Takucmich Lake Canoe Trip Revisited by Drew Brockett

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Takucmich Lake Canoe Trip Revisited by Drew Brockett

Takucmich Lake Canoe Trip

We’re republishing this here as the first of a series of old canoe trip reports and blog post from years ago. Just like reruns of classic sports events on the streaming services now, these are a few looks back at memorable experiences we’ve had on Boundary Waters Canoe Trips.

Drew’s 2010 Fall Trip
Throughout the years, I have written about my annual trip with my uncle from Santa Fe, Kerth, the inventor of Atomic Hashbrowns, and now is the time to take you on another journey. It’s a perfect time for this story since many people are thinking about their summer trip to the BWCA and also need to think about something other than snow and ice. So, trade in your shovel for a bent shaft paddle and away we go……


September 24, 2010
Entry Point #14 Little Indian Sioux River North – Upper Pauness – Lower Pauness – Loon – Little Loon – Slim
What a day!! It rained all day and it was a strong north wind. We are soaked and tired when we see the site on Slim that we were hoping to get. Not even the best raingear will keep you dry in a soaker like we had. The paddling from Devil’s Cascade to Slim was some of the toughest we’ve faced. It was the kind of into-your-face wind that when you were along the shoreline, it seemed like you were hardly making any progress. The full-day rain turned many portages into rivers, especially the one between Little Loon and Slim. But, we made it to a wonderful site and set up the tarp and tent; then changed clothes and took a little nap. No matter what the day is like, it’s so good to get out there again, plus the autumn colors are brilliant. 

September 25, 2010
Slim – Section 3 Pond – North/South – Steep – Eugene – Gun – Tesaker – Takucmich
The weather was completely different from yesterday. We can paddle easily and actually look around a bit more instead of just digging and digging with each stroke of the paddle. The woods are “on fire” with color. It was so nice to have a simple morning overlooking Slim before we headed north. As we were packing up camp, we heard wolves to the north. One can never get tired of that!

Slim Lake morning after the big rain

Soon we were headed toward the portage/creek into Section 3 Pond. As we got close to the portage, the wolves started howling again….close and loud. We started drifting and listening to the keepers of the woods. After they stopped, we did the portage and came back for the second load and they started up again. Of course we stopped and listened. Too bad we had to move on to the next campsite, but what an incredible start to the day.
Eventually, we arrived at Takucmich. We saw a few trippers on a previous portage and that would be the last people for days. After checking a few sites, we chose the best one. We settled in and enjoyed a completely clear sky. After a little relaxation time by the lake, we went out and tried a little fishing. No luck, but we got our lines in the water. The day was good. The night would be, too, as we didn’t put the rainfly on the tent. Stars filled the sky and a full moon was out. Sleeping in a Sierra Designs Lightning XT 3P tent with that kind of night is the best. Full screen walls and ceiling make you a part of the wilderness.

September 26, 2010
Layover on Takucmich
It was a beautiful sunny fall day, but breezy. Today’s little journey was to check out the small isolated lake named Trillium. We took our time getting there as we planned to eat lunch at that lake. Trillium is a neat little lake that is not used much. The campsite looked as though nobody had been there all summer. That is where we sat down for a quiet lunch looking at incredible colors in the trees.
We eventually headed back to our basecamp and fished along the way. We both caught some nice smallmouth. Hanging out in camp was the plan for the afternoon.

Tukucmich Lake Camp Site

Atomic Hashbrowns were prepared for dinner and they were delicious. They are best eaten on a canoe trip. As we sat and watched the evening go by, three otters swam by. It’s always a thrill to see them out in the wilderness! As it got to be dusk, we sat on the rocks right next to shore and watch a few bats skim the water. The skies remained clear so the fly is not going on the tent again. We’ll sleep under the full moon.

September 27, 2010
Layover on Tukucmich
This layover was not in the plans. It was 3:30am and we both got up and took a short walk to the rocks near shore. The full moon lit the way. We loved the site and all we had going for us at this spot that we decided right then and there, that we were staying put. This is one of the best things about BWCA trips; you can create your own itinerary even while out there.

