BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 09 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1498 feet
Ram Lake - 44
September 21, 2010
Number of Days:
Wanting to make it up to Grand Portage National Monument and still get to our Tuscarora outfitters bunkhouse before dark, we set off fairly early this morn'.
Making it to Grand Marais by lunch time. Fueled up the van, then stopped off at My Sisters' Place to eat. This venue is merely an in-town extension of Trail Center as they have the same decor & menu. Also, like Trail Center, the food was excellent.[paragraph break]
It had been some years since I'd ventured north past Grand Marais on hwy 61 & was the first time for Vickie. It was a gorgeous day & the kaleidoscope of autumns' hues were beginning to reveal their splendor. So we took our time languidly driving along enraptured by the juxtaposition of leaves, rocks, & water.[paragraph break]
As we sauntered up to the visitor center there was a robust "Voyaguer" just leading a group of folks out on a guided tour. We readily joined in. I had some knowledge of the voyaguers colorful past, but was really enlightened as this tour was incredibly informative and even entertaining. How they planted their gardens, how they built birch bark tepees & canoes, what they used for paddles, what they ate, what it was like in the BWCAW & Quetico in those days, & obviously a tour through the fort. There were many interesting artifacts & interpretive stations in the Visitors center as well. Did I mention free admission, though donations are welcome. We talked afterwards about possibly coming back next year during Rendezvous days. I strongly urge anyone who has an interest in the early history of BWCAW & canoeing to stop in. You won't be disappointed.
Instead of driving all the way back to Grand Marais, we opted to take 14 north and intersect Gunflint Trail further up. It was a narrow undulating road that likely didn't save us any time. But, it offered an even wilder experience & exploration of previously unforseen terrain. Which is always a good thing.[paragraph break] Pulled into Tuscarora Outfitters at about 5. After securing our permit, Andy suggested we explore the Centennial hiking trail which starts near the entrance of their driveway. At the trailhead were pamphlets explaining fragments of the history about the area at each of the numbered stations along the way. Much of it was about the old Paulson mine & the railroad grade that ran through here. Along the way there were a few wonderful vistas overlooking a swamp. Off in the distance, Gunflint lake even came into view. [paragraph break] We made it approximately 1/3 of the 3 mile trail (which covered most of the interpretive stations)when we decided to head back the way we came. As we climbed up to the ridge overlooking the swamp I noticed a large dark object below. We watched from the relative safety of the ridge as a bull moose lumbered his way across the length of the swamp. This was the first time Vickie had ever seen a moose in the wild. As the bull was approaching intersecting the hiking trail 50 yards below our position, Vickie figured we'd taken enough photos/videos etc. & should head back to the vehicle;-) [paragraph break] Continuing on down the trail with an ever watchful eye looking back, Vickie lead the way to the van. While trying to avert an attack from the rear..... we both nearly collapsed of heart attack as a spruce grouse, who obviously waited until the optimal moment for maximum shock value, flew up right in front of us. I say this because about all the bird did was fly straight up about 5 feet from the ground & perched itself on a branch. Now showing but little concern or fear for our intrusion. Daylight was quickly becoming scarce, so we headed back to our bunkhouse abode. After a little reading and pouring over the maps one last time we hit the sheets as we wanted to get an early start.
