Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

One Pan-tastic Adventure
by naturboy12

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/31/2022
Entry & Exit Point: Kawishiwi Lake (EP 37)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
I have been taking my youngest son (now 14) on canoeing trips to the BWCAW and Sylvania Wilderness for several years now, slowly extending their length and distance traveled. This year he helped me plan what was so far his most ambitious trip- an out and back from Kawishiwi Lake to Pan Lake. As always, it was a memorable experience!
Day 1 of 7
Sunday, July 31, 2022

After picking up our permit on Saturday afternoon, we made camp for the night at the Temperance River Campground north of Tofte. It's a nice little campground that I've stayed at before and served its purpose well in getting us off to a quick and easy start for our trip.

We woke at 5:00 AM and after packing our gear and eating a quick breakfast, we made the 30+ minute drive to the Kawishiwi Lake landing and were on the water by a little after 7:00. It was a sunny and pleasant morning, with rain forecast for the afternoon and we were pushing to make it to our hopeful "home" on Koma for the next couple of nights before the rain arrived.

A light breeze out of the south helped us through Kawishiwi Lake and into the nearly lily pad covered Kawishiwi River fairly quickly, and before we knew it we were in the burn area at Square Lake. Jaden said the lake reminded him of The Lorax because of the barren land with no treetops. It was a pretty good observation from a teenager who doesn't always pay attention to the bigger picture going on around him while we paddle.

We skipped the portages between Square and Kawasachong and weren't sure why they were even a thing until we got to the 2 beaver dams holding back lots of water just before Kawasachong. It was plain to see then that without those 2 beaver dams, the river portion of this trip so far would have been much different.

We quickly passed through an empty Kawasachong Lake to our first portage of the day- a lengthy but easy portage through the burn area into Townline Lake, which was immediately followed by another similar portage from Townline into Polly. The south landing of that second portage has some timbers/boardwalk to use to keep people of the mud. It didn't look like skipping their use would be a good choice, so we got out and pushed our canoe up the narrow channel while walking on the timbers to the side.

By the time we reached Polly the wind had picked up a bit, nothing major but it did provide a steady force to push us easily across Polly. We stopped at the island site in the middle of Polly (2013) for a snack/bathroom break and were happy for the chance to stretch our legs a bit.

After a short rest we again headed north through Polly into the beautiful island studded north end of the lake before heading back into river/portage areas. It was a pretty warm day, so we walked our canoe down the river instead of taking the 45 rod portage. This would have been better choice in higher water as we did scrape across several areas, but it was still a welcome source of cooling on a warm day and saved up the effort of loading/unloading yet another time.

When we finished the final portage from the Kawishiwi River into Koma, we could see darker clouds on the horizon and knew the rain was getting close. All morning long we had been one portage load behind a solo canoe, and we had our fingers crossed that he would either push through the coming rain to Malberg or at least would not choose the site we wanted on Koma. As we rounded the point into the lake and started heading towards site 1063 we could see his canoe tucked up along shore and him hastily setting up camp. We pushed on north, now pinning our hopes on the remaining decent site. Thankfully it was open. We landed at that site (1060) a little after 1:00 PM, set up camp and ate lunch just in time for light rain to begin around 2:30.

After a short nap the rain had stopped and we headed out to fish for a couple hours. The bay to our east had been getting pounded by that south wind all day, and we hoped to find fish stacked up in there somewhere. After hooking and losing a couple fish and Jaden getting snapped off by something very large, we set up to troll back and forth across the small deeper area of the bay and were rewarded with 4 walleye, including Jaden's first ever walleye, and a couple pike.

We wanted to explore more of the lake before it got too late, so we paddled over to the portage to Malberg, walked to the other end for some quick casts and photos, and were promptly greeted by the return of the rain, which forced us back to camp for the rest of the evening.

We cooked and finished a quick dinner just as the thunder was rolling in right at sunset. Jaden went into the tent when the heavier rain arrived, but I took the opportunity for a standing bath in the rain, which was well appreciated after a hot, sweaty day of travel. Most of the lightning and thunder stayed well north of us, but the rain persisted until near midnight. Sometime after that, Jaden and I were both woken by the distant howling of a lone wolf, a fitting end to our first day in the wilderness.