2015 Sawbill trip


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Dates:September 24-27, 2015
Entry Point:38 - Sawbill Lake (BWCA)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Alton, Beth, Kelso, Sawbill

When things change in the wilderness you adapt.

It changed when planning began. People who were invited, began to invite others, and the trip ended up requiring two groups. One of the groups was fathers and their children while I and my brother-in-law made up the remainder. This was nice because it gave him and I a lot of time together and a change to get to know eachother much better. At first it seemed like it might be awkward but in the end, it was a great time.

We went in on Sawbill and made the short portage over to Alton where we hunted for the larger group who had entered earlier in the day. Unlike our plan, which was to work counterclockwise around the south side of the lake, we came to find out later that the larger group went north. Not a big deal, but we did do a lot of paddling looking for them. The benefit was that we saw many of the sites on Alton and were able to pick and chose which one we liked the best. The bigger group found a really nice site large enough for the 8 of them, while the two of us found a site that was pretty perfect for a small group as well. Many of the sites on Alton are what I would call 2-4 ratings depending on what you're looking for. Don't let the big lake deter you if you're a soloist, because there were a number of sites what would be ideal for a solo canoeist.

We fished - and fished - and fished some more on Alton but the fishing was just not very good. We tried just about everything too, except deep jigging off the bottom. We had minnows, leaches and crawlers along with the typical artificial fare. We were told the fishing was good there but aparently the fish had gotten the memo ahead of us and shutdown. We did catch one decent northern while trolling but some miscommunication between my brother-in-law and I caused us to loose it at the boat. Bummer - we had to heat freeze dried meals again..

Each day we awoke to dense fog which remained until about 11:00 am most days. And once the sun went down at night the fog rolled in through the trees almost like clockwork.

We portaged to Kelso (very short portage) and by far the best portage was to Beth on the southwest corner of Alton. Beautiful lake. A bit of a portage but nothing extreme. We caught some small largemouth bass in beth - not worth keeping but provided a nice little incentive to keep trying. We did - and that was it. Beth lake has a beautiful campsite a few hundred yards from the portage, which is where we had our lunch. Beth has some great cliffs for jumping into the lake - which was very deep at the edges. I think next time, we may stay on Beth - it was just a great lake and it's still close enough that you're not killing yourself to get there. Probably a 2 1/2 hour trip from Sawbill if done right.

It was a fun trip and I can't wait to go again. I even convinced my brother-in-law that we could make multiple trips next year instead of just one annual trip.

My camera died the first night otherwise I would love to have included photos as there were many beautiful spots worthy of sharing.