We arrived early at the EP. Fortunately one of the 3 parking spaces was available. It was cloudy and the air was still quite crisp as we began our long journey. The trail starts out on a very nice boardwalk. There are several gentle up & downs along the way. The only really challenging climb was at about the 2/3 mark where the trail crosses a small brook running out of a beaver pond. (The climb here is not nearly so bad heading the other way.) Then a long gradual descent to the lakeshore. All in all I'd say a difficulty of about 8?[paragraph break] While coming across, muscles in my lower back began spasming a little. It didn't feel like anything too serious & was not a severe pain, but it did tire me out much quicker. I told Vickie to go on ahead, I'd catch up. So I wound up taking a few "poses" along the way. I finally arrived at the lakeshore perhaps 15 minutes behind her? Vickie was very excited & came running up the trail to meet me. A bull moose had come out maybe 150 yards from the landing on the north shore and proceeded to swim across the lake towards where she presumed the portage into Carl lake was. She couldn't believe how loud it was when the bull shook off the excess water before moving on. I was happy she got to witness this spectacle. I surmised some good came out of my back aching. If I had come down first with the canoe screeching & scratching on all the branches overhanging the trail, perhaps he wouldn't have come out?[paragraph break] Morgan lake is actually quite nice & we contemplated why it did not have at least one campsite. The weather was now becoming more temperate. Coupled with the sweat we worked up on the portage we began to shed a few layers before paddling across Morgan as it looked as if the sun may indeed soon poke its head out. Soon, the Black Pearl set sail towards Jake. With its unknown adventures on these waters about to unfold.[paragraph break] We startled a few ducks as we pulled up. They flew off voicing their displeasure. Do ducks curse.....? The portage into Jake starts out a little muddy. Otherwise this is about as nice a trail as you would hope to find. Almost completely flat with pine duff & leaves covering much of the path. A shallow, mostly sandy landing awaits on the Jake side.[paragraph break] Wind was not a factor on this day & we made quick work of Jake. The next portage was shorter, but had a rather rocky landing. Also some climbing would be involved, though nothing too serious. The landing on the Vista end was very mucky. In fact, there was a small extension to the trail to avoid the worst of it. I didn't see how to walk the canoe across this extension as there were large branches overhanging that were impossible to avoid. So I sludged through calf deep muck along the shoreline. Didn't want to find out how deep it went further out. [paragraph break] We had made pretty good time getting to Vista. I told Vickie to keep an eye out for firewood as we paddled along. Once we got camp set up we could come back & pick it up if there was none in camp. The southern most site was our hopeful home for the day. Way across the lake we could see the northern most site was already occupied. As the Pearl rounded the large peninsula on the NE end of the lake & started veering south our hearts sunk just a bit. It quickly became evident that both of the other 2 sites were occupied as well. Time to put plan B into effect. Flip flopping our itenerary we had no choice but to head for Horseshoe & try to get a site there thus keeping our daytrip plans intact. We surmised we could camp on Vista the last night of our voyage on our way out. [paragraph break] Vista - Horseshoe portage wasn't all that long & the only climbing mandated was that of getting in & out of your vessel. But man for rocks! At both landings & all along the trail. The outlet of the creek on the Horseshoe end was kinda pretty though. By this time the sun had officially announced its presence and a beautiful fall day was in progress.[paragraph break] As we slowly drifted north around the last bend before the first campsite we noticed something floating in the water. Appeared to be a northern flicker? It didn't look like it had been there too long. Perhaps a hawk had taken it down? We must have frightened the predator away? As no one was coming forth to claim the fruits of their labor.[paragraph break] The southern most site soon can within eyeshot. 2 fellas were sitting on a log out from the site. They told us they were just eating their lunch & we could have the site. We told them we'd check out some of the other spots first. Much to our chagrin we came back awhile later with hat in hand. All the other sites had been claimed. Not that this site was uninhabitable. Just blew me away. First Vista was full & now Horseshoe had this many people on it this late in the year. I always like coming late in the year to these popular areas as normally there are far fewer people. Not the case here. As even several others paddled by later after we claimed the site. Think Grand Central Station. Ah well? Things could always be worse? [paragraph break] The only real drawback of this site was the fact that there was no really nice flat spot for a tent. Having gathered up some wood soon we had a fire going. We let 'er burn down a bit