Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Paddleboard- Round Lake to Mueller Falls
by KyleInSwamps

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/14/2022
Entry & Exit Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I scheduled a mid-August trip to coincide with peak blueberry season, and there were certainly no disappointments there. Since it ended up being a solo trip, I decided to opt for "fast and light" and travel via paddleboard. As the trip approached, the forecast shifted from sunny every day to chance of thunderstorms every day.
Day 1 of 4
Sunday, August 14, 2022: 6.34mi, 383 rods of portaging

I set out from the Round Lake parking lot around 6:30 am, hoping to make it to Gillis before the threat of afternoon storms. Moist, still air set the stage for extreme mosquito activity. The first portage (Round-West Round) was 90 marshy rods, thick with mosquitoes. Since this was my first portage on my first paddleboard trip, it was a bit clumsy, and I got eaten alive. This experience was repeated on a smaller scale crossing into Edith and Brant lakes, but afterwards the sun became stronger, the portages became drier, and my technique improved, all of which reduced the bug pressure. While the portages west of Brant were often steep and rocky, they were also quite scenic. Moving west, I was also under the impression that the water clarity gradually increased from lake to lake. This really struck me in Green Lake which (despite its name) had exceptionally clear water. From Bat to Gillis was a quick downhill scramble, then I started my first big open water crossing, aiming for some large cliffs at the SW corner of Gillis. Once there, I crossed over to the island housing my first campsite, situated at the SW corner of Gillis, landing at 11:30am. The campsite sat along some high, bare rocks and afforded great views of the lake and a very talkative loon family. Behind the site's latrine were trails leading to two granite ridges offering even more expansive views. I took a swim, made dinner, and set up camp. Part of my scheme with the paddleboard was to use it as a platform for my sleeping pad. I removed the fin, lay the board flat, and set up a large hammock rainfly over the board. It worked wonderfully and gave me added confidence in the face of potential thunderstorms with their deadly ground-currents. One obvious downside was the lack of a mosquito net. After being kept awake until 3 in the morning by swarms of mosquitoes, I had the idea to wear my sleeping bag upside-down. That technique worked wonderfully for the remainder of the trip. I encountered many paddlers over the course of my trip, all of whom were headed in the opposite direction, and all of whom made sure to tell me that they had never seen a paddleboard in the BWCA before. Already, I was recommending it. Prior to the trip, I had debated whether to bring my board or my sea kayak, and I realized quickly that the portages would have been hell with the kayak. With the board they were a relative breeze.~Round Lake, West Round Lake, Edith Lake, Brant Lake, Gotter Lake, Flying Lake, Green Lake, Bat Lake, Gillis Lake