Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Solo on Lakes 1-3 before fishing season
by wxce1260

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/08/2024
Entry & Exit Point: Lake One (EP 30)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I had 3 days off the week before the fishing opener and noticed that only 8 Lake One permits had been taken over the past 4 days. I have always wanted to explore that area without the normal piles of people and weekend warriors that crowd the area so I figured this would be my chance.
Day 1 of 3
Wednesday, May 08, 2024

I didn't decide to do this trip until Tuesday 5/7 so I had no time to plan which just added to the relaxation of a solo trip. I bought a new to me Wenonah Prism off classifieds in December and was able to swing 3 days off work so I thought this would be a great time to take the Prism out for her first (with me) wilderness trip. Also since it is early May and the fishing opener was not til the weekend I could see that there was probably only a handful of people in the Lake One area. I have paddled through Lake One towards Thomas and Malberg and camped on Lake 2 once in October (when I also encountered a large number of people). It has always been soooo busy and loud that I have had no real desire to stay there during the summer, but I thought that this may be the opportunity to see the area without competing with the crowds... 1 permit was take other than mine for Wednesday, but on Friday (the day before the opener) all were gone--as was every permit there after... so I knew I had a tight window.

I left for Ely about 6am and arrived at Spirit of the Wilderness to pick up my permit at about 10am. At SOTW I was reminded of the new USFS rules regarding food storage, which was no issue for me because I always use my bear vault hidden away from camp. After that quick stop, I was unpacked and on the water at the entry point at about 11am. I was so excited to see only 5 cars in the entire Lake One parking lot.

The weather was beautiful and I saw a grand total of zero people as I crossed the portages into Lake 2. I had been thinking that I was going to paddle down to the south end of Lake 3 and setup camp at one of the island sites there and hike the Pow Wow on Thursday. But the weather was calling for heavy rain on Friday which made me think I didn't want to paddle that extra distance out. Plus, as far as I could tell there was nobody on Lake 2--and I am pretty sure not many people could ever say they had Lake 2 completely to themselves. So, After looking at the island site right by the portage into Lake 2, I opted to stay there. I really liked the fire site that overlooked the southern part of the lake-towards Rock Island Lake.

I set up camp, had a bite of lunch, then I jumped back into the Prism to check out the lake. As I had suspected, I was the only person on the lake. I paddled into Lake 3 and pulled out my binoculars and did see one of the campsites occupied there, so I turned back around and continued to paddle the entire shoreline of the lake without seeing a soul. I made it back to camp around dinner time and had a bite to eat and a cup of White Zin as I enjoyed the sunset. I went to bed to the sound of loons. (More about that on day two)