Second Guide Trip - 2019


By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:July 21-25, 2019
Entry Point:25 - Moose Lake (BWCA)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Amoeber, Birch, Carp, Cherry, Ensign, Gijikiki, Knife, Knife, Lake Of The Clouds, Little Knife, Lunar, Moose, Newfound, Ottertrack, Portage, Seed, Sucker, Thermal, Topaz, Vera

Day 1 - Moose to North Arm of Knife

We launched out of Moose Lake which is always busy, but this first day of the trip was the craziest I have seen. By the time we made it to our site for the night we had encountered 29 different groups. As a result, our day stretched on longer than I had originally planned. We had phenominal weather coming out the landing and made great time to the first portage into Birch. We ate lunch on Birch before pushing on to Carp and eventually to Knife. We arrived at Knife by early afternoon and I gave my group a choice. With the number of groups we encountered, I assumed a lot of sites would be filled up on Knife. I offered my group that we could either A) try to get to a site as quickly as possible, no matter what it looked like or B) tak a snack break now and aim for the North Arm of Knife which would likely take us into late afternoon. Another group had left the portage in front of us so we assumed if there would be an open site they would be filling it. The group chose a snack break and we were off. Unfortunately the nice Westerly wind that would have been a tailwind down knife changed to a wind out of the Northeast midway out into the lake. Gotta love a headwind! I introduced my group to Isle of the Pines and the story of Dorthy and we pressed on towards Thunder Point. As luck would have it, every single campsite West of Thunder Point was full anyways, so I was glad we had taken that snack. We found the first site on the North side of Thunder Point open and available. Beggers can't be choosers. We pulled in and stayed the night. It really was a decent site. The group was treated to a short paddle and hike to enjoy the sunset from the top of Thunder. Not much to complain about. Our paddle ended up being about 19 miles when it was said and done which was a lot for our young group, but spirits were high.

Day 2 - North Arm of Knife to Topaz

Since the group made it all the way to Thunder day one, I gave them a choice for day two. We could slowly start working our way down and back if they felt that was too much, or we could push on for a challenge I knew about. They chose the challenge. Thus I led them up the North Arm and in to Ottertrack in search of the infamous portage to Gijikiki I had heard so much about. It took a fair amount of searching to find, but soon enough we were climbing. It did not disapoint! We marched upwards still upwards. I never have actually seriously considered sending a bear rope down to help pull kids up a portage until this one. The view was amazing though, and we hoped we would find a little more solitude than the traffic jam on Knife. We ate lunch at the island site on Gijikiki and then took the portage into Rivalry. I went first with a canoe and our gear back and got a fair pace in front of the group. I reached the end, took one step, and sunk. The end of the portage was a great gaping mud pit that draws you in and won't let you out. I set down the canoe, set the pack in it, and belly crawled out of the waste deep muck. What a mess. I cautioned the rest of the group on their way to the finish, and we pushed off. I took a brief pitstop to explore an odity I noticed on the map: the portage from Rivalry to Glen. I have no clue why any lost souls would want to portage to Glen, but the landing on the Glen end was even worse than the landing entering into Rivalry. I took my pictures and retreated to the canoe. On to Lake of the Clouds. The group was obviously tiring some, so I whoever need to take a little break at the end of the portage. The cliffs were quite gorgeous to explore. We worked down into Lunar and then Cherry. The portage, or rather the beaver pond formerly known as a portage, into Cherry was a mess to work around, but soon enough we made it to Cherry. Both sites on Cherry were occupied (familiar theme for the trip) so we found ourselves on Topaz. It wasn't the best site, but we decided to stay to avoid any longer of an evening. A group of boy scouts showed up an hour or so later and decided to rough camp on the rock across from us. Even if it is officially against regulations, it was the right call. A huge storm rolled in not too long later, and I can't imagine getting trapped on the water. The group faired well, and I am sure slept well this evening.

View back to the long climb up the Gijikiki portage

The Glen portage landing

Cliffs from Rivalry to Lake of the Clouds

Day 3 - Topaz to Vera

We woke up day three with the goal to stay somewhere on the Western half of Knife in order to get close to Moose for the last night. We portaged into Amoeber, and I recalled the huge storm I weatherd a couple years before on that lake. We worked down into the South Arm of Knife and had a quick snack at one of the first sites across the portage. We made a slight detour so the group could see Eddy Falls and at a quick lunch there. The weather was, once again, incredible (though we had some kind of headwind every single day of this trip.) Thus began the long paddle to the West end of the lake. The group really appreciated the great open expanse of Knife lake stretching towards the horizon. There was one open site just south from Thunder Point, but past that point, there was not another open site on Knife. Here we go again.... It was getting into the evening when we pulled up to the portage into Portage. My creative plan was to check for either of the sites there and then make our decision. We found the farther site on Portage open, though not inviting. We couldn't even find the nearer site (though, in retrospect and looking at reviews on this site, it doesn't sound like we missed much there.) The site we did find was small and incredibly packed with flies, but it was available and it was nearly 6:00 by this point. After a lengthy discussion and a group vote, the decision was made to make the 200 rd portage into Vera tonight with hopes for an open, and more accomidating site. The portage was a lot at this time of evening, especially without dinner, but the group took a snack and pulled into an open site around 8:30. Long exhausting day for the kids, but one can't complain about beautiful views and an amazing sunset.

Day 4 - Vera to Moose

Our final full day in the BWCA was spent heading West through Vera into Ensign. I truly am not a fan of Ensign: I find it overcrowded and less wilderness feeling, but we were just passing through. Next up was a portage back into Newfound and a paddle down to Moose. We found an open site in the corner (it was the only open site.) There were plenty of canoes and motor boats passing through, but it was good to find a site earlier in the day on our last day. We explored the rock face behind our site, and hiked back to Thermal Lake. The group swam and then enjoyed a huge dinner and time reminiscing about an amazing adventure. Our pickup came at the Moose Landing the next morning. What an amazing trip with a lot of hard work but just as many wonderful memories.