BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 01 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1670 feet
Cross Bay Lake - 50
3rd Annual 4 solos trip (minus one) October 2005
October 07, 2005
Missing Link Lake
Number of Days:
Jim had gotten up during the night and increased the temperature in the room making for very cozy sleeping conditions. As a result I awoke first shortly before 7 am, well after the time we had hoped to get started. Oh well, not like we should have trouble finding an open campsite anyway. We pack up our stuff and hit the road quickly for a breakfast stop at South of the Border.
We arrive at SOB to a dining room chock full of hunters of every size and shape. One waitress is frantically trying to serve all quickly and keep the coffee flowing. We order eggs, toast and bacon or taters depending on the person. Tastes good with decent coffee-could have been a little stronger in my opinion. After chowing down we head north to the new Gunflint trail intersection that was completed a little over a year ago and head up the hill.
Many other cars and trucks accompany our three vehicles; we all have our solo canoes on board. I am first in line with my Wenonah Prism, Satch is next in his pick up with a handcrafted, homemade Cedar Stripper and Jim is third in his Taurus wagon and Bell Magic. As we head up the hill I notice the cars coming down the hill are covered with snow. Good-I would hate to have an October trip without it.
The further we go the more traffic we lose. Soon we notice we are the only cars still traveling further north and west and as we travel more snow is seen along the roadside and even on the road itself. Temp on the truck thermometer sits at a balmy 28 degrees. Lucky the sun is out or it might be fairly slippery
I keep my eyes open for wildlife. Moose, wolf and other wildlife are routinely seen on the Gunflint. None noticed yet but as I crest a hill a four-legged creature is spotted walking the roadside. This is a first for me on the trail!!! It is a Basset Hound out for a stroll without its owner in sight-must be a wild one I surmise and I wonder out loud what this sighting foretells for the trip. I determine it has no bearing and continue clicking off the miles at between 30-50 mph depending on the road. The signs along the roadside continually tell us how far we still need to go until Round Lake and finally we are there. We turn onto the gravel road toward Tuscarora outfitters and the Round Lake EP parking lot. Arriving at the parking lot we are on our own. No other cars in sight-maybe we will have peace and quiet after all. Unless, of course, others have bunked at Tuscarora or used other EP’s to get into the area.
We unpack our cars, un-rack our canoes and head down to load. I use the last indoor john for four days and fill out my permit. We all decide we will have individual permits to allow for free travel if so desired. I hit the water first and await my fellow travelers. Satch is second and Jim is third in quick order and we start across Round Lake to the easily spotted portage into Missing Link.
A nice wide sandy-bottomed portage landing is a nice change from my September trip. All three canoes can sit side by side without a problem and we unload and prepare for our first portage. I decide to take the canoe and food pack across first and head out. The Missing Link portage is a pretty portage and not too difficult. It starts out with an uphill section that is not too severe. Along the right side of the trail is a meandering stream with numerous small rivulets and waterfalls. The remaining fall colors add to make this a very pleasing portage. I make my way across and drop the canoe and pack and take a quick drink of water before heading back for load 2. Missing Link Lake is calling, but I have to wait to answer until we are all across and all my gear is back together.
Half way across I come upon Jim who informs me that Satch is struggling a bit. We discuss it briefly and decide to watch his condition as the portage continues. I leave Jim to continue on with his canoe and I keep heading back. A little further back I talk to Satch. Handling packs for Satch is no problem, but the canoe is giving him concern as when his arms are above his head he gets light headed. He thinks it might be medication related. He tells me not to worry-I tell him to take it easy and not do too much-we are here to help if needed. He continues on with his pack and I go back and grab my CCS pack to bring across.
I run into Jim and we discuss how far we should go today given Satch’s condition. Original plan was to get beyond Tuscarora, but with Satch being challenged with the canoe we think about stopping on Missing Link. I continue on considering the options as I continue the portage and reach the end. Jim and Satch catch up. Jim has completed the portage but Satch’s canoe is still back a ways. I decide to go get his canoe and portage it the last 40 rods or so for him as Jim discusses stopping on Missing Link with Satch. As I finish the canoe portage we all decide to stop and check out the campsites on Missing Link. From the portage the lake looks empty to us, so maybe all three sites are available and we can take the one that suits us best.
