BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
April 09 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1864 feet
Lizz & Swamp Lakes - 47
EP-47: Lizz-Gaskin-Meeds loop 6/2013
June 03, 2013
Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days:
We headed up to Grand Marais on Sunday night for dinner at Sven and Oles. We then continued up the Gunflint trail and stayed at Rockwood outfitters the night before our trip. We woke around 7AM, got ready for the day and had a breakfast of biscuits and gravy at Trail Center before we loaded up our rented Spirit II and took off across Poplar.
Our paddle across poplar was uneventful with a mild east breeze to out backs. We double portage as PhuD has chronic hypermobility (EDS type III) and is not able to carry much weight. MuD carried the canoe and food pack on the first go and the gear pack on the second trip. PhuD was responsible for the sleeping bag, pads and clothes. On to Liz which was quiet, clear and gorgeous. The portage and paddle through Caribou were uneventful and we were having a great time just getting away from society and into the wilderness. We headed down through the south arm of Horseshoe to Gaskin, where we would stay for the next two nights. Towards the end of Horseshoe we were getting tired and stopped for a little snack of jerky and dried fruit. The first campsite on Gaskin was taken and the second one we came across was open. It lies on a peninsula on the south end and had nice tent pads. We set up camp and started in on dinner, Steak with mushroom risotto-the idea we originally got from McVacek on our last outing with them. Dinner was had, dishes were washed, and we ended the night sitting in front of the fire playing cards. There was an awesome sunset this night and we didn't miss the opportunity to take a few pictures.
It was chilly overnight and it took us a couple tries to get our double mummy sleeping bag draft free, but after this we slept well. We had a breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon bits and Parmesan cheese which we had with McVacek on our last trip. After breakfast we cleaned up dishes and took a day trip down to Wenchell. We paddled roughly 1/3rd the way down the lake and found a small water falls on the south side. We then crossed to the north end had a lunch of red lentil curry soup and Cache Lake fry bread. (A note to those eating curry in the BWCA, the aftermath of curry becomes much more apparent when you are confined to a 3 man tent at night…) After lunch we noticed the wind was picking up out of the east and decided it was better to head back. Once back at camp we took a nap and then had a dinner of veggie fajitas. We then ended the night with cards and plans to move camp in the morning.
After coffee and a breakfast of breakfast fajitas (made with dehydrated eggs that were not from Cache Lake and left much to be desired) we headed to the east end of Gaskin and took the portage into Henson. A short paddle across Henson and then we were onto the portage to Pillsbury. Once on Pillsbury we could not find the portage into Swallow as it had been moved further east than what was indicated on our map. We stopped and had lunch at a campsite and then continued down the north shore and found the portage to Swallow. We crossed Swallow and found the Meeds portage and all was well until PhuD went to step out of the boat and got the "I'm going to faint" look in her eyes. She sat down and drank what remained of the clean water. MuD started some water through the filter and after PhuD confirmed she was feeling better MuD took off with the canoe and the food pack. The portage from Swallow to Meads was wet and sloppy. There was a downed tree at about head level and fortunately the fishing rods had slipped from their position just before MuD ran canoe first into them. MuD used this down tree to rest the canoe and secure the rods and then continued on his way. Upon return to PhuD we refilled the water and loaded up. Trip 2 consisted of PhuD carrying a couple paddles and MuD carried the two remaining packs. The portage was uneventful and we arrived on the Meads side portage ready to hit the water.
The wind had picked up during the day with the wind out of the east. Heading into the wind the waves were getting bigger as we continued towards the first island campsite on Meeds. We jumped island to island on the south chain and could then see the landing for the camp site (Camp 617). At this point there were considerable white caps and we decided get down on our knees to paddle over to the site, which ended up being a good decision. Approximately half way to the site PhuD's hat blew off and we had to turn around to get it. This was a little dicy but fortunately was completed without incident. With hat in tow we headed towards the campsite, ruttering and breaking to ensure as safe of landing as possible. We landed and found the campsite to be in fairly poor shape. The beavers have hit the woods hard, the latrine can be seen from the main sitting area and there was a fair amount of trash (wrappers and old instant coffee bags) strewn around the site. The wind out of the east blew up through the campsite which made even sitting by the fire cold. We had a dinner of vegetarian chili, did the dishes and headed to bed early with our spirits mildly dampened after a difficult day.
After a breakfast of loaded oatmeal with coffee we decided to move to Caribou for our final night, as the wind continued be out of the east and it would make for a nice short final day to head out. We broke down camp and jumped along the southern islands to cross Meeds as there was a moderate wind. We found the portage into the river to be rocky but short. The river was a very unique and we enjoyed a nice slow paddle through. We then portaged into Caribou and after checking out a few different sites we decided to take the site across from the portage into Lizz. This proved to be very entertaining, watching the groups come and go. We had a lunch of macaroni and cheese and then had a visit from the forest service, who recommended getting firewood from the portage as they toss the cleared wood just out of the way and this is usually dry and not rotten. We took this advice and ended up with some do the best firewood from our trip. We had a dinner of chicken pesto soup with cache lake italian fry bread. The fry bread from cache lake is absolutely amazing and if you have not tried it in the past we recommend you get some for future trips. After dinner we started the evening fire, played cards (golf) and reflected on the trip. We went to bed after a nice sunset and unfortunately missed the northern lights.
We again had McVacek loaded grits for breakfast and took our time breaking camp to allow the rain fly and tarp to dry in the morning sun. We then loaded up and had a nice short uneventful trip out. Lizz was calm and beautiful and we only wished that we had had more days of sunshine like this during our trip. We headed back to Rockwood Outfitters to make our way to Grand Marais for the evening. After squaring up with Mike and Linda, who are some of the nicest people we have had the pleasure of meeting, we had lunch at Trail Center and then headed to the Gunflint Motel. We had dinner at the Gunflint Tavern which we would strongly recommend if you have not tried their food before. Both of our dishes were very good and teeming with flavor.