about 10AM. For the next 7 days there would be no clocks or electronics in my life, besides my handheld GPS, and that's just the way I like it.

Knowing that Clearwater is an easier lake to access we wasted little time choosing one of the first 4 campsites instead of gambling with the 3 on the eastern end of the lake which would have been more convenient for the next day of our trip. The site we choose was the second site from the west, and had a great rock landing and views of the palisades. Unfortunately, we also had a view of existing homes and traffic, which I was eager to put behind me soon.

We set up camp, ate lunch and took off on an ambitious day trip from our site to Pine Lake and Johnson Falls. From the campsite we chose, we had a few miles of paddling just to get to the first portage into Caribou. We had a great time hanging out at the falls, but watched the sunset on the paddle back on Clearwater. While eating and doing dishes in the dark on the first night, I had no idea that would be a theme for the rest of our trip.

~Clearwater Lake, Caribou Lake, Little Caribou Lake, Pine Lake, Little Caribou Lake, Caribou Lake, Clearwater Lake