Kawishiwiw Lake - June 2007
Jim and I left Onalaska, WI at 9:30 a.m. and arrived in Tofte, MN at 4:00pm. This included stops for lunch and gas. Onalaska was a good meeting spot for us. Jim wouldn’t need to detour the 23 miles each way to get me at home. We transferred gear from my car to his and my wife drove my car back home (or maybe she went shopping first).
This was Jim’s second BWCA trip of the year. He had been on the portage-clearing trip in May, but this was my first trip of the season. We’ll both be tripping together again in October when we do the “Four Solos” trip with Larry and Steve. Last year we did the same thing – the two of us did a June trip together and the Four Solos in October.
We decided we were going to take a slightly different route up north. In the past we took highway 53 to Eau Claire, but Jim said he though that highway 93 to Eau Clair was faster (and it was). This meant we were traveling through different little towns. One of the first was Arcadia, which has a chicken processing plant, Arcadia Fryers. We saw many billboards and signs about it.
Next came the village of Independence, which was having its "Independence Days". The parade had obviously just gotten over and people were hanging out at the "Chicken Que" tent drinking beer at 10:00 a.m.
Then came Elk Creek, a tiny village that had a tavern with a gigantic, fiberglass Wonder Roast type chicken on its roof.
But the best was yet to come. After Elk Creek we came up on a truck pulling a trailer with something odd on it. I told Jim that from far away it looks like a big, fiberglass chicken! It turned out it was!! As we passed it we saw “Eleva Broiler Days” written on its side. Eleva was the next little town and apparently “Broiler Days” is their community festival and this was their float that had just participated in the Independence Days Parade.
Jim and I had great fun after that telling chicken stories and making up recipes for beer can chicken, comparing thing to chickens, etc. Jim said that this trip was to be known as the chicken trip. You can imagine our reaction to the Two Harbors giant chicken, something we had seen often but not in quite the same way.
We stopped at Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte where we arranged to pick up our permit. Set-The-Hook introduced himself and his paddling partner, Neil, to us. A great surprise! I knew there was a possibility we may run into them while on the water, but I didn’t expect it at Sawtooth. We had a nice, albeit short, visit.
While at the outfitters I bought a new Granite Gear Bucket. I neglected to bring my el-cheapo, vinyl bucket and took this opportunity to upgrade some equipment. After Sawtooth, we went over to the liquor store for a six-pack for the night’s supper.
We started up the Sawbill Trail at 4:30 pm, and by 5:30 we were at the Kawishiwi Lake Campground. I thought we made great time.
There are only 5 sites at the campground and they were all taken. In fact, we witnessed a few other groups come and go hoping to get a site. It seemed everyone was there for multiple nights, using it as a family campgrounds opposed to a place to stay overnight before entering the BW - pop-up campers, etc. We talked to a guy and his grandson who slept in the cab of their truck in the parking lot the night before.
Fortunately I had heard on one of the websites that there were a couple un-official campsites. Jim and I spotted one right away, so we were all set. Unlike the official sites, our bushwhack site didn’t have a picnic table or fire grate, but did have a stone fire ring. That seemed to be OK. A sheriff drove by while we were there and didn't seem bothered by it.
The campground is very nice and seems like a very popular place. The sites are nice and most, if not all, of them have lake access. It has a very nice outhouse. There is no drinking water, but Jim and I knew that so had brought a large jug of water with us.
We saw many turtles on the gravel roads, and in fact, we got to watch a turtle laying eggs in the gravel parking lot at Kawishiwi. We could also hear grouse drumming in the distance. It was spring up north. I also noticed lilacs in full bloom along the north shore, something we hadn’t seen in a month in my part of Minnesota.
Jim made a wonderful first night supper! At 7:00 pm we had steak cooked on the fire coals, foil wrapped potatoes and baby carrots, fresh tomato, and cold beer. Mmmmm ... Jim is a great cook.
At 9:30 pm the temperature dropped a bit and some clouds rolled in. I though maybe we were in for some rain, but none came. At 10:30 there were lots of fireflies. Shortly thereafter I was in bed.