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

Fall Sawbill, Smoke, Burnt trip

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Dates:September 18-21, 2014
Entry Point:38 - Sawbill Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Burnt, Sawbill, Smoke

Trip started out from Sawbill Outfitters in Tofte, MN. Originally the trip was to include 6 people but in the end as life happened, only three of us made it. Day one we were setting the goal to travel to the island site on Burnt Lake to basecamp for the next few days. As we reached the first portage from Sawbill to Smoke, we saw an older gentlemen with a young (16 year old) kid who was very obviouly physically handicapped. We offered help but they were determined to do it on their own. This impressed us all and we offer our encouragement to the boy as we parted ways. We ended up double portaging everything because we brought too much stuff so by the time we made it to Burnt we were pretty tired. As we paddled out on Burnt we saw canoe after canoe and it hit us - we might not find a site. The two sites we had hoped for were taken so we continued to paddle around finding one that would do in a pinch, but continuing on and hoping for better. We did find a better site to the north side of the lake, but not a whole lot better.

We decided the plan was to return to Smoke lake where we'd seen some nice sites.

Day two we made the trip back to Smoke and took a look at a couple sites and picked the best one. The northeastern most site on Smoke turned out to be a great spot for the remainder of our short stay.

Weather had been forecast to rain most days but other than the second day, we were pretty dry - and even had sunny skies.

We explored the creek on the north side of Smoke lake - didn't find much except a few pitcher plants. We had hoped to see some moose. We fished all day the third day and only caught two small northern and a small walleye, but with the weather patterns of fronts that came through we were'nt too surprised.

Overall this was a great first trip to the Boundary Waters. We learned a lot about what to bring, what not to bring, etc. For example, one of the guys in the trip recently bought a canoe for his family - an Old Town Saranac. Very nicely outfitted with rod holders, seatbacks, bait bucket, etc.. But when they went to portage quickly found out what a pain (litterally) this canoe was going to be. I was solo in a Penobscot and didn't have a problem, other than my weak shoulders.

We made the return to Sawbill on Sunday and were greated by a north wind (tail wind) on our return to the dock.

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