Jim is first on the water and heads for the campsite near the portage. He gets out and inspects it and gives it the thumbs down. Hopefully one of the other two is a little bigger with better tent pad options. I arrive at site 2 first and get out to inspect. It is larger than site 1 but the tent pads are just OK, if the third site is no better it will work, but we are hopeful site number 3 is an improvement. Jim hits the third site first and thinks it might be better, but calls me up to confirm. The site has numerous places to sit with logs and well placed large boulders. It has decent tent pads with a good view up the lake. It is fairly well protected should it get windy and there is a large supply of wood separated into 5 categorized piles based on size. This third site is chosen for obvious reasons.
We land and start making camp. Jim and I set up our tent just above the canoe landing and Satch’s tent is placed just off the trail that heads toward the latrine. We have a quick lunch and head out to explore Missing Link. The campsite is very near the portage entrance toward Tuscarora. There is a small boggy area that the portage crosses with a long boardwalk. Another nice landing for canoes is observed. We don’t cross the portage at this time but assume we will cross its 400+ rods at some point before we depart.
We all continue our paddle and as we approach the portage toward Snipe Lake, Jim remembers he forgot to fill out a BWCAW permit. Luckily, being only one fairly easy portage back to Round Lake, he decides to head back and get legal. We decide it will take him about 1-2 hours so he departs and Satch and I decide to walk the portage to Snipe to determine its difficulty. The landing to Snipe is a little tricky but better than most. The portage looks easy enough on the map. About 30 rods in on the portage is a surprise. A cliff about 6-8 feet high to climb down, that has few foot holds, especially if one has a canoe or pack on. About a 10 foot walk from the cliff is a steep granite face to climb up that is at about a 45-degree angle. We decide it would be wise to partner on any canoe and pack movement along this part of the trail.
The rest of the portage is pretty uneventful save for the tons of rocks and roots to watch for. The snow is still evident on the trail and this makes the roots especially slippery. Snipe looks like a great lake and at this point I decide I would love to head in here for a day trip at some point.
Satch and I head back and continue exploring Missing Link. We head toward the portage assuming Jim should be along soon. Sure enough as we sit in a little bay near the portage Satch sees Jim’s canoe on his head making its way through the woods. The three paddlers are reunited and continue on their exploration of Missing Link. Paddling continues until about 4 pm under sunny skies, light breezes and temps in the 40’s
Back at camp dinner is prepared. Dehydrated Darn Good Chili (rehydrated and cooked of course) with home made corn bread muffins and pudding for dessert. Thanks Jim for being the trip food organizer and cook.
After dinner we get a fire started and watch the stars, crescent moon and satellites with an occasional shooting star (at least Satch and I saw the shooting stars). We have a night cap of either Hot Cocoa with Kahlua or Hot Cider with Brandy. As always happens in October it is hard to stay up past 10 let alone 9 pm. Satch and Jim retire first and I stay up a little longer hoping for some sign of Northern Lights. Outside of the odd star in the east with a definite red and blue twinkle (not a plane) nothing else is seen. My bedtime arrives and its not even 10 yet. Maybe I’ll wake up about midnight and see if there are any Northern Lights.
Tomorrow Jim and I will take a day trip (yet to be decided) and Satch will stay around camp and paddle Missing Link- he is still a bit concerned by his portaging issues. Today we saw no one since about half way up the Gunflint. Seems odd to be one lake into the BW and have total solitude. We’re not complaining though as we suspect this will change as our trip continues.
A chilly overnight but we all survive. I never did wake up to see if the Northern Lights were out. Even if I would have, I might have found it hard to leave my warm sleeping bag. Low overnight is slightly below freezing-maybe 26.
By 7:00 we are all up and out of our tents. Water is put on to boil for oatmeal and Jim and I are looking at the map to decide on a trip plan for the day. It is a little overcast-but does not really look like rain. A light breeze out of the SE accompanies the clouds. It seems like the day will be relatively calm so maybe a trip into Tuscarora is in order. Satch is looking at the map with us and spots an easy loop through Snipe, Copper and through the Howl Swamp to Tuscarora and back to Missing Link. A couple of long portages are along this way but that’s OK with me. Decision is made and Jim and I make plans to head for Snipe and beyond.
