Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

North on the South Kawishiwi
by anxiousangler

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/23/2007
Entry Point: South Kawishiwi River (EP 32)
Exit Point: Lake One (EP 30)  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
It had been nearly 30 years since I first read about BWCA. Now that I have moved relatively near the region it was a fine time to go on the much anticipated adventure.
Friday June 22, 2007 Day One Traveling North My 13 y.o. daughter Rose, my 15 y.o. son Robbie and myself drove from NE Iowa to Ely, MN. Left Iowa about 12 noon and arrived in Ely at 8pm. 458 mile drive. Nice to be in the north country again. We stayed in the Bunkhouse at Fall lake with Packsack Outfitters. Gene and Jane Ott were there to greet us with graciousness and hospitality. Didn't get much sleep with the warmth of the many inhabitants and the noise from the visiting Boy Scout clan snoring, coughing, tripping over one another and banging around. Yep, just like the bunkhouse days of past I remember so well.

Sat June 23 Day Two To the river We had an early start this a.m. We were dropped off by Caleb at S. Kawishiwi River near the Hwy 1 bridge. Caleb was quite pleasant, enthusiastic and a tremendous wealth of information on the area, canoe handling and fishing lures and depths. We invited him to join us and further share his knowledge along the river way. He was tempted bud did decline the offer. Rose and Robbie paddled the 2 person Kevlar with gear and myself in the solo Kevlar with gear and off "upstream" we went. It took us 4 portages to get to our first campsite. the first two portages were a bit of a struggle. But then we created a more organized system and the teenagers and I cruised both down trail and waterway. Buggy in camp, especially after 8pm. I was feeling the effects of traveling, lack of sleep, swimming in the river and sunburn when the bright orange and yellow bobber so placidly sitting out in the lake dipped below the still waters in front of our campfire. The hook was set and Rosie excitedly asked "Dad, does it have any size?" and I began to reply "no, I don't..." and at that moment the largest Northern pike that I've ever seen live raced acrobatically out of the water and splashed at us from about five feet offshore. Talk about exciting! the beast was gently landed and released and we returned to our peaceful fire. Besides the +/- 30" pike we had also caught that day several smallmouth and rock bass. We spotted many deer, eagles, beavers, garter snakes, turtles and countless songbirds. Wolves serenaded us that first night as well. What a great start to our week long adventure.

Sunday Day Three It's late tonight and we've just enjoyed our first fried walleye fillet meal. Robbie and I took the canoe out across the quiet river from camp and finally caught a 16 incher for the frying pan. We had been fishing most of the day for the elusive walleye with little luck. Robbie caught a nice bass this afternoon directly across from camp along with several smaller ones. It was a beautiful sunny day after a rainy and windy night in the tents. Rose said she heard the wolves again while we were out fishing. Lots of mosquitoes. We're using the bug dope up rapidly. Went for another swim again today. The water is soft and refreshing. Helps to cool down my sunburned shoulders - ouch! Another great day. We'll move camp tomorrow. Saw several groups of canoes pass bye this day.

Monday Day Four It's hot in the tent as I enter this journal note. Warm day today. Whew! We broke camp at mid morning and paddled about 7 easy miles north up river. Passed many groups both on shore at campsites and canoeing down river. The Ranger lady checked our permit while out in the lake this afternoon. We made several short portages with little difficulty. I walked the loaded canoes through one shallow set of rapids. More like ripples. Robbie had a great day with the fishing rod. He caught numerous bass, with two nearing the 3 pound mark. He also caught 2 walleye, one of which we fried up over the fire in batter. So good! I caught a bass and a pike on Rapalas. The live leeches are preferred by the walleye and bass. Swimming again was pleasant and helped to cool off in the heat. Rosie and Robbie think nothing of diving in at a moment's notice. The bugs were Bravo-Alpha-Delta in places along the portages. We baked biscuits over the fire tonight from our homemade mix. Pretty darn good with honey and butter! Of course the kids chased them down with cocoa. I stuck to the cognac and coffee followed by a wonderful cigar. It's great to be able to relax around the campfire. I like the pace we've set for ourselves. We spotted more turtles, eagles, deer, loons and songbirds. Rosie managed the solo canoe very well today. Hand another great day with my 2 fine young companions.

