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Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

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Menonomee River

Sylvania Wilderness

Wisconsin's Flowages

Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers


Boats & Gear

Boundary Waters Gear List

Bell Wildfire (Royalex)

Blackhawk Ariel

Mad River Independence (sold)

Wenonah Prism (sold)
-cane seat installation
-thwart replacement

Custom portage pads

Seat-mounted portage yoke

Outside canoe shelter

Inside canoe storage



Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Tour of the Crooked Lake Area via Mudro Lake

May 29 - June 8, 2011


Page 1: Overview

This trip is the first of two planned for this year. Once again, I plan to enter at Isabella Lake, travel down the Isabella River (through prime blackfly and mosquito nurseries), and exit at the South Kawishiwi River. Over the winter, my friend Tom - with 35 years of canoe tripping under his belt - had some health issues that slowed him down, and I was concerned that he might not be able to mount his usual Quetico adventure. I also wanted to get past my own limited methods and learn from someone with a lot of experience. So I invited him on the trip and when he said he wanted to see - and show me - some waterfalls, we shifted gears to Entry Point 23 (Mudro Lake). The Isabella will be there when I'm ready for it.

Being avid river paddlers, we at first plan to follow the Beartrap and Moosecamp Rivers. Eventually we realize that doing so would add greatly to the time and effort of the trip. Not only would we likely encounter a number of beaver dams, but most of the Beartrap River is in a Primitive Management Area, meaning that it gets little traffic and no maintenance. Neither of us is up for what would amount to bushwhacking so we decide to take the easier route through lakes.

The trip is originally scheduled for the last two weeks of May, but I wait too long and the only permit left for the Mudro entry is for May 30. So that's what we take.

We paddle through Mudro, Sandpit, Tin Can Mike and Horse Lakes; down the Horse River to the Basswood River; across the length of Crooked Lake; day-trip into Iron Lake; and exit through Papoose, Chippewa, Niki, Wagosh, Gun, Fairy, Boot, Fourtown, and Mudro Lakes.


The boat

Tom's new Nova Craft Cronje (pronounced kron-yeh) - 17’0”, Kevlar with wood trim, about 55 pounds - is everything the Nova Craft website claims. Amazingly, there are no pictures of the boat in this report. What's up with that?


The gear

  • Paddles: Sawyer Kai 10-degree bent; Zaveral 10-degree bent; Bending Branches Espresso ST straight, (formerly the Black Widow); Sawyer Cedar Voyageur straight. We could have left one of the straight paddles at home.
  • Sierra Designs Zeta 2 tent (Dave), Sierra Designs 3-person tent (Tom likes headroom), CCS Lean1 tarp - highly versatile; 8x10 nylon tarp, 6x8 lightweight poly tarp (for latrine use).
  • Packs: Knudsen Knu-Pac II pack mounted on NRS Paragon Pack; Grade VI medium pack; large red pack with no waist belt; two day packs.
  • Water filter: Platypus CleanStream with Aqua Mira backup, Katadyn filtration water bottle.
  • Cameras: Olympus 720SW (waterproof) and Canon 40D in Witz Sport Locker, 6 lbs. Pictures from the boat and on portages and trails were taken with the Olympus; those from land were taken with the Canon using an 18-200mm zoom lens (effective range 29-320mm due to 1.6 lens crop factor).

The cookset may be worth a look. It all fits in the 3-quart pot.


The Coleman stove packs safely and efficiently in a waterproof (and hopefully leakproof) box.



Total gear weight, not counting the boat, is about 140 lbs., including 12 days’ worth of food.


The food

We eat well. I expect to lose the usual 2-3 pounds, but Tom's cooking makes sure that doesn't happen. See each day's notes for menu items. An asterisk (*) indicates a dehydrated food item. We have some kind of cereal most days, topped with a half-and-half mix of instant nonfat dry milk and Nido Milk. A cup of water is added to four or five tablespoons of the dry mix; because Nido is whole milk, it takes longer to reconstitute, especially with cold water, so it's best mixed up the night before.


The map

The map case is strung between the gunwales on bungee cords so it's always visible when paddling and doesn't have to be carried separately on portages. Tom has his own maps, which are larger scale than mine.

A map of the area can be found here (opens in a new window). Leave the map open and you'll be able to follow along on each of the travel days. Red triangles indicate campsites; circles are for good sites, X's for bad ones.

Note: campsite numbers are the ones painted on the latrines.  The figures in parentheses indicate the site numbers from this commonly-used file: bwca-camp+port-wpt.gdb, located at this site:


Trip statistics:

  • Total map distance: 66 miles (61 miles on the water)
  • Portages: 20 covering 1,597 rods (5 miles)
  • Portage-walking distance: 1,597 x 3 = 4,791 rods, minus 560 for single-portaging both ways around Curtain Falls = 4,231 (13.2 miles)
  • Total overall distance (map distance plus double-portage "bonus"): 76 miles
  • Travel days (excluding day trip to Rebecca Falls): 6


Trip reports by day

Day 0 – Sunday, May 29, 2011 – The Portal

I get to Tom's around 8:30 and we spend the next hour or so eliminating duplicate gear items and deciding whose stuff we'll bring - my cookset and stove, his tarp, etc. We finally get away about 10:00 and make it to Ely quite uneventfully. Dinner is something yummy at the Chocolate Moose and we spend the night at Voyageur North Outfitters. Lynn is getting over a cold so ... no hug. Somehow I survive.


Days 1-3: Mon.-Wed., May 30-June 1 - Mudro to Horse Lake to the Basswood River

Days 4-6: Thurs.-Sat., June 2-4 - Basswood River to Sunday Bay

Days 7-8: Sun.-Mon., June 5-6 - Sunday Bay to Friday Bay

Days 9-11: Tues.-Thurs., June 7-9 - Friday Bay to Gun Lake to Mudro to Duluth

Lessons Learned: Equipment and Food Summary


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Last updated July 21, 2016
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