By 9:00 Jim, Satch and I are headed across the portage into Snipe Lake. Satch joins us and offers assistance on the technically tough parts around the cliff. At the far end we coordinate a time we should be at Tuscarora so if Satch wants he can meet us at the portage landing back to Missing Link. Along the way Jim and I hope to explore the creek to Little Copper and maybe see if we can get into Sora Lake. Day tripping is nice from a base camp as single portaging will be easy with a light pack. The light pack contains emergency supplies like spare clothes in case we get wet and some food along with matches and fire starters plus rain gear just in case.
It’s neither a bad day nor a great day as we start our paddle on Snipe. The overcast clouds with the breeze that continues to pick up during the day makes it cooler than it really is. We say our good-byes to Satch and head south on Snipe. Snipe is a pretty lake with lots of rock outcroppings and some color up on its hills. The lake itself is a series of narrow arms that is a fun paddle that requires frequent map checking to make sure you stay on course. We are headed to the portage to Copper Lake, which is in a small bay to the south. As we approach the small bay we see the long expanse of Snipe Lake that heads east towards Cross Bay Lake. It is a beautiful site and Jim and I both comment that hopefully tomorrow allows us back to head that way.
I am excited by this day trip, as it is all new territory for me until we get to Tuscarora. Had we continued on to Tuscarora and Crooked yesterday instead of stopping on Missing Link, we probably would have taken day trips into familiar territory for me. That would have been OK, but adding new lakes to the list is always fun. Satch’s difficulty forced us to stop on Missing Link and now allows me to explore new territory. All things happen for a reason. Jim and I are enjoying our day trip; we hope Satch is enjoying his thorough paddling and examination of Missing Link.
The portage into Copper is uneventful and we are really making good time and we do not feel like we are rushing. We have plenty of time to explore Copper without running behind on our appointed meeting time with Satch at the Tuscarora portage landing.
Copper is another pretty lake, narrow with a rocky shoreline. I find the bay that should hold the creek and entrance to Little Copper but cannot find the stream or creek. I think I can tell where it is, but it is not paddle-able and is just a trickle of water through rocks and vegetation. Oh well let’s go check out Sora Lake.
Along the south shore we hear evidence of a waterfall in the woods. We go to investigate and decide this is probably the creek coming out of Sora Lake. The waterfall is tucked back in the woods and barely visible from the water. We can see that one could get up the hill along the falls but it would be an immense amount of bushwhacking and work to get the canoe up through the trees. We decide that Sora will wait for another day or will remain forever a spot on the map not explored by us.
We continue our paddle on Copper Lake and we come to the portage out of Copper toward Hubbub Lake. The portage is uneventful and Hubbub is a quick paddle. Hubbub is slightly larger than a pond and does not provide much in the way of an enticement to keep us on her for long.
Once across Hubbub we have the medium length portage to Tuscarora through what is called Howl Swamp. The map is confusing, as it appears the portage comes to a lake-but the portage continues across the lake!! We decide to trust the Fisher map and start across expecting some surprises along the way.
About ½ way across Jim stops and puts down the canoe. I am thinking he just needs a rest, as this is a 240+ rod portage. As I approach Jim he says “Bogs-you are an expert at this type of thing-What do you think we do now?”
I put down my canoe and look at what Jim is talking about. In front of us is a large bog filled former lake with some open water in spots. I gaze across and see the portage continuing on the far shore and decide there must be a way across; we just have to find it.
The first clue is a badly broken up boardwalk that attempts to cross some of the open water directly in front of us. I decide to drop everything and scout across with no excess weight to add to my 230-pound heft. The boards of the former boardwalk assist slightly in clearing the open water, but one must be careful as they are not anchored at all, are slippery and sink into the muck and water as you pass. Once across this open water you come upon another area of water with another busted up boardwalk that yields the same challenge. After passing this area, it gets much easier but we are both glad for Chotas as you routinely sink ankle high or more into the ooze. I make it across and head back to get my load and try it with more weight. Balance is the key as you cross the broken boardwalk pieces and patience allows the rest of the bog/swamp to be passed. Along the way I see large Moose Prints, more than a single set, but alas no sign of the Moose. Once across Howl Swamp we look back and understand how the map makes it look like you are walking across open water. Back on solid land the portage continues to Tuscarora.