as we finished setting up camp. The Horseshoe lake welcoming committee was there to greet us. A triumphverant of whiskey jacks were ready & a waitin' for us to dig out the goodies. The flames having subsided I set about grilling our chipolte marinated pork chops. I used some tinfoil as the I don't really care for the forest service firegrates. The spacing is too wide (especially on the ends) thus risking a high liklihood that smaller cuts of meat could potentially fall through. No such problems here though. The chops sure turned out juicy & tasty. There is just something special about eating fresh meat out in the wilderness. Obviously it's much easier to do when it's a bit cooler. After dinner I finished splittin' up some firewood then relaxed with some Jimmy Beam mixed in my camelback. Vickie brought Baileys to mix in with her coffee. We sat & watched the night sky as the clouds began to roll in. Tomorrow the sea would likely be angry? AARRRRRRRGH! Morgan Lake, Jake Lake, Vista Lake, Horseshoe Lake
Today I would be celebrating my 29th birthday for the 14th time! At first light I got a, "Good mornin' old man" outta Vickie. I tell ya I get no respect. Apparently the weatherman wasn't aware of the situation either as it was cold, windy, gray & cloudy right from the get go. At least it wasn't raining.......yet, but there was a light mist in the air.[paragraph break]
Of course breakfast was my favorite. Pancakes (unfortunately no fresh blueberries) and, as an added bonus, bacon on the side. As we finished breakfast the mist turned to a light drizzle then eventually sporadic rain & gusts of wind. The pre-launch weather report had accurately forecast this day as windy & rainy. So, somewhat reluctantly the decision was made to stick close to camp this day. The consequence of this decision meant that 1 of our 2 planned exploratory excursions from our Horseshoe base would be aborted. A northern loop through Caribou, Meeds, & Pillsbury. Where pre-trip planning intelligence had confirmed that highly decorated BWCA.com luminary, code name mooseplums, would indeed commence being haunted by the waters in the Caribou/Horseshoe area. A high probability of crossing paths would be likely. Also on the itenarary was a southerly jaunt to Little Trout. Where we hoped to do some trout fishing. [paragraph break] Things being as they were, the bulk of the day was spent finding, sawing, & splitting firewood. We both put rather large dents in the books we'd brought. I also managed to doze off for a time as well.[paragraph break] Eventually restlessness crept up on us. The rain had stopped & the wind had let up as well. Donning our raingear, we took the Black Pearl out for a spin around Horsehoe. Perhaps we would run across mooseplums? First we paddled north. The northern most site was actually open. It would be the only one. Most people seemed to be hunkering down at their sites. As canoes were seen on shore overturned & not alot of noticeable activity going on. We had brought our fishing poles along. The wind was coming out of the east. So true to the saying, fishing was the least. Naturally once we gotten to the extreme north end of Horseshoe the rain picked up again accompanied by reinvigorated gusts of wind. We tried to tough it out for awhile, but eventually we succumbed to mother natures outburst & headed back to camp.[paragraph break] As evening neared the rain relented. Can't say that for the wind. Though it had rained for the better part of the day I was able to get a fire going. No doubt motivated by the desire to have birthday ribeyes for dinner? They sure helped make the cold wet day a bit more tolerable. Vickie made me a neat birthday card out of birch bark & also baked me a birthday cake. We tried something new (for us). Cornbread, where you only need to add water. Maybe we got a bad brand? It was baked properly but, we both agreed, it was quite tasteless. Never the less it was a nice gesture & much appreciated. We enjoyed a couple of cocktails & played some cribbage before calling it an early night. [paragraph break]Horseshoe Lake
This day started much the same as the previous. The last forecast we'd seen said the clouds & rain would lift this afternoon. We hoped so. With that in mind we determined to strike out from camp today come hell or high water. We deceided to head for Little Trout. Reasoning that it would be easier to visit the lakes to the north at a later date if necessary. Also it would be the only real trout fishing opportunity we'd have on this time as I'd heard, from several sources, that Winchell was pretty much a dead sea. I guess meeting mooseplums would have to wait? What became the beginning of a trend. We ate leftovers for breakfast. Bacon & the potatoes from dinner. Still very tasty.