DescriptionYodeler Lake is a small lake in the Loon River drainage 13½ miles ESE of Crane Lake and 29 miles northwest of Ely. Only a half mile across, it sits at the headwaters of Yodeler Creek, some ¾ mile north of Lynx. Yodeler Creek loses 7' of elevation in the first 50 rods below the lake, leveling out for the next 150 rods through a marshy fen, before dropping 30' in the final 65 rods into Lynx.
Access to Yodeler is from Lynx, by way of two rough, unmarked portages and a challenging wetland paddle. The first portage, of about 20 rods, is on the eastern bank of Yodeler Creek, running from the north shore of Lynx to a fine rock landing on the eastern end of a beaver dam. From the landing, the canoe route crosses to the western shore and follows it, often quite closely, for the the first half of the paddle. Expect to have to step out and drag the canoe early on where the passage is pinched up against a rock slope. The route is narrow, twisting, and punctuated with submerged snags, some of which can be floated over, some of which have been cut at one end, and some of which will require lift-overs. (The latter can be challenging as good, solid footing is not always available). About halfway up, the passage returns to the center and confronts two beaver dams within but a couple of canoe lengths of each other. The lower dam is low to the water while the upper rises a couple of feet. Once at the end of the navigable portion of the creek, a wet landing of old logs on a floating peat mat to the east side of the stream gives access to a portage of about 30 rods, through alder thickets and over windfalls, climbing near the end (with some fairly treacherous footing) before dropping steeply to the lake shore.
The forest off the southeastern shore of Yodeler dates from the stand replacing blaze of 1864 while the remainder of the forest encircling the lake has grown up after the more recent fires of 1894, interrupted here and there by remnant stands of mid-18th century origin. This region of the BWCA escaped damage in the 4th of July windstorms of 1999, which caused such extensive tree loss to the south and east.
CampsitesYodeler Lake supports one established, but apparently little-used, campsite, on its southwestern shore. As of June 1999, the site was in pretty rough shape, though still useable for small parties. A large number of blown down Jack Pines crisscrossed the area, thoroughly obstructing what had once been the trail to the latrine (still an old-style, wooden box model). The fire grate appeared to have been transported by some enterprising campers to a more open, though unofficial, site across the lake.
Planning ConsiderationsVisiting Yodeler Lake is very much a PMA experience, without the PMA. The two portages at either end are rough, apparently unmaintained, and not reflected on the current Fisher or McKenzie maps of the area. While the beaver dams on the creek should help to maintain water levels, even small drops will make the passage significantly more difficult. This one is probably best planned for early season trips.
Because travel beyond Yodeler by canoe, while not impossible, is, for most parties, highly unlikely, consider taking only one boat (your lightest and shortest) across the final portage and ferry your group across to the campsite. Cache the others near the portage landing on the fen side. This is too rough a portage to carry over more than is necessary.
WildlifeWhile there is no DNR lake survey available for Yodeler, experience has shown it to support a vigorous population of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). And the spring frog chorus is outstanding.
Notes and CommentsOn the way in, do allow time to savour the beauty of the fen passage. It's a rich garden of northern wetland species, including Blue Flag water iris, Cottongrass sedges, and water lilies. Don't miss the tiny Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) growing on floating logs and old stumps.
Yodeler Lake is an underappreciated jewel. It's tough to get to, but very much worth the effort.
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