The Howl Swamp portage is not that tough except for the crossing described above. Soon enough we reach the large Sand Beach on Tuscarora and the wind is fairly brisk into our faces producing some whitecaps out on the lake. Tuscarora is somehow strange to us after all of the small intimate lakes we have traveled on so far this trip. It is a little passed 12 noon so we decide to take a break, have lunch and hope the wind clams a little before heading further. We decide having lunch on the portage is OK for a few reasons:
1) The beach is really long and we can eat lunch without blocking the portage.
2) In this wind we doubt many if any are traveling Tuscarora this day.
3) In October we doubt anyone is even on Tuscarora this day and we know no one is behind us.
We sit down and relax as the sun starts to break out from behind the clouds. Lunch for me is some of Jim’s outstanding T-Bird Jerky, a tortilla with peanut butter, some gorp and a couple of fun size candy bars all washed down with Crystal Lite Raspberry Ice drink.
Lunch takes about 20 minutes and the wind has subsided slightly when we finish. We decide even though we will be early for Satch’s pick up time we should head out, explore the small island and bay to our north and then head to the portage even if Satch is not there yet. We hug the north shore of the island out of the wind and enjoy the plants, lichen and rock it offers. As we clear the security of the island the wind catches us and we decide to stop and check out the campsite on the point of the bay that leads to the portage. The landing is tricky as the wind pushes us right up onto the rock outcropping. Using paddles and a quick exit keeps the Kevlar from being scratched. It is a large site with tons of room and a few tent pads. Great views to the west of the expanse of the lake but really exposed to the south wind we have today. We stay on the site for 15-20 minutes and then decide to just head for the portage. Once back on the lake we can let the wind funnel us down to the portage.
The wind has picked up again as we leave the campsite. As long as we pay attention to the troughs we will be fine. I position my bow so the wind assists me in heading toward the portage landing. As we come around a point I see the portage landing and it appears there is a figure sitting on the landing. As we get closer it is obvious it is Satch as the figure just sits there and has no gear or canoe along.
The portage landing is another sand beach and up on the ridge is a nice stand of Birch shining in the now off and on sun-white with yellow leaves. It is breathtaking and I shoot a few pictures and linger on the water taking in the amazing scene and vista.
We land and say hi to Satch and I ask how he liked the portage. The portage, Tuscarora to Missing Link, is long but not too tough. An uphill at the Tuscarora end to get the heart pumping and few other ups and downs and the passing of a former pond is the routine. At the Missing Link end it finishes off with a short boardwalk over the bog end of Missing Link to another sandy-bottomed landing. For the Gunflint side of the BWCAW these sand bottom portage landings are awesome. Not many of these over on this side of the park.
We are back at Missing Link and it is not even 2:00. The sun is out more often than not now and the temps have climbed into the 50’s. I have peeled two layers since we left this morning and we all decide more paddling on Missing Link is in order. The wind is still up, but not too much of a problem on Missing Link because it is a small, intimate lake. About 4:30 we head back to camp to get dinner started.
Dinner tonight is Fettuccine with white sauce and chicken. It is another great meal followed up with some pudding. Satch gets another fine fire going assisted by the “Tilley treatment” that Jim provides. The star with the weird red and blue flashes, that I witnessed Friday night, is out again. Satch and Jim both see it confirming I am not crazy and we all decide it is not a UFO. Satellite viewing and shooting stars (Jim sees them this time) keep us entertained until after 9:00 again. A nightcap of Cider and Brandy tops off the evening.
Jim and I add a few lakes and over 1000 rods of portages today. Good thing we were single portaging!!! Although I would have done the route even with more gear along. It was a very good day.
Should be a little warmer tonight. Tomorrow Jim and I discuss heading over to Cross Bay and Rib. We really want to explore the east end of Snipe.
Satch is first up and calls to me as I emerge from the Timberline 4 that Jim and I share. “First things first Brooks-I need to visit the thunderbox. Can what it is wait 5 minutes?”
“OK-Hurry up!” Satch says.