[paragraph break] Made quick work of the portage to Vista. Though all those rocks were beginning to get on my nerves. Found out after the fact that there are 2 landings on the Misquah side of the next portage. It was near impossible for both of us to get in at the closer of the 2. Very narrow. I had to paddle out into the bay & turn around then come back in to pick up Vickie. Unless you have an aluminum or heavy duty canoe? I'd recommend using the landing further down the trail. [paragraph break] The next portage was the fabled Misquah - Little Trout Bataan death march. It started out innocently enough taking awhile before the real "fun" begins. I'm not trying to downplay the hills. As they were substantial. In my opinion the worst part(s) were the boardwalks. Also the substatial amount of protruding roots in this section. This was largely due to the fact that it was raining & they were wet. But also they are so narrow & not entirely flat so as to cause one to easily slip & slide. After nearly falling and/or ripping a hamstring a couple times. I decide it would be much safer just to trudge through the muck that these boardwalks ran over. Mercifully the last decent was upon us. Definitely an, "O! The joy!" moment. But the celebration can't begin too early as there are some treacherous rocky areas to avoid along the descent down to the lake.[paragraph break] We pulled off at the campsite nearest the portage trail to catch our breath and grab a snack. Unfortunately the sky hadn't opened up yet but it looked like it wanted to. I told Vickie that there are also supposed to be rainbow trout in this lake as well as lake trout. She says she'd really like to catch a rainbow & would REALLY like to see a rainbow today. LOL[paragraph break] We start east then head south trolling the whole way. The west side of the big point on the south end of the lake is where we hit paydirt. Not gonna say we hammered 'em. And Vickie never got her rainbow. Fish or the kind in the sky. But we were happy with just lake trout as it added to the satisfaction of having labored to get here making it seem all the more worthwhile. [paragraph break] The lake trout we kept drew the attention of the resident bald eagle. Trailing behind in plain view on a stringer, Ol' baldy made a couple of uncomfortably close dives towards the Pearl while we were paddling about the lake. Enough so that we were paying more attention to where he was perched than to fishing.[paragraph break] We pulled off at the island site for lunch. From shore it looked like this would be an awesome site. But in reality I'd only give it 2 maaaaybe 3 stars. Still it's the best site on the lake. And like most island sites there are trails running in every direction for exploration. Hot bowls of Bear Creeks gumbo really hit the spot. [paragraph break] Intermittant rain continued all throughout the remainder of the day. At least the wind hadn't picked up. We finished our lunch. Paddled back out for some more fishing. Checking out the last site along the way. Easily the worst site on the lake. Fishing slowed after lunch so soon we endeavored to return to Horseshoe.[paragraph break] Knowing what to expect the portage itself didn't seem quite so bad this time. The major annoyance I had was due to the rain. While carrying the Black Pearl across the trail, inevitably there were a multitude of overhanging branches. The leafs on said branches, having collected moisture from the rain, rubbed against the canoe thus releasing their watery burden which ran down to the gunales where my hands were. Though I was wearing gloves, quickly they became saturated and the water then began trickling down my forearm. Thankfully it made it no further than my elbows which were creased carrying the canoe. This was where the one new item of gear purchased prior to this trip really showed it worth. We'd purhased Under Armour garments for both above & below the equator. Spendy items to be sure. But I'm here to testify that they are the real deal. Even when dampened a bit (forearm) they wick the moisture away & kept me warm. I felt it was money well spent.[paragraph break] Greeting us at the Misquah end was the ol' north wind. And he was howlin' pretty good. We lingered a bit eating some Clif bars hoping the wind would subside a little. Not sure what prompted us to push off, but that's just what we did. I've paddled in worse wind & waves. But it was still a struggle. Not many opportunities to catch your breath. About 2/3 of the way to the Vista portage we paddled by a couple of guys headed south. They inquired about the campsite on Misquah, then told us the weather tomorrow was supposed to be much nicer. I sure hope so![paragraph break] At first it looked like things calmed down some on Vista. We barely got out of the little back bay when we were hit will the north winds full fury. I surmised the southern most site would be taken. (having seen the 2 guys on Misquah) But we needed a safe harbor & that right quick! Occupied or not. Besides we wouldn't stay topside for very long in these waves. We struggled to make it frequently paddling with all we had just to hold our position. Finally we pulled up & were able to park the Black Pearl. To my surprise the site was not occupied. I haven't had the privilege of being able to hunker down during a wind/rain storm at a unoccupied 5 star site before. [paragraph break] We waited out the wind for nearly an hour. Finally it seemed it was dying down. We made a break for it. It was still tough paddling, but we were making steady progress towards the small islands. I noticed the people at thje next site up the lake intently watching our struggle from the safe haven of terra firma. Keeping close to the western shore we paddled a ways into the first arm before trying to cut across to the north. Just as we got headed towards the Horseshoe portage a sudden violent gust of wind caught the Black Pearl & abruptly swung us around to the east. It all happened so fast we didn't have time to react. Humbled, & not wanting to fight the wind, I quickly resolved to ride this gale out to the eastern shore. There, though still windy, we were finally able to proceed northwards and return to camp.[paragraph break] Horseshoe Lake, Vista Lake, Misquah Lake, Little Trout Lake
