The "In-Laws"


By Ben Strege Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:July 18-24, 2009
Entry Point:37 - Kawishiwi Lake (BWCA)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Amber, Bow, Fishdance, Kawasachong, Kawishiwi, Koma, Malberg, Polly, River, Square, Townline, Whiz

Friday, July 17, 2009

My brothers-in-law, Carlos and Lorenzo, and I drove up to Isabella in the morning. We got to the Isabella ranger station at about noon. We listened to the video and got our permit. Then we went to our cabin, the Knotted Pine Inn & Tavern near Isabella. We moved our stuff in for the night, and then went to see what we could get for dinner. We first went to a local café. Right before we were going to order, though, we found out that they didn't accept credit cards. Since we didn't have anything else, we had to leave. We ended up driving to Ely on the windy roads. We ate at Subway. We also stopped by the supermarket to pick up something for breakfast. Then we headed back to the cabin for the night.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We left the cabin at 4:00 AM to make the drive to the entry point. It took almost one hour to get there on the twisted forest service roads. When we were almost to the landing, we saw a small black bear on the side of the road. That is the only bear I have ever seen in the wild in Minnesota.

We launched onto Kawishiwi Lake at about 6:00 AM. We got across Kawishiwi without incident. At the beginning of the creek going out of Kawishiwi, we saw a cow moose. I think we got lucky because there were quite a few paddlers out. The moose must have come out just after the paddlers ahead of us had passed. The moose went back in the woods as we were passing.

As we were on the river, we were passed by a group of 3 people in two canoes. The "soloer" was in a canoe tied to the lead canoe. As they passed, Carlos turned back to me and said, "I think he is sitting on a generator!" If that was really true, I'm glad we didn't end up on the same lake as them.

The portage at Square, according to the map, was only supposed to be 20 rods. Well, 60 rods later I finally found the end. It was a lot longer than what the map said because the water was low. It was a bit muddy where I was going to put the canoe in, but I didn't think much of it. I took a step and ended up sinking up to my waist in mud. I couldn't move my legs at all because the mud was what you would call "boot-sucking." I didn't want my brothers-in-law to see my predicament (I would probably never hear the end of it), so I tried to figure out a way to get out myself. I still had the canoe on my shoulders, so I flipped it off next to me. It was now sitting on top of the mud next to me at shoulder level. I grabbed the yoke and slowly pulled myself out of the mud. The mud didn't want to give up its prize easily, so it took some work, but I finally got out. I decided to put the canoe in at some other spot.

It was a nice day with only a slight wind. Paddling went without incident. There were quite a few portages. The most tiring was the back to back portages from Kawasachong to Townline to Lake Polly. Polly is a pretty lake, but it was very busy. I also know that Polly has a lot of bear problems.

We went through Koma and into Malberg. We passed the campsite that I stayed at on my only other trip to the BWCA. It was a trip I took with my Boy Scout troop. We stayed at the campsite next to the portage leading to the Louse River on the east side of the lake.

We saw a few nice campsites. The campsite next to the 64-rod portage leading to the Kawishiwi River is a sandy beach-and it was unoccupied. It was very tempting to stop, especially since we were getting tired. We had already been on the water for 6-7 hours. I left the decision up to Carlos and Lorenzo. Carlos was leaning towards staying, but Lorenzo said that we had come this far, we might as well keep pushing on to Amber. So we kept going.

The last portage was interesting. There was a beaver pond in the middle that we had to wade through. The other end was also very muddy, which made it difficult to load the canoe up again. But we got going again.