BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
February 24 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1670 feet
Cross Bay Lake - 50
A Quick Little Fall Adventure, Part 2. A Man's Best Friend and His Wife.
September 27, 2013
Missing Link Lake
Seagull Lake (54)
Number of Days:
Round, Missing Link, Tuscarora. 3.2 miles.
After a quick gear move from our vehicle to the shuttle, we were on our way back down the Gunflint Trail to the Round Lake launch. There was a pretty good wind blowing on Round Lake, but that was of little concern since most of our trek today would involve portaging instead of paddling. We left the dock around 4pm and realized we needed to make haste if we were to get to Tuscarora Lake before the sunset at 6pm.
The 138 rod portage from Round Lake to Missing Link Lake is a steady climb up hill. This portage always seems to be a bit muddy in the spots where it isn't rocky. During the short paddle across Missing Link we did ponder the notion of camping here tonight, but decided that we'd rather put the 420 rod "Tusky" portage behind us today, than deal with it tomorrow even if it meant setting up camp in the dark. Plus, the campsites on Tuscarora Lake are generally nicer than the ones on Missing Link.
My wife had only done a few portages before in her life, so it would be interesting to see how she would handle the "Tusky". My previous experience on this portage was not a fond memory as it was on this portage a few years back that my portage yoke snapped about mid portage. Well, we both made it across without any issues and neither of us needed to stop for a break. I surprised myself by carrying the canoe the entire length without stopping. I asked Lisa what she thought as we paddled away on Tuscarora Lake and she commented, "That was a nice walk in the woods." I just smiled to myself at the realization that we'd be taking many more trips in the years to come with that attitude! Even our dog Molly seemed to enjoy the long walk. She took turns running back and forth between Lisa and I to make sure we didn't get "lost". Our dog is 1/2 border collie, so herding her masters comes natural to her.
Well, we reached Tuscarora Lake around 6pm as the sun was setting. We picked a really nice camp on the left point that I had stayed on before in 2010 with my daughter. It was very windy as a storm seemed to be blowing in. However, the result of the clouds rolling in was a wonderful view. We made dinner in the dark and hit the sack early. We were pretty wiped out after a long drive and that long portage.
Tuscarora, Owl, Crooked, Tarry, Mora, Little Saganaga. 8.9 miles.
Despite the rainy and windy night, we slept like babies and awoke to a sunny morning. According to the weather forecast, rain was due to hit by mid afternoon, so we made haste to have breakfast and break down camp. Our goal today was to reach Little Saganaga Lake.
The paddle across Tuscarora Lake was most enjoyable. The leaves here were not quite at peak. We didn't see anyone else camped on the lake, so we had it to ourselves.
We made quick work of the 70 rod portage into Owl Lake. Just a gentle up and down portage. We thought Owl Lake was most beautiful and it was one of Lisa's favorites from the trip.
The 51 rod portage from Owl to Crooked was pretty easy also with a cool submerged creek under the boulders on the Crooked Lake end. The clouds had set in by the time we paddled away on Crooked Lake and the winds began to pick up from the southwest. Good thing we were on small lakes.
On Crooked Lake, one can start to see the effects of the Cavity Lake fire from 2007. The rest of our route would take us in and out of the burn areas from this massive fire. The portage landing for the trail from Crooked to Tarry is tucked between several cedar trees. It is amazing how the roots run everywhere like something from Fangorn forest. We didn't pack a water bowl for Molly this trip and as you can see from the pictures we didn't need to. Nor, would we need to bathe her.
After a quick paddle across Tarry Lake, we reached the short 8 rod portage to Mora. In higher water, one could probably paddle through this spot. Mora Lake is also pretty cool. Here, the fire damage is less evident than on Crooked. We reached our final portage for the day at the west end of Mora. This 48 rod portage into Little Saganaga Lake is probably one of the most scenic portages I've seen before. As you can see from the pictures and video, it follows a stream / falls flowing into Little Saganaga. The portage is very easy and slightly downhill. The remainder of our route would follow this flowage downhill all the way to Seagull Lake.
As we loaded up the canoe on Little Saganaga, it quickly became apparent that the rain and wind that was forecasted was about to hit. We tossed on our rain gear and headed across the lake in search of a camp. We planned to camp near the islands in the north end of the lake to make our trek the next day easier, so that's where we headed. About halfway across the lake the rain started and then the wind picked up and soon enough it was a sideways downpour. Yay!