It became a bit windy after that which brought in cloudy skies and rain by mid-morning. We had breakfast and lunch under the tarp. After that, it was nap time as we waited for the weather to clear.

Tent on Takucmich

 The rain didn’t last too long. The skies cleared to a mostly cloudy afternoon with less wind. That was our sign to get into the canoe. We took the portage to Lac La Croix and did some fishing. Not too much action, but Kerth did catch a good-size northern pike!
Dinner was near shore again. It was a very pleasant evening….calm with the temperature at a warm 60 degrees. The only thing about this sudden warmth is that a few black flies and mosquitoes popped out today and they like me much more than my uncle. Perhaps he has way more “repellent” in his blood from eating all that spicy food down in Santa Fe. 🙂
September 28, 2010
Layover on Tukucmich
We decided to stay yet another day. This campsite and lake are just too special.

Drew and Kerth

The day was great, starting out gray and calm with the sun coming out in the afternoon. After a late breakfast, we decided to troll for a lake trout. No luck, but we were happy to just be paddling.
Lunch was next and another short nap in the tent. After that, back to the lake for more fishing. Almost right away I caught a nice “laker”. Excellent!! We like to have at least one fish meal on a trip and now we knew what the dinner plans were……fresh lake trout with Atomic Hashbrowns!! What a perfect dinner on Tukucmich Lake.

Fresh Lake Trout and Atomic Hash Browns

Thinking back on the day, we thought that to paddle slowly so we can troll, with the bright fall colors all around us and the rugged beauty of this remote lake is certainly an experience to remember. It was a pleasant day in the wilderness of Minnesota.

September 29, 2010
Takucmich – Tesaker – Gun – Little Beartrack – Eugene – Steep
It was sad to leave our basecamp, but it was time to move on. We decided to take three easy days to get back. Today turned out to be another wet travel day. There was a good wind and it was cloudy. It rained the entire time we paddled/portaged to Steep Lake. Once we arrived at the site, it stopped raining….it figures. It was now only noon so the day was young.

View from Steep Lake Campsite

But instead of doing too much, we just lounged around the site today. This site is in the southwest area of the lake in the narrows and the view is great. More dense forest is right in front of us. It’s different than just looking out over a lake. We like it and it feels remote and rugged. The site sits high on the rocks and isn’t too easy to find, but it is right where it should be according to the map. It’s got a very nice tent pad, but the site doesn’t seem to be used too often (nothing like the one on Trillium, though).
Before the trip, we heard that Saturn was going to be very bright and this evening we had a perfect view of it over the pines on the other side of the narrows. It was a fine evening on the rocks as the evening passed by. Still no canoeists since day two! Nice!

September 30, 2010
Steep – North/South – Section 3 Pond – Slim
Beautiful fall day! Great day to paddle!

Creek at Southern end of Section 3 Pond

Turned out to be an easy day and we got back to that great site on Slim that we wanted. It was well before noon when we arrived. We set-up camp and ate lunch. After that, we took some time to relax and then wanted to at least try to see how the fishing was in this lake. No luck again, but that’s ok, so it was back to camp to take it easy the rest of the afternoon at this truly great piece of granite.

Independent Ecosystem growing on tip of downed tree

That little creek area between Section 3 Pond and Slim is one of the lovelier places in the BWCA. It’s a fine place to paddle. We love little creeks like that and this one did not disappoint at all.
Dinner was the third serving of Atomic Hashbrowns. You can’t have too much of a good thing.

Fall Colors on North/South Lake

The night was clear so we didn’t put the rainfly on the tent again. We hoped that the wolves would howl again, but that didn’t happen. However, we did hear a few owls.