So I run up the trail and hurry back as fast as I can-so fast I never flushed. As I return Satch has a surprise to show me. Overnight we had a visitor to our campsite. The visitor decided to steal some of our hard earned water from our bucket. Little did he know that once in the bucket he could not escape and met his maker, similar to how a fly would in a pitcher plant. The mouse was taken out of the bucket by Satch and reverently placed on the kitchen rock for all to see. Pictures were taken and then he was given a burial at sea. God speed camp mouse.
The morning is very foggy and the fog is beginning to lift as we perform the service for the mouse. I like the way fog plays on the lake and the resident beaver movement across the lake with their overnight haul of wood is fun to watch in the mist and fog.
After our morning excitement we made pancakes and bacon. We were supposed to have Sturdiwheat buckwheat pancakes but my local grocer, where I have always gotten it for other trips, was all out. Guess buttermilk will have to do-at least my Vermont connection came through with 100% real Vermont Maple Syrup for on top of them. The practice I had cooking pancakes over the MSR stove in September helped as the pancakes came out much better in appearance then they had then. Sorry HP, Kevin and Ken-but at least the ones we had in September were buckwheat.
After the delicious and filling breakfast Jim, Satch and I head for the portage into Snipe again. Jim and I have decided to do a day trip into Snipe, Cross Bay and Rib Lake and back the same way. We will get to explore the east arm of Snipe, which intrigued us yesterday, as well as 2 new lakes. Satch will join us across the portage again and then spend the day on Missing Link.
Seeing this is the third time across the Snipe portage for Satch and I, we know the drill. Once past the cliff the portage goes quickly and we arrive at Snipe ready for the day. We again have our daypacks with emergency supplies and lunch so we can single portage. The day is much prettier with bright sunshine and light winds. It also seems a touch warmer than yesterday-maybe it’s just the sun.
Snipe is a nice lake and we are able to more easily navigate her today seeing it is now familiar water. We come to where we portaged out to Copper yesterday and start down the east arm. It is everything we had thought it might be. The narrow gorge like area with small bays filled with bogs, tamaracks, pitcher plants etc is a real treat. I take a look at a campsite on the south shore on the point of a small bay. The fisher map has it marked on the western point facing east-but the site is actually on the eastern point facing west. It is not a big site, but would be a great home if you were solo or with a small group. I was pleased to see a nice supply of split wood by the fire grate. My mind wandered to thoughts of an evening spent here in solitude. I enjoyed the moment.
Jim and I were taking lots of time at this end of Snipe. The surroundings were to good to rush past. We finally made it to the portage into Cross Bay Lake. The landing is a bit tougher than we had dealt with to date, but still not too bad. The portage itself was a workout but with single portaging it is not a big deal. The landing onto Cross Bay was a mucky challenge.
Our first view of Cross Bay made us smile. It was more like a river than a lake. Narrow grass, rice and reed lined waterway lead to the opening of the lake. A small beaver dam had to be shot through and pulled over and the tamaracks along the shore were starting to turn the golden color I love. I felt I was in heaven-a bog, a river and a lake all to ourselves.
Jim is a great travel partner. We both enjoy solitude so little is said during travel. We enjoy conversations at portage landings, lunch spots etc-but while on the water we leave each other to our own thoughts. We pass through Cross Bay quietly and reverently and are still amazed that we have seen no one since leaving Gunflint trail back on Friday.
As we continue our paddle Jim is first to hear the sound of a waterfall. The small intimate falls is coming into Cross Bay and easy to get near and to. We tie up our canoes to some trees and go to explore it. It is a series of stair steps that drain a river from above that flows into Cross Bay. We spend a long time here watching the water, taking pictures and enjoying the view. We feel blessed to be here, we are sad that Satch and Larry are not here to enjoy it with us. We will bring back photos and encourage them to visit in the future.
After spending quite a while enjoying the falls we decide to head for the campsite at the far end of Cross Bay and stop for lunch. We also have decided that we will walk the portage into Rib Lake but not launch our canoes. We will set foot into its water so we can say we have been there but only enjoy it from the landing.
As we approach the campsite we hear another waterfall that sounds larger than the one we just visited. It is obvious that the portage is there because of the waterfall so we decide to stop and checkout the falls before lunch. The portage landing is not to bad; the portage is a little tougher so we are glad we are only walking it. We scout for a place to get over to see the falls but there is none. We get all the way over to Rib and did not find a way to the falls. We set foot in Rib and enjoy the view before heading back. When we get back we search some more for a place to view the falls and decide they are best viewed from our canoes.
