Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Can you canoe Judd Lake?
by tg

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 10/22/2022
Entry & Exit Point: Little Gabbro Lake (EP 33)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Trip members: Bret (aka Whitty), Rich (aka tg) and Odell (aka Odie aka Ashbeard-don't ask) Itinerary: EP33 Little Gabbro Lake ~25 mile loop thru Gabbro, Bald Eagle, Turtle, Clearwater, Judd, Rock Island, Lake Two, Lake One, Kawishiwi River, South Kawishiwi River, Little Gabbro Bret and I have shared some epic fall trips and we were overdue to reprise the adventure in the BWCA-our happy place. Odell aka Odie wanted to get in on the action too (or my wife wanted him out of the house;). He’s a year-old rescue dog-mostly Australian Shepherd and Poodle. 60# of rascal. He loves the water and some test runs in the canoe went well. We left the fishing gear home because Odie still gets a little excited when lures are being cast or fish are being caught. And fishing has never been the priority for our fall trips.
Day 1 of 3
Saturday, October 22, 2022 low temp 34, high temp 62 dry and breezy with wind out of the east/SE

We only had three full days to paddle so we positioned ourselves nicely by spending Friday night at the VNO Bunkhouse. Then Saturday morning set out for EP 33 Little Gabbro Lake. The temp was above freezing and forecast was for a beautiful day! We saw a few grouse hunters on the way and a few vehicles in the parking lot.

We loaded up and made our way down the first long, but well-trodden trail to Little Gabbro. Bret with packs fore and aft, myself with a pack and the boat. Odie with a PFD (pooch floatation device) and tow rope errr, I mean leash. We paddled up the chute into Gabbro and along its length to a short portage into Bald Eagle. On Bald Eagle we saw our first and last humans of the trip. We made our way up to Turtle Lake and then on to Clearwater. We planned to camp on Clearwater and then find our way up to Rock Island and Lake Two the next day. We must have missed a couple campsites and the first one we found on the north shore was not appetizing. The map I was carrying predated the Pagami Creek Fire but showed one campsite on the northeastern part of the lake which was clearly within the burn area. But in that direction, there was a small grove of trees on a point evident from quite a distance. When we got there it was apparent the immediate campsite had survived and it was perfect for our small group (two small tents albeit close to the fire grate). Alternatively, could probably accept 1-2 hammocks with some creativity. It lacked a good bear hang and seating. But firewood was abundant;) Also a beautiful view from the throne. After setting up camp we ventured down to find what remained of the portage to Judd Lake (and eventually Rock Island Lake). The portage is shown on some maps but not others. I believe this is part of the Weasel Lake PMA and as such doesn’t get maintained. And the fire did it no favors. But the first 30ish rods looked manageable so we decided to make an attempt of it in the morning. Plan B was to go back to Bald Eagle by way of Camdre, Pietro and Gull Lakes.

Odie was proving to be a great trip partner. He did well in the boat, on portages and provided comic relief zooming about the campsite and rearranging our firewood. We felt a sense of accomplishment when he was finally worn out and laid down to eat.

We ended the day with a perfect little campfire and a hand of cinnamon whiskey.