Trip Route: Wood Lake

Entry Point:  Wood Lake

Trip Length: 3 Days

Apex: Indiana Lake

Exit:  Moose Lake

Level:  Moderate (perspective – it is possible to begin at the Wood Lake parking lot and paddle this loop in Moose lake in about 5 hours flat – I have done it.  Three days and two nights is a leisurely time schedule)

Pace:  6 – 8 miles per day (land & sea combined)

Scenery:  Beautiful – rocks, stick, water, rapids, portages

Busy Times: Last week of July – First week of August, Memorial Weekend, Labor Day Weekend

Features:  Crossed Wood Lake which is a good fishing Lake, follows into Hula and parts of the old logging routes from when the area was clear cut for shoring timber for the mines – at the turn of the century.  Hula was also a popular wild rice lake for the Ojibway Indians who came here  from Maine to kick the crap out of the Lakota Sioux who are now in South Dakota as a result.   Where were all the protesters then, eh?

Problems:  Limited campsites on Wood as many Twin Cities dwellers now believe that driving 4.5 hours from the south and  paddling 30 minutes is now a wilderness experience.  Sites at Wood can be booked with basecampers who think nothing of wearing everything out by not moving for 7 days in a stretch.  They also believe that it is legal to paddle out – during their permit stay-, drive to Ely, check their email, go shopping, and then return back to their campsite on Wood.  THIS ACTION HAS NEVER BEEN LEGAL – EVER!   You can’t camp on Hula, so it is not unusual for Twin Cities dwellers to break that law and return to Wood Lake to set up illegal campsites as well.  For some reason, those who ardently “protect” the BWCA seem to believe those laws they defend, don’t apply to themselves.  With no sites available, you may need to camp on Good Lake or Indiana lake both which only have 2 sites each and neither of these are anything special.

Solutions:  Travel early.   Travel like you mean it.   Carry field glasses.  Look at the sites from a distance.  Once you’ve captured a site for yourself, set out a big blue bathtowel on a visible tree branch to keep the late travelers from paddling right up to your nose to see if the site is full.   Now that you know the laws, file a complaint at the US Forest Service on the way out if you see “revolving door” campers on Wood Lake.  Better still, point it out to the lawbreakers on the portage, but do so from a distance.  They display great consternation and anger when you call them on their law-breaking practices.  You can tell who they are because their empty canoe will be laying at the landing with no humans around.  When you see that canoe back out on the lake after you’ve set up camp and it is late int he day, you’ll know what they are up to.  It’s supposed to be a wilderness experience.  It is not a state campground with car-campers and Hells Angels wannabes on hogs and Gold Wings.

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