Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

6 Days Solo out of Kawishiwi Lake - EP37
by danbogey

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/06/2020
Entry & Exit Point: Kawishiwi Lake (EP 37)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
Wanted to do a solo canoe trip to the BWCA. I've never been to this area before.
COVID really put a dent into my canoe tripping plans this year. My son and I had a trip to Wabakimi all planned. We were to paddle in for 9 days and fly back out. Those plans went down the drain when the borders closed. I started digging around and put together a route with the help of BWCA members.

Youtube video


All my gear

D-Day -1 was a long one. I had decided that if I wanted to get in the number of days planned that I'd have to drive nonstop from Pittsburgh to the BWCA. I left at 3:30 am and arrived at EP37 at 1030 pm. Slept in the truck, but was right at the put in. Was on the water at 6:30 am on Sunday.

My route planned for the day was to get to Malberg as fast as I could. My destination was site 1051. From all the chatter the week prior about all the permits being taken and other horror stories I anticipated people all over the place. It was just the opposite. I played leapfrog with one other group who went in with me on Kawishiwi. Other than that I saw very few people all the way to Malberg.

I made it to Malberg around 1 pm. Setup the hammock and prepped camp. Unknowing to me that it was going to be a pretty stormy night.

Site 1051 is pretty interesting, it sits back in the cove and is off the main route so your chances of seeing anyone is rare unless they are looking for a site. Fortunately, I didn't see anyone for almost two days. Only when I was packing up to leave did I see another group on the way in.

Here was sunset on Malberg

Shelter on Malberg

Sunday night the storms rolled through and although I was warm and comfy in my hammock I thought for sure I'd see uprooted trees the next morning. Winds were fierce at times and I talked to Sawbill outfitters at the end of my trip. They told me winds were gusting up to 60mph and whitecaps all over Sawbill Lake on Sunday night.

My food for the week consisted of Packit Gourmet and some homemade dehydrated meals. You cannot go wrong with Packit Gourmet. Small batch and very tasty. I've been using them for a few years now on my backpacking trips.

Deli Smoked Roast Beef topped with Cheddar Cheese all wrapped in Tortilla

Homemade Spaghetti - Dehydrated. Matthew Posa (youtube) got me started on this one.

I spent the next two days lounging around Malberg collecting firewood, fishing, cleaning up the existing firepit, and just exploring the surroundings.

Lunch spot

Morning on Malberg

Tuesday Morning was pack up and find a new site day. Fortunately, my next site was only about 2 hours away on the Kawishiwi River. The portage over was a pain in the arse. I'd rather have long portages than the multiple short ones.

My next site was on the island site on the Kawishiwi River. I went on the wrong side of the Island but was glad I did. There were a few eagles hanging out. This side of the island was very shallow.

I spend the next two days on the Kawishiwi River pretty much doing the same thing as before. I really enjoyed this site and again saw very few people. There were some kayakers on the river and I have no clue how they go that thing in but it looked hefty.

Looking north east on the Kawishiwi River

Heading into Malberg site

One of my main goals of this trip was to photograph the pictographs on Fishdance Lake

I did some fishing and hooked into a substantial sized pike that towed me around for 20 minutes. I was eventually able to get him to the boat but didn't bring a net and I was so excited I actually forgot to take a picture. I'd guess in the 30" range (my fish story and I'm sticking to it)

Camp site

Thursday was pack up again and start heading out. Polly was my destination and I had a my site set on camp 1078. Again, no problems getting a 4 star site.

Site 1078 is a gem with an outstanding sunset and lots of tent pads. There's one on the lake itself but I couldn't get the hammock in there.

Ursak for all my food.

Friday I was out on the water early. I remember on the way in the winds were with me and i did not want to face headwinds. I got lucky and had calm water all the way back.

Packed and ready to go.

The end is in site. Kawishiwi landing area. Sad but will be back.

Landing - What a trip and I actually don't smell that bad

Met some awesome people especially the 70 year old grandmother who was doing a 14 day solo trip. Jeff and Deb - Great company on the way in and ran into them on the way out.

I'll be back again. You really need 10 days in the BWCA. I'm a fast ultralight backpacker and this was the first time I slowed down and enjoyed my surroundings and I'm glad I did.

Brought way to much fishing gear and could of shaved at least 8lbs if not more off my pack. My Swift Keewaydin was awesome for the trip and do not regret buying it. I wouldn't change my food either. It was perfect for the trip. My footwear worked like a champ - Keen Sandels and if i was worried about cold feet I used my rockey goretex booties. Don't know why people wear boots when they will stay wet all the time. Never once did I feel like the Keens were insufficient for portaging. camp shoes where my running shoes.

It did get cold at night and I used a 20degree bag from Zpacks. My underquilt was a 20 degree 3/4 length quilt.

Thanks to Dan Cooke from Cooke Custom Sewing. He made me some awesome bags that i was supposed to use in Wabakimi but they came in handy in the BWCA. Very durable!