Boundary Waters 2015 Entry Point Homer Lake May 31
Spent Saturday night at Camp 61 (motel) in Beaver Bay. Had already gotten our permit from the Tofte Ranger Station. That probably took about 15 min.
So on Sunday, the 31st we took Caribou Road (hwy 4) to Homer Lake. Our return trip was on Sawbill Road (hwy 2). I thought both roads were equally ok. There were quite a few cars at the entry point on Homer Lake - 10 maybe and we saw 1 guy there. As we were putting our stuff in, there were 2 sets of canoes that were coming out. The wind was favorable for us and we paddled easily through Homer to our first portage into Whack Lake.
It was relatively short, but just a bunch of rocks to walk across. John caught 5 Northerns as we paddled across the small lake. And came to our 2nd portage into Vern Lake. Also a short portage.
John didn't fish at all on Vern. From Vern we were going to Juno; both lakes are very long and I think we wanted to be sure we would get to a campsite at an appropriate time. Therefore, no fishing on Vern. Our last portage of the day was into Juno. About 60 rods I think and a real bugger.
There was a fair amount of elevation change and lots of big rocks to walk up and down on. And at the start of the portage I fell, my left leg didn't feel like negotiating the big rock step and I fell on my right leg. It was quite painful and it felt good to just lay on the rock and rest plus it was tricky trying to get up again because (lucky for me) my pack only weighed less than 25#. But I got up and headed on without much problem.
The guys we had talked to at Homer, that were leaving the BWCA said we should stay at site 1 on Juno Lake. They were at site 2 and said it was swampy. We checked out both sites and decided to try the 3rd and last site and it turned out to be great! John did some fishing and caught 6 Northern..
Day 2 Monday. We paddled a short distance and entered Brule Lake. I think it was about 65 rods, but not as demanding as the previous portage. Plus Brule was almost calm. We had to paddle across the whole lake and we did it with ease. John fished along the way. We saw only 1 canoe the whole day on Brule. We found a really neat campsite on the west side of Brule. Of the 3 sites on the west end, ours was the most northern one. We had checked out the other 2 and they were not nearly as nice. After we got to out site it started getting windy, so we were very lucky today. Plus John caught 6 bass!
Day 3 Tuesday. The push was to get to North Temperance Lake today because it was supposed to rain Tuesday nite. (and it did and wed and Thursday). So from our site on Brule it was a short distance to the portage into South Temperance.. It says 10 rods and I can't even remember it. We stopped on S Temperance at a campsite for lunch; saw the same people we had previously seen on Brule, and then we paddled the short ways to the portage into N Temperance. Enroute the fish were not biting, John tried.
The portage was 55 rods, but not bad, fairly flat. There were people on N Temperance. In fact they were at the first campsite as we got off of the portage. We stopped over to say hi; they were just looking at the site and planned to portage out of N Temperance heading toward Brule I think. So after they left we decided to take that site. We did check out the 2nd site, but liked the first one better. It was good, not counting the 1 million gnats and equal amount of mosquitoes. We even broke down and used bug spray. And even though the bug spray had to have been at least 15 years old, it worked great. It never got any too warm so we both had on clothes covering everything but our hands and face. Mosquitoes suck – literally.
On Tuesday evening a bald eagle was flying in our area and landed in a tree right across from us. It wasn't raining yet, so we paddled across to fish where he was sitting and John caught the first and only fish for that day. A bass I think. Later we went back; John had the tarp up and ready for the rain and we settled into our tent. We have a weather radio that works quite beautifully and they said rain soon. They were right. Not only did it rain, but there was thunder and lightning, wind and it poured. To the point when we got up the next day to check things out, the rock area that we had landed on and walked on was now under water. It was quite amazing.
Day 4 Wednesday. Still raining so we stayed in the tent and played solitaire on our phones till later in the morning. We planned to stay at this site for 2 nights, so instead of our usual oatmeal we had pancakes and bacon bits for breakfast. Delicious! It quit raining so we went fishing – caught our 1 fish of the day – and had lunch at campsite 3. Also a very nice site. Around 3pm it started raining again. Luckily we headed back to the tent because it started pouring again shortly thereafter. After listening to the radio they said rain all night and into Thursday.
Day 5 Thursday. We decided to stay one more night. They said it would be raining during the day and they got it right again. It wasn't all the day but on and off, at times fairly heavy. So we just fished in between the rain times. And caught 3 bass!!, one was at least 3 lbs. We fished every area of the lake at least once and the Bald Eagle was down aways from our site again so we went down to see him.
I forgot to write it, but on one of the lakes, as we were paddling, John noticed something in the water, pretty skinny looking, that was obviously not a beaver and didn't seem to be able to swim really well. We watched it go to shore and it was a mink! Swimming in the water! Whoever would have guessed?
