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December 10 2023

Entry Point 49 - Skipper & Portage Lakes

Skipper and Portage Lakes entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 28 miles. Access is a 320-rod portage from Poplar Lake or a 230-rod portage from Iron Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1865 feet
Latitude: 48.0517
Longitude: -90.5366
Skipper & Portage Lakes - 49

Across the Divide and Back

by cowdoc
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 14, 2009
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake
Exit Point: Missing Link Lake (51)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
Wanted an EP near Tuscarora Lodge since my daughter (lilcowdoc) is working there again this summer. Just me and the 2 boys this year, so we asked our friend Jordan to go and round the group out to 4. Jordan had been up once before and was happy to go again. Trip report will be kind of in note form. I took it from my journal scribblings.

Part 1 of 8

Saturday June 13th. Dark, rainy morning when we left. Picked up Jordan and headed to Madison. The rain cleared out somewhere near the Dells. Saw a big bear cross 53 near Superior. Talked on cell phone to Izzy and waved as he drove past us somewhere near Lutsen. He had been on Alpine all week.Got gas at Buck's in GM. Temp was 57! Got to Tuscarora, met LCD and settled into bunkhouse and then went to Trail Center for a quick supper. It was 72 up on the trail and 10 day forecast looked good. Chatted with a group of Boyscouts from Kansas who were going to do a loop similar to ours from last year.[paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 2 of 8

Sunday June 14th Breakfast at Tusc at 7am. LCD dropped us off at the Crossbay ep and we are on the water at about 8:15. Lots of puddle jumping on the first leg of the Cross River. Portages have some bear scat and a lot of wolf scat. Meet 2 groups and 2 soloists near Ham and Rib, otherwise pretty quiet. Get to Long Island about 11:30 and head east to find campsite. Settle on site #563. Only other group we see is across the bay on site #562. The day is hot and breezy from the east. Fishing is not good between the wind and cool water temps. Had steak and tater dish for supper and crash out early in the cool night air.[paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 3 of 8

Monday June 15th On the water by 8:15. We pull through some beaver dams from Long Island to Muskeg Creek. Very tranquil paddle on the creek and into Muskeg. The 190 from there to Kiskadinna is a nasty little hike. Not bad at start but has a wall near the end. Rehydrate and take off on Kisk at about 10:30.From Kisk it's the up and over portage to Omega and then down to Winchell and a lunch break. It's a little windy crossing Winchell, but not too bad to take in the sites of that beautiful lake. The south bank cliffs in Winchell look lush and green and BIG!. We run into 2 guys on the Cliff/North Cone portage and quickly pass them as we cross North Cone and float through the rapids to arrive at Middle Cone at about 3:00. The 2 boys stay there at the only campsite while Jordan and I float the next rapids into South Cone. That site is full and a bunch of people have paddled in from Brule to fish in there. We go back to Mid Cone to set up camp. It's not a great site but the east wind is blowing in and making it tolerable. This site is on an old logging road. It would be a little nicer if there were less cedars along the bank. I hope it's not a moose highway because the tent is in the middle of the old road. The bugs get pretty bad so we hang the bug net under the tarp and save the day. The rest of the afternoon is spent fishing the west bank and then it’s time for supper, and a session under the bug net while enjoying the fire. [paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 4 of 8

Tuesaday June 16th It's a pancake and bacon morning. I spot a wake on the lake and the zoom on the camera shows a moose cow and calf out for a big swim. We head down to the rapids to South Cone and find a pool below to throw leeches into and catch about 30 nice smallmouth. Seven are kept for supper. The action is hot and we all have fun. We poke around and find another nice fish here and there and then head back for a brief dip and a great fish fry supper and then retreat to the bug tent and a nice fire.[paragraph break]


