Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 13 2024

Entry Point 51 - Missing Link Lake

Missing Link Lake 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 45 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Round Lake with a 142-rod portage to Missing Link Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1498 feet
Latitude: 48.0731
Longitude: -90.8301
Missing Link Lake - 51

Paddleboard- Round Lake to Mueller Falls

by KyleInSwamps
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 14, 2022
Entry Point: Brant Lake
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I scheduled a mid-August trip to coincide with peak blueberry season, and there were certainly no disappointments there. Since it ended up being a solo trip, I decided to opt for "fast and light" and travel via paddleboard. As the trip approached, the forecast shifted from sunny every day to chance of thunderstorms every day.

Day 1 of 4


Sunday, August 14, 2022: 6.34mi, 383 rods of portaging

I set out from the Round Lake parking lot around 6:30 am, hoping to make it to Gillis before the threat of afternoon storms. Moist, still air set the stage for extreme mosquito activity. The first portage (Round-West Round) was 90 marshy rods, thick with mosquitoes. Since this was my first portage on my first paddleboard trip, it was a bit clumsy, and I got eaten alive. This experience was repeated on a smaller scale crossing into Edith and Brant lakes, but afterwards the sun became stronger, the portages became drier, and my technique improved, all of which reduced the bug pressure. While the portages west of Brant were often steep and rocky, they were also quite scenic. Moving west, I was also under the impression that the water clarity gradually increased from lake to lake. This really struck me in Green Lake which (despite its name) had exceptionally clear water. From Bat to Gillis was a quick downhill scramble, then I started my first big open water crossing, aiming for some large cliffs at the SW corner of Gillis. Once there, I crossed over to the island housing my first campsite, situated at the SW corner of Gillis, landing at 11:30am. The campsite sat along some high, bare rocks and afforded great views of the lake and a very talkative loon family. Behind the site's latrine were trails leading to two granite ridges offering even more expansive views. I took a swim, made dinner, and set up camp. Part of my scheme with the paddleboard was to use it as a platform for my sleeping pad. I removed the fin, lay the board flat, and set up a large hammock rainfly over the board. It worked wonderfully and gave me added confidence in the face of potential thunderstorms with their deadly ground-currents. One obvious downside was the lack of a mosquito net. After being kept awake until 3 in the morning by swarms of mosquitoes, I had the idea to wear my sleeping bag upside-down. That technique worked wonderfully for the remainder of the trip. I encountered many paddlers over the course of my trip, all of whom were headed in the opposite direction, and all of whom made sure to tell me that they had never seen a paddleboard in the BWCA before. Already, I was recommending it. Prior to the trip, I had debated whether to bring my board or my sea kayak, and I realized quickly that the portages would have been hell with the kayak. With the board they were a relative breeze.~Round Lake, West Round Lake, Edith Lake, Brant Lake, Gotter Lake, Flying Lake, Green Lake, Bat Lake, Gillis Lake   

 



Day 2 of 4


Monday, August 15, 2022 8.76mi, 208 rods of portaging With the sleeping bag over my head, I was able to sleep until 7:30, well past sunrise. I quickly made breakfast, broke camp, and hit the water by 8:20. My goal was to tag Mueller Falls, turn around, and camp on the E side of Gab. I decided to take the northern route, paddling up Gillis and through French and Peter lakes. The easy portage to French was followed by a grueling 121 rod mosquito-thick trek to Peter, though the blueberries atop this portage's high point were exceptionally sweet. After Peter, it was a corkscrew-like portage into Gab, and then a big open-water crossing. The portage into Agamok sat alongside a short creek where water from the big lake spills northward. It was short, easy, and scenic, and I had a close encounter with a strutting grouse. Once on Agamok, I slowed my roll, stopping to check out all of the campsites. Rounding the lake's very shallow second bend, my fin caught a rock and sent me sprawling on the board. No injuries and no splash, just an adrenaline rush. When I got to the Mueller portage, I left the board behind and headed up the trail to the falls. The trail closely paralleled the outflow of Agamok and offered great views of its many riffles and drops. Much of my paddling trip passed through areas that had burned within the past 30 years, and this trail was the first place that I encountered some truly large old trees that had survived the fires. Nearing the falls, I encountered my first humans of the day... a couple of naked hikers on the Kek. The falls were bigger than I had expected, and made for some beautiful pictures! At this point, storm clouds were rolling in, and there was a strong south wind. Figuring it a bad time to cross Gab, I decided to set up camp at the least mosquito-y site on Agamok.~Gillis Lake, French Lake, Peter Lake, Gabimichigami Lake, Agamok Lake  

 



