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

2021 Trips - 2nd Staff Training Trip

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:June 14-17, 2021
Entry Point:52 - Brant Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Agamok, Annie, Bat, Brandt, Eddy, Edith, Flying, French, Gabimichigami, Gillis, Gotter, Green, Gull, Jenny, Knife, Little Knife, Mueller, Ogishkemuncie, Ottertrack, Peter, Ron, Round, Saganaga, Swamp

Our put-in was on Round Lake with a permit for Brant which meant a long first day of portaging for sure! We portaged into Edith, and I showed the crew the channel into Brant. The portage into Gotter is a doozie, and we all enjoyed a snack paddling past the base of the cliffs there. We headed down the stairs from Gotter to Flying and over the ridge towards Green. Through Green and Bat and Gillis we traveled, learning how to portage efficiently together. On French, we had a group decision time of traveling through Peter or Powell. The group chose the longer portage into Peter rather than the multiple portages through the smaller lakes...a wise choice I think. This area burned really hot in the fire and the high stone ridges still rise exposed through the rapidly regenerating forest. The portage into Gabi is a gem with a lovely view of one of the deepest lakes in the BWCAW. We paddled out to the point and around the corner and found the campsite on the narrows open...a good sign. It was worth checking out the island sites though since it is one of the region’s best. Sure enough, it was open! One of the quirks of this trip was camp had bought a wide selection of solo camping options for the guides to borrow during the summer. Since Covid regs were still in effect, having the guides sleep well separate of the groups was the easiest call. We packed all of the options on this trip and each guide slept in a different shelter; those who were borrowing rotated each night. It was a marvelous sunset above the high ridges of Gabi and a spectacular reward for a hard day of travel.

The next morning, we woke, had breakfast, and headed for the portage out towards Agamok. There, we found an odd pair of prescription, bright pink sunglasses. We traveled down Agamok and took the portage, spending a fair bit of time around the falls and the bridge. It was easy travelling into Ogish and through Annie and Jennie and Eddy where I reminisced of trips past and the memories tied to each portage. We stopped briefly at Eddy Falls before heading out into Knife, choosing a small burnt-out island for our lunch stop. We took a portage into the north arm, passing an odd campsite with a flag flying as we went. We took the border portage at the end of Little Knife. Every campsite thereafter was full except for the one closest to the “inland” portage. It’s a neat wilderness site with the largest bench I have ever seen, a monstrous white pine log I am still unsure of how they moved as far as they did. I spent the evening exploring this wonderful corner of the wilderness from the collosal wrecked white pines to the one poor bear tree full of lost bear ropes. I inherited a fair bit of paracord and rope that day!

The third day was our shortest travel day. We headed down Ottertrack where I played tour guide and led the group in paying respects at Benny’s. Ottertrack is a mystifyingly beautiful lake that easily besets itself in the hearts of those visiting for the first time. The monument portage was also a wonderful new experience for some of the staff as we made time for Saganaga. As we would be getting picked up at Trail’s End the next day, it seemed fitting to stay on the west side of Sag rather than heading too far. We picked a site there. We were given a few hours of free time that afternoon so I set out on a long hike south in search of Lone Lake. In retrospect, I didn’t come well prepared for this venture. It’s really magnificent country back there though, and all of it is so different from what I expected as I tromped through a massive Red Maple forest with scattered creek channels throughout. After a long hike, I hit a massive tamarack swamp which I now believe to be SW of Lone Lake. I never found the lake, but knew I best be getting back. The problem was, I wasn’t super well equipt for actually knowing where I was. I have better-than-average woods sense and my forester mind navigates quite well by familiar trees and forests, but it was still a long way back to camp. I set myself on a generally northward course knowing I would hit Sag eventually. When I finally hit the water, behold, I popped out just across the bay from my group! I managed to flag them down for a ride back which they happily provided. We had a wonderful night of reminiscing about the trip.

On the final day, the "guide for the day" royally scorched our cream of wheat rations - major campsite whoopsies. After trying to clean up, we paddled east on Sag, stopping briefly on an island for a snack break. Near the narrows, I let the group in on another outfitter special overlook which was enjoyed by all before heading for Trail’s End and the ending of guide training. The first trips of the season are around the corner!

New Messages