Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

NHAL - April 2016

By AmateurHour Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:April 22-24, 2016


4/22: Left work at 3:30 and drove to Boulder Junction, WI. Weather report gave an overnight low of 27F, so chickened out and got a room at the Boulder Junction Motor Lodge. Friends and neighbors, please consider staying at the BJML if and when you're in the area. The Potrykuses are likely some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet, and they have a fantastic little motel. We've stayed there at least once pretty much every year since 2012 when I forgot the tent at the Lost Canoe - White Sand portage and we had to walk out in a thunderstorm.

4/23: Into the Lost Canoe State Natural Area section of Wisconsin's Northern Highland - American Legion State Forest.

  • 8:00 a.m.: Put in at the eastern landing at Lost Canoe Lake. Already someone in site 1, apparently since 4/7, with a nice Northstar Phoenix. Too close to the landing for our tastes anyway. Continued onward and discovered that the NHAL Canoe Route map is at best a reasonable approximation. Site 2 is NOT east of the little island/point on the south shore; it's a few hundred yards west and past another point. Trolled a little for panfish before locating site 2 and discovered that it's pretty much the worst. There's no clear access from the water, just ~10' bushes that either need to be rammed through or waded through. The site itself has very little level ground and heavy deadfall all over. Were the shoreline hedgerows cut back, the site would look directly at the handful of cabins that are on Lost Canoe. Hiked the shoreline to find site 3 -- much nicer but right on the portage to Pallette Lake.
  • 10:00 a.m.: Finished setting up camp, including our first attempt at rigging an aerial tarp, and got back on the water. Immediately saw three northerns in shallow water in front of our landing. Too bad they're closed through April on most lakes. Trolled for panfish a little until two float planes landed, puttered around a bit, and took off again. Drop-dead gorgeous day, so decided to portage to Escanaba Lake since all species are open there this time of year. Found the portage landing easily enough, but the portage runs partially along a hiking/skiing trail and the turn-off is terribly marked. There are three signs, and coming from Lost Canoe it looks like they all indicate continuing west. It doesn't help that the second half of the portage doesn't look like it's used much. Ultimately a 73-rod haul turned into more like 200 rods. Recovered with a long lunch at the Escanaba portage landing and then paddled to the ranger station to pick up the daily fishing permit.
  • 4:00 p.m.: Gave up because there are no fish in Escanaba Lake. Much easier portage back to Lost Canoe.
  • The rest of the evening: Dinner over the EmberLit (Zatarain's with landjaeger in it), then brandy and a cheery fire as the cold set in. Cold rain from midnight onward, overnight low of 40F.

4/24: Cold and rainy. Aerial tarp technique will need some work, but dry enough during breakfast and packing. Walked the 85 rods to Pallette Lake in hopes that the rain would go away. Pallette site 6 is an open, sprawling site that could comfortably hold half a dozen or more tents. It's also right on the portage. Poked around the shore a bit to find site 1, but no dice. Walked back, still raining, loaded up Old Ironsides and paddled out.

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