My bride and I are planning a trip to BW. I bought 3 books on the area, but its almost information overload. I decided to concentrate on an entry point first, then find the most mellow, scenic, and remote trip feasible. I’d like to keep the portages and motor boats to a minimum. I’d also like to not run into hoards of paddlers. Any suggestions about A)Entry point that doesn’t require a herculean portage, and B)a 5 or 6 day loop that will take in a truly wild portion of the BW? Peace and tranquility, wildlife, and scenery are the prime amenities. Long, tough portages, motor traffic, crowds, and wind destroyed forests are the detractions. I’m looking at a late August trip.
as in Labor day? If that is that case, then you'll have a hard time finding solitude in a lot of the BW - one of the busier days of the year. Also if you want solitude during the busy season, then you'll have to work for it - small secluded lakes, pma's, and yes long portages. If there is solitude to be found with no motors and that is easy to get to, don't expect it to be solitude for long.
I like the end of the gunflint area. Especially Sea Gull. There are a lot of options for this area. Sea Gull is partly motorized, but you leave them behind after the first 3/4 mile. Alpine, Rog, Red Rock, Jasper are all great lakes in the area that don't require big portages. I was there on Memorial day weekend and after the motorized section, we saw maybe 2 other parties (a total of 4 other people).
I would avoid areas like the Kawishiwi river/Lakes 1-4, Sawbill, Brule, areas right north of Ely (Crab Lake entry). Also look in your book - I assume you have Beymers. He give you the run down of how many people enter a certain entry point.
First, you can find peace and tranquility, wildlife, and scenery in the BWCA and not be in a truly wild portion. You’ll see people, but most folks are very respectful of your space. It actually adds to the ambiance to see a couple of canoes paddle by your campsite on a misty morning. Try find a lake with only one campsite on it and claim it.
The exceptions are on the portages, but once the portage is done groups dissipate. Still, when you run into people on the portages, they seldom speak and if they do it is invariably a greeting or a comment regarding the portage. Thanks to the permit system, you seldom have “hoards of paddlers”.
If you really want “truly wild”, I’m sorry, but Herculean portages is the price.
I like bsia’s idea of the Seagull area. Another area off the Gunflint is Poplar Lake area – Lizz Lake entry point. Short, easy to find portages. The lakes are smaller, with interesting features, some river-like (narrow, long). Head towards Horseshoe and Vista for fishing, moose sighting, and scenery. Also, Gaskin is OK. Hensen is nice. Omega, nice. Winchell is striking, though watch it on windy days. Nice area to explore.
Well that helps…
at least I can concentrate on some areas now without relying totally on my reading comprehension (which ain’t what it used to be since I discovered my fondness for Moosehead beer). I’m thinking we want to keep most of our portages down to 160 rods (level if possible). My wife won’t be able to carry the canoe, so its a selfish concept. I ain’t Hurcules no more, but if I can fool myself into thinking I’m in the backcountry, I’ll be happy as a hog in green slop.
KenE and Brian Have Good Ideas
Have seen only one other party on Rog in several trips there, even though it’s one portage off Seagull (most take the 100+ rod “Thoroughfare” to Alpine). WW
Late August is a good time.
Late August, 3rd or 4th week, is a great time to go. Warm days, cool nights, the lakes are still warm enough for swimming, maybe 1 hour of mosquitos per day. The Scout groups are long gone. Try to enter mid week to avoid the weekenders near the entry points. EP 50, Cross Bay, is nice. Short portages, smaller lakes, moose, minimal evidence of the Blowdown. I’ve done this trip myself at the same time of year. Check out Hungry Jack Outfitter if you need any gear or a bunkhouse before or after. Good people, good gear, very clean.
Also Reccomend HJO
Dave and Nancy are great people. I always pick up an item or two and sometimes get the “Food Pack” so I don’t have to worry about packing food for the trip that way. Cleanest bunkhouses I’ve seen, too. WW
Looking for more information post on the BW site. There you’ll find the folks who paddle the most in that area. Go to discussion-forum and log in.
Hmm, Several of Us HERE Do Too
Been going up there for 20 years now, 2-3 times per year. there are several of us who travel there. I, personally, stay off the site due to several “Attitudes.” WW
some like it some don’t
but some post on both sites like myself. From the four people who posted info, there are probably well over 100 trips between us - probably closer to 150.
Good plan, but don’t judge a portage simply by length … or even how level it is. Some portages are rocky. Some are muddy. Some average out level but may have 2 big hills enroute.
Then there are landings. Most are OK, but some are easy and some are tough.
I don’t mean to discourage you at all, just want you to be aware. There is a good resource for portage conditions written by the people who have done them. It is here http://www.quietjourney.com/pdb/boundarywaters.html Remember that people’s physical conditioning and perceptions can color their comments. That is, what is “average” for one person may be “tough” for another. Still it is a good resource and very helpful.
I’m sure you and your wife will have a great trip!
Hmm, Didn’t Mean to Sound…
...so defensive. Just that I believe Brent runs the best paddling site on the "Net," here! Also had a couple of "Run ins" on the B&B, including one who pretty much said I was a wimp and an idiot because I advised AGAINST buying a 78lb MRC Revelation for BWCAW travel (a canoe which I once owned and DID paddle there on a few occasions) and suggested a Souris River boat. Left a bad taste in my mouth. Then, there was the virus I picked up there a few months ago. Haven't been back since. BTW, Beaverjack, have other routes, just don't like to give away all my secret spots online. E-mail me if interested, but the routes I've seen are a pretty good start. WW