We though about stopping early, but the nicer camps along the way were taken by others, so we ended up taking a great site on the north side of an island. It was well protected from the wind and has plenty of tent pads. Once camp was erected, we hunkered down under the tarp for some hot chocolate. The wind howled for the rest of the day as the rain showers came and went. Thankfully, the rain let up long enough for us to get a nice fire going to cook steaks for dinner! I always bring an axe on canoe trips, because freshly split wood means fire!
Little Saganaga, Rattle, Gabimichigami, Agamok, Mueller, Ogishkemuncie, Kingfisher, Jasper, Alpine, Seagull. 13.7 miles.
We woke to a sunny and calm day! After pancakes and bacon, we broke camp and headed north towards the portage to Rattle Lake. The north end of Little Saganaga is in the burn area from the Cavity Lake fire as would most of the area we traverse today.
The portages in and out of Rattle Lake were pretty simple. Very little trees survived the fire from 2007, so the portages are pretty exposed. I imagine these trails can get pretty hot in the heat of summer, but for us it was a cool morning, so they were a breeze.
With little wind present, we were able to paddle right down the middle of Gabimichigami Lake. There are high hills on the north end of Gabi and the colors were wonderful!
With the water levels low we were able to line our way through the rapids flowing from Gabi to Agamok Lake and skip the short portage there.
Then, came the longer 115 rod portage to Mueller Lake. About halfway across this portage is the junction with the Kekekabic Trail. A short trip to the east on this trail takes you to a bridge crossing over Mueller Falls. Unfortunately, the camera was back with the canoe when we decided to check out the falls, so no pictures. Alas...
The 107 rod portage from Mueller to Ogishkemunchie was mostly downhill. It winds through a scenic meadow area before descending through the forest to Ogish. The weather continued to be fantastic today and the slight west wind made the paddle across Ogish to the Kingfisher portage go by fast. Being Fall, we didn't see any other travelers today. I'm sure that would not be the case on this route in the middle of the summer.
We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch on Kingfisher Lake and took a much needed break. We had been cruising so far today and still hoped to reach Seagull Lake tonight to camp. We probably could have lined the rapids between Ogish and Kingfisher lakes given the Fall water levels, but the 34 rod portage is pretty easy, so we didn't mind taking it. When it came to the portage between Kinghfisher and Jasper, I decided to check out the stream here and see if we could run it. Here, we were able to paddle most of the way through the steam until a few downed tress blocked the entrance to Jasper. We hopped out of the canoe and pulled it over the logs and continued on our way.
Next was the portage around Jasper falls and the stream dumping into Alpine Lake. Here, the colors were brilliant. It was very fun travel today!
Alpine Lake had been hit very hard by the Cavity Lake fire 7 years prior. But as you can see, the lake shores are full of life again. I look forward to seeing this lake in another 10 years. I hear Alpine was a gem before the fire and I'm certain it will be again someday.
The last portage of the day would be the 97 rod trek into Seagull Lake. This is a pleasant path to follow with a minor hump in the middle.
The plan once we reached Seagull Lake was to at least paddle across the larger part of the lake and find a camp near the west end of Three Mile Island. This would leave us a shorter paddle the following morning and avoid the bigger water / wind concerns. Thankfully, the wind was out of the west yet and we enjoyed "surfing" our was across Seagull Lake to Shirtail Point where we found a great camp.
Our gear was still pretty wet from the rains on Little Saganaga the night before, so our camp soon looked like a rummage sale with everything drying out! While out things dried out, we took a quick dip in the water. Refreshing!
For our last night of the trip, we were greeted with a majestic sunset over the big calm waters of Seagull Lake. It is hard to beat relaxing with a campfire and the view like that!
Seagull. 4.9 miles.
Our last day of the trip would be a quick one. Even though it was only a 5 mile paddle back to Seagull's dock we still had a long drive home today, so we broke camp early and were on the water by 7am. Debbie and Dave were at the store waiting for us when we reached the dock and helped us load our gear into the van. After a quick shower and some parting words it was sadly time to hit the road.
We covered a total of 30.7 miles on this short trip, but we enjoyed every minute of it. The colors were beautiful and it was a pure joy having our dog Molly around. Fall is one of the best times of the year for a canoe trip. Although the days are shorter, you usually have the place to yourself and the weather can be wonderful. Lisa and I have already planned a route for next Fall!