Woke to yet another gray morning. A quick oatmeal breakfast with some hot chocolate got us going tearing camp down. The clouds were slowly beginning to break. Soon we were packed up & on the water. Destination Winchell. [paragraph break] The first portage encountered was the trail to Gaskin. It started with a fairly tough climb then leveled off before dropping down to Gaskin. At mid trail there were a nice grouping of large pines & cedars. With the fall colors in full display it made for a really cool scenic trail. The landing on the Horseshoe side was quite rocky. Not so bad on the Gaskin end.[paragraph break] The island site was occupied as we paddled by. After our struggles the day before it was so nice to be paddling across Gaskin in mirror form. To say the least, Vickie was not impressed by the mucky landing to the next portage. Upon reaching the Winchell end Vickies' first word was, "WOW!" High rolling hills dominate the southern shore. Coupled with a stunning golden glow that only autumn can provide. WOW! Was a good way to describe the scene. We had the 5 star site at the other end of the lake in mind. Arriving early we paddled leisurely west across the lake checking out most of the campsites along the way. By this time the sun had finally reappeared after far too long of a hiatus. It made for a wonderful paddle down a wonderful lake. [paragraph break] Winchell was far less populated than Horseshoe. Only crossing paths with one large group. There is a small little brook emptying on the north shore. Exploration of this area revealed a nice grove of cedar trees with a plethora of moss covered rocks underfoot. [paragraph break] Good fortune was with us this day as the 5 star site just east of the northern arm was empty. Not having traveled too far we arrived fairly early in the day. The sun, now brightly shining down, provided us with an ideal opportunity to dry out our wet gear. It was amazing how fast much of our gear dried! Lazily we went about getting camp set up. The hammock had been setup on Horseshoe. But, with the exception of the first day, the weather was such that we had little inclination to use it. With the nice weather this day we both took the opportunity to stretch out & relax. Relishing every moment.[paragraph break] Unbeknownst to me. Vickie had brought a friend. A stuffed lizard from home we call "Lizzie". Unfortunately portaging was not one of her strong points! lol And once again we were greeted by some feathered friends. As 2 mergansers swam by Vickie commented, "I don't think I've ever seen only 2 at a time? Usually when we see them there's at least a dozen grouped together!" Almost directly south across the lake the most impressive cliff rose up adding ever more to wonderous ambiance of this special site. [paragraph break] The day was spent basking in the sunshine with no particular agenda. We had a nice supper of sausage with cheesy potatoes & onions on the side. By evening there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We sat by the fire with our beverages of choice & watched as the sun quickly sank in the western sky. There was a brief period of discomfort. This site is facing west. DIRECTLY west. Sitting in front of the firegrate as the sun set we couldn't avoid being nearly blinded from this vantage point. But after enduring the past couple of wet & cold days. This was almost a welcome nuisance. [paragraph break] Horseshoe Lake, Gaskin Lake, Winchell Lake
There being no blanket in the sky. The under armour proved it's worth yet again. Still it was tough to want to crawl out of the tent this morning. As we approached the firegrate area we quickly came to the realization we had a visitor in camp overnight. And apparently had gone through everything! Jack Frost was his name. And there was clear evidence he'd stopped by as he left his calling card strewn about everywhere.[paragraph break] The first order of business was to get some water boiling for coffee & hot chocolate. Fortunately the fire took off right away and we huddled around it. The sky was clear and the sun was ever so slowly working it's magic. The lake was like a sheet of glass. Breakfast was once again leftovers from supper. Before too long it had warmed up sufficiently as to neglect the fire. We packed up Vickies' Duluth Pack in preparation for a trip to Davis lake.[paragraph break] Still quite crisp as we headed out. Paddling helped keep us comfortable. There is a neat island rising up out of the water as we paddled for the portage to Omega lake. As we paddled through, we trolled the length of Omega without success. There was only a little ripple on the water so the going was quite easy. Soon we were upon the portage to Kiskadinna. There was an overhanging birch tree above the trail. Seemingly serving as an archway? While only 35 rods long, this portages bite was definitely worse than its' bark! Started out nice enough but soon the steep ascent & equally steep descent on the other side made a person take notice. I was glad it was dry as there were a few large unavoidable areas of rock face that assuredly would have been quite slick in wet conditions. There is even a makeshift staircase on the Kiskadinna end.