October 1, 2010
Slim – Little Loon – East Loon Bay – Heritage Creek – Heritage
The morning was quite nice…..wind from the north and just a few sprinkles here and there. It was one of those “mixed-bag of weather” kinds of days. There were sunny times, clouds, scattered rain, and some wind, but overall a good day to travel.
We landed on the beach in East Loon Bay to find the portage to Heritage Creek. There were a lot of animal tracks in the sand which were fun to see. Soon after a quick break, we portaged everything over to Heritage Creek. Another wonderful creek to paddle and it certainly has that “out there” feel to it.
The northern site on Heritage was our planned spot and it was open so we were happy. It’s a very nice site. Arrival time was 1:30pm so we ate lunch and set up camp. After that, we fished a bit and then spent the evening looking at the surroundings from under the tarp. A muskrat swam by so that was the animal sighting of the day.

October 2, 2010
Heritage – Shell – Lower Pauness – Upper Pauness – Little Indian Sioux River
It was a bit chilly last night and we had frost in the morning. There was also a thick fog that created a sort of Monet-type picture opportunity. It was beautiful. We did hear wolves howling in the distance to the east last night. That’s a nice thing to hear on the final night.

Morning fog on Heritage Lake

It was a perfect day to travel with a light north wind. When we got to Shell, we saw our first canoeists since day two and a few more after that as we paddled along. Eventually, we got back to the final portage and headed back to Ely. Another great trip is in the books! Thanks for coming up to Ely, MN again, Uncle Kerth!!

Reflections……

  • It had been a few years since Kerth and I were in this area so I decided that this would be the place for our journey. There is no question it’s probably my favorite area of the Boundary Waters. There are a lot of cliffs and rugged shoreline. The “feel” of this area is one of remoteness and that’s something we look for when paddling.
  • Another fall trip is done and this one had the best autumn colors. If you can ever take a late September journey in the Boundary Waters, it’s well worth it.
  • Let me know if you are interested in my uncle’s write-up of the Atomic Hashbrowns. We can get it on the blog again. It’s on there now from a few years ago, but I can stick it on the next e-newsletter so it’s easier to find.
  • Remember that you have to take a trip into the Boundary Waters to be able to experience what it’s all about. I’m more than happy to help plan your journey up here.
  • Do any of you have a favorite lake in this area? Let us know.
  • No moose sightings on this trip, but we did see fresh dropping on a portage coming back that we didn’t see on the way in on the Slim to Little Loon portage. It’s nice to know there was one walking the portage while we were up in the northern area.

Thanks for reading this and for “taking” the trip with me again. I love thinking about each trip and sharing with you the possibilities that are out there in the Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness areas.

Drew

3 Comments

Thanks Drew,
I remember reading this trip report back in 2010 and getting turned on about the area. We did a similar route the next year but stopped on Gun Lake for a few days. We did the bushwack portage from Slim to Fat Lake and that was fun and not too bad.
My biggest take-away from this trip report was the Atomic Hashbrowns you were fixing. I got the recipe and they are now part of our regular menu. Can’t get enough of them.

Thanks for sharing this trip report again. You just recharged my trip batteries and I think we will go back to this area again.

Thanks for taking g me along Drew. What a great route@ I have only done part of this and would like to experience the upper part one day. I did have the recipe for atomic potatoes but have misplaced it so a repost of that would be great. Hope to see you guys later this year. Keep yourselves safe.

My four sons and younger brother did this trip in July of 2018, but portaged into Lac La Croix from Takucmich (also our “layover day” site) for the return trip, and came back on the west side of Coleman Island through Fish Stake Narrows, Boulder Bay, Boulder River (one of my favorite river paddles, but be careful, it is called the Boulder River for a good reason!), Lake Agnes, and Nina Moose Lake. After guiding crews on assorted “random” annual trips from my son’s BSA troop for the past 20 years, it was added to my bucket list in 2014 to paddle on every lake with a campsite that you can paddle to on Fischer 16 and 23. Needed this loop to hit a few of those remaining remote upper lakes. We camped on an island southwest of Fish Stake Narrows on the way back in order to knock off Toe Lake with a side trip, the last lake on my list.

This is a great trip, but it is a bit of a challenge for a beginning crew. Glad to have taken it with my boys to complete my bucket list. I’m inspired to add another BWCAW bucket list item, and hope to do it in June of 2020, if COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way.

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