June 14, 2005

year 6 return to South Temperance

trip photos
at: http://www.umn.edu/~rmunson/BWCA_2005/

Dustin arrived in Castle Danger at 7:30 am Friday June 10th  and
we said our good byes and headed for the Sawbill trail. We were up to
Tofte by 9:30. Pulled our permit and loaded our canoe from Sawtooth
Outfitters and drove to Baker Lake entry point.

We were on the water by 11:00 and started paddling for South Temperance.

To reach South Temp we paddled through Baker lake, portage 10 rods to
Peterson, paddle to Kelly; portage 65 rods to Jack; portage 10 rods to
Weird; 80 rods to S shaped outlet of South Temperance River, then 240
rod portage to South Temperance.

Paddling and portaging through rain but thankfully their was little
wind. Probably the wettest we were on the trip was during the long 240
rod portage to South Temp. I had failed to bring plastic liners for the
two duluth packs so we were a bit concerned about our gear getting wet
-- thankfully this wasn't a problem.

We made it to South Temperance by 3:30 and headed directly for the
first camp site -- a site on the south shore of the lake. We looked it
over and decided to see if our campsite from 3 years ago was available.
First we paddled to a campsite in the southwestern corner of the lake.
This site was pretty low and muddy.

We paddled with anticipation to our old campsite in the middle of the
lake but were disappointed to find another party there already. So back
to the first site. This site has a nice lower landing level and then a
large camp site up on a rock promentory.

The rain had stopped and we quickly set up our tarp and tent. After
sorting things out we got a fire started -- for supper Friday night we
broiled chicken breasts in tinfoil and had beans. We were pretty tired
so we turned in when it was still light -- probably around 9:00.

We slept in till 9:00 am the next morning and woke to a grey cloudy day
-- at least it wasn't raining, but our tent was pretty stuffy -- we had
shut the doors up  to prevent rain coming in durning the night but
the condensation on the fly was so heavy it was dripping back down on

After our customary oatmeal, raisins and hardtack breakfast we headed
out for a paddle and a bit of fishing. Dusty was trolling along and
picked up a small mouth bass in a little bay so we decided to try the
spot some more. I picked up a nice walleye and we decided to keep
it  -- even though it was only 11:00 am. I had forgotten the
stringer back at camp so we improvised a stringer with the lanyard from
my camera and cord from my life jacket. The fish made it back to camp
alive -- so it was adequate!

Dusty picked up a small northern and I hooked into another nice
walleye. Since we knew we couldn't eat more than one walleye I released
this second nice fish at the boat... I wish I could have gotten him in
the boat for a picture though...

We paddled on up South Temperance through on and off rain and had lunch
at the north most campsite on the lake. We then pushed on to Brule lake
just to take a look at this huge lake.

It was only a 10 rod portage to Brule. At the portage we found a couple
guys who had caught a bass and a walleye in the pool running down from
Brule into South Temp. They had the two fish trapped in a little fence
of rocks -- I told them our stringer improvisation.

We paddled down a long island at the far west side of Brule and had a
look at the main body of water and paddled back to the portage to give
the pool a try. We didn't have any luck.

We headed back for our campsite -- stopping along the way to get a good
supply of wood. We were back to camp by 3:30 and we set to sawing and
splitting the wood. Dusty filleted his half of the fish and I,
preferring to steak my side of the fish sawed through the bones and
left the skin on.

Once the fire was burned down to a good size of coals we wrapped the
fish in tinfoil and roasted the fish 10 minutes on each side. I fried
hash brown in my new titanium pan -- worked great and the fish was very

After supper we went out to try the shoreline and bay near our
campsite. After getting a few rises on floating rapalas we figured the
smallmouth must be biting. We cast floating lures close to the
shoreline but kept missing the strikes. Dustin had seen a couple nice
bass holding just a couple feet off the shore near our campsite so he
paddled us near the spot and told me where to cast.

My first cast brought a hard strike seconds after the lure hit the
water. I didn't set the hook quickly enough though. Dusty told me
"you've got to set the hook the second they strike," and positioned the
canoe to give me a second try at the smallie.

I cast my small plug to the same spot and quickly had another fierce
strike. This time I set the hook immediately and hooked him! "Just like
on TV!!!" I hollered! The 16" bass was a perfect ending to a busy day
in the Boundary Waters.

