Summer trip report: Mudro Lake entry point (Part 1)

Editor’s note: Staff members at the Friends of the Boundary Waters regularly take trips in the wilderness that we all love. Membership and Administrative Coordinator Cori Mattke wrote this trip report from her August trek. This is the first part of two.

Entry & Exit Point: #22 Mudro Lake
Number of Days: 5
Season: August 2013

A week-long BWCAW trip is an annual tradition for me and my husband. We started paddling together when we first started dating and over time have learned each other’s tripping styles. It’s a delicate dance to wilderness camp and travel with new people. You take routine, preference, and personality, stir them all together and you never really know how it’s all going to come out. Sometimes the people you hardly know at the entry point, turn out to be your ideal wilderness companion.

Thankfully for us, our tripping styles meshed pretty well but it got me thinking about tradition and how each of us carry tradition with us into the wilderness, like a compass and guide. Tradition is a part of everything we as paddlers do out there, from where you set up a tent and how you build a fire, to the route itself and how you structure your days of travel.

I think it’s safe to say that on this trip, we nailed it. We found that perfect balance of covering ground and relaxation, of “pushing it” and enjoying exactly where we were.

Day 1

Our trip started at the Mudro Lake entry point. We arrived early in the morning, fresh and ready to get on the water. The sky was the clear, the air slightly cool, and the water calm.

Entry Point

The week before our arrival, Ely had experienced a string of late summer storms that swelled lake levels and we coasted down the entrance to Mudro with uncharacteristic ease.

Our route took us quietly through Sandpit Lake and Tin Can Mike Lake, to Horse Lake where we stopped from lunch and contemplated our targets for camp.

Horse Lake

With sunny clear weather on our side, we decided to push on down the Horse River for a site on Basswood Lake, near Lower Basswood Falls. With a little entry-day luck we secured a site on a point, just east of the falls. It was wide and open, with shady pines and a breeze that lasted all evening.

Basswood Camp

Day 2

After a night of sound sleep we filled our bellies with oatmeal, packed up camp, and launched out onto a sunny, flat Basswood Lake.

Basswood Lake

We made a brief stop at Lower Basswood Falls to see the recent influx of water charging through the channels of bedrock between Basswood and Crooked Lake. Lower Basswood Falls is one of my favorite sets of rapids in the BWCAW. It’s right up there with Curtain and Rebecca Falls. There is something about the sheer power behind water and the glassine way it flows over rocks at the beginning of its violent journey down into Crooked Lake. It’s hard to believe that years ago voyageurs with the Hudson’s Bay Company would run these rapids with fully loaded canoes. Which also makes it no surprise that so many of those canoes capsized, leaving little bits of trading history wedged under the base of the falls.

Basswood Falls 1Basswood Falls 2

The rest of our day was spent paddling on Crooked Lake – up through the eastern channel and through Wednesday Bay. Stopping to take in the pictographs and offering a moment of reverence for the now dismantled Table Rock.

Crooked Lake Cliffs

Before long, the sun started to slip in the sky and our hunger and tired muscles began to suggest finding camp. After two long days of travel, we were ready to find a campsite worthy of a layover day. The criteria: a relatively flat tent pad, ample downed wood, a latrine that isn’t full, sunbathing rocks, and a point out onto the water to see the Perseid Meteor Shower as it passed through that evening. After checking a number of sites, we found the perfect one nestled between Thursday and Friday Bay.

Part Two of Cori’s trip report is coming soon!

(Photos by Ryan Mattke)

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