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

Four Ladies on the Lady Lakes

By Wongo2 Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (1)
Dates:July 21-24, 2022
Entry Point:37 - Kawishiwi Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Alton, Beth, Grace, Hazel, Kawasachong, Kawishiwi, Knight, Phoebe, Polly, Sawbill, Square

Thursday - July 21

Departed from Duluth at 6am, one group heading to Kawishiwi to drop a canoe and the other to Sawbill to rent one. I stayed at the landing with the canoe and chucked a few lures out with no luck while the wife went to retrieve the other ladies. No one showed up at the landing until 9am which is the same time my crew arrived. Suddenly people appeared in waves. We pushed off and quickly put everyone behind us, except for two rangers who caught up to us when, to our surprise and envy, they were able to paddle over the second portage between Square and Kawasachong which we had just hauled our gear over.

The long portages to Polly were tough but blueberries were plentyfull along the way and HUGE. At one point they looked so tempting that I stooped down with the canoe on my shoulders to sample a few of nature's tasty treats. As soon as we got to Polly Stevie wanted to make camp. I wanted to push on to check the island sites. The other ladies sided with me so we paddled on. It took us awhile to find the tucked away little island site 1074, but when we found it we were all completely satisfied with it. The little channel running between island and mainland made a perfect swimming hole. We then ate dinner of tacos after which my lady and I circled the island to jig. We caught one small walleye that went back empty handed. Stevie whipped up some pinapple-upside down cake which made a better dessert than fish anyway.

We later heard the Aurora borealis may have made a visit that night, but we were all sawing logs by then.

Friday - July 22

We had a bit of a late start, pushing off at 11am (but the breakfast tacos were totally worth it). It was a windy day but we were not worried as most of today's waterways were small. This was a portage-heavy day which we pushed through rather quickly. A few times we slowed down to enjoy the beautiful lily blooms along the Phoebe river. After completeingt the 144 rod after Hazel, we celebrated completeing the last portage of the day! Suddenly, though, we hit a horrendously rocky patch of river. At this very moment, the wind picked up to a howling balance-breaker. The timing for the wind to pick up was BAD as we suddenly found ourselves lifting gear and rock-hopping across this difficult section. While Stevie and Maria hauled the big packs, Mary and I hauled the canoes. I fell onto my bottom multiple times, soaking myself. Fortunately I didn't get hurt and I was the only one to fall. Mary dubbed this section "Dead man's cove" and we went on our merry way, she making up a song "We can do unexpectedly hard things..."

(ASIDE: After this trip, I posted about this section on a BWCA forum and someone commented that there is rumored to be a path through the rocks. I looked on Google earth satellite view, and sure enough! There appears to be a small way through on the north side of the river. Next time I'll search for this secret passage through Dead Man's Cove. When I told the group about this, Mary said it was ok. We needed that challenge, and from it was born a great song!)

Arriving on Phoebe was a blessing as there was a hardly a soul on the lake. We found another island site (1026) and made camp. Dinner of Shepherds Pie was fantastic.Jigging around the islands resulted in catching many small green sunfish. It was tough work with the storng wint and we again returned empty-handed. We fell asleep to the soothing sound of Mary chanting, until suddenly she said, "UH hey guys I forgot to put my beef jerky in the bear bag!".

Saturday - July 23

Trying to be quicker this morning, we ate oatmeal and departed our island at 9am. Today would be the longest portage of the trip (287 rods). I wasn't too worried about it as our newbie ladies were serious troopers. They kept up with us (following us blindly as we had forgotten one of the maps), and never complained. The first portages were small and easy but frequent. We enjoyed more water lilys in-between portages. Then came the 287 rod between Grace and Beth. Here we ran into more rangers who were clearing trees and digging new privies. We talked to them about reduced quotas, spiny waterfleas, and previous trips. They checked our permit and were very cool. The portage was rough mainly due to its length. Too bad the rangers hadn't yet cleared the trees, but there was only one which required that I set down the canoe.

Our plan was to camp on Alton, however, upon arrivial to Beth, we noted no campers at any of the four sites. Furthermore, some day trippers told us that Alton was quite busy. We quickly changed plans and stayed at site 838. I immediately threw a line out started catching many small smallies. Eventually I reeled one in that was large enough to keep. Before dinner, Stevie and I took to the lake to do some jigging (not sure what fish were in this lake as we had forgotten the good map). Paddling along the small cliff toward Ella was very scenic. We then thought we heard some distant thunder but decided to paddle across Beth anyway to the cliff-jumping spot. As we approached it, a sudden downpour enveloped us. We jigged unsuccessfully along the cliff in the rain for about twenty minutes then headed back.

Everything was wet. We made dinner of bass, risotto, and potato pancakes for the win. Sure enough, Beth was all ours that night. The calm glassy water made for a beautiful sunset for our last night. Early to bed, early to rise.

Sunday - July 24

As Mary had homeowork due that night, we pretty much woke up, packed up, and packed out. We took a group photo in our last moment of solitude at the end of Beth. Arriving on Alton we headed toward the portage in the wind. The portage was BUSY, but we made it through swiftly and returned to Sawbill and the crowds. We were heading south on 61 by noon. Stopped at the Rustic on the way home for non-vegetarian food and pie (they were out of veggie burgers so Stevie suffered through some onion rings). This was an amazing trip and an amazing crew. We're already looking forward to next year's adventure together.

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