[paragraph break] We stopped to catch our breath a bit on the Kiskadinna end. Laughing, as that trail took us a little by surprise. There is a fairly decent landing on the Kiskadinna side though. As we were preparing to push off the stern of the Pearl was ever so slightly catching on a boulder. I told Vickie she could hop in. (the bow) She countered,"Aren't we on a rock back there?" I said, "Yes. But this end will rise up quite a bit when you get in so don't worry about it. I'll move it when I get in." It was immediately obvious that was not the best choice of words I could've used! Perhaps taking this whole Captain Morgan thing too literally? Vickie was using alot of language normally associated with a sailor. "OH! The canoes' back end will rise WAAAAAY up when I get in the front!" That wasn't the intention of that statement & regrettably I had to laugh........rather vociferously. Fortunately the better angels of our nature prevailed and we paddled on down Kiskadinna.[paragraph break] Kiskadinna seemed to me a minature version of Winchell. Long & narrow higher on the south shore lower & all the campsites on the north. We checked out both sites. The first (east) site wasn't much to get excited about. But the next one was quite nice. The best landing is back to the east a few rods from the front of the site. The firgrate area wasn't the best but everything else was really top notch. Lots of flat ground.[paragraph break] The portage into Davis was right where our map said it would be. That said it was a little difficult to discern where the trail starts. There was a small beaver dam just before the trail which started out on the right (west) side of the small brook that parrallels the trail for the first 100 rods or so. [paragraph break] The trail quickly crosses the brook at a very rocky intersection. In my opinion this is absolutely one of the toughest portages in the BWCAW. There are no long grueling climbs. Instead there are several shorter steep climbs coupled with a path generally in poor condition especially where the trail ran lose alongside the brook. Very rocky & wet. There were a few spots where it was tough to find the trail. Common sense prevailed. The trail improves the closer one gets to Davis lake. We saw several tracks along the way that we later identified as that of a Canadien Lynx. Davis lake was sparkling with diamonds providing a memorable & welcome initial unveiling. [paragraph break] Fishing on Davis was uneventful this day. We covered alot of water.....no luck. At least it was a beautiful day to be out on the water. I dare say it was hot. We pulled off to have lunch at the eastern most site. This was an absolutely awesome site! A great parking garage tht will provide a safe harbor in windy conditions. Superb tent sites & firegrate. There is a long walk to the latrine. Evidence of the 2006 famine fire is clearly visible nearby. But the site itself is unscathed. There were even various mooseplums scattered about the perimeter. I can't imagine there are an over abundance of visitors here? Tough portages in & out. [paragraph break] After lunch we proceeded back towards Winchell. Came across the first people we'd seen all day on the portage from North Cone into Cliff. In fact the trail was saturated with travelers heading the other way. Memorably a couple of fellas really struggling to get over a fallen tree. It was a pleasant paddle the rest of the way home.[paragraph break] After getting back to camp & settling in. I pulled out a 6 pack of beer I had smuggled in. One, of many, great things about trips at this time of year is that you are almost always assured of a cold drink. We toasted to having been together for 1 year. We enjoyed the twinkling evening sky with a nice fire glowing nearby. [paragraph break] Winchell Lake, Omega Lake, Kiskadinna Lake, Davis Lake, North Cone Lake, Cliff Lake, Wanihigan Lake
Quite a bit warmer this morning. Largely due to the cloud cover that has had moved in over night. The uncertainty of how the weather would unfold this day? We resolved to keep close to home today & explore Winchell. [paragraph break] Looking at the map we noticed a small stream running out of Tremble lake emptying into Winchells' southern shore. It took a little bushwacking but after geetting through the initial scrub & cedar trees it was pretty easy going for not having a trail. There was a small cascading waterfall here. This was quite a pleasant surprise. As we hadn't heard anything of this in our pre-trip planning. A really cool spot.