Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Turtle Tales
by straighthairedcurly

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/15/2021
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)
Exit Point: Sawbill Lake (EP 38)  
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Day 2 of 4
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Last night we discussed whether we wanted to continue our planned loop or whether the group wanted to basecamp and do day trips. Everyone agreed that the loop was their choice. However, it was hard to get everyone moving in the morning. Stew and Joey were very sore and I had a tight left thigh muscle that needed some serious warming up and stretching.

I made blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast and we slid the boats into the water at 10:45 am. As you may remember from previous trip reports, getting teenagers moving in the morning is typically a huge challenge. The first portage was 140 rods to Sitka and was rated L10 on the Voyager map. It was a bit of a mountain goat portage, but the footing on the flat sections was good. There were numerous steep climbs and one rock face I had to clamber up on my hands and knees. Stew found a few places with narrow trees to bridge the canoe and take a breather. Joey admitted he was considering setting down the canoe at one point, but decided not to "out of spite" for the portage. That's my boy! I trained him well. Congratulations to Morgan for successfully completing her first L10 portage!

The 2nd portage was much easier and we didn't feel it lived up to its L8 rating. There was good footing, some rocky sections, but no rock hopping required, and there was not much elevation change. Some mud, but nothing deep. Of course, it has been dry, so it might be worse in wetter times. All the North Temperance sites were taken so we continued to South Temperance with our fingers crossed. That portage was very quick. At the landing on S. Temperance, Joey had warned a party of travelers that N. Temperance was full. They immediately turned around and went to grab an open site they had passed earlier. We were worried there wouldn't be any sites left now, but Joey said he couldn't in good conscience have let them think there were open sites to the north. Fortunately, we arrived in time to grab the last open site (#909 right around the corner to the west of the portage) at 1:00pm.

It is a nice site with a long rocky slope, good swimming, lots of June wild flowers, and some resident frogs in a little wetland area. It was another hot, sunny day so we all swam and rested away the afternoon. As I started cooking dinner, we saw a canoe round the corner from the portage paddling hard at 6:30pm. They paused as they saw us, and Stew mentioned it looked like they were trying to find a site. When they paddled by, we mentioned if the next site was full they were welcome to stay with us (we knew the other 2 sites were full). They returned pretty quickly and took us up on our offer. Nice young women, college friends, who also live in Roseville like us.

Wood Nymph flowers (One-flowered pyrola)

Since this site had abundant dry wood, we made pizza for dinner and fruit cobbler for dessert. Yummy! But a long night of cooking. We exchanged lots of stories with our site guests. Suddenly we noticed a HUGE painted turtle crawling on the shore near dusk, but it didn't stick around and quickly swam off. Two days in a row with turtle action.

Birch Conks

Travel time: 2.25 hours, Distance: 4.8 miles, Portages: 304 rods,

~Cherokee Lake, Sitka Lake, North Temperance Lake, South Temperance Lake