Day 3 of 4


Tuesday, August 16, 2022 7.79mi, 268 rods of portaging Storms never came, but all night I was anxious about getting across Gab. One downside of the paddleboard is its susceptibility to wind. Already the winds and weather diverged significantly from the forecast that I had read on Saturday, so it was essentially useless. Not wanting to get caught in a serious storm, I decided to cross Gab as early as possible and try to make it back to Gillis so that I could have more leeway in my paddling schedule in the case that I got socked-in by bad weather. I hit the water at 6:30 and reached the Peter portage a little over an hour later feeling very relieved. I had been fighting a steady east wind, and the chop of each wave washed over the board. Needless to say, I was not standing up for this portion of the paddle. I quickly rounded the peninsula of the much more sheltered Peter and began the portage to Virgin. Aside from the Round Lake portage, the Virgin portages were the absolute worst. From Peter-Virgin was heavily overgrown and full of mosquitoes; from Virgin-West Fern my left leg dropped into a deep, hidden rock crevice that could have done some serious damage, but luckily just resulted in a couple of skin wounds. I jammed a couple of sticks into the hole to make it visible. The following portages to Powell, French, Fern, and Gillis got better and better. Fern-Gillis began on a beaver dam and proceeded along a creek through a mosquito-free cedar grove. I decided to check out the campsite by that portage on Gillis (within sight of my first night's site) and was instantly sold. I decided to stop for the day despite it being only 10:30 in the morning. Once at the site, I dumped my gear and explored. The site had numerous trails, a rocky peninsula sheltering a calm harbor, a giant white pine perfect for bear bagging, and barely any mosquitoes. I rode the paddleboard around the western pocket of the lake, stopping to climb a large bald hill, and I ran into the loon family from day 1. At this point, the wind began truly ripping from the south, bringing progressively darker clouds. A light rain began to fall, and I took a nap under my tarp. After the nap I made dinner and boiled water (the Gillis water was fantastic... Agamok, not so much). The sky was still dark, the wind still ripped. I decided to call it an early night, but just as I got into my tent the sky suddenly brightened. I went out to the peninsula and say a vibrant rainbow over the lake. I watched it until the sun set, then went to sleep.~Agamok Lake, Gabimichigami Lake, Peter Lake, Virgin Lake, West Fern Lake, Powell Lake, Fern Lake, French Lake, Gillis Lake   

 



Day 4 of 4


Wednesday, August 17, 2022 6.35mi, 383 rods of portaging I woke at midnight to a steady rain hitting the tarp. I reached out of the bag to grab my hoodie and found it soaked by a steady flow of water on the ground. At this point I was thankful to be sleeping high and dry on the paddleboard, and I moved all my gear from the ground onto the board and returned to sleep. At 4:30 I woke to the clap of thunder. Growing up in Florida, I had many close encounters with lightning, and it is something that I take very seriously. I quickly moved everything metal and electronic away from the tent and then hunkered down. The storm came on fast, and the rain was pounding. Based on counting off the flashes, there were multiple strikes within a 0.5mi radius of my camp. Then the rain stopped, but soon I heard more thunder in the west. The second wave was far more intense and long lasting than the first, both the rain and the lightning. I continued counting in an attempt to judge proximity when a strike blasted alarmingly close to me. Simultaneous light and sound, like someone fired a shotgun right outside my tarp. At that point I gave up counting. Once again, I was very happy to be up on the board, as the area underneath the board was soaked. My ears ringing, I stayed in the bag until the storm had wholly passed, around 7:30am. I dropped the bear bag and made breakfast. The clouds were low and dark, but did not look dangerous. With a strong west wind, I figured that it was a now-or-never moment for crossing the entirety of Gillis, so I threw everything sopping wet into the dry bag and hopped on the board. With the wind and the adrenaline, I crossed the 1.3mi of lake in 20 minutes as some campers took turns watching me through binoculars. Getting into Bat, it seemed like round 3 of storms was imminent, but the dark clouds rolled over silently revealing a clear day. My plan at this point was to spend the last night of my permit camping on Brant. With clear skies, I really savored retracing my first day's travels. I moved slower, ate more berries, and saw way more. My time on Gotter (the smallest lake of my trip) was especially magical. Stopping to photograph a water lily adjacent to a floating bog, I noticed a pitcher plant and some drosera! Once I finally pulled myself away from the plants, I was struck by the lake's high rock bluffs. If there were a campsite on this lake, I'd be temped to stay there. Once I got to Brant, I was disappointed to find that 2/3 sites were taken and that the remaining site was fully exposed- not something that I was willing to risk with the potential for further storms. I decided to call it a trip. The last few portages were about as fun as they were on the first day, except now they were under water. In little rush, and fully accustomed to mosquitoes incessantly biting me, I stopped for an extended period on each portage to eat the abundant blueberries. I encountered a large canoe group from whom I learned that the morning's storm dropped 3" of rain- the most their lodge had seen from a single storm since 2019. When I got back to Round, I continued to take my sweet time. I unpacked and dried all my gear, and took a much-needed swim. Other paddlers arrived from the water, and each group came up to ask me about the paddleboard and share when/where they sighted me. I was a bit bummed to be exiting a day early, but thunder rumbling to the south made me feel confident in my choice. Plus it meant an extra day on Lake Superior. For a solo trip in the BWCA, I highly recommend a paddleboard, but with a few caveats. (1) Make sure it is relatively lightweight, or you gain nothing relative to other watercraft (mine is fiberglass). I personally wouldn't trust an inflatable out there, but that's your call. (2) Avoid big open-water crossings. This was the main source of my anxiety, though luckily it worked out. Had the wind been different, it wouldn't have gone so well. (3) Be prepared to explain yourself. I didn't expect the paddleboard to be such a conversation-starter, but it truly was. When people were approaching me at the parking lot, I felt like I was some sort of weird, unwashed celebrity. Overall, it was a great trip, and I would definitely visit this region of the BWCA again. That said, as much as I love blueberries, they were not worth the storms to me. Next time, I'm waiting until at least mid-September.~Gillis Lake, Bat Lake, Green Lake, Flying Lake, Gotter Lake, Brant Lake, Edith Lake, West Round Lake, Round Lake    

 

Lakes Traveled:   Gillis Lake, Bat Lake, Green Lake, Flying Lake, Gotter Lake, Brant Lake, Edith Lake, West Round Lake, Round Lake,

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