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May 27 2024

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

New EP for 23rd

by BigTim
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 06, 2022
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
Our 23rd consecutive Father/Son trip was a roaring success despite the bugs. We were well prepared for whatever came our way as we have fine tuned our canoe trip experience over the years. Ellie, my future daughter in law, joined us for her 3rd time.

Day 1 of 7

Monday, June 06, 2022

After a burger at the Poplar Haus and comfortable stay at Rockwood's bunkhouse, we awoke early for our journey to Tuscarora Lodge for breakfast. French toast, sausage, coffee, and juice prepared us for what lay ahead. After carefully monitoring the late ice out coupled with very high water, we really weren't sure what to expect. Andy at Tuscarora provided us the 3 person kevlar as well as up to date info regarding portages, water levels, and bugs.

Packed our canoe and headed out toward Ham Lake. Over the years, we decided comfort, relaxation, and fishing are our priorities. Simply put, our packing is much different now then back in 1999....

Water was certainly high, but down substantially from highest water. Floated over rocks that normally require careful navigation. We've always packed head nets, but rarely used them. This trip, the nets were a necessity.

Made it into Cross Bay Lake and decided to shoot for the 2nd campsite close to Rib Lake portage. Gorgeous campsite awaited as we made it our basecamp for a week. The first few years of tripping meant sitting on logs and waiting out rain with rain gear. Not anymore. We use a 12x16 tarp for rain, and bring plenty of creature comforts for relaxing. Of course, 23 years later, simple pleasures like an air chair....gravity water bag.....are requirements!


Day 2 of 7

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

After coffee and breakfast burritos, we day tripped to Snipe Lake. We fished and paddled to 3rd campsite - which took us a few hours. Found an island rock for lunch snacks.

Saw a gorgeous loon...which barely noticed our intrusion. Snipe is a beautiful lake with a little bit of everything from high cliffs to inlet creek waterfalls. It was an easy and relaxing paddle.


Day 3 of 7

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Cross Bay Lake fishing day. We all 3 fished in the morning. In the afternoon and evening, Ellie and James fished in a hole next to the stream coming from Rib. We noticed a solo paddler hit this hole 3 days in a row at the same time every morning.

Certainly were walleye there.


Day 4 of 7

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Rib Lake fishing day. Wind started picking up, so we didn't venture too far from the portage.

Caught a nice bass.

Planned a day trip via this route to Long Island Lake for tomorrow.


Day 5 of 7

Friday, June 10, 2022

Long Island day trip. Hit Rib, Lower George, Karl, and checked out Long Island two different places. Did the portage from Karl to Long Island just to get a look see....Paddled thru Karl and found a lunch spot on the north end of Long Island Lake. Such a beautiful lake, but a strong west wind would make for quite the challenge if you were heading West. Found a fishing hot spot along the way. Caught 5 big northerns in 5 minutes. Saw the Trumpeter swan pairs again....

After lunch snack, started our journey back to camp.


Day 6 of 7

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Lazy Day on Cross Bay. James and Ellie did a few hours of exploring our base camp lake. Fished, relaxed, and took some pics of inlet stream waterfalls. The lakes throughout this EP are all tied together by streams. By this time, the water levels had dropped another 2 feet from when we entered. Ellie tried her hand at filleting.....

Campfire Pizzas for dinner!


Day 7 of 7

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Packed up and headed out. Back the way we came. Lower water levels exposed rocks we previously paddled over, so we zig zagged our way toward Ham Lake. The only rain we received was a brief shower on day 1. Portages were pretty dry and mud was rare.

Made it through another year!


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