And then, after dinner on our last day on N Temperance, John waved for me to come over. A little ways on another rock outcropping (that we called our veranda) a beaver had swum over and started eating a branch off of one of the trees. John tried whistling to get his attention, but he ignored us. Then John took a paddle and slapped it on the water and the beaver dove into the lake. Then he looked up, then looked over at us, got out of the water and started eating again. And he was not sidetracked again for any reason.
Day6 Friday We got up at 6:30 (6:30!!) paddled out of N Temperance, portaged to S Temperance, then portaged to Brule. Brule was calm! We traversed the whole lake, heading toward Jock Mock Bay. We saw a couple of canoes this time. One of them was at the island site we thought might be nice so we stopped to talk to them and they were just leaving. However we just looked at the site from the canoe and decided it probably wasn't too good. Then we paddled down to the very end of Jock Mock where there were 2 sites. Both were nice but we took the one to the north. It was spectacular! First off, no mosquitoes. There were probably about 4 tent sites and the whole place was set up like different rooms. Plus it was quite open so we strung up 2-3 clothes lines to dry everything. And then as John was looking for a tree to hang our food, he walked down to this area where there were just rocks. They weren't super cool rocks, but it was like it was a dry lake bed. Rocks everywhere. I walked around down there for awhile. There were areas of small amounts of water, and areas of almost like a bog with that thick, spongy dark green moss. It was really neat.
We went out fishing in our (Jock Mock) bay, but there were no fish to be had. Plus it had gotten quite windy. We were lucky we got up early and entered Brule when we did.
Day 7 Saturday. We left that beautiful site (we didn't see anybody at all after talking to those guys earlier). We headed for the portage, with the wind pushing us somewhat. We got into Juno and had to paddle against a quartering wind. It wasn't bad though. We portaged out of Juno into Vern. This was the bad portage. It didn't change any. We did meet 2 guys who were portaging into Juno and we had to wait a couple minutes for them to get into their canoe because the area wasn't big enough for us all. They had just entered at Homer and were planning to go all the way to North Temperance this day – Sat and then tomorrow paddle all the way back out!
John turned his ankle on the portage. However there was a huge rock on the trail and he was able to set the canoe down, supported on the rock , so he didn't have to pick it all the up from the ground. His ankle was relatively OK. We paddled up Vern and checked their 2 sites. We chose the 2nd one; the one right across from the portage into Whack Lake. This site had lots of rocks to climb up and had a neat site near the back to set our tent up. There was some standing water around, near where the fire grate was, but there were no (or at least very few mosquitoes) so that wasn't a problem.
We knew, via the weather radio that it was going to rain again tonight, so John set up the tarp and then we portaged across to Whack to go fish because he hadn't fished at all yet this day. Whack didn't let us down. John caught at least 6 Northrern. As we were fishing it just started to rain so we headed back to Vern and our tent. However it was slippery and although it was quite an easy portage, John slipped just as he was ready to put the canoe into the water and although he didn't fall, the canoe bounced its way to the lake. All was ok though. We did have to filter water before we went back to our site, so John did that.
We got back and ate and went to bed and listened to the pouring down rain again. Then it just rained on and off most of the night.
Day 8. Sunday When we got up in the morning where there had been a little bit of standing water, there was a lot more. And to go the toilet, you had to climb up fairly steep rock steps to get to the top and in the morning, it was like walking up a waterfall. But it wasn't raining so we ate breakfast, packed everything up wet and headed for Homer Lake to exit the BWCA.
We portaged back into Whack, John caught more Northern. Then we got to the fairly short portage to take us into Homer. Where we had walked on rocks and then a little wooden walkway, and then the ground; now the rocks were completely covered with water. Like past your ankles. So John took all the paks and walked through the water, over the wooden walkway (it was not underwater) and set the paks down on the ground. Then he floated the canoe through a narrow opening between a tree and a rock and pulled the canoe up onto the land. Then I walked through the water (but I wear rain boots) and assisted him to get the canoe up in the usual canoe carrying mode.
The good news is, that as we were paddling on Homer John caught a beautiful walleye! A little later he caught a nice size bass and then right after that he caught a Northern! We got to the exit point and took the canoe out and all the stuff and put the canoe on the car. There were only 3 cars this time in the lot, including our own. We looked out at the lake and those guys we had met back at the Juno-Vern portage were headed in.
They did a lot of paddling in a short weekend. They said they had a good time and were headed back to the cities. They lived around the UM campus.
We got in the car and went back to Duluth and stayed at the Hampton Inn for the night. No ships came in. There was a big, but very short lived storm that came through.
Day 9 Monday. Made it home. Was a great trip. Even in the rain.