Wednesday, July 27, 2016

7/27/16 Update on the BWCA after the July 20th, 2016 Storm

Date Issued: July 27, 2016

USFS Information: 218-365-7600

We (the USFS) will not be posting sites as closed to avoid implying that the other sites are safe. Hazard trees have not been removed yet. When choosing a campsite and tent pads, visitors are reminded to look up and all around. There are many leaning trees, broken tops, and hanging branches that may fall easily. Saturated soils make otherwise stable trees prone to falling over. Consider these hazards and prevailing winds when choosing a parking, picnic, camping site, or tent pad.

Some access roads have not been widened. Even where they have been widened debris in ditches and on shoulders increases danger. Power companies continue to repair lines and there are still some down. We’ve had reports of people driving the access roads too fast and this is endangering our crews and each other. Getting visitors INTO the wilderness is NOT an emergency.

We have not been able to assess everything within the impacted area yet due to the need to open portages. Traveling roughly clockwise, beginning at Snowbank, here are the conditions as we know them right now:

·         Snowbank Area: Portages from Snowbank into Disappointment, Disappointment to Parent, and Parent to Snowbank are now passable. The portage into Grub was not cleared yesterday (mistakenly reported as cleared). Portages have been cleared from Snowbank east to Thomas Lake. The condition of portages from Boot to Caddyman Lake and Gibson to Ensign Lake are unknown.

·         The Snowbank/Kekekabic Hiking Trail has not been worked. Much of the trail is believed to be impassible, especially around Disappointment Mountain and on into Thomas. Hiking may be hazardous and is not advised.

·         Lake One Area: Portages into Lake Two are passable. Conditions beyond are believed to be mostly passable.

·         N. Kawishiwi/Gabbro area: Portages through Ojibway, Triangle and down into the North Kawishiwi River are passable. Conditions are unknown on the North Kawishiwi River, into Clear and into Eskwagama. Portages have been made passable from Little Gabbro, Gabbro, Bald Eagle, and Turtle to Clearwater Lake. Portages south from Clearwater to Gull have not been worked. The portage from Little Gabbro to Bruin is now passable.

·         The access into Glacier Pond is passable.  

·         Farm Lake, Birch, and White Iron roads and campsites are south of the largest impacts but had scattered damage. Roads are mostly passable. The South Kawishiwi and Birch Lake Campgrounds had little damage and are open.

·         Mudro entry point: The North Grassy Road is mostly open shoulder to shoulder now but the road is narrow and shoulders are now lined with cut trees. Power is not yet restored on much of the Echo Trail so power company trucks and workers may be on the roads. Please drive slowly! Mudro to Lower Basswood Falls through Horse is passable. Horse to Fourtown is passable. Conditions on portages to the west and north of Fourtown are unknown.

·         The Fenske Lake Campground was impacted and remains open. Crews cleared the Fenske Campground Trail, Swimming Beach, Group Site, and the trail to the public landing. They also made the Fenske to Everett Lake Portage passable.

·         Portages on the Circle Route are clear into Grassy Lake. Camping is not recommended on Bass, High, Dry, and Low Lakes at this time. Hiking the Bass Lake Trail may be hazardous. The trail is passable from the parking lot into Dry Falls. The portage from Dry into High is passable. The Dry Lake Loop of the trail is very hard hit and has not been cleared. A crew will be working the trail again today—please give them room to work. The portage into Bass Lake is passable.

·         Burntside/Crab Lake: The Van Vac access was hard hit but is now passable. Downed power lines were repaired. The Passi Road was impacted but is now passable. The Crab Lake portage was made passable yesterday. Campers report portages to the west and to the north of Crab Lake as rough but passable. Slim and Little Rice Lakes were impacted. The North Arm and Slim Lake Access roads were impacted and are now passable. The portages into Slim, Rice, Hook, and Kenue Lakes are passable.   

·         Fall and west Basswood: Newton and Pipestone portages are passable. Campsites on the southeastern shore of Pipestone were especially hard hit. A few campsites on Jackfish and, Back Bays and Newton Lake were also hard hit. Campers must choose sites and tent pads carefully, looking for hazard trees. Back Bay to Frog Bay portage is passable. The Fourmile Portage is passable to Mud, Ella Hall, and the north end of Muskeg. Beyond Muskeg the Fourmile is impassible.  

·         Moose Lake Road, eastern Basswood: The Moose Lake Road is passable. Power company trucks may be working on the road. Prairie Portage is passable. Portages into Sucker, Birch, and Ensign may be difficult but are passable. Portages farther east seem to have been less affected. Wind Lake portages are passable from Hoist Bay through to Moose Lake. 

·         Wood area: The Wood Lake area including Hula, Indiana, Good, and portages into Hoist Bay are passable.

If returning BWCAW visitors have updated information, please let us know.

 A note of caution:

·         Some branches and even whole trees are bent under pressure and may spring up suddenly if pressure is released so watch for spring poles if you are clearing blowdown.