Day 1 of 7
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 We dropped Miles (my son) and the canoe and packs off at the landing on Gunflint. Gi (my daughter) & I drove to the Cross River access and left the van and pop-up. We jogged the 3.5 miles back to Gunflint. Paddled north to Magnetic Lake. We anticipated a portage, so when we encountered the first little radips my crew panicked and started paddling backwards on me. I told them to run it, the water was deep enough. But they insisted on portaging. It was a rocky portage. We hit the real portage 1/4 mile down stream. Our water level was 8" below the lichen line. If you take it slowly the two drops are passable. We did all our portages in one trip. I carried the canoe. Gi had a Kondos canoe pack full of food and the cooking stuff. Miles carried the rest in a hugh Kondos pack.. We camped on the Northern site on Clove Lake. It was a good site, had wading, lots of tent pads and a tree to hang food. All our sites had food hanging trees.
Day 2 of 7
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 We carry a wind-up radio with us and rain was predicted for day 3. So the plan was to get as far as we could so we could chill if it rained. We canoed 15-1/2 miles to the western part of Lake Saganaga. The Minnesota 3 can cruised, and we had minimal portages. And more importantly, the Lake Saganaga was calm with a subtle headwind. My son sat in the middle and navigated us. He would give me a bearing, I'd set my compass and steer us across the lake. We camped at the site closest to Rocky Point. There was fire damage along the Pine & Granite Rivers. We saw lots of blueberries, and an eagles nest with two eaglets.
Day 3 of 7
Thursday, July 19, 2018 We paddles 3-1/2 miles southwest - 5 rod portage - 3/4 mile to Monument Portage at 80 rods. It has in impressive boardwalk on the north side. We portaged to Ester Lake - Hanson Lake and the South Arm of Knife Lake. Take a little time to check out the waterfalls We walked the portage to Toe Lake for camping but the lake had a lot of deadfall so we opted for the site east of the portage to Eddy Lake. The site has a great landing, tent pads were scarce. At this point we were 1 day ahead of schedule.
Day 4 of 7
Friday, July 20, 2018 We headed southeast to Eddy Lake and a series of 4 short portages - 25 rods to Eddy Lake - 15 rods to Jenny Lake - 15 rods to Annie Lake - 15 rods to Ogishkemucie Lake. These portages were steep, rocky and tough especially with a 20' canoe. The water level on Eddy Lake was at flood level, maybe 18" above the waterline and the entire shore consisted of standing dead conifers. The portage to Jenny Lake was hidden in murky green water and relatively new. It was in the right spot though. I have a 25 year old map that shows 3 campsites on Eddy lake. The new only shows one. Ogishkemucie Lake was empty, no canoes, no campers. After an 80 rod portage to Mueller Lake and a 100 rodder to Agamak we called it a day. Agamak Lake has 4 campsites. We picked the one on the north shore. It has 3 to 4 tent pads, shade and sun, and it sits up on a rocky with a good view. The landing was okay.
Day 5 of 7
Saturday, July 21, 2018 We paddle about 9 miles and arcossed 8 portages for a total of 295 rods. Lakes included Gabimichigami, Little Saganaga, Mora, Whipped, and Afton. We searched for a passage on to the north side of Time Lake but could not see a way though, so we took the Mora lake portage. From Whipped Lake we did not see a path north to Time Lake either. It was tall grass and swampy. The campsite as Whipped Lake was empty. We got to Afton Lake by 3:00pm and were glad to see that site empty as well. There we saw our one canoe party of the day and they were heading north to the Whipped Lake site. The Afton Lake site was nice with only 2 good tent pads. At this point we were 2 days ahead of schedule.
Day 6 of 7
Sunday, July 22, 2018 The goal for day six was to go up the Frost River to Frost Lake and camp there. The weather looked great. Five days - no rain - and day six was the same. I had done this entire route 25 years ago in a Coleman RamX with my wife, sister and nephew. So I knew what to expect. The water level was above normal. We came across numerous beaver dams. Some we paddle up, some we pulled the canoe over, and two we had to unload the canoe. We lost track of portages. Some seemed no longer needed like the 15 podder just before the Frost Lake portage. And some were hidden or not used. Canoers traveling down stream could bypass more portages. Most of the portages were rocky and difficult. The river was narrow ( less than 20' wide at times) with tight turns and it wore me out trying to steer. At other places the river / lakes were covered in lily pads. I expected moose. Perhaps it was too warm. At Frost Lake we saw moose tracks in the sand, and we heard one walk into our camp while we were sleeping. We had Frost Lake to ourselves. We took one of the two campsites on the east shore. There were lots of tent pads. Both sites had large cedar and hugh hemlock trees.
Day 7 of 7
Monday, July 23, 2018 The plan was to stop at the northern site on Cross Bay Lake. On my previous trip we had a cow and calf walk though while we were making dinner. But the lure of a hot shower and a pizza was too strong. From Frost Lake we made a bee line north to Long Island Lake, Rib Lake, Cross Bay Lake, Ham Lake, and the Cross River. The portages were backed up a little with people heading north and south. We were out by late afternoon.
The total trip was about 65 miles of paddling, and some 50 portages. The longest was 140 rods. We portaged about 2000 rods (six miles) in total. It took us 7 days. No rain. Food: Breakfast: 2 Cliff Bars each and instant coffee Lunch: 1 bagel, summer sausage, cheese, lemon aid, and various trail mixes. Dinner: Dried beef, instant mashed potatoes, Pasta Sides, Yakisoba, Mountain House. We also brought 18 large Braeburn Apples, Oreo cookies, red licorice, and homemade beef jerky. We found no trash on this route. No bears, One mouse.