We re-launch and head to the foot of the falls. These falls drain Rib into Cross Bay so we are at the base of the falls. Jim is first there and with the narrow chute to the base we go one at a time. He sits and enjoys the falls taking pictures as I sit out in the lake waiting my turn enjoying the view. Jim finishes and now it is my turn. You can paddle right up to the base of these falls and get some nice pictures.
We enjoy the stop and eventually head for the campsite just north of the portage and falls. We are sure this is the campsite but cannot see the fire grate from the water. I try one landing and Jim tries another. Jim has chosen wisely and finds the site up on the rocks overlooking Cross Bay to the west and in earshot of the falls. I re-launch and paddle to his spot and we all admire the nice big site with pleasing surroundings and the great sounds of a waterfall in the background. We both comment how much Larry would like this campsite with its western and eastern view for both sunrises and sunsets plus it has the added bonus of the waterfall right next door. I leave Nibi’s name in a pine on the point of this campsite. I know he will be back there someday to retrieve it.
The campsite makes a great lunch spot as we sit high above the lake with our feet dangling down the rock face toward the water and the waterfall in the background. This day trip just keeps getting better and better. We linger for quite sometime enjoying our lunch and the sounds and finally decide we should get moving again. Back on Cross Bay we decide to head north to the campsite toward the Cross River EP and check it out on our way back.
We paddle passed the staircase waterfall and head north toward the small river back to the portage. Instead of turning west we go north to the campsite and check it out. Does not look like a bad campsite, but it also does not look great either. We decide to pass on getting out to explore and just check out the bog nearby and all the vegetation. From across the bay I see a large clump of pitcher plant and I go directly over to check it out. A large clump is there and the red of the plant with the brown/tan of the fall grass is striking. Jim sees me spending time at this place and comes to investigate as well. We spend sometime here and then head back to the portage.
Back through Cross Bay, the small beaver dam and the mucky portage landing. Back across the portage into Snipe and once again on Snipe Lake. I will count Snipe Lake and Cross Bay among some of my favorite BWCAW lakes ever visited. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on them. It is sad to say goodbye to them, but we must.
The portage from Snipe to Missing Link is much harder going this way. It seems like it just goes up hill the entire way and then we have the cliff to negotiate. Jim sets his canoe down first and then I come to help him across. Once Jim is across we go back to bring my Prism across. We make it fine and have yet to see Satch, but then we never set a time to meet so no surprise. As I put my canoe down I voice says something-its Satch and he is hiding in the reeds to surprise us. I did not see him and I am surprised. We comment on our days and how no one has seen anyone again today.
The day trip today was much more pleasing than yesterdays and yesterdays was awesome. The portages today although shorter were tougher, but the scenery and surroundings were better. We certainly enjoyed both day trips a lot!
We paddle Missing Link for a few more minutes and then head back for dinner. Tonight it is Hamburger Helper Potato Stroganoff with pudding for dessert. Another great meal prepared by Jim.
The evening is clear again and calm. Missing Link’s water is mirror like. I comment to Jim and Satch on how fun it would be to paddle her and Satch and Jim both say-“So why are you sitting here?” That’s all the encouragement I needed and Liberty and I are quickly out in the twilight and crescent moon enjoying the quiet. I paddle to the far end of Missing Link and turn back able to find my way by the fire Satch and Jim enjoy. By the time I return it is completely dark and Jim comes down to light the landing with his headlamp so I can see the shore and the rocks to avoid.
We spend the rest of the evening enjoying brandy and cider or cocoa and kahlua or both and watch the fire, the stars and the satellites. Tonight is our last night in the BWCAW until next paddling season. We want to enjoy every moment and we do.
Tomorrow we will get up, pack up and head home. We want to get an early start as Jim and Satch especially have long drives tomorrow. We get some packing and organizing done before we hit our beds. The beavers are starting to gnaw and drop trees across the bay as we get to bed. We will all sleep well tonight.
Last Day. We need to get up and get packed so Satch and Jim can get a good amount of time to drive home or part way home. We awake early and have oatmeal and breakfast bars for breakfast. This gives our tents a little time to dry-not sure it really helped as it is really damp out this morning. The sunrise is spectacular, the beaver’s are busy as usual, and we are both sad and excited to be headed home.
