BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 09 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1670 feet
Cross Bay Lake - 50
May 19, 2008
Missing Link Lake
Number of Days:
In mid-May, right after final exams were over, I made the long haul up to the BWCA for the summer. Upon my arrival there, I was greeted with snow! Now I am not from northern Minnesota, and normally I would have been slightly perturbed if it snowed, yet again, in mid-May. However, I got to experience TWO springs that year: one back home, and one up in the BWCA. I also saw, for the first time, snow-shoed hares with their winter-white coats. I even went on my first paddle of the summer into Missing Link while it was snowing. We found a pair of loons nesting on Missing Link and kept an eye on them for part of the summer. Never saw their loonlings (?) though.
Over the 4th of July, my Dad (cowdoc), my brothers, uncle and cousins came up for our summer BWCA trip. We launched at Seagull and paddled across a glass lake and made our way to Ogish for the first night. I do believe there were fish on the menu for the first evening, and though I can not take credit for catching any of them, I sure enjoyed cooking and eating them!
The next destination was South Arm of the Knife. We thought we were skunked for sure, but found a little back water bay with some open sites and settled in for a 2 night stay. Cowdoc and I, being the restless ones in the group, took a day trip into Ameober, Topaz and Cherry. We saw, and were slightly frightened by, the largest snapping turtle I have seen to date. I was taken back to a time long ago, when man wasn't ruling the world and creatures like him were. We also snuck up on a bald eagle perching in a tree and found some beautiful blue iris and Indian paint brushes while on Cherry. After a quick snack at what may be one of the most beautiful campsites in the BW, we made our way back to camp. I will be back to these lakes again.
Back on the South Arm, we found the boys swimming in the calm bay and, well, being boys. They found a painted belly friend and played out videogame scenarios while I put together dinner. This campsite was filled to the brim with white and black dragonflies, and they really enjoyed landing on our canoes and tents. The dragonflies were not the only bugs come dinnertime. The boys insisted on wearing their bug nets, and bug spray, and wristbands...boys. We watched the fire linger this evening in front of a back drop of dragonfly covered canoes.
For the last destination, we made our way back towards Ogish, this time stopping at Edy and Mueller Falls on the way to Little Sag. On little Sag, we found a nice island campsite tucked into a completely burnt bay. All around us were the remnants of the past fires, but this little island was green with life. This life included a little red squirrel whom we named Molly. See enjoyed our trail mix and food pack just about as much as we did! This campsite also had a very special tent pad perched on a small cliff overlooking the lake. If I had to choose my favorite tent pad, not campsite, this would be it. It was just like a penthouse suite, only better.
Now, the day I was a little bit worried about...the Tuscarora portage. Dun dun dun. I had already done this portage a few times this summer, but I was afraid my family was not going to appreciate my "down playing" of the experience. I was right: they were not happy. However, I very much enjoyed watching them come of the portage trail, one by one, drop their packs/canoes, and walk straight into the welcoming waters of Missing Link. And then onto, in my opinion, one of the most scenic portage trails in the BWCA: the portage between Missing Link and Round Lake. This trail dips down along a marshy pond and then skips over top a little stream. The rock that acts as the bridge is always glistening with dew and moss. Earlier in the year, there were many lady slippers and fiddleheads. Now, in early July, the fiddleheads have all gone, but young, energetic boys have taken their place. We ran into the most traffic on this portage for our entire trip. Groups with young ones and dogs going both ways. We were so close to a nice shower and a TC malt that I could almost taste it. Onward to Round Lake.
Yes, I said "Holy Blueberries!" I found some (a slight under-exaggeration) blueberries (and raspberries and wild strawberries) this summer. And even after fresh blueberry pies, and cobblers, and berries sprinkled in oatmeal or on top of ice cream, I still couldn't get enough. I even had to freeze a 2 gallon bag of the little guys. This summer had the perfect conditions for creating a little bit of blueberry heaven: wet early on in the summer and warm and sunny coming into the end of July, pair that with the bare landscape from past fires, and you get the perfect recipe for berries. Lots and lots of luscious, abundant berries.
There were days that my friends and I could literally sit down with our Nalgenes, pick berries for a good half hour to an hour and not ever have to stand up! It still amazes me when I think about the berry season.
FROST RIVER LOOP Early in the season, I did the Frost River Loop trip. After getting skunked on Frost Lake the first night, we headed back to Long Island to set up camp. I guess that's what you get for not hitting the water until 3:30 PM! Next morning we woke up, headed through Frost yet again, and then down the river. The water level was so high that we were able to skip a few portages, and at times, we just had to rudder with no paddling required. We saw 5 moose on this trip! The second night, we stayed on Crooked and had the entire lake to ourselves. We spent the evening trout fishing and sipping tea by the fire. Next morning we woke up early and made way for Owl and Tusc and that "fantastic little" portage. We made it back in time for lunch and work in the afternoon.
POPLAR, MEEDS, GASKIN Took a quick trip out to Meeds and spent the night just telling stories around the fire. The next day on Gaskin, we hit perfect winds and kicked up our feet and sailed the afternoon away. I never thought a paddle could double as a sail, but it surely can. I spent the day with five friends and warm sunny skies while relaxing in a canoe in the Boundary Waters. Life is good.