Tuesday 26th Great day on the S. Kawishiwi River. Robbie and I were up early fishing about 2 miles upstream. Pretty, calm morning. Caught many beautiful bass along the rocky shoreline. I hooked one about 31/2 lbs. Beauty! No walleye though. We paddled back to camp and woke up Rose and enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal w/raisins and leftover biscuits and honey. That first cup of coffee was a treat! Then the 3 of us paddled back up river to the rapids and fished. Caught more bass and Rosie had some good action as well. Then we noticed the clouds, massive, fat, bulky, black clouds moving in fast from the south. Got caught in a huge thunderstorm and downpour. We made it back to camp soaking wet, laughing and of course hungry. I made a fire and cooked soup while the kids, of course, went swimming. Something about swimming in the rain...I thought it was "singing in the rain"? ... oh well, whatever. I guess they figured they were already wet so they may as well take advantage of it. The weather changed for the better and we organized camp, chopped wood, bathed and even washed my hair. Then this evening we took fresh leeches out of our live bait container and went back to the fishing holes. Finally caught several walleye at one setting. Robbie caught two, one about 16"s that we kept and released the smaller one. Then I hooked a large one and excitedly coaxed it into the canoe safely. Wow! About 24 inches and fat, perhaps 4 or 5 lbs. Beauty. we took the 2 fish back to camp and I filleted them while the kids prepared the campfire and other meal items. There is no respectable manner in which to describe those fresh battered fried fillets cooked over the campfire. What a wonderful treat! Superb with rice. The kids made smores for desert while I enjoyed my cognac and cigar. Beautiful night in the wilderness with the bright moon, stars and calm skies. the bugs were bad though. Lots of biting flies in the the canoe as well. They like to harass bare feet we're discovering. Mosquitoes tend to like the camp atmosphere. The kids are handling them well. Not much complaining in this camp. Saw a lot of people canoeing by us today. Most were heading south. We head north tomorrow with our camp.

Weds. 27th Woke up to a windy morning. Winds out of the SE. Helped us to make good time on our way NW, how convenient. Fun day of paddling after a pancake breakfast. Portages are getting easier with our organization improving and our loads lighter. Beautiful waterfall at one portage. No fish today? Barometer change may have affected this. We had Mt. House freeze dried meals for dinner. Nice dry weather though a bit chilly. Keeps the bugs away. Mostly cloudy. Saw more turtles, eagles and Robbie watched a mink swimming around and climbing island rocks. The sparrows, warblers, thrushes and robins were a mighty chorus this day. We are camped just 3 miles from Lake One exit point. should be a relaxing day tomorrow. Rosie has been whipping us in 500 Rummy! Geez! It's too bad I didn't bring the poker chips...I'd show her who the boss is!

Thursday Day Six Our last night in camp. Only 3 miles to the road system for tomorrow's efforts. Beautiful night. Clear, cool and calm. Great weather the entire week and I feel very fortunate. Lots of birds singing now. We took the canoes up river to scope out the final 2 portages for tomorrow. We caught bass below the shallow rapids. My first of the trip on the fly rod. They were taking surface flies. Robbie had a small pike attack his plug directly below the canoe. Rosie caught a couple of bass today. We caught 3 small walleye up river and released them. Watched many groups come through the Lake One portage to S.Kawishiwi portage. Spoke with one couple from Illinois. They were pleasant, seasoned travelers. They had been to BWCA many times and shared their map and knowledge with me in response to my portage location question. It's nice to meet cheerful people on the trail. Lunch in the sunshine on a large gathering of rocks today. Very nice indeed. It is flat calm out in front of camp tonight and a full moon is making its way above the opposite shore's treeline. So nice. Not many bugs the past 2 days. Didn't use any bug dope, first time the entire trip. The sunburn on my back is peeling off like old dry paint. I managed to burn my thighs today just for a change of painfulness. We cooked every meal this week over the campfire despite packing the Coleman stove and gas. What a terrific week. Time to play cards and smoke my cigar. Can't wait to do this again. Perhaps this fall sometime or maybe next June.