We get packed up and the wet tents make them hard to pack and fit into their stuff sacks. The packs are fuller as a result but at least the food packs are really light. Jim and I brought barrels for the food. Jim has a 5-gallon bucket with a gamma seal and I have my Garcia barrel. Jims has more volume. We did have to hang a little the first night as Satch had some food that would not fit. One small ditty bag thrown up over a limb did the trick.
After checking to make sure we have everything we hit the water for the short paddle back to the portage to Round Lake. Satch and I will trade a pack for a canoe along the portage so he does not have to have his hands above his head. I go across with my food pack and canoe while Satch brings his Duluth Pack across. The portage is simple enough as it is mostly down hill going this way. I head back and get Satch’s small pack and his canoe. The canoe is a bit heavier than my Prism but not too bad. Satch loves the feel of my CCS pack compared to his Duluth Pack. The second half of the journey is completed.
We load our respective canoes and wait for Jim to finish. Satch asks if I would like to paddle the stripper as we wait. I suggest we switch canoes until we reach the EP and we just paddle each other’s canoes across. We both agree this would be a good idea.
I get into Satch’s canoe, and he gets in the Prism, and we head out onto Round lake and wait for Jim to finish the portage and join us. I enjoy paddling the stripper. She is responsive and paddles easily. I feel the Prism tracks better but the stripper turns more easily. I do not sense any stability issues compared to the Prism, I am very comfortable paddling her. Thanks for the opportunity Satch!
We make our way across Round not being in a hurry. Jim is first across and he gets out and puts his gear and canoe on shore. Satch is next and I am last. It is sad to be out, but we know we will soon be reunited with our family and have stories to tell friends. I head up to the car and put my canoe racks on and drive the Yukon down closer to the landing. I still find it hard to believe that we were in the woods for 4 days and 3 nights and did not see another person for the entire time-and we were only one lake into the wilderness! October travel has its advantages if you can deal with the weather extremes.
I get my gear into the back of the Yukon and I take my wet tent out and lay it across the back so it can start drying. I will set it up when I get home but for now the sun and air of the truck will start the process.
I change into my sandals and fresh socks and go down to the water for a quick sponge bath. Jim has some extra baby wipes I can use and before long I feel almost springtime fresh-even though it is October. Clean clothes, a quick wash and I feel 100% better. Still not happy to be leaving but I feel good.
Jim and Satch and I double-check the canoes and we are ready to go. I grab a couple extra paper permits as my old supply is in my old Suburban, which is in Texas with Dan-my son in the Army. It’s always good to have a couple permits handy for day trips in case the box is empty. Yes it has happened to me once-but hopefully never again.
We head down Gunflint trail in the sunny and 50 degree conditions and we see our first people since Friday. We all decided before we left that we would stop at Trail Center for lunch as none of us have ever been, but we all have heard good things about it. Monday afternoon at 11:45 we arrive and the place is filling up. Before we leave there will be people waiting for tables.
We all order malts, Satch and I order burgers and Jim has a tuna salad sandwich. All meals are good and have big portions. Good thing I am hungry as any other time I would have needed a bag to take home the leftovers. The malts are great by the way.
Just before we are to leave Jim is commenting about the malts and how it is the best one since he used to get them at a small town dairy near his house years ago. An older gentleman up for the leaves and wildlife overhears Jim and says he is from that town. Turns out Jim and him are neighbors and they talk about the area for a few minutes. We settle up our bill and head out for our trip home.
Jim is going to make a few stops along the North Shore for pictures while Satch and I are going to head home as aggressively as we can. Satch follows me to I-35 in Duluth where he heads across the I-535 Bridge to US 53 in Wisconsin for his trip home. I head south on 35 to my home where I will arrive about 6 pm in time for dinner.
This was a great trip and once again it was great even though we had to change plans having one fewer than originally thought and Satch’s situation. I can proudly say I have never exactly followed a trip plan to date. It is nice to travel and be able change plans as necessary. I wish Nibi would have been able to join us-that was one part of the plan we hated to change.
Thanks Jim and Brooks for a great trip. Until next October when the 4 solos will ride again.