Part 5 of 8

Wed. June 17th

We leave Mid Cone about 8:40 and float all the rapids into Brule. Brule is very calm. Could have used that east breeze today as we travel west...but at least Brule is not rockin'...I'll take it! A Bald Eagle sees us on our way. On the NW shore we see some old blowdown damage from 99 on some majestic hills. There is a very short portage out of Brule and we paddle to South Temperance where we just catch a small corner of the lake and then portage to North Temperance. North Temperance looks nice and I would like to come back and visit but just passin' through for now. The portage into Sitka is tolerable and there is a dragonfly hatch at the Sitka end....they are crawling, hatching and flying everywhere! The Sitka to Cherokee portage is a slow rising roller coaster and we cross back over the divide. We get to Cherokee about 12:30 and encounter alot of campers in the south end. A quick paddle north and claim island site #891. This is a nice site; big rock front porch, room for about 10 tents, good fire-pit view and a nice south east breeze blowing in. We sit on the big rock porch by the water and eat lunch before setting camp. The boys do some swimming, water walking and some fishing. Fishing was poor til evening when some northerns cruised the shallows. After supper we enjoyed a nice fire without the bug net and watched a beautiful sunset.[paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 6 of 8

Thursday June 18th We leave Cherokee about 8:40 and encounter a nice bull moose on shore by our portage to Gordon. Gordon looks more like a river than a lake and there is a group of guys doing well on the northerns in there. The portage out of Gordon into the Long Island river is not marked on my Voyageur map but is easy to find. We float and rock hop the other rapids in the river and get back to Long Island, skip the portage and instead paddle around to Karl and start to backtrack our first days route through Karl, Rib and Crossbay. It's funny how you see neat new stuff that you missed coming in. We paddled a long finger of Crossbay west, meandered up a creek and crossed a beaver dam to get to the Snipe portage. It's not a nice little portage. Upon entering Snipe, we come across a couple from Australia. They tell us the rest of Snipe is empty so we head for the Northwest site. It's a nice site with a great view from the firepit area. The tarp is just about up when lilcowdoc arrives. She has the day off and has paddled down from Round, through Missing Link to Snipe. We get the tarp and tents up and the sky is getting dark. It starts to rain....first rain on the we sit under the tarp and chat and eat gorp. The storm passes just in time to get supper ready. We have spaghetti and LCD bakes us some bread in her reflector oven. It stays clear for a campfire night but gets cool and breezy. After going to bed, a big storm rolls in and really pounds us from about 2 to 4am.[paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 7 of 8

Friday June 19th Everything survives the night and it's a cool misty morning. We dont have far to go today to get back to Tuscarora at Round lake so we take time for pancakes and bacon while the tents and tarp dry. We then paddle around and investigate Snipe and fish a little. Snipe is an interesting little lake with some cool rock formations. As we head for the portage to Missing Link, the clouds clear and it gets hot and muggy. This is a nasty little portage complete with a little gorge that you have to hop down into and toss your canoe up the other side. We try trolling for some brookies on Missing Link to no avail and have lunch at the site by the portage to Round. We then do our last portage of the trip and encounter a group of men and young boys that keep asking us "how much further?" A nice south breeze carries us across Round to the landing at Tusc. It's about 1:30 so we take our time packing gear away, showering and grabbing a cold beverage before our bunk opens. The boys play a few games of "horse" at the bball hoop so I go in and have a nice chat with Andy. We talk about the trip and future trips and he says fishing is still slow. He showed me some interesting old maps that had the motor routes on them, thus explaining the old log piers we found. After getting some gear loaded up, LCD gives us a tour of the trails end area including the dock where her towboats are kept. Then we drive down to TC for a great supper (I love that place)Met gbusk and his wife there and had a nice chat. Back at Tusc, we hit the store for some t-shirts and I sit and chat with Andy and Sue again and pay my bill so I can get an early morning start home. They are a neat couple and great people. I feel good knowing my daughter is in good hands there for the summer, working hard and enjoying herself.[paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break]


Part 8 of 8

We packed up and left early for the 10 hour drive home and catch a momma moose and calf in the pond west of the TC. Stopped for breakfast in Two Harbors and did some poultry repro work. We ran into a detour by Duluth on 61...found out later it was the Grandma Marathon. It took us over an hour to get from Two Harbors to Superior. It was a small price to pay for yet another great Boundary Waters Trip.[paragraph break]


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