Back at camp over cribbage Dustin traced out a circle tour around
several of the lakes near South Temperance. From South Temp we could
portage up to North Temperance then take the two portages up to
Cherokee then portage and paddle though some small lakes crossing over
a high ridge and back down to Brule lake. It looked like a fun day trip
so we hit the hay.

Sunday morning we woke at 6:00 and blue berry pancakes were the
breakfast ration for the day. Flipping pancakes in an 8" pan without a
turner isn't easy so the camp chipmunks and red squirrel enjoyed
breakfast with us also that morning. After securing camp and hanging
our food we set out with just our fishing gear, lunch and our water

It was an overcast morning with a slight wind at our back and we
paddled up to North Temp. We fished a bit to no avail. North Temp is a
beautiful lake with high ridges surrounding it. The campsites looked
pretty good.

Next a portage over to Sitka lake where we paddled around a bit and
then the tough 140 rod portage to Cherokee. This portage was probably
the rockiest and most up and down portage we had all trip -- thankfully
we were just carrying light gear for the day -- with full packs this
would be a tough portage even though it's only 140 rods.

We made it up and down to Cherokee lake and started paddling up the
east shore of this large central lake. There are 20 campsites on this
lake so it has the feel of a Holiday Inn. The wind was at our back and
we made a quick crossing of Cherokee.

At the northwest end we were looking for a portage connecting to Town
lake. The map we were using obscured the shoreline features we were
looking for however so we had a few minutes of paddling back and forth
looking for what should have been obvious.

This brings me to a comment on maps in the Boundary Waters. I have
always preferred the larger scale McKenzie maps because they show
things a bit larger than the Fisher maps. After this minor mishap I
will no longer buy the McKenzie maps because they are not as well done
as the Fisher maps. Where the slightly larger McKenzie maps use a 1/8th
inch think red line showing the portages the Fisher maps use a much
finer dotted red line. The benefit the Fisher maps have is their
portage markings down cover up and obscure shoreline features the way
the McKenzie maps do.

It looks like the McKenzie maps are using earlier 1960s printing
technologies while the Fisher maps are using modern cartography
techniques -- the Fisher maps are far more polished and neat. Get the
McKenzie maps for big picture planning but leave them at home and take
the Fisher maps for actual navigating and finding your way from portage
to portage.

We had lunch at the one campsite on Town Lake and continued on to
Vesper and Gasket and Cam. These lakes are up in the high ridge
separating Cherokee and Brule. The stream runs in and out of them and
are connected by very rocky portage trails. The portage trails
connecting these small lakes are old creek beds so we were hopping from
rock to rock with the canoe on our head or shoulder with the mosquitoes
swarming us.

The small lakes are surrounded by beautiful rock cliffs and
promentories. Cam lake has a nice little waterfall tumbling into it
from the steep eastern shoreline. We also saw a loon family with chicks
riding on one of the bird's backs on Cam.

Descending out of the ridge and small lakes we came into the back bay
of Brule. Paddling across this bay we came to the main bay that opens
out onto the main lake and we had to paddle into a stiff southwesterly
wind. We made decent time across Brule and enjoyed a break at the
Brule/South Temp. portage where we fished again unsuccessfully and
filtered some water from the cool rapids.

Paddling back into South Temperance we had to paddle against the wind
back to camp. We made it back around 4:30 and I was tired!

All was well back in camp -- everything had dried out while we were gone and nothing had blown away. It was still pretty windy so we brought the stove and our food down to the lower landing beneath the campsite and prepared our supper -- Navy Bean soup with jerkey -- a good, easy to prepare supper.

The wind died down and we started a fire and enjoyed the evening around camp. We were too tired to fish so we just sat around and played cards and got things organized for the next morning. An otter swam by our campsite around 8:00 PM. We decided we would get up at 6:00 have breakfast and pack up and hit the trail.

The next morning we were up and had a quick breakfast and began the process of organizing and packing our gear. It was a beautiful sunny and perfectly still morning. Monday was the best weather day of our trip.

First up we had the 240 rod portage out of South Temperance. Dustin decided to portage the canoe by himself leaving me to the two packs. This worked out fine so we did this the rest of the day. With a 42 pound canoe this was possible.

We had good weather all morning and made good time. Stopping at the falls between Weird and Jack lakes to swin was the highlight of the day. We also saw an osprey and a moose. We were back to the truck by noon. Dropped the canoe off at sawbill outfitters in Tofte and headed down to Castle Haven for lunch at the Rustic Inn.

A good trip. Next year: Return to Wine Lake....

Posted by rmunson at June 14, 2005 1:58 PM