BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1498 feet
Missing Link Lake - 51
May 14, 2012
Missing Link Lake
Number of Days:
JB was right on time as usual. One am. We high-fived and threw his gear in my car and went to pick up his buddy, Big J, whose aluminum canoe we were going to use. We pulled into J's driveway and there it was. The square stern. Not what I expected, or wanted to carry over the mile plus portage into Tuscarora. Oh, well. We'll make it work. It takes two of us to heft the monster onto my Accord. While we strap it down, I envision the straps blowing apart at the first hard stop and throwing the barge into the intersection. The straps hold.
We meet my brother in law and AB in Duluth and wait for AB's buddy Brian. It's three am and we are ready to make the drive up 61. We make a quick stop in Grand Marais for some gas and a couple of trout stamps. On the way up the Gunflint trail Big J looks at the map and notices the big portage and says, "We're not planning on tackling that TODAY at we?!?? I better get some sleep!!!!". He had been up for a while. AB was ahead of us and missed the turn, driving to the end of the trail before turning around. He found us wait for him at the turn off to Round Lake. We unload the boats, the square stern, my Grumman and AB's royalex Wenonah. Six guys and nine packs. I had organized the trip but as we were doing the final pack I realized I had no control of these savages and any advice I had given in the months before fell on deaf ears. Loose crap everywhere, one guy had a tool bag for a tackle bag with enough dipsey divers and planner boards for a charter on lake Superior. We managed to jam the boats full of gear and shove off, paddling south on Round towards the portage.
We made quick work of the first carry across the rocky portage into Missing Link. Second carry went well until I saw AB struggling with the royalex. Turns out he didn't have a yoke for it. It had officially became a circus. I knew I was going to avoid that boat on the next portage. Half way through the portage and we were in the wilderness. As i was loading up our canoe on Missing Link, a group can up behind me two guys, a kevlar and three packs. I looked at AB and said "that's us from now on" We chatted and it turns out we knew a few of the same people around Duluth.
A short paddle across Missing Link brought us to the "Main Event" as some one on BWCA.com labeled it. It wasn't as bad as advertised and with light weight boats it would be enjoyable. Nobody wanted to grab the square stern or the yokeless tub. You know its bad when the first boat to be picked up is forty year old grumman with five extra pounds of duck blind paint on it. We met the 7th member of our group, Luke, on the portage. He had entered a few days before. We rested at the Tuscarora side and pushed off for the island site. A storm unleashed a hard rain and a strong wind we had to paddle into as we crossed the lake heading towards the island site Luke had procured a few days earlier. Everyone made it safe, except Luke who was in a tandem boat solo. He managed to ride the storm out on shore in a vacant camp sight.
The day was looking to be full of gloom and doom, but the clouds eventually broke and the winds let up for the night. [IMG]http://i1357.photobucket.com/albums/q755/djones331/IMG_6654_zps0b9d85b3.jpg [/IMG]
We got busy setting up tents and hammocks. Ab and I were sleeping between trees this year and really had to get back in the bush to find some that would hold us. I didn't mind being away from the masses.
Luke made it back to camp shortly after we noticed he was absent. Since it was the day before opener we didn't have much to do. A few guys napped and a few others went on a fire wood search. Note to self, next year either leave earlier in the day, travel father or enter on or after opener. I cooked brats and rice &beans over the fire, which got the jackals out of their tents and circling the fire pit. A few cocktails and I was in the hammock, trying to sleep over the noise the liquor pigs around the fire were making. Some people weren't cut out for the quiet northwoods. Apologies to anyone camped on Tuscarora trying to sleep.
First one up today, no surprise there. AB was right behind me and we got the coffee on. Coffee consumed, we slid out into the lake in search of trout. Ten minutes of dragging Little Cleos and we had our first trout in the boat. A nice 22" Laker. We invited him back to camp. An hour of trolling the western shore produced a few more trout and a 30" pike.
Back at camp the jackals were stirring so we whipped up some breakfast burritos with eggs, bacon and a couple of boxed hashbrowns. Jackals satisfied, the group poured into the four canoes and spread out over the lake. A few fish were caught and kept but for the most part it was slow.
Lunch was had, followed by naps for some and fishing for others. It was a pretty clear day but there was a gusty wind that kept Luke and I along the north/northwest shore. We didn't manage to catch many fish but got to know each other pretty well. The rest of the group had similar luck, with AB pulling in a few trout to add to the pan. I did manage a nice 20" right in front of camp as Luke and I paddled back to start dinner. Pike nuggets and laker fillets over coals was on the menu. Again the jackals circled the fire pit. AB and I stayed up to do some night shore fishing while the rest of the crew hit the rack early. No luck on the fishing but the fire and stars made up for it.
Windy, real windy. Breakfast made and eaten. Rollers washing up onto our western shore. Back to bed. I tried to fish around the island. Banged up my shins and had no luck. Pitched the 15X15 CCS tarp to run the stove. Made lunch, the jackals are getting restless. Boredom sets in and necessitates a game of "pine cones stuffed in a sock" baseball. The CCS tarp making a nice backstop. Even Big J awoke to play some ball
We entertained ourselves for a few hours until the wind died. Ab and I went fishing until dark and picked up a few more trout, the final one getting wrapped up in my line as it got to dark to see. We headed back to camp. Before beaching the canoe we drug out a few land lines beyond the shallows off shore. Lighted slip bobbers with a jig and leech. J pulled in a 38" northern before we got the canoe back to shore.
Slow moving packing up today. Luke had to be back in Duluth early so he took Brian with on his way out, news to me. Three boats, five guys and eight packs. Shit. We broke camp, and made our way to the portage to Missing Link. Ab had a few "ski straps" which we used to attach my Grumman's yoke to his Royalex after the aluminum made its way across. Better than breaking a neck. I took a pack and the Grumman all the way through and went back with the yoke. We all leap frogged and made it to Missing Link, bulldogged the boats to round and were back at the landing around one pm. A meal at the Trail center and a easy drive home.
Notes: Planning for seven is stupid. Four tops from here on out. No more friends of friends, unless well vetted before a trip. Catching lake trout is a lot of fun. Tuscarora is my new favorite lake, although the site we stayed at was pretty worn down.