[paragraph break] The next spot we headed for we had heard about. The cliffs on the south shore just across from our site. We had heard there was a trail leading up to the top. We had some difficulty finding this trail. There were a few different trails heading up just east of the cliffs. One that looked like it was made by the beaver living nearby. These trails just sort of fade away after 50 yards or so. Essentially we bushwacked our way to the top. We found out on our way down where the trail was. There were some large cedars down aross thr trail. Which make it very easy to lose the trail coming from the bottom. Basically what I'd tell anyone looking for this trail. Find one of the trails head straight up for about 50 yards then veer right (west) at about a 45 degree angle & work your way to the top. Even on the trail, which is barely discernable, it's going to be a tough climb.[paragraph break] As expected. Once topside we were afforded breathtaking views in 3 diretions. We even got a beautiful birdseye view of the peninsula our site was located on. [paragraph break] As we headed back down trying to find a trail. I stumbled upon, what I felt was, quite the find. An almost entirely intact moose shed! Only one of the tines was chewed away with only minimal marks on the rest. For having been shed 8-9 months prior. I felt it was still in pretty good shape. In keeeping with the principals set forth by the forest service. I LEFT NO TRACE that it was ever there:-) [paragraph break] Windy conditions suggested a weather change was imminent. We head back to camp. We spend the rest of the day shore fishing (with no luck) & playing cribbage. Sporadic rain finally dissipated by evening. And we were able to have a nice fire our last night on Winchell. [paragraph break] Winchell Lake
Couldn't help but feel a bit of melancholy this morn'. We would be packing up & leaving this great site soon. Once again most everything was wet. Instead of Vista, we decided to push for Lux or Carl lake today. So we were in position for a quicker exit tomorrow. [paragraph break] While somewhat gloomy, there wasn't really any wind so the paddle across Winchell was very pleasant. Our neighbors the mergansers came out to bid us farewell. As did several immature loons along the way. A bald eagle soared overhead & we seen this little guy loping along the north shoreline. [paragraph break] We retraced our voyage all the way back to Jake lake. There we turned south into Lux lake. A good trail gradually climbs most of the way before dropping down to Lux. The landings are terrible. Especially on the Jake side. Loose rocks make it very difficult to find firm footing even in the water.[paragraph break] We stop & check out the site on Lux. Vickie thought the rock chairs were a novel idea. With few other ammenities we hoped the site on Carl would be a little more hospitable. We then paddled across Lux to the portage into Carl.[paragraph break] Though short, there was a substantial climb over a well worn trail. The landings were much better at this one. Once on Carl we were admonished by a trio of otters who hissed their displeasure at our intrusion. We sat & watched them play their games. Vickie hoped the moose she'd seen swim over towards Carl lake was still hanging around this area.[paragraph break] The site a Carl was a bit better than the one we passed up on Lux. A decent rock slope landing. The site itself was full of scrub & brush. Still there were a few decent tent pads & the firgrate area was kinda neat. [paragraph break] We had Chicken fajitas for dinner. I set about gettin' some firewood put up & trying to get things somewhat dried out. I didn't even bother setting up the tarp. As I was choppin' some firewood, Vickie yelled that I should come down to the lake shore to take a look at something. Vickie said, "I think we're gonna have an awesome sunset?" Indeed it was shaping up to be just that. [paragraph break] Appropriately our last night in the wilderness gave us a breathtaking, if all too brief, sunset. We lingered by the lakeshore awhile. We could hear something large occasionally moving through the brush just across this narrow lake. Unfortunately we never got to see the source. As it got darker we retreated back to the warmth of the fire. We don't consume much of our remaining ardent spirits tonight as we wanted to get an early start in the morning. [paragraph break] Winchell Lake, Gaskin Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Vista Lake, Jake Lake, Lux Lake, Carl Lake
As planned we got up early had a quick breakfast of oatmeal & were on our way. We had heard strong gusts of wind throughout the night which continued through the morning. But Carl itself is quite calm. The strong winds are up in the clouds as they streak by. The portage into Morgan was different. Rocks need to be avoided as we approahed into a swampy area complete with cattails. Obviously the trail was wet except for the last few rods to Morgan. [paragraph break] The strong winds had little effect on Morgan as well. It looked like there were 2 layers of clouds. The sun tried desperately to come out but ultimately the clouds overtook her. In no time we were at our final portage trail. We didn't quite beat the rain. The last leg of the portage it started to sprinkle gradually gaining momentum. By the time we reached the vehicle there was a good old fashioned soaker in progress. We changed into dry clothes in the vehicle. (Thankfully no one pulled up ;-)[paragraph break] We drove into town in time to catch the lunch buffett at Sven & Oles'. From there it was homeward bound to Clearwater. AYE! ITWER A GREAT TRIP MATEY!![paragraph break] Carl Lake, Morgan Lake